Restaurant Review: Chappaqua Station, Breakfast or Bust?
Come to this refurbished train-depot eatery for the lively community spirit, a.m. eats, and shareable nibbles, but for a full-course dinner, not so much.
photos by doug schneider
Avocado wheat toast with smoked salmon.
Breakfast is one big, happy affair at Chappaqua Station café. On Saturday morning, when the whole town, it seems, wakes up and hikes to the farmers’ market blanketing the parking lot in front of the restaurant, it becomes an energetic bustling place, like the old 1902 New York Central train station it once was.
On a day with a sapphire-blue sky and temperatures compassionately lingering in the low 70s, dads came with their children to pick up bagels and cream cheese; couples ordered scrambled eggs and omelets; women sat down to chia puddings and lattes at marble-topped tables outside under a porte cochère, the former drop-off place for commuters.
The structure inside and out, with its tiered, tiled roof, is a handsome building and worthy of preservation. Lots of windows flanked by window boxes lush with coleus and trailing vines add to the charm of the place. It still functions as a train stop: Go out the back doors of the restaurant onto the platform now hemmed in by a wrought-iron fence and up the stairs on the left.
The Station’s beautiful interior.
We chose to sit inside and savor the history of the place. Restaurant entrepreneurs and Chappaqua residents Peter and Erin Chase rejuvenated the historic space about two years ago and have committed their new enterprise as “farm-to-town.” (Love that aphorism, and it rings true.) If that Saturday was any indication, townspeople flock to the place because so much is attuned to their pleasure: a fun interior with a mini art gallery, Mexican-themed Thursday nights, and live jazz on Saturday nights.
With strains of a guitar drifting in from the farmers’ market on our visit, we had a simple, well-prepared breakfast: thick slices of smoked salmon served with toasted wheat bread slathered with mashed avocado; French toast topped with maple syrup and a scoop of not-too-sweet, softly whipped cream; strong coffee and chai tea from Camellia, with its spicy notes of cardamom. The protein bowl is a whole meal on one plate and works for lunch and dinner, as well. A cookbook-perfect poached egg hovered over a bevy of vegetables and grains: corn, black beans, avocado, baby spinach, brown rice, and quinoa. Break the yolk to dress the veggies, and you have fortified yourself to shop the farm and purveyor stalls outside.
A perfectly poached egg atop the protein bowl.
When warm muffins and croissants were placed in glass-domed trays on the ticket counter — which also serves as a full bar — we quickly snared one of each to enjoy with afternoon espresso at home. These were scrumptious, particularly the muffin — oversized, moist, fragrant and even-textured throughout. Really fine food.
Too good to be true? Perhaps, at least based on our first dinner foray to Chappaqua Station one Thursday evening. Yes, the paprika-flecked popcorn was a treat, as was the hummus platter flush with olives, pita chips, carrot slices, and cubes of feta cheese. The fig marmalade flatbread served with blue cheese and arugula was excellent, and the tomato/ricotta flatbread was tasty, though skimpy on the promised wild mushrooms. It was Mexican night, so we indulged with an Old Cuban cocktail of rum, sparkling wine, and lime juice. The drink would have been spot-on if not for the oversized, limp mint leaf that drooped haplessly over the side of the glass.
Flatbreads, with wild mushrooms and pesto or fig marmalade and arugula, are a smart order.
Then came the actual misfires. A chicken taco was adequately spicy but not particularly different from others we’ve eaten elsewhere. The frankfurter, grilled chicken breast, and cold sesame-crusted tuna were suitably done, but the lettuce leaves looked sad in their paucity and the way they were haphazardly dropped on the plate with the tuna. Dishes of carrots and potatoes were cooked satisfactorily but had no seasonings to recommend them. Desserts of bread pudding, cheesecake, apple tart and ice-cream-topped brownie were, again, fine but nothing memorable.
What to make of all of this? Chappaqua Station is definitely more geared to breakfast (it opens at 4:30 a.m.!), and for evening entertainment — order small plates for snacking while sipping interesting wines priced at $10 a glass or $40 a bottle. Lots of atmosphere, great service, family-friendly, with prices to match. It just needs more culinary direction on many of the dinner offerings.
1 Station Plz, Chappaqua
Freelance writer Rosemarie T. Anner was the executive editor and food editor of Greenwich Magazine.