Breathtakingly beautiful food in a charmingly casual setting is the name of the game at
. Co-owned by husband and wife team of foodies Justin Paterson and Lisa Jonkheere, who met at the restaurant originally founded and owned by Jonah and Christina McKeough, share a passion for honest food with quality service.
Paterson consistently creates new menu items inspired by fine dining classics and personalized with local, in-season Finger Lakes produce, like a traditional salmon almandine dressed up with kale, fresh herbs and watercress. The menu changes often, though, and that’s part of the fun: a real attention to what’s in-season and what’s available is paid at Hazelnut Kitchen. "[It] changes almost weekly, depending on what the farmers have," says Jonkheere. "But luckily, they deliver almost every day."
With equal weight and thought given to vegetarian and sustainably-produced meat options, combined with hints of international influence, Hazelnut Kitchen is a restaurant at the forefront of the farm-to-table movement. Ithaca’s most discerning foodies find much to love at Hazelnut Kitchen, especially the quality of the meat. "Autumn's Harvest takes such good care of their animals, and it is the freshest meat we've ever had," says Jonckheere. The restaurant's location just ten miles away, in Trumansburg, make it convenient to diners in both the Finger Lakes and the Syracuse area.
The menu created exclusively for Restaurant Week includes sophisticated takes on tried-and-true classics, like a Cobb salad gussied up with goat blue cheese from Lively Run Dairy and a delicately poached egg standing in for the ho-hum hard boiled variety.
The main course combines pork and beans like you’ve never seen it before: grilled pork loin, a flavorful house-made Mexican chorizo and local pinto beans from Cayuga Pure Organics. Dessert is a creative version of a springtime favorite; a strawberry shortcake cannoli bursting with local, ripe berries and house-made ricotta.
If you've noted the term "house-made" used twice here, that's no coincidence: Paterson creates all of the restaurants sausages with meat from Autumn's Harvest farm and they make their own pickles, ice cream and most of their own cheese, as well. The ricotta, for example, redefines fresh: it's made at 5 o'clock each night, minutes before dinner service begins.
This “traditional” meal has all the makings of an intriguing culinary playground – something tells me diners will be consistently and pleasantly surprised by the approachable complexity on the plate.
Hazelnut Kitchen - 607.387.4433
Rochelle is a food and wine writer with a focus on seasonal cooking and sustainable agriculture. She’s also a classically-trained chef who spent the last year working on a full-diet, draft-powered farm in Central New York. Visit her at rochellebilow.com, on Twitter at @RochelleBilow or on Instagram at RochelleBilow to learn more.