Cordon Bleu Cuisine in Callicoon, New York

This is a personal invitation to join me at the most exclusive restaurant in Sullivan County.  Is it worth the trip? Only your discerning taste-buds can tell you that. If you've tried every first-class restaurant in Manhattan -- as I have -- if you've been longing for something more, something real, then I think you're ready for Matthew's on Main in Callicoon, New York.

You'll find the most delectable blend of American cuisine -- juicy burgers, fragrant buns baked right on the premises, roasted sizzling hot veggies fresh-picked from a neighboring farm, crisp apple-pumpkin pies with just-grated seasoning to awaken the senses, fresh cream skimmed off the pail from the dairy down the road...and a Cordon Bleu-trained chef?  Wait 'til you meet Matthew!

Matthew's on Main is a genuine beacon for jaded city folk and hungry travelers. Yes, it does involve a two-hour drive along some winding, pine-forested roads to a pretty little town on the Delaware River, but think of it as a 21st century quest in search of fresh air, clean water, and so much more.

Park right in front of a modest, red-sided building with a cheerful, yellow door. The sign reads, "Matthew's On Main: FOOD * BAR * HAPPINESS.  Open the door, walk through the friendly bar, and follow your nose toward the most enticing aroma of spices, steaks and savories.

Well-polished brass hanging lamps light your way into the main dining room. Cobalt blue walls with tiny pendant lights, like stars, set a quaint ambiance, with funky farm equipment fastened to the walls, antique signs reading "COAL" and "PLUMBING," shining hardwood floors and old-fashioned lamps casting a warm glow about the room.

On my first visit, a smiling, dark-haired man came out of the kitchen just as my friends and I entered the main room. He hurried over, guided us to a comfortable table, and turned to greet me personally.  "Welcome! I'm Matthew. Everything on the menu is fresh and homemade, and we buy all local produce. Enjoy!"  Someone called to him from the kitchen and off he went.

One of my friends raised his glass, gesturing toward the swinging kitchen door. "That was Matthew." I nodded, perplexed.  "Matthew's On Main," the friend went on, "The guy whose name is on the sign does most of the cooking." 

Another friend leaned across the table, "you gotta taste his cooking; it's a real labor of love. You see that sign on the door out there: Food, Bar, Happiness?  It's not just a sign. The food is amazing.”

I smiled at your friends, country bumpkins that they are. A bearded man at the next table turned around: "My friend, Matthew didn't just open this restaurant on a whim, like some folks. He spent years honing his craft, first at college, then at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Plus, he spent years working in Morocco and Argentina before coming back here.  He can fix anything your heart desires; American cuisine just happens to be his favorite.  Matthew could hold his own in any restaurant in the country. We're lucky to have him here in Callicoon."

The waitress was cheerful, friendly, attentive.  A guitarist strummed quietly in the background. I sampled fragrant ginger-carrot soup, tender butternut squash, ravioli with wild maitake mushrooms.  Somehow, I wasn't tired anymore and the night was young...when Matthew walked by later, I reached out to shake his hand like an old friend.

If you appreciate fine dining in beautiful surroundings, if you're ready to make new friends, come north to Matthew's on Main in Callicoon, New York.  Matthew has whipped up what he calls his "Sunday Surprise," for tomorrow's feast. He won't tell anyone what's in it, but I heard the staff was out picking blackberries yesterday. Fresh, organic blackberries the size of your thumb. Pop a juicy one in your mouth for a real taste of heaven. Baskets of fresh, firm chestnuts waiting to be roasted. And is that homemade waffle batter? Yum!