Review: Blue Plate Revisited, And Happily
By Jamie Larson
It’s worth catching dinner at the Blue Plate in Chatham New York, on the early side, while there’s still some light in the sky. You’ll be surrounded by big beautiful windows, as evening light filters through the trees onto the butcher-paper tabletops. Then, by the time you’re drinking coffee and devouring a piece of rich chocolate bourbon espresso cake ($8) or smooth green tea cheesecake ($7), the night lights of Chatham will shine down around you.
Blue Plate is owned by Chatham’s patron saint of small town culture, Judy Grunberg, and it exudes her personal mixture of good taste, generosity and laid-back nature. The vibe is unpretentious class. Since 2014, the kitchen has been run by Dominic Giuliano, a CIA grad who opened the Choza Taqueria kiosks in the city before moving to the Hudson Valley.
Grunberg recently expanded her humble empire, opening Prepared, a novel takeout bistro on Main Street, which specializes in hot dishes made from what local farms have in season, with the offerings overseen by Chef Giuliano. They’ve coined the novel phrase “Farm to Takeout.”
But back at the always-friendly Blue Plate, there’s a well-regarded wine list and signature cocktails that are complex and vibrant. The pineapple chili margarita ($11) isn’t that all-too-common oversweetened fruit punch but well restrained and balanced, highlighting the tangy notes in pineapple with a kick from the chili-lined rim. The bourbon ginger julep ($11) was also easy on the syrup and refreshing, with enough whiskey to make itself known.
The small plates work well as appetizers or mains and often give Chef Giuliano an opportunity to highlight the quality of local produce. The spinach-potato pancakes ($8), full of bright flavor, were soft on the inside and well crisped on the outside. Similarly, the roasted “Rock City” mushrooms ($11) were given a welcome high-heat treatment, so they were seared on the outside but retained their interior firmness.
There are always mussels on the menu, in a classic broth or sometimes something more adventurous on the specials list, which is a good place to experience the Blue Plate’s slogan, “The American Bistro with International Implications.” Mussels, especially when done right, as they are here with the classic white wine garlic and parsley ($12), are one of those dishes that transcend seasons, reminiscent of summer beaches and warming on the coldest night. Other small plates include the grilled lamb sliders ($14) and the flatbread with four cheeses, pesto and spinach ($11).
The Blue Plate’s entrees feature dishes from across the globe as well as homestyle comfort food. From a curried chickpea stew ($15) and vegetable pad thai ($17) to cavatelli pasta in a pork sausage ragout ($21) and the restaurant’s signature meatloaf ($15), the menu is wide ranging yet unintimidating.
The grilled brook trout ($23) is a standout, as head on whole fish usually is. Impressively, the delicate fish, looking fully intact, is expertly deboned. Over brown rice pilaf and drizzled with a lemon glaze, the flesh was perfectly cooked, soft and not the least bit dry. The sauce and rice were classic but well executed enough to be fondly nostalgic rather than tired.
Overall, we love the Blue Plate like family. It’s been there for us forever, yet finds delicious new ways to surprise us. It’s a huge, charitable part of the community and frankly, Chatham wouldn’t be what it is today without it. If you haven’t been, do yourself a favor and go. Enjoy the food and the view. (There’s also live jazz downstairs at the bar every Wednesday from 6:15 - 9 p.m.)
1 Kinderhook Street, Chatham, NY
Tuesday - Thursday, 5:30-9 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 5:30-9:30 p.m.
Sunday, 5-9 p.m.
20 Main Street, Chatham, NY
Tuesday – Saturday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.