If you grew up in the Hudson Valley, like I did, there is a good chance that you dined at Ship Lantern Inn at least once, and most likely it was for a special occasion. It’s that type of place—the place you go when you want to treat yourself or take someone out for a top-notch dining experience and it has been that way for almost a century.
“We’re in our fifth generation of some families celebrating at the restaurant. I love hearing the stories about a grandpa or great-grandfather being here back in the forties or thirties even. It’s amazing! We’ve had people where my grandfather did their wedding and now we are doing theirs” owner Michael Foglia tells me.
As for the food, Foglia describes the cuisine as New American Continental. According to Chef Dana Calabrese, customer favorites include Dover sole, Chateaubriand and Caesar salad, all served table-side. The sea bass is their most popular seafood and the short ribs cooked in port wine and pomegranate and served over butternut risotto keep customers coming back for more.
The restaurant grows their own herbs and much of their own vegetables in colaboration with Caradonna Farms, a fourth-generation family grower of sustainable and bio-diverse fruits and vegetables, in Marlboro. A caprese salad is made daily with the farm’s tomatoes, basil and house-made mozzarella, and their roasted peppers are a not to be missed seasonal highlight.
My personal favorites on the menu are the pan roasted Parmesan crusted swordfish and the slow roasted duck. The swordfish always comes cooked to perfection and the roasted shallot, citrus, caper, beurre blanc sauce perfectly compliments both the fish and the sides of mashed potatoes and julienned vegetables.
The sauce for the duck varies each evening—most recently it was a cherry sauce. The skin of the duck was deliciously crispy, with the meat moist and succulent. Cherry sauce is usually not my favorite, but in this case it was the perfect match.
For seafood lovers their chilled shellfish sampler for two is a tower of lobster, jumbo Panamanian shrimp cocktail, Blue Point oysters, littleneck clams, and colossal Maryland crab. It comes with two dipping sauces, a Cajun cocktail sauce and Hudson Valley honey-lime aioli. Yummy!
Also delicious are their baked clams. Prepared just the way I like them—six whole clams on the half-shell, baked with and topped with buttered, seasoned breadcrumbs, perfectly golden brown.
As for desserts, all are top-notch. Best of all, if you have a hard time choosing, you can go for their dessert sampler and pick any three, which is what we did. We chose the crème brulee, pecan pie with homemade caramel ice cream, and Bananas Foster (not shown) which they prepared for us table-side. It may seem like a bit much, but some how we seemed to finish it all!
“This is our 94th year!” Owner Michael Foglia boasts. “The Revolutionary War-era building originally operated as a boarding house and was purchased by my grandfather John Foglia, Sr. in 1925. It was sort of a precursor to a bed-and-breakfast because patrons could stay for a spell and share meals with the family.” The restaurant’s decor is both traditional and nautical, with two fireplaces, patio and terrace dining and seating for 175 guests.
The restaurant has always been known for both their food and incredible service. Going out to dinner at Ship Lantern is definitely not your ordinary dining experience.“For us, the dining experience is a symphony, We’re always trying to raise the bar for both food and service. We go those extra steps to make the experience truly memorable.” It doesn’t escape Foglia that the new generation of customers, and for that matter, the staff, have not experienced a service and hospitality experience like Ship Lantern offers.
According to General Manager, Sal Saccoccio, the staff is always asking themselves, “How are we making the customer feel in the place. Do they feel welcome? Are we exceeding their expectations? Is the restaurant clean? Do they feel appreciated?”
Since the restaurant began in 1933 the family’s motto has always been, “We are only as good as our last meal served”. For Foglia and his staff it means paying attention to every detail. “Our family has always been about hospitality, and we respect tradition but we also understand the fact that we always have to keep it fresh.”
My opinion of Ship Lantern? They keep getting better with age!
Along with the regular menu, the restaurant offers a popular 4 Course Prix Fixe menu between 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday - Saturday, and from 1:00 - 5:00 p.m. on Sundays for only $31.50 per person!
Ships Lantern 1725 Route 9W Milton, NY 12547 Phone: (845) 795-5400