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The Roxbury Motel will amaze, and the Catskill food scene will delight
New Haven Register
August 30, 2012

By Stephen Fries, Food Scene Columnist

As a food writer, it is not uncommon for me to snap pictures of the dishes I am about to eat. It is, however, uncommon for me to snap pictures of the rooms where I stay. At The Roxbury Motel, in Roxbury, N.Y., each room has an inspired theme and is decorated with creativity that rivals any delicacy on a plate. The place is truly a feast for the eyes and a banquet for the spirit. My camera was quite busy.

Located in New York’s Catskills, The Roxbury, www.theroxburymotel.com, has redefined the American motel with its contemporary design, bold personality and amenities such as the Shimmer Spa. The Roxbury received the coveted Fodor’s Choice selection in 2010 and 2011, meaning it is among the top 15 percent of all of the properties included in Fodor’s annual guidebook. Every year, Fodor’s writers examine and evaluate thousands of hotels, restaurants and attractions around the globe. Only those offering a truly remarkable experience are given the Fodor’s Choice designation — recognizing them as the best of the best. I agree, and you must see the motel to believe it.

The Roxbury’s owners, Gregory Henderson and Joseph Massa, created the ultimate escape for guests (both adults and the kids), a whimsical getaway that transports visitors to another world. Ever consider spending the night in the opulent confines of a genie’s bottle, or the furry snugness of a caveman’s lair? With names like Tony’s Dance floor, Angel Hair, The Wizard of Emeralds, Maria’s Curtains, Maryann’s Coconut Cream Pie, the dramatic suites and rooms have been inspired by some of the most celebrated movies and shows of our time.

After being mesmerized by the motel’s 27 rooms, I checked out the food scene, and I didn’t have to go too far. Right across the street is Public Lounge & Restaurant, www.publiclounge.net. A casual country chic restaurant, the building was previously a blacksmith shop and then a feed mill.

I started with a mocktail called SweeTart, made of seltzer, house-made sour mix and white cranberry juice. Featured is Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown’s authentic Belgian ales. I tried one of the Olive Branch Pizzas called the “Quilmes,” olive tapenade, roasted peppers, fresh basil and mozzarella. The arugula salad with Granny Smith apple and Crotin goat cheese was a good accompaniment. The special was littleneck clams served over linguine. The owners, Trish Adams and Jill Healy, asked me to come into the kitchen to watch how they made the chicken stir-fry.

Being a rural area, sometimes you have to drive 20 minutes to find those hidden gems, and that I did to get to the Peekamoose Restaurant and Tap Bar in Big Indian, N.Y., www.peekamooserestaurant.com. Owners Devin and Marybeth Mills had worked in some of New York City’s most prestigious restaurants, including Picholine, Le Bernardin and Gramercy Tavern, before opening the restaurant, housed in a restored country farmhouse with the serene Catskills as its backdrop.

Relaxing on the large deck surrounded by nature, I enjoyed this great-tasting menu: an amuse bouche (appetizer) of compressed watermelon with lime vinaigrette, golden tomato, coriander, sea salt and cilantro; a first course of Madalyn’s biodynamic garden beet soup with goat cheese spuma (foam), and cucumber and an almond gazpacho with red onion and seedless grapes.

The second course was pine-smoked Prince Edward Island mussels in mustard creme, and wood-grilled shrimp with soft white corn polenta, smoked tomato butter and rosemary.

On to the third course of oven-roasted halibut with warm new potato salad with braised bacon, slow-roasted tomato and parsnip broth, and slow-braised beef short ribs with roasted salsify, plum tomato confit and truffled bordelaise.

And then, dessert: warm cherry and almond cake with creme fraiche, and a steamed lemon curd “pudding” with summer berries and whipped cream. The restaurant buys the freshest ingredients available daily from local farmers and has an ever-changing menu.

A breakfast stop at Arkville Bread & Breakfast, 43285 State Highway 28, Arkville, N.Y., 845-586-1122 , will bring you down memory lane. As one “Yelper” put it, “the atmosphere is what you expect for the Catskills. I call it awesome, some call it roadside disheveled and hippyish.” Located in an old red caboose, the pancakes can’t be beat, and the bread is fresh made daily. It is the place for breakfast for visitors and locals alike.

Sue Ohlo, aka “Mother Margaretville,” because before she opens her quaint country store with international flair, The Cheese Barrel, 798 Main St., Margaretville, www.cheesebarrel.com, she waters the flowers in town. Help yourself to sandwiches, soups, ice cream, imported cheese, chocolates and gourmet foods.

Cassie’s Cafe, 53535 State Road 10, Roxbury, N.Y., is where “Simple Food Is Done Right.” You will find Cassie Grabowski in the kitchen making soups, salads, pies, cakes, bread and rolls. Don’t forget to try her famous country chili. She even roasts the turkey breast and roast beef. Husband Bob grinds the lean beef for the burgers and takes care of the front of the house. You‘ll notice there are no fried foods on the menu. The teddy bear pancakes will put a smile on your face and the peach pie was fresh and delicious.

Home Goods of Margaretville, 785 Main St., www.homegoodsofmargaretville.com, is known as “the toy store for cooks and entertainers.” For those who enjoy mixing old and new, check out the vintage section.

Two foodie places will have to wait until my next visit. Fruition Chocolate, 3091 Route 28, Shokan, N.Y., is a small batch, bean-to-bar workshop where the cocoa beans are roasted and stone ground and crafted into delectable confections. Cha Cha Hut BBQ, 43311 State Road 28, Arkville, N.Y., 845-586-6100 , www.chachahut.com, offers slow-cooked BBQ, a hybrid of Texas and Carolina BBQ traditions. I hear their homemade maple apple bacon ice cream is worth the trip alone.

The town of Roxbury has been designated a “Preserve America” community as a result of its historical preservation efforts, and the entire Hamlet of Roxbury is on both the state and national Register of Historic Places. The historic Delaware & Ulster Railroad in nearby Arkville transports you back to a nostalgic time as you enjoy the beauty of the legendary Catskill Mountains, journeying through picturesque villages and farms along the East Branch of the Delaware River. Those looking for something that moves a bit faster, may explore the Catskills via the highest zipline in North America on nearby Hunter Mountain. If you are looking for a new place to take in picturesque fall foliage, Roxbury, N.Y., paints that picture. Skiing or snowboarding enthusiast? Roxbury, N.Y., is the place for you: within half an hour of four of the Catskills’ great ski areas of Plattekill, Belleayre, Hunter and Windham Mountains.

Click here to view the full story as it appeared in Hudson Valley Almanac Weekly.