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   when restaurants move to Rhinebeck (reprise)
Sunday, February 16 2014
As always on my birthday, Gretchen prepared me a breakfast pizza (actually two small pizzas), which I ate with Sunday morning coffee by the woodstove. I was now 46 years old.
Gretchen had to work today, and it fell to me to walk the dogs. I tried using a pair of snowshoes Gretchen had bought years ago, but they didn't provide much support on the soft crustless snow, and my feet pressed about 90% of the way down to the ground. Suffice it to say, I didn't make it far down the Farm Road, and Ramona didn't get much exercise.
I thought maybe Mark would be coming over again today, but at least this time I'd opened up some time in my afternoon that I didn't mind passing in a drunken stoned state. I sent him some emails and even tried calling him, but it turned out he was on some mountain snowboarding. I ended up getting drunk and stoned all by myself, though not nearly as much as I would have had he suddenly arrived.
This evening after Gretchen returned home, we were joined by Sarah the Vegan and drove across the river to Rhinebeck, my least favorite local village (my second least-favorite local village is Stone Ridge, which I like twenty times more than Rhinebeck). It was my birthday, so Rhinebeck had been my choice. But the only reason I wanted to go there was a Mexican restaurant called Gaby's, which had been a delightful discovery made two years ago when in Rhinebeck to see an excruciating performance of Waiting for Godot. Mole Mole is my usual birthday restaurant choice, but I'd remembered Gaby's as being delightful and the food being good.
When we arrived, all the tables were taken (there was a large party there celebrating someone's 50th birthday), so we sat at the bar, which for some reason lacked a bartender. The bartender never showed up during the ten minutes we spent at the bar. Looking down the menu, the thing I selected was the vegetable fajitas, along with some french fries and a small dish of jalapeños. Sarah ordered something similar (though no fries), and she and I split a half pitcher of margarita. Gretchen ordered several sides and a mojito. The food took a very long time to arrive, and we had to ask for a second basket of chips to tie us over (the second basket was a lot colder and staler than the first basket had been). As for the food, it was lame. The grilled vegetables were listless and mostly flavorless, and too dry to really work inside a small white flour tortilla. We were given sides of rice and beans, but the amount was tiny, as though Gabys has discovered that diners typically don't eat any of their sides of rice and beans. Had it not been for those jalapeños and french fries, my fajitas would have completely sucked. That was pretty much Sarah's experience, though I don't think she was as disappointed as I was. Gretchen was similarly underwhelmed by her food. We should have just gone to Mole Mole.
The question then is this: what happened to Gaby's? Gretchen had discovered it first in its first location in Ellenville, where it was a divey restaurant in a run-down neighborhood in one of New York's least-respected villages. When one of the members of the family that owns it moved to Rhinebeck, the second restaurant was opened there, and soon thereafter I had that great meal there following Waiting for Godot. I don't think I'd been back to Gaby's since that one meal, but the place had clearly changed in that time. It had been redecorated in a staid, tasteful manner, with one wall of the dining given over to a huge relief of an enlarged bird feather. Most of the other customers (some of whom Gretchen knew) looked very Rhinebeck, which is to say like Republicans who are educated enough not to wear furs. Such people, through their menu choices, are going to have a deleterious effect on a restaurant no matter what that restaurant's intentions happen to be. They're going to order the blandest, meatiest food on the menu, and the rest of it will languish and suffer. Furthermore, because cost is of little concern to such people, there will be an upward pressure on prices. The upshot of this is as follows: even if there is a good restaurant in Rhinebeck, it won't stay good for long. We've also seen this happened with Terrapin (which was only good when it was in West Hurley) and Rhinebeck's Thai restaurant (where we only ate once and vowed never to return). There's still Gigi Trattoria, which has always been good, but, due to the nature of their menu and kitchen policies, we stopped going there once we became vegan.

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