Mysterious, rave reviews, always packed, a menu that’s nowhere to be found…such is The Twisted Oak, which had been on my list since opening last year (Chef and Owner Michael Cutney is a Danny Meyer alum). As I started down the hill in Tarrytown one rainy day, there it was—and, as luck would have it, open for lunch, the day’s menu posted outside.
I step into the empty, glamorous dining room, receive a friendly greeting, and choose a table by the window where I can do some writing (the rest of the place is rather dark). The menu, decorated with a sketch of a tree and subtitled “The Root to Food,” is a compact selection of starters, homemade pastas, main dishes, and shareable sides. Bread arrives with what looks like butter but is actually a blend of Parmesan and ricotta drizzled with olive oil. Then, compliments of the chef, the famous truffled chickpeas—blanched, floured, fried, and hit with garlic, parsley, and truffle oil—which keep your hand reaching back by dint of some bar-snack voodoo.
Noteworthy on the beer list: Duncan’s Abbey, a new microbrewery in Tarrytown not yet open to the public or available in stores. I regretfully pass on the 12 percent ABV Belgian-style quadrupel in favor of a buttery Valley of the Moon Chardonnay that complements my order. Cocktails also tempt: an Aviation made with Plymouth gin; Upstate Old Fashioned, with Hudson Valley maple and brandied cherries; and It’s Huckleberry Thyme: Tito’s vodka (small-batch, pot-still, Texas), huckleberry syrup, and Aperol, garnished with thyme.
Can a wood bowl make salad better? Local kale salad rich with Marcona almonds, Meyer lemon, grated egg, and ricotta salata is served in a bowl whose texture and proportions enhance the food, like wine being served in the correct glass. After going back and forth, I also order house-made stracciatella cheese with grilled wine bread, my best decision of the day. It’s at least as good as any freshly made burrata you’ve had anywhere—milky, stretchy, drizzled with oil, the grilled bread the perfect foil.
Mains range from a porchetta sandwich with wild arugula and apple mostarda ($14) to Nova Scotia halibut with shaved fennel, cara cara orange, and black olive oil ($27). Homemade pastas with artisanal ingredients, local meats, and foraged mushrooms, add dimension to the menu. I go with country-fried Amish chicken with braised collards and brioche bread pudding. High-end fried chicken is trending like mad—why is that? This one, buttermilk soaked and dipped in flour, nails the moist-meat-to-crisp-skin contrast impossibly well—that voodoo again. More magically, the collard greens make the dish, in broth at the bottom of the bowl, each leaf a soft but substantial, mild-flavored thing.
What’s for dessert? White chocolate “soup,” too unusual not to order, brings an action element: the server pours white chocolate over silky Gianduja semifreddo sprinkled with crunchy graham streusel, cocoa nibs, and chopped hazelnut. Next time—and there will be one—Hudson Valley maple panna cotta with pumpkin seed praline, candied butternut, and apple butter. A long list of Night Caps (from Frangelico to Lagavulin 16 year) makes a cheeky appearance at lunch. Meanwhile, the fact that they serve Coffee Labs coffee from up the street comes down well in their favor.
The Twisted Oak
61 Main St
â€‹(914) 332-1992; www.thetwistedoakny.com