I have been eager to try the Palmer House Cafe in Rensselaerville for a couple reasons:
- Albany County’s Hilltowns region is one of my favorites. Although it’s a little bit of a drive for most folks out of the city, I think we too often get stuck in a routine of eating at the same old nearby places.
- The Palmer House is “farm-to-table” and “local” done right. They don’t just use those words to be trendy and add five dollars to the price of a menu item – they actually source much of their meat from the chef’s family farm and other menu items from nearby farmers. As someone coming from a mild agricultural background, I love to support this when it’s done right.
On to the food!
I had heard great things about the warm savoy cabbage salad, which is sauteed with a dijon dressing, gorgonzola, and pancetta.
This salad did not disappoint. The cabbage was nicely charred from the heat, and the sauce was creamy and tangy. I was skeptical about the addition of blue cheese crumbles, but everything melded together nicely with the warmth of the salad into a great dish. The pancetta added some textural contrast and a bit of protein to the meal.
We also tried the small plate/appetizer order of Indian Chickpea and Kale Fritters, which were served with a spicy aioli and fruit chutney.
Another great dish! The fritters had a bit more of a pureed and smooth consistency inside, rather than the chunky chickpea filling I was expecting, but they were nicely seasoned. The fruit chutney was an interesting complement to the crispiness of the fritters and the Indian spices. My only critique, although minor, was that these were a touch heavy with oil from the fryer.
My dining companion ordered the Cajun Meatloaf, which is served with a creole sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, and sauteed vegetables. Everything on the plate was well received.
Desserts at the Palmer House are homemade and all sounded wonderful, so of course we needed to try a couple. We ordered a cherry-peach crisp and a slice of brownie cheesecake.
We both raved about the ice cream that accompanied the desserts. The crisp had bright fruit flavors (predominantly from the cherry). The cake was a bit more brownie than cheesecake, and bordered on being too rich with chocolate (although some might love that about it).
Overall, we greatly enjoyed our meal at the Palmer House Cafe. The focus on local meats and produce was a welcome sight on the menu, and it translated into high quality ingredients that were excellently prepared. The restaurant’s ambiance is charming, in an old building in the center of Rensselaerville’s main street. Service was friendly and attentive.
Final rating: 9.5/10. Highly recommended! (Note: the menu changes frequently, so you may not be able to order the exact same dishes reviewed above)