The Shelter: Underground Wine Bar An Above-Average Hideout
By Andrea Pyros
Stroll Rhinebeck’s crowded E. Market Street on a sunny weekend afternoon and you might walk right past The Shelter, but come nighttime, after the day crowd has packed it in, Rhinebeck’s newest – and coolest – bar-cum-restaurant comes to life. Billing itself as “an underground wine bar,” The Shelter lies subterranean, its entrance tucked in the old Rhinebeck Hardware Company building between FACE Stockholm and Bumble & Hive. Plenty of people are finding it, though; since its opening in December, it’s stayed busy serving up tapas-style plates and excellent drinks to patrons enjoying the elegant, unpretentious vibe.
It’s no surprise that The Shelter already has a fan base. It’s run by Wesley and Bryn Dier, the husband-and-wife team behind The Local, another popular Rhinebeck spot that shares The Shelter’s neighborhood feel and its attention to first-rate cooking and hospitality. The Diers both grew up in Rhinebeck, and after Wesley graduated from the CIA, they opened their first restaurant, the now-shuttered 40 West, back in 1999 and then The Local in 2010.
“We’ve been in the public eye for the last 15 years, and we think we’ve helped develop the culinary landscape of Rhinebeck and the Hudson Valley,” Wesley says. They’d discussed branching out further, and when a space came up for rent a block down the street from The Local, the Diers jumped on it. “We liked the brick interior and speakeasy vibe and we really wanted to grab it before someone else did something cool down there,” he says.
Walking down the stairs, you’re hit by the aroma of the freshly popped popcorn, which is served warm with a savory, salty seasoning. Sit at the bar for conversation with the knowledgeable and attentive staff, or seat yourself on a couch or one of the larger high-top tables dotted around the room. Order one of their “Lucky 13” cocktails, like the Savage Detective made with Del Maguey ‘Vida’ Mezcal, lemon, absinthe and grapefruit bitters ($12). Although The Local has an entirely domestic wine menu, here the Diers have opted for Spanish wines to complement their menu. Using it as an opportunity to educate themselves on an entirely different region, they’ve uncovered a noteworthy range of affordable choices, including a 2012 Cinco Josés Garnacha ($8 glass) and a 2012 Lima Vinho Verde ($8 glass).
The specials menu on a recent evening included a Camembert cheese from the Old Chatham Sheepherding Company, rich and buttery, served with truffle honey and perfectly ripened D’anjou pear slices ($8). Some nights might offer individual mini paellas [shown below] or roasted peppers. From the regular menu, a small plate of marinated shitake mushrooms in a 20-year aged sherry vinaigrette with shallot crispies ($6) packed a tart bite and served as a good pairing to The Shelter’s aged meats, clearly important enough on the menu to warrant a meat slicer in the middle of the workspace. There’s a house-made chorizo and a paprika-cured pork tenderloin (each $10). Other dishes elevate the familiar, like deviled eggs made more devilish with wasabi tobikko—flying fish roe—and sriracha ($6). The lovely house-churned saffron ice cream ($6) was creamy and sweet and the prickly pear sorbet ($6) was refreshing after the evening’s rich offerings (the accompanying sweetened condensed milk gelée, thick and lacking in flavor, was the rare misstep in otherwise standout cuisine).
Befitting a neighborhood hangout, weekly promos include $3 drafts on Wednesdays before 8, “Sheltered Sangria” ($8 glass; $18 carafe) on Fridays, $1 Blue Point oysters on Saturdays, and live music during the weekends and some weeknights.
“This is an adult place to have a cocktail,” says Wesley, “Some of the places [in the area] are a bit younger and not as swanky. We consider it like we’re throwing a party every night. We get nervous and excited to show you a good time and do what we’re proud of.”
47 East Market St., Suite #2
Tuesday—Thursday: 5 p.m. - midnight
Friday & Saturday: 5 p.m. - 2 a.m.