The Taconic Wayside Inn
It’s like being on vacation, anytime
Overall rating on a scale of 1-10
Service 8 • Food 8 • Ambiance 8 • Price – $$$
The first thing I noticed when I entered the Taconic Wayside Inn in Copake Falls is that I felt as if I were on vacation. And as a first impression, you really can’t beat that.
Maybe it’s the fact that the town of Copake Falls, in Columbia County, is a mere few miles from Bash Bish Falls State Park on the Massachusetts-New York border. Not only does the park feature the area’s most dramatic and highest single-drop waterfall, it adjoins New York State’s Taconic State Park with over 5,000 acres of hiking trails and camping amenities, making the entire area a popular vacation destination.
So as you can imagine, just driving to the Inn is a beautiful scenic experience. The restaurant itself is housed in an old stone building that has been home to other eateries, but has been in the same family since 1971.
A large, wooden porch welcomes you into the tavern part of the restaurant. Busy with what seemed to be a mostly local crowd, dining companion Peter and I entered and felt at home right away. This is the kind of place that seems to melt the stress of the day away and invites you to simply relax.
We sat in the dining room, where the décor was charming – filled with American folk art and antiques. It sort of felt like being in your grandmother’s house; who needs modern and contemporary when you have cozy and comfortable?
The dinner menu was brought to us on a chalkboard that our waitress left propped up on a neighboring chair so that we could take our time looking it over. The “regular” menu she also gave us featured soups, salads and a variety of pub fare options, like hamburgers, chicken wings and sandwiches. Craving something more substantial though, Peter and I focused our attention on the chalkboard selections. The entrees, mostly considered “classic American”, included NY Strip Steak, shrimp with cherry tomatoes and basil over pasta, chicken Florentine, baked haddock, fish and chips and baby back ribs. All entrees were reasonably priced between $15 and $22 and came with a house salad. The menu, although not extensive or especially innovative, was familiar and covered all bases – seafood, chicken, beef. Still, we thought it was best to consider our choices while enjoying a beverage. I ordered the house Pinot Grigio, which at a mere $6 was one of the most generous pours I’ve had in a long time. Peter went for an old standby and chose a Coors light ($4.)
We both began our meals with items off the regular menu – homemade French Onion soup ($6) for Peter and a Caprese Salad ($7) for me. The soup was one of the highlights of the meal; it was hearty and flavorful, but not too thick or salty as many onion soups have a tendency to be. The chef used Swiss cheese instead of the typical Gruyere, which offered a nice sharpness alongside the rich broth. My fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil salad was drizzled with a fruity, light olive oil and had a light smattering of freshly ground black pepper. It was a natural choice for an extremely hot and humid late summer day – refreshing, light and healthy. The tomatoes and basil were actually locally grown and I could tell.
For dinner, I chose the Baked Haddock ($17), partly because I could get the sweet potato fries as my side (I’m always thinking). Peter ordered the Fish and Chips ($15) with homemade macaroni salad.
Before our entrees arrived we each enjoyed a generous house salad abundant with fresh garden veggies and balsamic vinaigrette. Again, I found the vegetables to be supremely fresh and crisp – no wilted, sad looking lettuce here.
Peter’s fish and chips were piping hot, but the macaroni salad was nice and chilled. His dinner also came with hand-cut fries, which were pretty amazing – crispy on the outside, with a “real” potato taste on the inside. The most impressive thing about his dinner was, again, the freshness of the ingredients. The cod did not taste as if it was previously frozen and was prepared in a very light and flaky batter, not weighed down with too much breading. The macaroni salad was obviously made that day, and although very good, it was a little bland for us spicy types. Nothing a little red wine vinegar or black pepper couldn’t remedy though!
My baked haddock came with a vegetable mélange of wax beans, green beans and carrots; all were cooked just enough and still had some “snap” to them. The sweet potato fries were deceiving; they looked like they were frozen, right out of a bag, but upon first bite I knew couldn’t have been. Eating one was like taking a bite of baked sweet potato. The haddock, although not revolutionary, was flaky and cooked perfectly in a little white wine, lemon and butter sauce.
By the time we were halfway through our dinners we managed to lift our heads from our plates long enough to order another drink and happened to notice that the restaurant had actually filled up quite a bit. Most of the clientele were families, perhaps some on vacation or maybe a weekend getaway.
Now, this may be a first, but we actually skipped dessert. Why would we do such a thing? Well, we were full, and the selections were just not calling out to us on this particular evening (strange, but true.) But nonetheless, we came away fully relaxed and satisfied.
If you’re looking for a little vacation getaway of your own, even if it’s just a night out for dinner and drinks, try the Taconic Wayside Inn. I guarantee you’ll come away feeling as if you just spent a week at the lake – for a lot less.
The total cost for two glasses of wine, two beers and two entrees, (excluding tax and tip) was $63.18.
The Taconic Wayside Inn is located at 108 State Route 344 in Copake Falls. Open for dinner only, Tuesday-Sunday 3pm-9pm; Friday & Saturday 9pm-11pm. Closed Monday. For more information call 329.4401.
Christina DeMers is an online marketing manager, food blogger and amateur cook who lives in East Greenbush, but eats just about anywhere.