Of the five CIA restaurant/cafes, St. Andrew's Cafe has always been the odd one out. The original concept - healthy cuisine - did not excite much enthusiasm. I ate there a year and a half ago, and while the food and service were excellent, the whole atmosphere felt stale and outdated, and the menu tried way too hard to be low fat and low salt and all those stupid oh-so-90's whims.
No more! Over the past six months the school has entirely revamped the place and jumped on the latest bandwagon - farm to table. The Hudson Valley is prime real estate for local eating, so it was only a matter of time before something at the school went local.
Some of my friends and I ate there on Friday night. Since we can use our swipe cards at St. Andy's, a $30 value meal was just $8, already paid for.
From what I heard, over 90% of the ingredients are locally sourced. Flours, cornmeal and whole grains come from Wild Hive Farm, milk products and superb butter from Ronnybrook, vinegars from a local monastary, and the grassfed beef, wild fish, poultry, pork and other meats, fruits and vegetables and cheeses, are all local. The students dry, can, pickle and otherwise preserve all the local goodness for winter months, so we can eat dried raspberries in February and pickled onions and peppers in the snow.
On Friday I ate delicious Sprout Creek Farm goat cheese tortellini on a bed of shredded Hudson Valley duck leg confit with wilted greens. Main course was a fillet of wild brook trout, perfectly cooked with nice crisp skin on a bed of buttery wheat berries, apples, pecans and brown butter. The instructors and students have done a wonderful job turning this place around - I certainly look forward to eating there more often. And thank goodness they have brought butter back!
P.S. Happy Birthday Dad!