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Old Drovers Inn, Dover Plains, New York

Hudson Valley Landmark

Stairs creek, wide-planked floors slope, a ship's clock chimes, dogs bark to greet visitors and the atmosphere of this restaurant/inn is genuine Colonial. The well-preserved stone structure dates back to 1750 when professional drovers herded New England cattle to New York City markets and stopped off at taverns along the Old Post Road. The drovers are gone, most of the taverns have disappeared and the road is now Route 22. But the original Old Drovers Inn candlelit tap room with its thick beams, stone walls, massive hearth and crackling fire is still welcoming diners.

The walls of the inn are hung with framed accolades from the country's best food critics and travel writers. As far back as 1938 the "Out-of-Town" column in The New Yorker praised the restaurant and the rooms. Last year B & B liqueurs awarded the kitchen first place in a national competition for country innkeepers and sent the chef and proprietor to France. The ultimate commendation came in 1992 when Old Drovers Inn was admitted to the prestigious Relais & Chateaux.

Old Drovers Inn, Dover Plains, NY
(credit:Edwin Fancher)

The blackboard menu has been listing some of the same signature dishes for years; guests keep on asking for the famous cheddar cheese soup, double cut rack of lamb and browned turkey hash. The crème brulée was in a class by itself with its warm sublime custard and thick brittle topping.

Breakfast here is really a meal to savor. Although there are never more than eight overnight guests, the cooked-to-order fare offers a wide number of selections including turkey hash with poached eggs, cheese-rolled omelets, home-smoked salmon, French toast baguette, Belgian waffles, Dutch-boy pancakes with apple compote, oversized hot popovers, cranberry bread and muffins. We'd come back again just for the breakfast.

We also liked our dormer-style room with its sitting area, large fireplace and down-home touches, such as terry robes, wool throws, a 1930s radio and imported toiletries. Innkeeper Kemper Peacock is a wonderful host.

The inn is located in the historic Hudson River Valley (Dutchess County) about two hours north of New York City.

Old Drovers Inn, Old route 22, PO Box 100, Dover Plains, New York 12522. Tel. (845) 832-9311. Midweek rates are $150 to $230 for two including breakfast. Weekend rates (Friday and Saturday) are $320 to $395 for two including breakfast and dinner. Rates do not include beverages, tax or service. The restaurant serves lunch and dinner five days a week and is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. www.olddroversinn.com


The Culinary Institute of America, Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, West Point, Tanglewood, Franklin D. Roosevelt's Hyde Park home and the Vanderbilt Mansion.

Winter 1994-95