Food & Drink

Jerking and Shucking in Millbrook Restaurants

by Michael Gross Photographed by Barry Kieselstein-Cord and courtesy Canoe Hill
Friday, September 22, 2017

When in Millbrook, it has long been advisable–and very much the thing to do–to drive twenty minutes to Michel and Patricia Jean‘s French-accented Stissing House in Pine Plains for a restaurant meal among your peers. In recent months, two new options have enlivened the dining scene, making going out that much more attractive.

Mike Del Grosso and his photojournalist wife Lauren Lancaster moved to the Hudson Valley three years ago and opened Canoe Hill at the end of December 2016. Previously at New York’s Cafe Colette and Buvette, Del Grosso was working at Via Carota when he found a space to lease in Millbrook–and spent a year and a half building Canoe Hill. The casual, hip spot with a discrete alley entrance on Millbrook’s main drag is comfortable, cozy and low key. Though open to the public, it’s a club just like Mortimer’s and Swifty’s in Manhattan used to be. While the seasonal American menu changes daily, oysters are a must-try and the bar hops with action late into the night. Drinking and mating are both blood sports in Millbrook, and Canoe Hill is their swinging new ring.

Part-Chinese, -Indian, and -African-Jamaican, Jullette Barker-Salvera, the master chef and partner at Railhead Jerk, a new Jamaican Bistro in next-door Amenia, was born and raised in Kingston, and holds two graduate degrees–one in fashion, the other in buying–from the Fashion Institute of Technology. In her previous career, her designs were sold in Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s and Lord & Taylor.

After more than two decades in fashion she sold her firm and, two years ago, was discussing what she might do next with a friend and neighbor, Sara Nesbitt. Their kids had attended the same prep school. Julette’s sister has been a professional restaurant owner for many years, both girls were raised with family style cooking back in Kingston. Sara, an artist who shows drawings and sculpture, was born in Utah but passed through Portugal with her mother and her father, a Prix De Rome award winning architect, and London before moving to a farm near Millbrook, where she rides and indulges in fly-fishing. A world traveler, she loves trying new cuisines and so, these two old friends and food lovers decided to partner up and open Railhead Jerk.

Their decor is basic and so is the food, but as most gourmands know, simple isn’t easy. Julette’s jerk ribs, chicken and pork, curried chicken and goat, oxtail stew and ackee and saltfish transport diners to Negril, Port Antonio and Kingston without the need to pass through an airport.

Railhead Jerk: 4789 Route 22, Amenia, NY Phone: (845) 789-1540

Canoe Hill: 3264 Franklin Ave, Millbrook, NY Phone: (845) 605-1570


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