Peekamoose by candlelight

A confession: this review was written one year ago.  I have been meaning to publish it here for some time.  A non-recycled post is in the works… but please accept this as a stop gap measure.

In the spirit of celebrating all things local, organic, independent, and scrumptious – I can’t help but post an impromptu “review” of the Peekamoose in Big Indian, NY.

First of all, this poor place is WHERE??? Big Indian? Isn’t that Far Away? Yes it is. Far from Kingston, far from Woodstock, far from everywhere you might be or anyplace you might be going, unless you are going skiiing at Belleayre. ‘Nuff said – it’s on 28 and it’s out there.

It was packed that night. Parking lot full to bursting, we grabbed the last two seats at the bar. These two seats happened to be just a couple of feet from the swinging door into the kitchen, and adjacent to the wait staff’s drink drop off pick up point. So we were in the thick of it when the power went off. But I’ll get back to that.

The menu and the food: everything you would expect from the price range. Nothing you would expect from the interior decor. The place is bizarre and wacky – the pub is full of taxidermy (a coyote was perched over my head watching me eat). The wall has teasel heads randomly stuck in it, among the taxidermied animal heads. It is weird as hell. The dining room has amazing chandeliers made from huge tree branches… ok, that’s cool until you start to consider how the electric lights are wired… then it is totally effin’ amazing. At the hostess’ station, there is an arrangement of rocks and moss and plants and lichens and god-knows-what-else that is a realistic recreation of what you’d see if you went hiking a few miles up the road. This is psycho-rustic at its best. There is also a truly lovely and much less bizarre deck on one side of the building for outdoor dining, and patio with a fire pit (with marshmallows available) over by the tavern – grab a drink, grab your stick and roast away.

The menu offers a tavern section with sandwiches, or the regular dinner menu. Soups, starters, salads, entrees and desserts are all created with the attention and ingredients that elevate the excellent food from local growers to that next level. I think it is lovely without being overly complex – Tom had a lamb-bacon BLT, I had beet gnocchi in goat cheese cream with rosemary and walnuts. We shared cold asparagus in lemon sabayon. Every single bite was perfect. I’ve had the pan-seared trout (from the beaverkill, a few miles away) and that was perfect too. The buttermilk pannacotta with blueberries was breath-taking. This is why we leave the house.

All of this would not inspire me to write a note (although maybe it should). What inspired me to write a note was that due to our proximity to the center of all the action – bar and kitchen – when the lights went out, we could hear what went on “behind the scenes.” What I heard was so cool, I just had to write about it: every sentence was punctuating by a please or a thank you. I heard laughter and raised voices from the kitchen, but as a trained therapist and mother of teenagers, I know that special sound of voices raised in pre-evil bitchiness – I can hear it revving up. It was completely absent. The bartender was a total sweetie to all – customers and the waitstaff, no matter how nuts it got. The kitchen dudes were finishing the orders they had in by flashlight, candles and headlamps, and still laughing and being polite to each other and whoever else walked it. The owner joined the bartender behind the bar to help out – and she was joking around despite the inconveniences this busy night had presented.

Clearly, this is a great place – if the entire staff treats each other with courtesy and respect, despite a kitchen with no running water and no ventilation – they must have created an atmosphere that can withstand that kind of thing. Amazing. I’d still love it just for the food, but this was a nice peek into the heart of the Peekamoose. You know I can’t wait to go back 🙂

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