Welcome to the Phoenicia Diner. For those of you who know the Hudson Valley well, this is the new Phoenicia Diner, not the old Phoenicia Diner that I remember from my childhood which was decidedly unhip.
Under the ownership of Mike Cioffi who bought resurrected the place in 2012, the place has gotten a serious facelift. Although it retains its non-descript, everything is new, clean and charmingly camp-chic, right down to the vintage counter stools and the logo - a wood-panelled station wagon loaded with a canoe, paddles and inner tube. Kind of like the Dwell version of a 1950's diner.
But the changes Cioffi made are more than just skin-deep. The menu features locally-produced eggs, dairy, bread, produce, coffee, chocolate and more.
And the offerings are a nice mix of classic American diner fare with some creative and healthy twists. Like the "Arnold Bennett Skillet - locally smoked trout, parmesan cheese and crème fraîche scrambled eggs or the Cuban pot roast - braised grass-fed beef served with mashed potatoes and veggies.
I was joined by the lovely Martha Frankel, author, interviewer, radio personality, creator of the Woodstock Writers' Festival and a Catskills institution in her own right. While we ate, we discussed a wide range of topics including the ongoing fallout from Hurricane Irene, polyandry (no, it's not a personal practice for either of us), her new gig on WDST with Jimmy Buff and much, much more.
She ordered one of the specials - a crab cake BLT on a brioche roll for $11. According to Martha, it had a delicious flavor thanks to the bacon and was not too fried. She's into spicy and felt it would've been even better served with a nice chipotle mayo.
I ordered a cup of the chicken tortilla soup for $4. It had a nice broth - flavorful and full of veggies - corn, celery, carrot, onion, tomato, and free range chicken. Topped with thick strips of tortilla, sliced avocado and fresh cilantro, it straddled the line between light and hearty.
I also ordered the quinoa salad for $8. Greens, cukes, carrots, onions with a heavy garnish of quinoa. It was light, crunchy and fresh but a little bland.
The food was high quality and carefully prepared. My meal was by far the lightest, healthiest diner fare I have ever eaten. In retrospect, I wish I'd ordered something with some bacon on it. Next time...
If you don't live in the Hudson Valley (yet), take Mike Cioffi's advice and "come for the mountains, stay for the food." There's lots of good info on what to see and do and where to stay while you're here sprinkled all around the edges of the menu so take it with you when you go.
Open daily from 7 AM to 5 PM in the summer and Thursday-Monday the rest of the year
5681 Route 28 in Phoenicia, NY 12464
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