The Phoenicia Diner Cookbook

Dishes and Dispatches from the Catskill Mountains

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85 comfort food recipes, including classic Americana dishes and reimagined favorites, from the celebrated Phoenicia Diner in New York's idyllic Catskill mountains

Whether you're a local or just passing through, the revamped Phoenicia Diner is an irresistible must-stop in the region, beloved for its honest cooking that seamlessly combines the best of the classics (Classic Buttermilk Pancakes, Chicken with Chive-Buttermilk Dumplings) with the multifaceted way we love to eat today (Chile-Braised Lamb Tostadas, Cider-Braised Duck and Grits). In the Phoenicia Diner Cookbook, you'll find a roster of approachable, soulful dishes that are deeply delicious and full of life-satisfying abundance. "All Day Breakfast" recipes like a Twice-Baked Potato Skillet and gold standards with a twist, such as Roasted Chicken with Tarragon-Honey Glazed Carrots, are complemented by rich essays on the region's fascinating history and the revival that defines it today, creating an evocative love letter to both the area and disappearing diners everywhere.

Under the Cover

An excerpt from The Phoenicia Diner Cookbook

Introduction

The directions are simple: take Exit 19 off the New York Thruway in Kingston, make a right turn onto Route 28, and head west.

A simple sign on the right reads: “Catskill Park,” a rough-hewn outline of the region etched into the wood. To the right, a dilapidated steakhouse sits on the edge of a rock face; to the left, a low-slung motel. Pass “The Dollhouse,” a once rickety building of peaks and eaves, now renovated. Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore parking lot is full to capacity, as always—people dropping off entire estates’ worth of furniture and bric‑a‑brac, and tourists and locals looking to snap up a deal. The motorcycle club on your left bumps up against a warehouse for unfinished wooden furniture; across the road, a kombucha shop in a strip mall, an indicator of changing tastes in this region. Continue west, and deep front porches invite you into house after house, imposing stacks of firewood, always prepared to stave off damp rain and the long winter, alongside rockers and vintage gliders, ready for lazy summer days. To the left, through the pines, a glimpse of the vast bowl of the Ashokan Reservoir, a manmade wonder that quenches the unending thirst of New York City. A white arrow on a green road sign announces that Woodstock is just a few miles off to the right. The hills rise up ahead, the crisscross of peak against peak casting long shadows. Signs of the city slip away: you’re in the Catskills now.

Around a bend, the mighty Esopus Creek comes rushing out from between the hills, moving down, down toward the Hudson. Onward are the tracks of the Catskill Mountain Railroad, a monument to the once bustling and vast network of railroads that carried people and goods—furs, produce, bluestone, dairy, lumber—up and down, east and west across the region.

A few miles farther, a towering sign that reads, simply, “Diner” rises up on your left. On a post shorter in stature, there’s an artist’s rendering of an old-school Woodie, the iconic American station wagon, loaded down with outdoor rec equipment—an inner tube, a canoe, skis—a nod to the long history of this road, this place, moving people toward leisure, toward a haven.

Pull in, and the parking lot is full: chrome-edged motorcycles and beat-up pickup trucks, spotless sports cars and aging station wagons packed to the gills. People come and go, chatting over coffee under the tin roof of a simple wooden pavilion where ceiling fans twirl lazily. Inside, it’s the picture of a classic diner: chrome and tile, swivel stools at the counter, leather booths, paper placemats. A chalkboard announces the day’s specials, and a felt letterboard above the long Formica counter advertises milkshakes, cookies, and a kids’ menu: everyone is welcome here.

The kitchen hums, churning out diner standards—fried eggs, pancakes, burgers, and the like—alongside the unexpected: a skillet of soft scrambled eggs studded with smoked trout and crème fraîche, a fried catfish sandwich topped with a fish-sauced slaw, cider-braised duck over creamy grits. There’s pie and pudding for dessert. At tables, long-time local residents sit side by side with Brooklyn hipsters up for the weekend, hunters sit next to vegans, and renowned musicians rub elbows with farmers. The clink of forks against ceramic and the sound of plates being scraped clean mingle with the laughter and rock and roll. No‑nonsense servers offer more coffee.

It is every diner you’ve ever known, but the view of the mountain ridge from the plate-glass front wall and the cues on the menu—the prominence of trout; the local ramps, syrup, and cider; and a bagel with lox and cream cheese, a nod to this region’s tourist past—are firm reminders that you’re here: this is the Phoenicia Diner.

The Phoenicia Diner Cookbook

Dishes and Dispatches from the Catskill Mountains

Buy

The Phoenicia Diner Cookbook

— Published by Clarkson Potter —