Don’t zoom by this Catskill treasure hiding in plain sight.

Pictures and Words by Alan Katz

Heading east for an important meeting, it flew by my view on the left, driving up Route 23. Like a beacon for what, I didn’t know, but it caught my peripheral attention, nonetheless.

Barnwood Restaurant never left my mind as my meeting commenced, although there’s plenty else about Catskill, NY to keep my attention. Rolling hills and deep woods. Beautiful old homes and newly renovated architectural marvels. Wraparound porches with wooden handrails and wire cross bars to keep you safe while allowing great views of the woods and streams. Picture windows replacing small eyelet four-on-four casements. All meant to bring the outdoors in. Exteriors painted black to blend in are instead striking and majestic.

Heading back eastward, dinner beckoned, and I wondered, “Does one wait to dine in fashionable Hudson or pull over at the big wooden building and sample the Barnwood?” A quick right into the parking lot and I was greeted with a perfect menu of the classic comfort foods I grew up with, which I now enjoy far too infrequently: wood-fired pizza, crackling good fried chicken, big salads, fall-off-the-bone ribs and a plethora of craft brews.

The ambience inside was like a memory I never had, impossibly familiar and comforting. Imagine your most beloved Swanson dinners—but brought to life by someone who can cook. From the too-classic pizza to the updated fried chicken with skin and crust so crunchy you would think a Korean street chef was in the kitchen, this menu is even better than it looks.

Being solo, I chatted up another couple a table away (turns out they too were weekenders who recently became transplants) who were also marveling at the childhood memories embodied by the Barnwood kitchen and restaurant. They too were knocked out by how good those classics could be when brought to life.

So don’t just zoom by these sheds of yesteryear. Sure, the refurbished and redesigned hipster joints abound these days (many of them we recommend as well) but don’t sleep on these classics. They rarely disappoint and the price point is always right. Bring the family or make new friends with someone else’s. And that’s the beauty of the mountains. 

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