Photos by Michelle Gillan Larkin
Led by kitchen veteran Michael Boulos, The Raconteur serves a curated menu that honors stories and traditions in Westchester.
With a deep-rooted ethos that every dish, cocktail, and element of decor — right down to his grandfather’s soccer trophy — has a story, kitchen veteran Michael Boulos of Croton-on-Hudson weaves a culinary tale of time-honored dedication, not just to hospitality in general but also to the well-conceived, artisan craft of food and beverage preparation. “Every item is there for a reason and is selected for quality and seasonality, not price,” he says. An English major prior to culinary school, Boulos “wouldn’t have called my place The Raconteur if I didn’t like to tell stories.”
With the precision of a fastidious grammarian or an old-school executive chef, Boulos strives to provide “a bar experience that stands apart from [typical] sports bars and restaurant bars.” This, despite a humble kitchen (devoid of fryer, grill, or range) that barely accommodates one cook. Most cooking occurs in small paella pans in a compact, four-deck pizza oven or out back, in the smoker.
An equally tight menu features elevated small plates, bountiful charcuterie and cheese boards, and a couple of sweets. Boulos’ upbringing in a Sicilian and Lebanese-Haitian household shines in his fresh hummus and labneh dips, luscious truffle burrata with pistachio-pesto atop crusty bread, and jumbo lump crab salad on toast. A pimento cheese board served with hot pepper jelly and Saltines is a standout and an ode to the mom of a fellow chef.
Finely tuned, handcrafted cocktails focus on spirits and quality mixers, like Fevertree tonics, seasonal and fresh-squeezed juices, and house-made simple syrup; craft beer and a couple of wines (including rarer orange wines) round out the comprehensive, highly creative beverage program.
“We’re partly defined by what we don’t offer,” says Boulos of his eatery, which launched in April. “No wings, burgers, or pizza, and no cheap well liquor, Bud Light, or ESPN.” With 45 seats, no TV, and lore to accompany every liquor and dish, the “raconteur” celebrates the “better stories [that unfold] when people are gathered together around a bar.”
10 Marble Ave, Pleasantville 914.769.4040 theraconteurbar.com