American Bounty Restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America
1946 Campus Dr
Hyde Park, NY 12538
A family friend of mine is about to be a senior in high school and as most people do during their summer before senior year, he checked out some potential colleges. Unlike most people, however, he already knows what he wants to do and has known for over two years already: he wants to be a chef. I joined him and his family on their visit to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY so got to check out this prestigious cooking school.
One of the admissions officers gave us a mini tour and explained the CIA’s roots with the US military. It was founded in 1946 as a vocational school for veterans from WWII and has maintained a similar militaristic kind of structure in their classrooms. Right as the admissions officer told us about these military roots, she spotted a dollop of mustard on the ground and yelled for a napkin. I was wondering who she was yelling at and realized soon that she was yelling at any and all of the students passing by in the hallway. One student scurried over and wiped up the mustard with a towel she had in her backpack. Militaristic influences right there.
We had lunch at the American Bounty restaurant, an award-winning restaurant that focuses on highlighting American cuisine. Everything is prepared by the students, from cleaning, cutting, to cooking. All the servers are also students. In their final year, they each do 3 weeks in the kitchen and 3 weeks on the floor as servers. Training all the way around I guess. Pictured here is my starter. I had the Warm Buttermilk Fried Oysters ($9.00) with shoestring potatoes and roasted garlic lemon aioli. Apparently, buttermilk is often used for frying because it acts as a tenderizer, and when combined with a base agent like baking soda, the acids in the buttermilk will react with the base, giving it a light crunchy coating. The portion was a bit smaller than I expected but the flavors and textures were all amazing. Oysters were supremely fresh, light, crispy on the outside (not crunchy), and creamy on the inside. Best fried oysters I’ve had. Mini salad was a nice accompaniment and aioli was deliciously garlicy.
The duck was amazingly moist, tender, flavorful, and juicy. The marinade resembled a teriyaki sauce as it was slightly sweet (brown sugary) and had undertones of soy sauce. I wish I was at home so I could have eaten the whole leg with my hands… meat seriously tastes better when eaten with direct contact. Sounds a bit crude but tell me I’m wrong. Mango chutney added a nice acidity to the sweet duck, though I would have preferred another fruit… maybe apple. The flavors just didn’t meld as well. Couscous was delicious and soaked up the duck juices very well. All in all, it was a delicious lunch. Unfortunately, it is a 2 hour drive from Manhattan…