Annus Horribilis: Can it Be Over?

It’s been a horrible year…but is it really over? Can diners come out to play?

After a cruel, hard winter with lots of restaurant closures, it looks as though the Westchester dining scene is still standing. Sure, we took some hits, and there have certainly been losses…but it looks like the warm weather is bringing a few tender shoots. Here’s the new growth that we’re excited about:

Comfort Lounge
Chef John Halko, Hastings king of organic take-away at Comfort, has had a rough winter, when the projected opening of his actual restaurant (with actual toilets, tables and liquor license), Comfort Lounge, was delayed from month to month since early fall 2008. After doing much of the construction in the new space himself, he managed to move out of the eight-seat, facility-free Comfort three weeks ago and is currently offering the entire range of Comfort faves, plus cocktails and live entertainment, in spacious new digs across the street. Halko is retaining the old Comfort storefront at 598 Warburton, which he plans to operate as a café, with coffee and baked goods. Basically, we love Chef Halko for his thoughtful, gently-priced, organic, healthy food—and now there’s booze to wash it all down. Plus, we hear he’s using freshly squeezed juices and organic vodka, so you can get your beta-carotene along with a buzz.
Comfort Lounge
583 Warburton Ave, Hastings-on-Hudson

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Sweet Grass Grill
Equally green and rivertown-ish, Dave Starkey of Dobbs Ferry’s Tomatillo—which offers a lighter, eco-friendly take on Tex-Mex—has opened Sweet Grass Grill, which promises locavorian takes on Americana standards. It’s sited in the newly uncovered Tarrytown shingle house vacated by Main Street Café, and diners can expect a casual vibe and a eco-conscious menu with Blue Hill at Stone Barns greens and pork, grass-fed beef hamburgers, and sustainably-harvested fish from Litchfield Farms Seafood. Also on tap: locally-brewed Captain Lawrence beer and a split-log bar from Pocantico Hills’ Rockefeller Preserve. Don’t tell ‘em I said so, but you might even be able to get french fries and ketchup.
Sweet Grass Grill
24 Main St, Tarrytown

Tarry Lodge
Okay, Tarry Lodge isn’t exactly news anymore (we did all of our “heavy breathing” last fall, and now we’re a little dizzy), but there’s a lot going on right now that the first wave of novelty-diners won’t know about. First, owning partner Nancy Seltzer informs us that brunch is being served on Saturday and Sunday middays, with a sample menu available on the website. There are lots of delicious-looking mains in the $15 range, and—in case you’re quailing about whether it’s family friendly—we know that it’s a fine place to go with a multi-generational group. In fact, we spent a memorable Sunday afternoon at Tarry Lodge and it was just like a big family party: don’t worry…just saddle up and go.

Also, plans are in play for a rooftop space at Tarry Lodge, slated to open this summer. Details about what’ll be on offer—full menu, antipasti or just drinks—are still up in the air, but since the main kitchen will be two long flights down, we’re hoping (for the waiters’ sakes, anyway) that the offerings will be edited. What we’re praying for is the full Tarry Lodge antipasti range, the entire glorious wine list, and a bocce court, all cooled by soft breezes off the Byram River. Fingers crossed.
Tarry Lodge
18 Mill St, Port Chester

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