The Flammerie Brings Flammkuchen To Kinderhook
By Katharine Millonzi
Approaching The Flammerie, a new bistro in Kinderhook, NY, was a bit like peering into Mr. Fezziwig’s Christmas party: a warm, illuminated scene that beckoned bright and welcoming against the dark, snowy evening outside. A jolly crowd filled the front bar area, some waiting to be seated, most enjoying both a view into the kitchen and a draft from the well-curated beer list, which includes a flight sampler of six local beers. The circa 1850 space, formerly the home of Blackwood & Brouwer Booksellers, is split between the bar and a simply furnished, 26-seater back dining room.
The restaurant, which opened last month, is a brick-and-mortar incarnation of the Black Forest Flammkuchen food truck that allows the owners to offer a full menu of what our waitress described as a take on French-German comfort food. “Flammerie” means ‘the place for ‘flammkuchen’, the proprietors’ signature paper-thin crusted wood-fired flatbread.
Fans of the Flammkuchen food truck know that owners Andrew Chase, a CIA graduate, and Conny Chase, from Munich, have Flammkuchen bona fides. A CIA graduate, Andrew spent a year in Germany honing his craft, and worked at the Alsatian bistro Picnic Market & Café in New York. Conny has a master’s degree in cultural studies but more importantly grew up with the crispy traditional snack (often served at wine tastings) and has found that flammkuchen translates surprisingly well to the region. “Our menu is internationally inspired but also focuses on the artisanal food products abundantly available right here,” Conny says.
Combining Alpine cuisine with a NY State farm-to-table mandate is just as ambitious as any restaurant seeking to combine seemingly disparate culinary points of view. The Flammerie, however, is a well-executed blend of rooted tradition and new world twist, as demonstrated by the ‘Puerco’ flammkuchen, topped with chipotle fromage blanc, guajillo-braised pork shoulder and cilantro ($10). Indeed, the emphasis on Columbia County’s bright seasonal vegetables, such as the delicate and beautifully plated beet and watermelon radish salad ($9), lightens a potentially stodgy Germanic palate, and saves The Flammerie from a muddled mission.
Andrew and Conny Chase.
“The Village needed a gathering place, and we wanted to provide one through encouraging a communal dining experience, a place to come have a friendly drink,” says Andrew. Clients throughout the animated dining room were audibly enjoying their plates, intentionally designed to be shared, and served by a young yet well-versed waitstaff.
After sharing a flammkuchen and salad, we ordered several Brotzeit, the small plates. Priced between $8-10 apiece, these dishes were the jewels of The Flammerie. The sumptuously cooked, locally sourced Lover’s Leap pork belly was perfectly paired with the bed of pickled sauerkraut it rested upon. We then moved on to an earthy, silky house-made bourbon duck liver mousse, and the Fleischpflanzerl—Bavarian meatloaf sliders—that were both savory and filling. They were so satisfying that, indeed, a meal for two would’ve been complete there, but we pushed on to generous entrées of pork loin schnitzel ($21) and coq au vin ($22), both well-done versions of these classics.
No alcohol-friendly menu would be complete without pork and cheese-laden dishes, indeed ample at The Flammerie, but vegetarians will certainly not go hungry. For Spätzle enthusiasts, we also enjoyed the Forestiere, served piping hot in a gratin dish, the wood-fired mushrooms and braised greens hidden within glistening, melted raclette ($7 small/$11 large). We could barely imagine ordering a dessert, but couldn’t resist the butternut squash crème brulee.
The primarily local wine list is a bold choice, but one that further demonstrates the establishment’s commitment to local procurement. While the Hudson Valley’s Rieslings may pale still to their Old World Rhine cousins, the offerings from Brotherhood Winery and Tousey Winery, for example, hold their own alongside the straightforward and clean bill of fare. The excellent local ingredients make The Flammerie’s offerings distinctive amongst the region’s refined pub food.
7 Hudson St., Kinderhook, NY
Wednesday—Sunday 5-10 p.m.
Reservations highly recommended.