Table Talk: The Bullhouse
Fred Monroe, the longtime supervisor from the town of Chester, is one of Warren County’s finest. He has worked for years, in many capacities to promote and protect the Adirondacks that we all so love. A few weeks ago he promoted his own hamlet and asked me to try a new steakhouse that had recently opened in Chestertown.
A steakhouse in Chestertown?! Hey, they already boast a handful of our area’s finest dining establishments so why not? I am always eager to try the new places and report back to my loyal followers.
So, on a quiet Monday night in May, NASCAR Nut and I, leaving the ladies back home, traveled newly-paved Route 9 into Chestertown. The only vehicles on that section of Main Street were in front of The Bullhouse, located in a restored 19th century building that formerly housed an ice cream parlor.
We crossed a small porch that I am certain is destined for diners during the summer, into a sleek, neat looking bistro atmosphere. The décor is fresh, clean and inviting. The dining area that seats about 60 is separated from a long bar that sports a carving of, what else, a bull.
Owner-chef Lonnie Shenefield and her husband Marc teamed up with the building’s owners, Greg and Sharon Taylor, to transform this setting into a wonderful, new dining venture. The walls are bare, but soon to have artwork from a nearby gallery, and the lighting is subdued and classy throughout.
A huge fireplace greets you as you enter, and will be very welcome during our long Adirondack winter months. Good job, all the way around!
We were greeted not only by Lonnie, but by Rob as well, a young energetic bartender. He presented us with the extensive wine list and several beer choices, including five draughts. I chose a 2011 Kato Sauvignon Blanc and found it crisp and a bit fruity with a long finish. NASCAR Nut ordered a Don David 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon.
I quizzed Lonnie on the reason for naming their restaurant The Bullhouse. She said it was chosen obviously as a tag to their signature steaks and nominated by her 5-year-old, who made the final choice.
The kitchen is staffed by Don and Rich and presents a bar menu as well as several full dining choices. Sit at the bar, relax and enjoy two huge flat screen TVs and munch on a 6 oz. chopped chuck and short rib burger, pork tacos, a Cubano sandwich or Acada stone of the day made with cured meats (speck, hard salami and pepperoni), cheese (Manchego) and jalapeño stuffed olives. The Bullhouse offers a rotating bar menu, keeping things interesting for their patrons.
We chose the dining room and were warmly greeted by our waitress, Brittani, who promptly handed us menus and poured our ice water.
The Bullhouse’s Tex-Mex flavor is all over the place, with tableside guacamole, charbroiled jalapenos, calamari fritas, mussels and potato skins stuffed with chili, cheese and jalapeños for starters.
There is a sausage and corn chili as well as a sliced steak salad with avocado vinaigrette. Favorites are tequila lime infused Ahi Tuna, a mesquite pork chop and stuffed chile rellenos. Brittani told us tonight’s catch was cod or catfish served with shrimp and a basil caper tartar cocktail sauce.
Steak choices include a 20 oz. bone-in strip, 14 oz. ribeye and a strip sandwich sliced over tribeca bread. Toppers include poblano rajas, chimichurri, mushroom demi-glace and chipotle crema. Plenty of options to add unique flavor to your steak of choice.
The Bullhouse offers generous sides of fresh cut fries, cole slaw, yellow rice, tobacco onions, black beans and sweet potato puree. There’s even Mexican Coca-cola!
NASCAR Nut came out of the pits and started with a heaping bowl of white chicken chili. His raving caused me to sample some of the best chili I have encountered! Huge chunks of chicken breast in a delightfully thick, creamy sauce served temperate hot, yet not spicy hot. Perfection!
He followed with the 8 oz. prime top sirloin that was “baseball cut,” cooked exactly to his liking and topped with garlic butter. The cut was tender, lean and declared “Absolutely great!”
I, to no one’s surprise, began with my customary caesar salad. No ordinary caesar here! The romaine is left whole, sliced lengthwise, grilled warm and flaked with grana padano and a delightful house made caesar dressing. A “don’t miss” beginning for all caesar salad fans.
I ordered a smoked paprika chicken for my entrée that was butterflied, filled with mild cheddar, topped with a sliced tomato and wrapped in a slice of applewood bacon. It was finished under the broiler and was as good as it gets.
We both enjoyed tonight’s twice baked potato, some fresh spinach and the house corn bread. As if all this was not enough, NASCAR Nut must always have dessert. From an extensive list of smores, apple crisp, fudgie wedgie, root beer float and a Chipwich, he chose a crème brulee flan with a dollop of whipped cream.
So the diners who preceded Yours Truly to The Bullhouse and declared it good were wrong. It was not just good, it was a great experience from start to finish! What a marvelous gift to this quaint little hamlet.
The portions are generous, the pricing fair, the ambiance inviting, the menu creative and the staff friendly. No bull, it’s great!!
The Bullhouse, 6393 Main St., Chestertown, New York. 518-494-8027