Eva Barnett came to the Catskills for the farming and stayed for the food.
Last month, after three years working at local farms and then stints at other people’s restaurants, Barnett opened Adella Dori Cafe — the first of two new restaurants slated for Main Street debuts in Callicoon this summer.
“Having all these beautiful ingredients at my fingertips made me realize that I was less interested in farming than I was in eating and cooking,” Barnett said.
After farmhand gigs in Delaware County and just across the river in Pennsylvania, Barnett built up her resume at several Sullivan County restaurants and caterers, including The Heron in Narrowsburg, Early Bird Cookery in Callicoon Center and Henning’s Local in Cocheton Center, where she still waits tables one night a week.
When it came time to open her own place, she aimed for “a cozy spot for people to get an excellent cup of coffee” and a simple meal.
“I’m trying to strike a balance between having a higher-end product without pricing people out,” she said. “I want to be inclusive and not just a place for weekend folks.”
Named after Barnett’s grandmother Adella and her mother Dori, the cafe serves a small menu of locally sourced breakfast and lunch items. Her pastry case is stocked with sweet and savory items, including a quiche that changes daily. Soups and sandwiches round out the menu. The coffee, an organic blend that changes seasonally, comes from Kos Kaffe in NYC.
Barnett buys her produce, meat and dairy products from local farms, mostly in Sullivan County and just across the Delaware River in northeastern Pennsylvania. Whatever is in season on-farm and at the weekly Callicoon Farmers’ Market guides her menu. Last week, for example, the soup was arugula and spring onion. Grits with a choice of bacon, egg, pesto and sautéed broccoli rabe were a weekend breakfast special.
“It’s pretty much driven by whatever I can get my hands on,” said Barnett, who has a pastry chef and a barista on her staff of three. “We go to the market every Sunday and say, ‘OK, we need a sandwich. We need a soup.’ We’re just kind of playing with it right now.”
The creations of other Catskills specialty purveyors find fans at Adella Dori. Tay Tea from Delhi is blended into a smoothie with housemade yogurt and farm-sourced strawberries and honey. Some of the salads come from Natural Contents Kitchen in Narrowsburg, and the waffles are made by Lake Katrine’s Pika’s Farm Table. The cafe is also growing its own line of artisan edibles, such as gluten-free granola made with local honey that’s available by the half-pound for takeout.
Just around the corner from Barnett, another local businesswoman is also gearing up for a new food adventure. Irene Nickolai, the proprietor of lifestyle shop Callicoon Trading, plans to revive the restaurant and bar at the landmark Western Hotel.
Nickolai is in contract to buy the 1852 building from the family that has owned it for more than five decades. The deal is scheduled to close this week and she hopes to be in business by the end of next month, she told Catskill Eats.
The six-room hotel and restaurant that dominates Callicoon’s Main Street landscape has a storied history. It last made headlines in 2008, when proprietor Joe Naughton shot and killed waitress Lori Schubeler while showing off a handgun to another patron. Naughton was eventually convicted of criminally negligent homicide.
The next chapter of the hotel’s story begins with a summer-season plan to serve brunch, lunch and light evening fare, along with cocktails, beer and wine on the 60-seat terrace overlooking town. Nickolai is working with Henning Nordanger, the chef/owner of Henning’s Local, to develop the menu using locally sourced ingredients.
If all goes according to plan, dinner service will begin in the fall, when dining room renovations are completed, Nickolai said. The six lodging rooms will also be updated later this year.
In addition to the Adella Dori Cafe and the reboot of the Western, a new inn from the team behind Sullivan County dining/lodging combinations The Arnold House and The North Branch Inn is scheduled to open in August. Called Nine River Road, it’s an eight-room riverside retreat taking shape in a former furniture store built in 1884.
Co-owner Kirsten Harlow Foster tells Catskill Eats that she and partner and spouse Sims Foster are not planning a formal restaurant, but may eventually develop a seasonal food operation there.
“In the meantime, we are excited that our guests will have so many great restaurants to choose from within walking distance from the inn,” Harlow Foster said.
Find Adella Dori Cafe at 33 Lower Main St. in Callicoon. Weekday hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. except Wednesday, when it is closed. Weekend hours are 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.