Table Talk: The Bullhouse
For the past two years I have heard from several self-professed critics about The Bullhouse in the hamlet of Chestertown. I am also a faithful follower and senior contributor of Trip-Advisor. When I read about a new restaurant, I do my best to find out first-hand about its qualities. Good, bad or indifferent.
Companion and I had Miss Cindy and Red Fez in town and regardless of the snow, wind and temp, we made the trek to Chestertown. A mere hop, skip and jump compared to many of our past restaurant reviews.
Traveling up Route 9 to the Y-intersection, we suddenly found the main street full of cars in front of our destination. Inside, the bar was hoppin’ but only one table had diners. Within the next hour there would be a wait for such tables.
The Bullhouse, renovated by former Friend’s Lake Inn owners Sharon and Greg Taylor, is a storefront setting with a long bar in one room and a cozy dining room in another.
Patrons are greeted by a hostess as they enter and directed into a warm, comfortable room where tables are set with white tablecloths, gleaming silverware and fine glassware. The walls are adorned with interesting artwork and though a few weeks after Christmas, a small tree still stood with LED lights in the front window, adding to the overall ambiance.
Desiree brought us to our table and water was promptly poured. The owner, Chef Lonnie Shenefield was busy in the kitchen prepping for the expected rush. I also noticed Jeff, a 17-year veteran of Rene’s, serving and backing up our hostess as well.
Our waitress, Chris delivered the wine list and recited the nightly specials of stuffed haddock and corn and potato chowder. Companion noted a very reasonable wine list that included one of her favorites and thus chose a bottle of Spanish Tempranillo Maximo wine. She was assured she could take any unused portion home.
Miss Cindy ordered a margarita, appropriate as The Bullhouse menu is somewhat Tex-Mex. Made in the obligatory huge glass and with Grand Marnier, it was deemed delicious. Red Fez and I had our usual Dewar’s on the rocks.
Jeff delivered a complimentary salsa platter with house made tortilla chips. A nice, appreciated touch. Soon, another member of the wait staff would bring our apps and salads.
Chef Lonnie’s menu begins with white chicken chili or sausage and corn chili. Starters are plentiful and range from chicken wings, garlic parmesan mushrooms and smoked mozzarella to charbroiled jalapenos, guacamole, chicken tostadas and Mexican style littlenecks, steamed in dark Mexican beer, chorizo, tomato, onion, cilantro and seasonings.
Salads include garden, grilled caesar and sliced steak with artisan greens. Steak lovers have choices of 22 oz. Porterhouse, 14 oz. rib eye, twin-petit filets or an 8 oz. /12 oz. prime tip sirloin.
Entree selections include smoked orange rubbed salmon, broiled or fried fish and shrimp, paprika chicken, pumpkin raviolis and stuffed Chile rellenos.
We began with an order of bacon wrapped dates. Yup! Dates, neatly encased in wonderfully crisp bacon on a skewer drizzled with house made blue cheese sauce and almond slivers. An absolutely delightful combination. Another appetizer of pumpkin raviolis was finished in a subtle brown butter sauce with grated sage derby cheese.
Our salad choice of grilled caesar was not only enormous but a very creative and delicious presentation. A whole, full leaf bouquet, sliced in half lengthwise, grilled and flaked with Grana Padano and adorned by a very rich Caesar dressing. The Bullhouse grilled caesar is such a change from the ice-cold crunch variety, but perfectly plentiful and delicious!
Miss Cindy had an entrée of Gulf Coast fish and shrimp. Fresh, flaky haddock topped with shrimp, broiled perfectly and finished with a nice basic caper tartar sauce on the side.
Red Fez dug into a New York strip steak, prepared medium over a tribeca loaf and topped with a succulent mushroom demiglace, quite rich and creamy. Some nice fresh cut fries with smoked sea salt came along for the ride.
Companion enjoyed an Ahi tuna entrée infused with tequila lime, pepita coated and served with jalapeno crema. It was seared perfectly rare as promised.
Yours Truly opted for a platter of four mesquite-demi pork shanks over some wonderful smoked sweet potato puree. Fall off the bone tender, moist pork served bone-in with a wonderful deep, rich sauce.
Tiny little tureens of coleslaw came on each plate as well as some moist corn bread dotted with jalapeno and cheddar cheese.
We were all full and quite satisfied until Chris recited the dessert selection. We never pass on bread pudding! Tonight was no exception and much to our delight, we found The Bullhouses’s among the best ever! Warm, moist and drizzled with a Capt. Morgan caramel sauce, it was an excellent finish to a great meal.
By now, all the tables were filled. Skiers, snowmobilers and locals alike, were enjoying this wonderful destination in the hamlet of Chestertown.
Don’t wait as long as I did Dear Reader. Robin the bartender makes excellent cocktails, the staff is friendly, Lonnie’s menu is exciting and creative, Jeff is a great host, and then there’s that Captain Morgan bread pudding!
6389 Rt. 9, Chestertown, NY, 518-494-8027