Does this sound familiar?
On a Friday night, after a week of work, you just want to go to a place where you can hang, relax, enjoy a nice cocktail or a cold beer and of course, get something good eat.
That is just the type of place the Hoot Owl is.
Owners , Arif Khan and Sabeen Hasan, opened the Hoot Owl in May with the sole intention of making a place where guests could find really good food and really good people.
When I’ve been there, that is exactly what I found (and the drinks were really good too).
The menu is a unique spin on comfort food and Arif explained, “comfort food means many things to many people – it is a personal thing. We were both born in the US but our parents are from India, so many of the dishes are based on the Indian “comfort food” we were brought up on.”
At Hoot Owl you’ll find typical comfort food pub fare--burgers, steak, mac and cheese along with Tandoori Chicken, Murgh Makhani (Creamy Chicken Curry, Aloo Gosht (Indian Beef Stew) and Mediterranean specialties such as homemade hummus and Kebobs.
The building when it opened in 1856 and was the post office and general store in the old hamlet of Dwaarskill, in the town of Shawangunk in Ulster County. It first became the Hoot Owl Bar & Grill in 1947 and has been everything from a German restaurant to a speakeasy, a brothel, and most recently a biker bar.
What it is Arif and Sabeen have created there today is far from a biker bar!
The couple bought the property in February and spent months restoring the rustic country road house--creating a place that is inviting, warm and comfortable. It’s a welcoming place for locals to hang out and a great place for visitors who want to hang out with locals. The wood-plank floors, low ceilings and pine wainscoting and wood-burning fireplace give it a warm rural feel.
Naturally you’ll find lots of owls throughout the restaurant. Most came with the restaurant, some have come as presents from customers and others have been returned by customers who “accidentally” took them over the years.
On my first visit to the Hoot Owl, surprised to see Indian food on the menu, we tried the Hoot Owl Trio which is a sampling of three different dips served with pitas. We were served trio that included hummus, a red pepper (Romesco) and a beet, walnut and goat cheese dip. Together with the pitas and a well-made martini this was fun to eat and a delicious treat.
We also ordered the beef kabob which came with a side of herb yogurt dip (raita). The meat was was tender, cooked perfectly and full of traditional flavors.
The next trip, we ordered the fried olives to snack on with our cocktails. Fried green olives with feta cheese cream sauce were a first for us, but they didn’t last long!
For dinner my husband enjoyed the Fish Club Sandwich, which was an impressive piece of nicely battered, flakey, white cod served with fries. The harissa made a nice spicy addition to the sandwich.
I wasn’t terribly hungry so I ordered the appetizer special-- lamb meat balls. Aromatic and delicious, they were served with yogurt dip, and I ordered a side of pita, creating the perfect meal.