The Hudson Valley Restaurants

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Escoffier

Fodorite Reviews

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Escoffier Review

The elegant Culinary Institute restaurant presents modern interpretations of classic French dishes such as lobster salad, smoked salmon, and sautéed beef tenderloin. Other specialties include duck-liver terrine with mango chutney, seared sea scallops, and snails with basil cream sauce.

    Contact Information

  • Address: Culinary Institute of America, 1946 Campus Dr., Hyde Park, NY 12538 | Map It
  • Phone: 845/471–6608
  • Location: Hyde Park

    Restaurant Details

  • Reservations essential.
  • Credit cards accepted.
  • Closed Sun. and Mon., 3 wks in July, 2 wks in late Dec.

Fodorite Reviews

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    Bocuse Review: Excellent Presentation of Dishes

    THIS REVIEW IS FOR BOCUSE, WHICH IS THE NEW NAME FOR THE RESTAURANT PREVIOUSLY KNOWN AS ESCOFFIER.

    My spouse and I dined at Bocuse at the Culinary Institute of America in mid-August 2013. We had dined years ago at the CIA in Napa Valley, but the campus of the Hyde Park CIA really blew us away! It is a gorgeous property on the banks of the Hudson River, so allow some time to stroll around the grounds and drive around the campus. (The Napa campus cannot compare, although the old Christian Brothers Winery building is lovely.) Check out the bookstore/school store while you are there to see all kinds of interesting cooking tools and cookbooks. Be sure to follow the directions to the restaurants that are provided online. We entered through the wrong gate, and had to take the scenic route around campus. One area of the central campus is under construction currently (and will be for some time, from the looks of it), so getting around that area relies on a traffic-light system, which had us confused a bit. There is plenty of free parking in the multi-level garage; we initially tried to park in a visitor parking lot that required code access, which of course we did not have.

    The three major CIA restaurants (Bocuse [which was previously called Escoffier], Ristorante Caterina de 'Medici, and American Bounty) all use the Open Table reservation system now. (Years ago, the CIA used its privately-designed reservation system.) You can also call to reserve a table.

    Bocuse reopened in February of 2013 after extensive renovations, and the result is a hip, modern, attractive space surrounded on two sides by windows and the third side of which fronts a glass-fronted kitchen. The restaurant is spacious, and tables are positioned nicely so that you are not crowded by your neighbor. The chef's hat wall sconces were cute but tasteful - my spouse overlooked them until I pointed them out. The restaurant also has a small private dining room (which perhaps holds 10 people). There is no formal dress code for this restaurant - most people we saw at dinnertime were dressed nicely (business casual or dressier), but the man seated nearest to us had on cargo short and hiking boots, so anything goes as far as dress is concerned.

    The presentation of our dishes was terrific, the taste was great (some dishes were more delicious and memorable than others), but the service was the part of the meal that needed the most improvement. However, in their defense, you can easily tell that it is the goal of the servers to be chefs, not wait staff, so they are much more comfortable being behind the scenes than speaking to the public. In addition, we visited after their month-long traditional July closing, so the students may have just started the semester mere days before we dined there, and they were probably just finding their "groove". An automatic gratuity of 17% is added to your bill, and you are requested not to tip anything additional, in accordance with school rules and regulations. We will keep our eye on the recent graduates to see in which restaurants they end up working.

    The presentation of the appetizers and desserts was truly impressive, but the entrees were more traditionally presented. All courses were a bit on the small side, but this is a French restaurant, and they make up for the portion sizes by offering several types of bread. Some unique things that the restaurant does: one of the dessert choices involves a waiter rolling a cart to your table and making ice cream in a stand mixer using dry ice. Sadly, this dessert must be ordered by two or more people at your table, and only one of us wanted that particular dessert (the ice cream accompanied different cakes and cookies). The restaurant also has a rolling drink cart, where it seemed that waiters were hand-crafting cocktails. The drinks were really reasonably priced - only $5 for beers such as Chimay, and slightly more for glasses of wine. At the end of our meal, we could not decide what was cuter - the delicious mignardises, or the way that they were delivered in a tiny wooden replica of the main CIA building (which we would have liked to take home!). We thought that the game cards on the table were a cute touch - most of the questions were food related. We will keep our eye on the recent graduates to see in which restaurants they end up working.

    Overall, we enjoyed a pleasant meal at Bocuse.

    by fluffnfold, 9/18/13

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