There’s two things I learned about visiting the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY:
1. Most of the restaurants (all but 1) are closed on Mondays.
2. To get a table at one of the finer dining restaurants, you need to book months in advance.
We drove two hours from New York City north into the Palisades Parks region, just north of Poughkeepsie, into a small town called Hyde Park, NY. Hyde Park is famous for two things- the hometown of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the home of the Culinary Institute of America, also called the CIA. The school is housed on 170 acres along the banks of the Hudson River. In addition to classrooms, resident halls and test kitchens, the college also operates 4 restaurants open to the public (with an occasional pop up restaurant). Three of the four are full service outlets and require reservations well in advance. The fourth, a small bakery café is the only place open for lunch on Mondays- the Apple Pie Bakery and Cafe.
We walked up to a counter and placed our order while oogling at the fresh baked pastries on display. We then chose a table in the very crowded dining room and waited for our food to arrive.
I visited with my Mom and my boyfriend Chad and we all chose different types of dishes. My Mom ordered the Goat Cheese, Avocado and Watercress Sandwich– simple but delicious. The sandwich was made to order on fresh bread with a generous amount of fillings.
Chad ordered the special of the day which was a Grilled Salmon platter served with rice. It was a small portion but he enjoyed it.
Luckily, we also ordered a side of truffle fries so he didn’t go hungry. The fries were served hot and crisp with a sprinkling of truffle seasoning.
I had the Fried Goat Cheese, Spinach and Golden Beet salad. A very healthy serving of fresh spinach with roasted mini golden beets and lightly fried balls of goat cheese lined the rim of the plate. It was very good, but again, I am happy we ordered the extra side of fries so I also didn’t leave hungry.
For dessert we split the Pumpkin Cheesecake. It was small enough that we each could have easily enjoyed our own, but incredibly rich so just a few bites was more than enough for us.
The restaurant staff is made up of the college’s students. They are easily accessible to answer questions as they serve, bus and clean tables. Every student we saw around the campus were full of smiles and seemed genuinely happy to be there. We did not take the guided tour of the campus. Instead we roamed the halls of the school ourselves and peeked into classrooms and test kitchens as the students were hard at work.
The campus is beautiful- from the stately main building to the lodge-style resident halls. Be sure to check out the little shop in the main building for CIA gear as well as a collection of hard to find kitchen gadgets and accessories. For the Apple Pie Bakery, 4 1/2 out of 5 sprouts.