Main St., Catskill, 943-0420. Serving breakfast 8-10:45 Mon-Fri,
lunch 10:45-3 Mon-Fri. Mexican night: 5-8:30 Thu. AE, MC,
sandwiches, salads, breakfast fare
price range: $5.25 (half sandwich) to $11 (spinach
salad with added chicken or tofu)
perform an act of great trust when we order from an unfamiliar
restaurant. Much anticipation may accompany it: a long stretch
on the highway, a diversion for the family, a gathering of
colleagues. When it comes time to order, our palates are whetted
by remembrances of meals past and our hopes sharpened by the
And then we’re served the driest, most flavorless omelette
fair to say that our restaurant was born out of disappointment,”
says Mary DiStefano, co-owner of MOD Gourmet Café on Catskill’s
Main Street. “So often you sit down for food that you hope
will be good, and it never is.”
She and partner Dana Wegener worked in a number of restaurants
before opening their own place nearly three years ago, and
MOD Gourmet Café excellently satisfies any reasonable breakfast
or lunch expectation.
We’re not talking about old-school diner fare, however. Three-egg
omelettes ($7) are crafted around spinach, feta and sun-dried
tomatoes, or home fries, cheddar and hot sauce, or home-grown
herbs and goat cheese, among other cheese-rich combos.
The breakfast menu ranges from oatmeal with raisins and almonds
($4) and Tree-Hugger Organic Granola ($5) to the aforementioned
omelettes, which can also be enjoyed as a breakfast wrap for
the same price. Eggs any style? Name it: one for $4, two for
$5, with two sides of your choice. Sides include home fries,
thick-cut bacon, an English muffin, a non-English muffin,
croissant and toast.
Need a tasty trip to carbs land? Buttermilk hotcakes with
local maple syrup and a choice of berries, whipped cream or
(if there’s no stopping you) chocolate chips are $7. And there
are two styles of Texas toast ($7): with a brown-sugary bananas
foster topping or crowned with an Irish whisky sauce and homemade
Lunch sounds a different note. Salads and sandwiches are the
categories, each occupying a menu page. There are times when
I have to be dragged screaming to a menu like this, panicking
at the lack of burgers and Reubens and fries. Much as I enjoy
such bad-for-you fare, I can juxtapose the experience of having
one of the world’s worst Reubens (spelled incorrectly on the
menu, of course, at a place whose identity I’ll mercifully
not reveal) a couple of days before tucking into the fabulous
Mediterranean Plate ($9) here at MOD.
I’m a hummus snob, prizing my own super-garlicky blend above
all others, but I’m willing to make room for DiStefano’s preparation.
It’s more user-friendly than mine, but doesn’t sacrifice the
flavor essentials of the dish, like cumin. Not to mention
that it’s served with a few slices of homemade ciabatta (Wegener
is the baker) that complement it well. Stuffed grape leaves,
kalamata olives, piquant chunks of feta and cous cous-based
tabbouleh finish the plate, beautifully arranged and setting
off the red of the tablecloth nicely.
If the component items aren’t coming from their own garden,
the restaurant looks to other local sources. Hudson Valley
spinach salad sports local mushrooms with hardboiled egg slices
and fresh bacon bits ($9).
The Greek salad, which my daughter enjoyed, is built on romaine
hearts, sharing with mine the feta, kalamata olives and stuffed
grape leaves. It also has tomato and cucumber slices, and
she chose to top it with grilled chicken ($9 plus $2).
My friend Bob chose the Mexican Stand-Off, a whimsical $10
salad featuring seasoned flank steak (or chicken or tofu)
on romaine with tomatoes, cucumbers and tortilla chips, along
with black bean salsa, lime-flavored sour cream and chimichurri.
A hearty sprinkling of cilantro made the salad especially
Other combos of greens and meat and garnish are similarly
priced. If you opt for the MOD fusion ($8), you’ll get gorgonzola,
sliced pears and the aforementioned candied walnuts among
Sandwiches, priced from $7 to $10, are served on your choice
of homemade white, wheat, rye, pumpernickel or in a wrap.
Hummus and feta and greens mix with tapenade in the Greek
veggie sandwich; in another, flank steak, lettuce, tomatoes
and onions get a shot of buffalo-blue cheese dressing.
Others are built around Angus beef, turkey breast (with cheddar
and Granny Smith apples), mozzarella in combo with tomatoes,
roasted red peppers and onions, chicken salad, tuna and more.
With a successful breakfast and lunch business, demands have
come for dinner, which MOD met at first with a four-course
prix-fixe meal the second Saturday of each month. A bargain
at $35, it sells out at least a month in advance. “And we
do at least two, usually three seatings at that dinner,” adds
DiStefano. “So at the beginning of the year we added another
dinner. Every Thursday, it’s Mexican night.” Served from 5
to 8:30 PM, the à la carte menu includes burritos, enchiladas,
tacos and more. “That’s a busy dinner for us, too, bringing
in up to 60 people, which isn’t bad for a 28-seat dining room.”
I also want to throw in mention of MOD’s across-the-street
neighbor, Retriever Roasters (394 Main St., Catskill, 943-5858),
where owner Robert Lugo not only knows his coffee but also
served me the finest cappuccino I’ve tasted, turning what
was meant to be a grab-a-cup-and-go into a pleasant half-hour
at one of the coffeehouse’s tables.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
Capital Region Wine Festival at Proctors,
dubbed “Romancing the Grape,” takes place this
weekend (Feb. 27-28) at the theater in Schenectady
and includes the onsite participation of more
than 70 wineries. The festival kicks off at 7
PM on Friday with a lavish dinner prepared by
Yono Purnomo of Yono’s Restaurant, who will present
a menu that features his award-winning French-Indonesian
specialties paired with Joseph Carr wines by sommelier
Dominic Purnomo. The cost for dinner is $125 per
person, and reservations are required. The festival
continues on Saturday from noon to 4 with the
Grand Tasting, during which participating wineries
will present hundreds of wines alongside culinary
delights from some of the area’s best restaurants
($50 per person). Also offered on Saturday will
be a series of seminars: The One-Hour Wine Expert
with Kevin Zraly, Sherry and Tapas with Andy Seymour,
Cheese and Wine Pairings, The New Renaissance
in Tuscany, and A Wine and Food Romance with Yono
and Dominic Purnomo. Seminars require a $25 paid
reservation. For more info, visit proctors.org
or call the box office at 346-6204. . . . Remember
to pass your scraps to Metroland.