4802 US Highway 209

Accord, NY 12404

845-626-7777

  Friends and Family II

          Hillside Restaurant

 

   

 

 

Read our reviews in the

Times Herald-Record,

Daily Freeman &

Woodstock Times

 

 

 

Times Herald-Record

 

September 16, 2005

Friends and Family II Hillside Restaurant

Word of mouth is one of the most powerful ways to persuade customers to try new restaurants. They may see an ad or even drive by the establishment on their way to work; still, most people won't take the plunge.
   
I've driven by Friends and Family II Hillside restaurant a number of times, but haven't gotten around to visiting it. I admit I wasn't all that impressed with the exterior of the building. And let's be honest, Accord is not known as a hotbed of trendy restaurants.

 

That was until a friend of mine, a restaurant veteran, told me, "You have to try it; this guy can cook." A more enthusiastic recommendation is hard to imagine.
 

So we're here on a Friday evening approaching the outside of this very rustic building made up of primal stone on one side, dark red wood on the other. Inside, the room is anchored by a gorgeous stone fireplace and the ceiling is crisscrossed with thick, rough-hewn beams. Past that is an open bar area with a couple of tables, where we're sitting tonight. Farther in is another cozy dining room. The space is warm and comfortable; it makes you feel instantly at home.
 

But it is the menu, food and talented service team that really set the scene. The young busgirls can't stop smiling as they race each other to see who can serve you water first. Our waiter, lightly tattooed with a wisp of goatee, is an enthusiastic guide and server during our meal.
 

The menu is a nice balance of both familiar and original dishes. For instance, I start with a Rice Cake With Seafood and Lobster Sauce ($8). Wild rice and regular rice make up the small cake, which is studded with succulent chunks of shrimp and scallops. The delicious combination sits atop a light lobster sauce. This terrific dish, while not too rich, is still packed with flavor.
 

Our other appetizer is a reinvented classic. A large piece of goat cheese is coated in almond slices and served with roasted garlic (that's the classic part). But the chef has added poached pear and a delicate salad of baby greens. The garlic and goat cheese are naturals and the sweetness of the pear brings the dish to new and delicious heights. The portion is so large it'd make a nice light lunch.
 

Entrees come with either salad or soup, but not your regular old "cream of walk-in" for this place. The soup special tonight is Poached Oyster, and it is wonderful. Pale yellow soup is perfumed with saffron, one of the most seductive seasonings. The creamy broth is delicious alone but hides two barely cooked, unctuous and briny oysters. This is ambrosial.
 

My guest chooses the house salad, a lovely mix of baby greens with tiny tomatoes, one yellow and pear-shaped, the other red, both ripe and sweet. The house dressing is made with "Minus 8" vinegar, a special vinegar from Canada that is low in acidity and creates a light and polished dressing.
 

Entrees are more classical but are nonetheless satisfying. Rack of Lamb ($25) arrives cooked to a perfect medium and is served with potato gratin and sauteed sugar snap peas mixed with green and yellow zucchini. The lamb is seasoned with rosemary and garlic delicious.
 

Roast Duck With Orange Sauce ($20) comes from the specials list. Crisp outside, moist and lush within, it is a textbook example of good, simple cooking. The sauce, with just a hint of sweetness, is a nice change of pace. This is the real stuff, uncomplicated and scrumptious.
 

Dessert is a summer classic, Strawberry Shortcake ($6), served on the requisite biscuitlike shortcake. Sweet strawberries in a simple syrup ooze over the shortcake and are topped with light and fluffy homemade whipped cream.
 

With dinner we drink a California Petite Syrah from Concannon. This varietal, related to but not the same as regular Syrah, creates a dense, inky wine redolent of cherries. It is spectacular with the lamb.
 

Our hillside feast (the restaurant is on one of the hillier parts of Route 209) comes to $89 without tax and tip, a bargain for this unexpected gem of a meal.
 

The three people behind this undertaking chef Salah Alygad and mother-and-daughter team Denise and Brianne McCarroll (hence the name Friends and Family) have just celebrated the first anniversary of the restaurant, and they are to be congratulated for creating this great spot.

 

This restaurant is a real find. The decor is warm and honest, especially the great stone room. The young service team members are well-trained and obviously love their jobs. The cuisine is expertly prepared, creative and intelligent, and the prices are more than fair. This is a great escape into the country; try it.
   
   Restaurant critic Bill Guilfoyle has more than 25 years experience in the restaurant industry as a sommelier, manager and chef/owner. He is an associate professor at a local college.