Photo provided by @Mary_of_Silence
I don’t know if it is my state of mind or if it really is so, but the fall foliage is especially beautiful this year. I see paintings everywhere I go. The light is soft and the leaves are bright and I feel like I’m looking at a fall Monet or a Group of Seven painting. As I mentioned before, you can hit the road but you don’t have to go far to enjoy the foliage. If you drive out to the country farm stands to get your gourds and mini pumpkins at the pumpkin patch for Thanksgiving decor, then it is worth a stop at Rail Trail in Hudson for lunch or dinner. The setting is comfortable and family-friendly but it still has a hip vibe if you just want a grown-up day trip. Tower Hill Botanic Garden is nearby too if you want to stroll the property and explore the orangerie or the Wild Rumpus.
People don’t travel just to see sites anymore. We travel to experience life somewhere else and one part of life we all particpate in wherever we are is eating. Rail Trail has been one of my favorite places to stop and dine out in that area since they first opened and the menus just keep getting better. A few weeks ago, I was invited in for a tasting of Rail Trail Flatbread Co.’s new fall menu and I’m about to share some of what we tasted. Rail Trail has managed to create a menu that has that comfort food feeling but with more sophisticated layers and ingredients. I think that is how we are all dining these days. We want we are familiar with, but we want it with a twist, an upgrade or an update. Then again, if you just want a really good fire-baked cheese pizza then that’s what you should order.
The creativity of the chefs could be tasted in every dish but especially noticed in dishes like this one. The sweet potato hummus is layered with muhammara (a pomegranate and nut pesto of sorts), falafel crisps, pumpkin seeds, port, cranberries and chives. All of my favourite things. The team at Rail Trail works collaboratively on many menu items and everyone is given an opportunity to contribute. From the many versions of each dish that are tested to someone throwing out an idea based on a favourite childhood recipe the seasonal menus are anything but thrown together.
The avocado toast was a favourite among our family. The double layer of creaminess from both the avocado and the ricotta made it especially glorious. Then, flavours were built up on the generous schmear of avocado first with crimini mushrooms and then fried shallots. The avocado toast was then finished with everything bagel spice.
If you really want to taste the season, there are the fall flatbreads. This one is topped with squash. Okay, okay it isn’t just squash it is: fire roasted squash on a ricotta base, Riesling soaked golden raisins, crumbly blue cheese, pumpkin seeds, fresh sage and Rail Trail’s secret ingredient know as funk. It is their umami finishing touch.
The only problem with Rail Trail Flatbread Co.’s fall menu is that there are too many good options and you will not decide between them easily. The solution to this problem is twofold:
- come back often
- come with many friends so you can taste many things.
Isabelle’s favourite flatbread is based off of one of my favourite appetizers: stuffed mushrooms. My mom used to make them for parties all the time in the 1970’s and I sometimes make them at home too. This flatbread it genius. It is topped with the slices of mushrooms and then dollops of the herb and garlic stuffing.
That “food is love” feeling wasn’t just found in classic comfort foods like tater tots and pizza. There was plenty of comfort to be had with the salads and sandwiches as well. One of our favourite dishes was the kale Caesar salad which was made with a nice balance of romaine and kale and caesar vinaigrette so it wasn’t heavy with a thick dressing. The Apple & Bibb is another gorgeous taste of fall with radicchio, pickled apples, pork belly lardons and blue cheese. This is my kind of comfort food!
The folks behind Rail Trail Flatbread Co. not only know how to create an amazing menu by tapping into the resources of their team in the kitchen and within the restaurant, but they know how to make a difference in a town. They have New City Microcreamery and a hidden speakeasy across the street. The team has created a nice little corner in a formerly slightly dormant town. It is nice to see this kind of life and vibrancy in a community and it can only be created by people who both know what their doing and do it with heart. If you live nearby you are lucky and if you don’t I recommend the trek out to Hudson to see what it is all about.