Inside Eastwind Oliverea Valley’s Foraging-Focused Restaurant, Dandelion

In the Catskills, this hotel restaurant offers a sensorial tour of Upstate New York

Tucked into the hollow of a dead-end road, surrounded by hiking trails and nature on all sides, Eastwind Oliverea Valley is hotelier duo Bjorn Boyer and Julija Stoliarova’s newest property in the Catskills. Located about two-and-a-half hours from the city, the property continues the Scandinavian and A-frame design and ethos featured in the first Eastwind Hotel in Windham, but this time it expands offerings through attributes like the forage-to-table dining concept Dandelion. Led by food and beverage director Daniel Cipriani, the full-service restaurant makes use of the 40+ acre property, its abundance of wild nettles and proximity to the Esopus Creek. Here, in the cozy yet refined hotel, guests and locals converge to taste the beauty of the Catskills.

As a veteran restaurateur, Cipriani is no stranger to the farm-to-table or even sea-to-table concept, as his Brooklyn ventures—Sea Wolf, Gemelli and Urban Rustic—indicate. For Dandelion, it makes sense that Stoliarova and Boyer tapped the nature enthusiast to take point on the locally informed concept. “Originally, the thought was to do a small kitchen and a tiny hotel menu just for our guests, but in getting to know the neighbors in the area, I saw a real need for a finer dining restaurant,” Cipriani tells us. “When we did our first property, I just didn’t think there were enough people to support a restaurant of the caliber we’re doing now, but something about this area is special. It’s kind of a mecca for weirdos—and I mean that in the best of ways. It seems like there are a lot of creatives and artists. We’re getting such a great turnout of locals.”

At present, about half of the restaurant’s clientele is made up of locals. This is due in part to how much of the area’s history and resources went into the property’s design and the menu of international comfort fare. Cipriani continues, “The natural beauty of the space and the abundance of produce and flowers that grow here, it’s my main base for the restaurant.”

When it comes to sourcing ingredients, the team forages from the area as much as possible. One of the town’s residents helped Cipriani learn about what grows in the area (like ramps and morels). She even leads foraging walks for Eastwind Windham. The restaurant’s team also sources from local farms. For their signature dish, a take on Lohikeitto (a traditional Finnish Salmon soup), Cipriani partnered with Hudson Valley fish farms to supply steelhead trout for the light yet surprisingly hearty dish. “I wanted to use items that we can pick from here and develop relationships with farms around here to stick to the most sustainable practices we can,” he explains.

This also means the menu rotates seasonally based on what’s available, but year-round the menu emphasizes comfort, culture and a plethora of plants. “In the kitchen, we’ve got a lot of different cultures and everybody’s bringing their little familiar favorites,” says the director. “Josh Bettencourt [the executive chef] grew up in a family of Italians and Koreans, and I’ve got some Venezuelan guys that work in the kitchen with us. I’m letting everyone bring a little bit of their culture.” The result is always fresh and fun and offers locals something a little different.

This spring, the hotel’s offerings are slated to expand as Dandelion sets up an all-day menu and herb garden. He tells us, “We’re opening up the pool in June, July at the latest, and we’re going to launch a second menu of all-day lighter fare, kind of a pool-side menu starting off with smorgasbords.”

As the herb garden is planted and more flowers begin to bloom, the menu will also see more florals and seasonal ingredients including the restaurant’s namesake. “Dandelions are starting to explode all over the property. We’re [doing] some fun spring pastas with the dandelions we can harvest here—like dandelion and ramp pesto with homemade pasta,” says Cipriani. This also carries over to the cocktail menu where wild pansies, ferns and other blooms make an appearance.

With numerous hiking trails just steps away from the hotel, Dandelion offers a sensorial and physical tour of the Catskills. Its location within the design-forward, sauna-filled Eastwind turns the dining destination into an even more rejuvenating nature escape.

Images by Lawrence Braun, courtesy of Eastwind Hotels