Photo credit: Gerald Leonard
Long time Hudson Valley weekenders, Tracy and Jamie Kennard, opened Brunette, down on the Rondout this August. I spoke to them last Sunday on what they called a mellow night but turned out to be lively at 6:00 PM.
Walking in for the first time, I was wowed by the aesthetics: a marble topped bar, shelves lined with carefully arranged wine bottles, bistro tables both inside and out. Had I landed in Paris? Tracy said, “We wanted the design to be simple and clear with feminine details.” The space was white except for the back wall covered in wallpaper designed by a Brooklyn interior designer. Tracy added, “It’s a damask with a repeated print of pineapples, seahorses and shrimp.”
But Brunette is more than an aesthetic treat, it serves wine, of course, and beer, soda and unusual snacks like cake salé, a savory quick bread. How do they select the wines which change every night? They focus on natural wines but Tracy insisted, “We are not dogmatic. We’re interested in variety.” When I visited, the menu listed at least 20 different wines, by the glass or bottle, well documented and described. I felt as if Eric Asimov, the wine critic from the NY Times, was by my side.
Tracy and Jamie have been weekenders for ten years working in NYC respectively as a fashion consultant and as a graphic designer. Opening a wine bar allows them to spend more time in the Hudson Valley and they in turn have brought to us a place to hangout, to visit before dinner or maybe to be inspired. The name Brunette evolved from some brainstorming: not a brown haired girl, a Brunette–exotic and mysterious.
When I visited, I did enjoy a glass of Chardonnay from the Rhone Valley–medium bodied, fermented with indigenous yeasts. And when I return, I will try a Pinot Noir or a Chenin Blanc and of course a new offering, gougères, a cross between a Cheez-It and A Popover And you get a gougères. I plan to bring my notebook too, believing that the wine and a place of my own will inspire. Thursday – Saturday 5pm – 10pm, Sunday 2pm – 9pm, 33 Broadway, Kingston, NY 12401 | (845) 802-0837
Mary Leonard is a long time Associate of the Institute for Writing and Thinking at Bard College and an avid yogi at YogaYoga in Rosendale. She loves writing about food, fashion, yoga, education and published many articles in the Dutchess County newspaper About Town. She also writes poetry and humor which do appear from time to time in small literary magazines.