A recent transplant to the Hudson Valley, I was already aware of the high quality of the food here, being that a lot of my Brooklyn CSA came from the area, so I was excited to try the restaurants here when I moved. I was of course afraid that I would be missing some of my regular staples that city people can take for granted. One of which being the perfect Bánh Mì. As luck would have it, I stumbled across Cafe East while apartment hunting and vowed to try it ASAP and see how it compared.
Open for only a year and a half after being a successful food truck in Woodstock, the long counter and open kitchen lets owner Deena Rae Turner maintain that connection with her customers, making you feel at home from the moment you sit down. You can tell immediately that she truly loves what she does, and then when you get your food you can taste it too. I started with a classic Bánh Mì; for $9.00 you get a completely house made, smartly sourced pork pâté topped with pickled carrots, cilantro and sriracha mayonnaise on a toasted baguette. It absolutely met every expectation I had! So much in fact, that I returned the next week to try the breakfast version, which has egg and skirt steak in place of the paté. (Pictured) The sandwiches are spot on. They have the right ratio of fillings, a healthy serving of vegetables that is often rare in sandwiches, and are just the right kind of wet. No one likes a dry sandwich. It’s just sad. Also, say you are not a meat eater, you can replace your protein with tempeh. There are a lot of options for all dietary restrictions here, which I respect.
There is of course the assortment of the Vietnamese and Thai dishes that you would expect, and some you wouldn’t, from pad thai and lemongrass chicken to a kimchi omelette, and things like banana nut pancakes and a BLT for those who aren’t necessarily fans of that cuisine. And if you aren’t well versed in Asian food and want to transition yourself, there is a great selection of fusion dishes, like tacos and burgers with pickled toppings in lieu of the traditional fare. A win-win for everyone in your party. Cafe East, 243 Fair Street, Kingston, NY. (845) 331-2043
I was also ridiculously impressed with the amazing selection of beverages, and with the care put in to making each of them. From scratch sodas! (I had blueberry) Coffee with condensed milk! Chai Latte! AND in case you are interested in something stronger, this awesome place also offers a staggering array of Soju cocktails, sake and beer. Tuesdays through Saturday its open late as a bar, and on Tuesday nights, Cafe East boasts the only Gay Pop Up Bar in the area. It is that cool. I popped in and had a Picotini, a soju based cocktail with muddled pineapple, pickled carrot brine juice, lime and agave. It was alarmingly good, and the bartender was a total sweetheart. Watch out for this place!
Eryn is a Brooklyn transplant originally from the South; a well traveled food writer and chef that cooks with a Like Water for Chocolate mentality. In addition to cooking for local restaurant Frogmore, she can be found anywhere from Japanese TV, to judging the NYC Hot Sauce Expo or making crazy themed food and sculptures for fabulous events across New York. Get a taste here – www.uglyfoodtastesbetter.com