Rūna in New Paltz opened recently in the spot that used to house the Village Tea Room. It’s a charming dining room and bar in an old farmhouse just off Main Street.
Run by Clare Hussain with Ryan McClintock manning the kitchen, there’s a definite French feeling to the menu and a cozy atmosphere inside (and out on the terrace when the weather gets better). Born in Bangladesh, Clare’s passion for cooking spans both sides of the pond, but her interest in French cuisine started when she attended hospitality school, so much so that she moved to France to study in her last year of college.
Her dream of opening a French inspired restaurant became a reality when she found the perfect space in New Paltz, as well as the right chef. Chef Ryan, a Culinary Institute of America, is classically trained in French cooking techniques. Between them they have created a restaurant with a neighborhood bistro feel and comfortable atmosphere.
Not surprising, Janet and I started onion soup and escargot. The French onion soup, was perfect for a cold night and came overflowing with yummy melted cheese. The stock had a nice depth and was just slightly sweet.
If you’ve always been on the fence about escargots, this is the perfect place to give them a try. Baked in a ceramic dish, they well-prepared snails with plenty of parsley, ready to enjoy. I would have liked bigger snails and a lot more garlic but consider them the ideal escargot for beginners.
Frank had the pâté du jour, which consisted of two generous slices of country pâté with the requisite mustard and cornichons and slices of crispy baguette.
Janet's husband, Rick, went on a lighter route, starting with the goat cheese salad, with Hudson Valley honey vinaigrette. Goat cheese, piped on toast rounds, surrounded a mound of well-dressed greens. The combination of the creamy goat cheese, the slightly sweet dressing, peppery arugula and crispy crouton was a winning combination both in texture and taste.
For main courses, two of us had the special of the day, roasted duck breast with pommes dauphinois and roasted squash and the other two went for the steak frites.
The duck was nice and rosy but not too rare. It was served with a mustard caper sauce, which was a nice change. I’m always a sucker for pommes dauphinoise (potatoes with cheese), and these were served in a perfectly round stack—creamy and cheesy. The squash was well roasted and tasty but, I would have preferred it peeled, it would have made it easier to eat.