April 5th, 2010
Mint, a stylish, low-key tapas and wine bar just opened at One West Strand, the site of the former Downtown Café. “We wanted to open up something with a nice atmosphere, a place to come for cocktails and tapas-style food,” said Alessandra Tecchio, who operates Mint with her sister, Ileana. Alessandra is also proprietress of Dolce café, around the corner, and she is now extending her culinary talents to the night crowd.
The food has a distinctly Mediterranean accent, not surprising considering the sisters’ native city is Venice, Italy. There are 10 tapas and 5 desserts on the menu, ranging from $3 to $12. Sample dishes include prosciutto on homemade focaccia with fig conserve (figs carmelized with onions in balsamic vinegar), a kale or white bean bruschetta, and a cheese fondue, with ham, bread, and fruit. There’s also a chocolate fondue, with berries, pound cake, pretzels, and macaroons. Other desserts are tiramisu and strawberries with mascarpone and limoncello.
The wines are French and Italian, along with an Argentine vintage, and include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cote du Rhone, and Fume Blanc. Mint opened with a performance by internationally known jazz singer Rebecca Martin, who also happens to be a Kingston resident. “Right now we’re doing music once a month,” with plans to expand the live performances to twice a month. Mint is open Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 5 to 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 to midnight.
April 5th, 2010
Elephant, located at 310 Wall Street, was named “best wine and tapas bar” by Hudson Valley Magazine two years in a row. It specializes in “nose to tails cuisine,” according to Rich Reeve, who opened the tapas bar three years ago with his wife, Maya Karrol. Lately he’s been cooking up Basque-style barbecue pigtails, flavored with smoked Spanish paprika. “I’ve cornered the market on tails,” Reeve said. “I get them from Fleisher’s, Adams and a third company, Northeast Family Farms.” As for the nose, Reeve said head cheese was on the menu not too long ago.
The bar and dining area are located in a storefront transformed into a chic, minimal space with European panache. Elephant has no formal kitchen; Reeve whips up his small-plate concoctions using two toaster ovens, a hot plate, sandwich grill, freezer and couple of refrigerators. He serves 20 plates a night, including a few regulars (“I can’t take them off the menu or they’d kill me”): oyster sliders, lamburguesa, crispy pork belly tacos, roast parsnip and arugula salad, pickled beets and blue cheese salad. Other sample dishes are crab gratin and shaved Brussels sprouts. The price range is from $3 to $15 (sometimes a little higher), and all wines are sold by the glass, from $6 to $10.
Reeves said that Elephant had “a remarkably good year. We’re looking forward to the new businesses opening in Uptown.” Open from 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, the place starts getting busy around 7 or 8 p.m. “We have a cool diverse crows that hangs out here,” Reeve said. “We’re not your typical restaurant. We get a lot of restaurant people from all over the area, younger artists and transplanted locals.
“It’s been fun, and we watch our pennies,” he added. “We still spin records. And I got a new tattoo”—bringing his total to six. Of course, “I get them locally too.”