By Melissa Kleiman and Nick Smith
PORT JERVIS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Take a beautifully rustic decommissioned bridge, add the best organic vegetables and food, bring in a dynamite chef from New York City and you have the beginnings of a great event.
Make the setting the Catskills region, add the ambiance of the Neversink River – and 150 people who may or may not know what to expect – and you have more than an event. You have a destination.
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“Dinner Over The River” at Sullivan County’s Denniston Hill Truss Bridge is an infancy in its concept – not that any guest would know. From our recent experience, the event was executed flawlessly.
The mission of this epicurean adventure is, “To Protect, Preserve & Promote Natural, Humane & Healthy Farms, Farming & Farmers in Sullivan County, NY.”
The idea is as organic as the food, with everything coming from local sources like David Markovits’ Trussbridge Farm and Robert Doherty’s Sullivan County Farm. The event was the brain child of Markovits’ who says the event is more about Sullivan County and the food, than the setting.
However, the setting does help. Intimate pods of tables are set on the wood flooring of the bridge making for good conversation and atmosphere. A full kitchen is run from generators on one end of a bridge, along with an entire wait staff serving decadent dishes to the guests. Multiple courses are brought out at a conversational pace, with no guest leaving unsatisfied. No guest left thirsty either, with five locally sourced wines paired perfectly with each course. The courses themselves were prepared by Chef David Siegal of Chelsea’s Table in Manhattan. Chef Siegal was up for the challenge of preparing world class fine dining on a bridge. In fact, he has prepared meals at the Super Bowl and at the top of The Empire State Building.
The event lasted from 5:00 – 9:00 p.m.., but to do it right, a weekend trip was in store. We hit the road with a vintage iPod Touch full of mutually agreed upon songs to keep us company on the short trek to Sullivan County. While the dinner was our purpose, Sullivan County proved to be full of scenic mountain charm. First, the lodging. The recently renovated Sullivan Hotel, located less than five miles from The Truss Bridge, was lush with comfortable surroundings. Space was abundant as the staff was friendly. The airy boutique hotel provided full amenities to its guests, including something for everyone.
The quaint town of Rock Hill was just as engaging with a few dining options that kept us from having to drive very far. Festive fall activities were also in abundance and within close proximity. Paint a Peace, a contemporary ceramic studio located in Monticello, NY, provided a relaxing atmosphere to create your own eclectic piece of art. The Wine Festival at Bethel Woods featured tastings from more than twenty local wineries, along with a variety of specialty vendors. As Saturday night approached, we grew more excited for why we were really there: Dinner Over the River.
We were greeted at the base of the bridge by a hostess who had all the guests prepared on the list. We sipped fall punch featuring local Bootlegger Vodka and a mixture of apple and carrot juices. As guests arrived the bridge turned into a “what can I expect” Q&A with other guests as a piano player played in the background. The first dish was an instant standout (Trussbridge Farm Fall Lettuce & Samaki Smoked Trout Salad). As the diners were served, it was clear that the food made the statement at this event.
The standout dish of the night was the Red Kuri Squash soup, but all the food was the talk of the event. In a time when standout, non-traditional dinners are as popular as ever – this Sullivan County anomaly just may create the blueprint for next season’s experiential dinner calendar.
For location and more information, visit DinnerOverTheRiver.com.
Special thanks to David and Liz Markovits of Trussbridge Farm, Robert Doherty of Sullivan County Farm, Kevin Joseph of Otaku Marketing, the sociable staff of The Sullivan Hotel, and our new Sullivan County friends for sharing a cultivating and captivating weekend getaway with us.