Nic L Inn has been a fixture by the Poughkeepsie waterfront for a number of years. The service is friendly and the food is always good. We decided to pop in recently to check out a new menu item—a red wine linguini prepared table-side in a giant wheel of Grana Padano (a close cousin of Parmesan).
Since we know from past meals there, that the portions are generous, we decided to start with the linguini and skip appetizers. Our server wheeled a cart over that had a small burner and a massive wheel of cheese. She started by lighting a splash of brandy on fire and pouring it into the cheese to warm it up.
A separate pan held the house-made linguini, onions, herbs and chicken stock. When the cheese was nicely warmed, she added the pasta and continued to toss it in the cheese until it was completely coated.
She was kind enough to serve on three separate plates, so we didn’t have to worry about splitting it up ourselves. It was delicious and a fun start to the evening.
On previous occasions, I’ve automatically gravitated towards the duck wing appetizer. Before you start thinking that these are going to be the size of chicken wings, remember that chickens don’t fly, and ducks do. The wings turn out to be the drumstick part of the wings—3 large ones. It’s tender duck with crispy skin in a delicious glaze of apricot, dried chilies, sesame seeds, cilantro and chives. Generally, this plus one of their veggie sides is all I need to be happy.
Deciding this night to “take one for the team”, I went for one of the specials. Yes, duck again, but this time the magret, or duck breast with pink peppercorn sauce, arugula with warm bacon vinaigrette and wild rice. Duck perfectly cooked—medium rare. No fat (and no crispy skin). It could have use a little more aggressive seasoning, but that was made up for by the fabulous arugula salad (and slightly salty wild rice). It was a very generous portion and made a great lunch a couple of days later.
Janet went for the salmon with a horseradish crust and a coarse mustard sauce. It was cooked perfectly—medium rare. “The sauce was made with a coarse-grained mustard and was the first thing I tasted, I was immediately sold on the dish” she told me. She also commented that the roasted cauliflower and quinoa which was served with the salmon delicious. The cauliflower had a little char which not only added texture but the flavor was a nice compliment to the nuttiness of the quinoa.
Our friend couldn’t resist another pasta, this time the Cavatelli Aglio e Olio. It was cavatelli with house made chicken sausage, sun dried tomatoes, grilled eggplant and broccoli rabe. The sauce was light—more like a broth and the dollop of ricotta, she remarked, was just “like icing on the cake”. The chicken sausage had just enough spice to give the whole dish a nice kick.
As the name suggests, there’s a good selection of wines from around the world, and happily, none of them will set you back more than $90. There are 11 bottles at $29 each and about 10 wines by the glass at $9. There are also beers and craft cocktails if wine isn’t your thing.
We were way too full to do more than look at the dessert menu, but when I’ve had more of an appetite (or skipped the veggies with my duck wings), my go-to dessert is their Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart. It’s dense chocolate ganache in a brown sugar crust with a layer of caramel under the chocolate. Easily sharable, or just as easily finished off.
Cookies and milk, which our friend had on a previous visit, are not as innocent as they sound--the plate of homemade cookies comes with a glass of bourbon-spiked milk, very nicely presented. This adult version of cookies and milk is the perfect ending to your meal because after you drink it you will want to say “good-night!”
The Nic L Inn
135 N. Water St, Poughkeepsie, New York 12601
Phone: (845) 452-5649