Silvia, Woodstock, NY
As much as we love NYC, it's also lovely to escape the city every once in a while. A favorite brunch and dawdling destination for us is Woodstock, NY, which is a little over two hours away by car. Woodstock is nestled in the Catskills, and feels a world away from the rush and congestion of the city. We make Silvia, a cozy restaurant with excellent wine, our first stop.
This is not the boozy brunch that seems to define downtown weekends. Instead, this is grown-up brunch done right. Silvia is bright and cozy, and there always seem to be children roaming around or nestled next to their parents. We've seen brunchers in cute dresses and hats, alongside brunchers in work cover-alls. The focus here is on good food and drink; come as you are and enjoy.
As you enter the restaurant, it's clear that the kitchen (and, therefore, the food) is to be the center of your experience. The bright, open kitchen anchors the restaurant, with a well-lit section of tables to the left and a cozy bar area to the right. The bar features dark wood paneling and deep green velvet banquette seating. The marble tabletops produce a smooth aesthetic, and help to reflect the sunlight.
Silvia's web site details their commitment to organic, non-GMO foods, including a list of all the local farms with whom they partner. Silvia's food is planned, prepared, and served with the goal of "connecting food and people with back to basic cooking that is honest, sustainable, and inspiring." This approach informs their wine list, too.
Silvia's wine list is short but thoughtfully curated, including many producers who practice biodynamic viticulture. On our first trip, we enjoyed the Poulsard 2015 from Domaine du Pelican in the Jura; it was deliciously juicy. The second trip let us try the gulpable Domaine de l'Ecu Orthogneiss 2015, a dry and minerally muscadet.
I've had the chance to try several salads here. My favorite was the butternut squash salad. It was visually stunning, featuring creamy goat cheese, substantial and hearty portions of roasted squash, balanced with the tartness of arils and raisins, and topped with a satisfying crunch from the nuts. Sadly, this salad was rotated out of the menu at our most recent visit (late February 2018).
The kale and shredded Brussles sprouts salad is a close second. It is staunchly mustard-forward in a very pleasing way. The apples, almonds, currants helped to tamp down the sinus-clearing heat from the mustard.
The roasted beet and carrot salad included hearty portions of each, alongside goat cheese and mizzuna. The light dressing of mustard and horseradish was flavorful without being overpowering. The flavors of this salad were satisfying and harmonious, but its chunkier presentation made it more cumbersome to eat.
Silvia's entire brunch menu is clever, seeing any egg dish as a brunchable option. We opted for the bibimbap and congee on our first trip. The bibimbap comes with a gochujang that explodes on the back of your tongue. Fresh veggies and mushrooms add necessary earthiness to balance the kick from the sauce and kimchi. The congee was the star of the show, though, with crunchy onions atop the savory sushi rice porridge. The raw egg yolk on top adds a buttery richness.
The seasonal burger (in January 2018) is served with Brussels sprouts, Cambozola, caramelized onions, and apple. The burger was cooked to perfection. The flavors meld together well, but seem to overpower the meat itself, to the point that the burger became a vehicle for the toppings. I prefer simpler burgers, where the toppings merely complement the high quality of the meat, so even ordering this one was a bit outside of my comfort zone. I found it to be very tasty, and it was served with addictive hand-cut fries, which were the perfect scoops for the house ketchup.
We never really have any room for dessert, but the menu is so enticing that we've splurged a couple times. The chocolate torte is rich and thick, with a nutty crust. It was perfectly shareable for the two of us after a salad and two entrees. The raw cashew key lime pie, on the other hand, is very bright, with a similar coconut crust. Both were worth the indulgence.
On every visit to Silvia, service has been seamless and attentive without being fussy. Even the music in the background evokes happy youthful memories of highway karaoke: the Cranberries and Gin Blossoms made it hard for me not to sing along from my velvet banquette. Comfort is one of Silvia's specialties, and it may just be part of Woodstock's general hospitality. The main street is chock-a-block with shops and restaurants. There are independent book stores, a few vintage shops, home goods and clothing stores, and places to buy jewelry and art. It's not uncommon to see someone holding a sign in support of one cause or another; we happened to visit Woodstock during their 2018 Women's March in January, and the turnout was both impressive and inspiring. The town's commitment to locally-owned, customer-centric businesses informs the satisfying feeling one has when one finishes a meal at Silvia. Whether you've traveled a hundred miles or a hundred steps, you're at home here.
42 Mill Hill Road
Woodstock, NY 12498
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