French fare in Tarrytown’s storybook castle
Equus is one of those restaurants you visit to celebrate some special occasion, but this place’s setting is so memorable you’ll want to dine here for no other reason that to simply enjoy the surroundings. Located inside Castle Hotel & Spa, the historic, century-old hotel in Tarrytown, New York, Equus is a unique place with elevated French fare to match. The new chef, Miguel Mercado has put more of a focus on well-sourced seasonal food.
But there’s no denying this is a gorgeous place; a gilded structure you’d expect to find in the valleys of Europe rather than in the hills of Westchester. It dates to 1897 when a well-respected businessman purchased the land as a home for his growing family. Originally called Carrollcliffe, it was built in two stages over a 13-year span and was designed with the great Norman fortifications of Wales, Scotland and Ireland in mind.
The Oak Room, once the dining room of the family, is where you’ll want to sit for a full appreciation of the Castle’s grandeur. It’s here where you’ll be surrounded by wood-panel accoutrements first owned by Louis XIV and relish in the warmth provided by the oversized stone fireplace. The wood timbered ceiling, majestic chandeliers and white-table clothed setting add to the European ambiance, so much so that you’ll almost feel like you’re an extra in the PBS series Downton Abbey.
Adjacent to the Oak Room is the former greenhouse known as the Garden Room, a light-filled space with wide windows offering a distant view of the Hudson. In warm weather, there’s also a terrace for alfresco dining. For something more casual, albeit with a limited menu, one has the choice of the high-ceilinged General’s Bar, which has the ambiance of a small parlor.
Expect a range of plates combining American cuisine with European influences and a farm-to-table focus at the Tarrytown restaurant. That means something to please varying palates, including housemade pastas, fish (striped bass, salmon confit), and meats (a prime dry-aged sirloin, Moroccan spiced lamb, Pennsylvania chicken roulade). With the food sourced locally and organic when possible, the menu is ever-changing and forever fresh.
The weekend brunch options are tempting, too. Choose from dishes like crab Benedict, pancakes served with praline mousse, seasonal berries and local honey, and a burger topped with housemade pickles and “special sauce.”
General’s Bar has a limited number of items on the menu, but they are a tasty few: a lobster BLT sandwich, pulled pork sliders with grilled pineapple and truffled beef tartare. A solid cocktail list includes classics like Negronis and mint juleps.
Whatever you do, save room for dessert, which wows with its creativity and explosion of flavors. Highly recommended: The Mayan, a spiced chili hot cocoa with a trio of cookies, and Citrus Bliss, cheesecake with candied kumquat, lemon curd, white chocolate Chantilly and passion fruit jelly. You may find, in fact, that you hold onto your dessert menu a little bit longer than usual to deliberate.