American Bounty at the CIA in Hyde Park

We just came back from a short trip up to Rhinebeck and had dinner at CIA - American Bounty. I never wanted to go there but went because someone we knew who had been a manager at a restaurant we love in our area is now managing all the CIA places and told us come up. Also, people seem to like American Bounty. Let’s start with when we got there and could not find the visitor parking lot, which was not very clearly marked. Finally found it and took the elevator from the lot to the top floor, as indicated and then, bam - nothing. So we saw a door that looked promising and it turned out to be the entrance. The first rub was when we were seated. The hostess told the person to seat us at table 35 but someone overrode her and said no 31. 31 was at the front door next to the serving station. The restaurant was not full. We asked for our seat to be changed and it was. An overly anxious server approached us immediately and we ordered drinks. We hadn’t even gotten them yet and she wanted to take our orders. We slowed her down and had a few sips of our drinks. The food was good but not great and really nothing to go back for – well, maybe the rolls. They were little parker house rolls with salt on top (I think this was the only place they actually used salt) and butter – with salt on top. Ok 2 places. DH had the Sautéed foie served with aerated brioche (really weird) and carbonated strawberries with a coffee crumble. Everything needed salt. The brioche was not very briochy. And there was no fat from the foie on the plate at all (so no bread dipping for me). It was dry as a bone. I did not have an appetizer – I ate rolls!! For entrees DH had bison tenderloin which was a very good piece of meat and the black garlic just was nice but again, not properly seasoned. It was served with a Kennebeck potato which was a log and undercooked. I had the duck breast with cherry sauce. The sides did not appeal to me but others did and they gave me what I wanted with no problem. I had pickled ramps and marble potatoes. The pickled ramps were nice, but the marble potatoes were cut in brunoise and they were still undercooked. Beautiful knife cuts but you could fit 3 on my pinkie nail – how do you undercook them? For dessert we shared vanilla bean cheesecake which was made with gelatin so I didn’t like the mouthfeel.
The whole experience felt to me like we were at Epcot center in say, France, at one of the fake French restaurants. It felt touristy. There are so many good places to eat in Rhinebeck (like Petite Café where we ate the next night) that I felt like I really wasted one night of a two night trip. Oh, and our friend never did come over to our table!

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Glad you made it to Rhinebeck even under such trying circumstances. The dynamic at CIA restaurants must change a great deal since the students run the show with the help of their instructors. On our visit quite a while ago it was good to very good, and we did enjoy interacting with the students about their future goals. By the way, did you take the tour?

I was thinking that it really depends on who is there at the time so that would explain the inconsistencies. Unfortunately we were unable to take the tour.

That’s disappointing to hear. I’ve eaten at American Bounty several times and it’s always been very good to excellent. But there’s no excuse for undercooked potatoes and a lack of seasoning.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold