Oriole 9 Cafe & Restaurant
17 Tinker St., Woodstock
Once a year, usually September, I meet a former coworker and good friend for lunch and store-hopping in Woodstock. She lives in Howes Cave, NY and I'm in Washingtonville, so this internationally renowned Ulster County village is about halfway for both of us. This annual meeting is a chance to catch up with someone I've known for going on 15 years, and it's a great reason to immerse myself in the funky Woodstock scene.
We tend to dine at the same few places each year, so this year we thought we'd try something different. My friend, her 20-something-year-old daughter and I were heading up Tinker Street (which is also Route 212) and found ourselves at Oriole 9 Cafe and Restaurant. It looked busy but not crowded, so we walked in.
While we waited for a table to be set up, we took at seat at an overly large leather ottoman - big enough to easily fit the three of us. A couple with five youngsters filled out the other sofa and chairs and ottoman.
To the right we could see the kitchen. There is something comforting in seeing your food prepared - you know that something dropped on the floor isn't going to be dusted off and plopped back on the grill. The dining area isn't terribly spacious, and the ceiling fairly low, yet there is no sense of crowding. The tables are far enough apart that you can't hear the conversation next to you and the open layout gives an airy feeling. The decor is simple, clean, warm, and hip.
For a largely touristy town, particularly during leaf-peeping season, the clientele at Oriole 9 was surprisingly non-tourist. It seemed to be mostly locals - families, couples of all ages, and singletons. I got the impression that this is a place where locals go, which says a lot about the restaurant.
The food and the ambience must be great for people to consider it "the" place to go for a meal. There is something special about a restaurant where the locals return to it not just on special occasions, but because on a Sunday morning it feels like home.
Within just a few minutes our table was ready. We ordered our drinks (mint tea with loads of fresh mint right in the glass, lavender tea, and a carafe of water for the table), which were brought to us promptly.
The menu was interesting. I've never seen peanut butter and Nutella (a delicious chocolate spread) sandwich on the menu elsewhere. Even though I'm not a meat eater, there was plenty on the menu for me to choose from. The quinoa with blood orange salad sounded good, as did the Thai crab cakes sandwich with avocado, tomato and wasabi yogurt. Oh, and then there's the brie and peach panini. Those would have to wait until another visit.
Even though I'd already breakfast hours earlier, I had a craving for eggs, so I chose the omelet with goat cheese and spinach. It came with a thick piece of toasted Italian peasant bread and a small salad. The dressing on the salad was very good - a Caesar-type dressing with a hint of mustard.
My friend had the crepes with fresh strawberries, which looked wonderful. Her daughter dove in to the soba noodle with pieces of tofu covered in sesame seeds and greens and tossed with a soy vinaigrette. Seeing her plate almost made me wish I'd chosen that instead.
But, perhaps I could return to Oriole 9 at another time for dinner. I'd love to bring my husband. He might like the tuna filet with polenta sticks, or the filet of pork with creamy mustard sauce and broccoli rabe. The quinoa burger with roasted vegetables and tzatziki sauce sounds heavenly to me. And if I had my way I'd choose the Dutch Apple Pie with whipped cream and cinnamon sugar for dessert.
I'm looking forward to my next visit to Oriole 9. Maybe it will be with my friend next year, or maybe I can convince my husband to make the hour's drive to Woodstock one day soon. I'll tell him it's worth the trip.