If you are looking for a great breakfast or lunch that is truly farm to table, Cafe Mio is the place. Most visits I am sharing the dining room with the local farmers who supply them with their ingredients. The restaurant is not big, only about 15 tables or so and the “bar” where you are practically sitting in the kitchen, is my favorite place to sit. From my bar stool I have a great view of the big baskets of local produce which not only look pretty but taste amazing too.
On a recent visit I apologized to chef owner Mike Bernardo for taking so long to write this article. As he can attest, I eat at Café Mio regularly. I live just up the road and I’ve probably tried everything on the menu at least once. It is also one of the first places my guests ask to go when coming for a visit.
The menu doesn’t change much—instead they offer a large selection of specials. “The longer I am here the less I can change the menu. There are so many items that people specifically come in for that they complain if they can’t get them, so I change things by offering them as specials”, Bernardo says.
For the sake of not making this article a novel, I will only talk about a few of my “go-to” favorites one of my favorite specials.
There are no small plates when it comes to eating at Mio. The dishes come heaping. I would say I get the corn beef hash every other visit. The corn beef is homemade, shredded in large pieces and then folded into potatoes. The combo is seasoned, smashed and crisped on the grill. It’s served with your choice of eggs, I opt for poached.
Another breakfast favorite is the Huevos Rancheros. I don’t think I ever have been to Mio without seeing at least one of these on a table. A corn tortilla is made into a small bowl and filled with two eggs, the style of your choice, and surrounded by black beans, avocado, pickled jalapeños, sour cream, salsa and field greens.
For lunch, I usually choose from one of the specials on the board, unless I am craving grilled cheese. It’s not your ordinary grilled cheese, its topped with avocado and tomato. Sometimes I go crazy and even add bacon! The bread is sliced thick and the sandwich is pressed on the grill, much like a panini. Served with lightly dressed greens, it is my idea of the perfect grilled cheese.
The burgers are made from local beef and always really good too. I try to be somewhat healthy and get it with the mesclun greens as the side but you also have a choice of handcut French fries. The fries are slice very thin, perfectly browned with served with more than a hint of sea salt. These are very hard to resist.
Chef Bernardo recently added a wild salmon cake to the menu. I tried it on my last visit. It comes on a brioche bun, served with a remoulade and a lemon dill slaw. It a little hard to eat as a sandwich because the salmon cake lands up breaking apart. I landed up eating it with a knife and fork, which worked well because I was able to get every delicious component in each bite.
As far as specials, one of my favorite was the fried Nantucket scallop sandwich. It was heaped with small, delicately fried scallops that were seasoned and salted perfectly. The coating on the scallops was light and crispy and the homemade tartar sauce was the perfect finishing touch.
Bernardo opened the restaurant in 2009, and as he celebrates Cafes Mio’s 10th anniversary he is grateful for the support of the community who keeps the business bustling all year long.
“Depending on the season we also get a lot of tourists, but it is the locals that keep us going”, he tells me. “I like having the restaurant in a small town. We have so many regulars and I like seeing them every day. I also like dealing with the local farms, it adds a hyper local spin on everything we do.”
Whether you’re a local or just visiting the Gardiner area, Café Mio is always one of my top recommendations. The restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch Wednesday-Sunday.
Gardiner, NY 12525
Phone: (845) 255-4949
If they’re doing anything to celebrate their 10th anniversary, that might be a good way to end the piece.