Serevan: A Taste of Armenia in Amenia
By Elizabeth Goldfarb Richardson
Back in the old days (the 80’s), the humor magazine Spy had a column called “Not to Be Confused.” Amenia and Armenia could have been included in this always amusing section of the magazine. Just to clarify, if need be: The former is a pretty little town in Dutchess County, and the latter is a formerly Soviet-controlled nation in the Caucasus that had, in the distant but not forgotten past, some horrible relations with its neighbor Turkey. Also it’s doubtful that Armenia, free as it is from repressive communist control, currently has a restaurant up to the sophisticated standards of Serevan, a Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dining spot with a sophisticated French twist, situated half a mile from the center of… Amenia.
Serevan is a place where the chef’s attention to detail truly shows, both in the restaurant itself, its vegetable gardens outside, and in the dishes that chef/owner Serge Madikians creates. You enter into an old New England farmhouse set high above the road and surrounded by quiet gardens in which the chef has planted herbs and vegetables, used extensively in the kitchens. Now, while the weather remains warmer than usual, you can still linger and inhale the scents in the garden while enjoying a quiet drink around tables set in gardens surrounded by high hedges. In winter, the beautifully decorated dining area is best described as “country farmhouse chic,” with low ceilings, soft lighting playing off of the pastel-colored walls and gourd-covered fireplace—a welcoming place to harbor you.
As it turns out, Madikians and his family actually do come from Armenia (the country) and the dishes he serves are riffs on all of the home-country connections, with little flourishes of foods that are common in Armenia households, such as his use of Labne, a type of soft yogurt cheese, and lots of other Middle Eastern dishes such as “Salad Shriza,” a falafel plate with hummus Labne, marinated red cabbage, and carrots ($15); organic roasted beets, oranges, pistachios, arugula from Sky Farm, and Greek Feta ($12), and a tart of ground lamb (from Hudson Valley Harvest) with spinach (from Sky Farm), olives, hummus and harissa, which had an excellently full lamb flavor and a delightful mix of spices ($14).
Madikians’ pride in his handiwork comes through as he bustles around, going from table to table in a calm and efficient way: a small touch here, a quiet gesture there, coming around to greet and meet diners, checking on their meal and their experience. He tells us he’s also often out and about at the area’s farms buying ingredients for the night’s meals.
This is a restaurant in which the specials of the day display the chef’s creativity and attention to detail. A lamb shoulder stew with Persian limes, spinach, and pink pearl apples from Montgomery Place Orchards ($29) made it quite obvious that he had found some great ingredients from the aforementioned local farms; but there were also other delectable pan-European dishes, such as diver scallops with Merguez sausage and fingerling potatoes ($29); a hanger steak with potato puree and sumac reduction ($26); and Pigasso Farm chicken with house marinated olives, cucumbers, preserved lemons, and couscous ($26). A peach cobbler made with local peaches from Montgomery Place Orchards ($9) was a fantastic conclusion to the meal, and brought us all back home… to Amenia.
6 Autumn Lane on Route 44, West of Route 22
Amenia, NY 12501
Hours: Thursday - Monday
5 p.m. - 10 p.m.