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We have discovered another gem of a restaurant in the Catskills: the Riverside Cafe and Lodge in Roscoe. Here, superb cuisine is artfully prepared by Tammy Eliezer, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, with a Bachelor of Professional Studies degree. After four years of the finest hands-on training, Tammy apprenticed at the famous Greenbriar Resort in West Virginia during her time at the C.I.A. Her husband, Dan, is host, welcoming everyone with a strong, sincere smile. Dan was a communications major at Seton Hall University, so he is perfectly suited for the restaurant field. The Eliezers have owned the restaurant for the past eight years.

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The log cabin-style building is situated right on the bank of the Beaverkill River, and the main dining room is in a greenhouse, which has massive wooden half-arches, skylights and large glass panels that give a sweeping view of the rolling river. At night, strategically placed flood lights illuminate the edges of the riverbank, which makes for a dramatic backdrop while you enjoy exceptional dining. To set the mood, start off with drinks or a glass of fine wine by the huge fieldstone fireplace. When you are ready, move to a table by the stream and enjoy a leisurely dining experience. Be sure to allow sufficient time, and bring a hearty appetite, because the portions are extremely generous. Let's get to the food. A warm, soft, round loaf of freshly baked bread and a huge bowl of Mesclun salad with cherry tomatoes, signblack and green olives, onions, cucumbers, and feta cheese, comes with the entrees. A serving tray with four dressings was passed around but we all chose a classic vinaigrette with balsamic vinegar and just the perfect touch of extra virgin olive oil. Our friend Nina ordered a shrimp bisque; my wife, Joanie, had a potato, leek and sausage soup, while I savored an appetizer of sauteed portabella, shiitake, and white button mushrooms over baby spinach with feta cheese and sunflower seed, finished with warm balsamic vinegar. This was a terrific start to a memorable meal. There is a compact but well-chosen wine list. We enjoyed two bottles of 2004 Willamette Valley pinot noir, but there are Italian, Australian, Californian, or Oregonian wines to choose from by the bottle or glass.

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Dan is a skilled mixologist, to use a new term for bartender. I had pork tenderloin with a reduction of apple cider and cinnamon, red cabbage and crispy, browned potato wedges. Joanie loved her favorite, herb-crusted rack of lamb, but instead of the usual three or so chops, she got eight! A complete rack of lamb is a special at the Riverside Cafe. Herbed potatoes and snow pea pods accompanied the lamb, with mint jelly on the side. Nina enjoyed a large serving of pan-seared salmon with a caper-lemon sauce over wild rice and snow pea pods. After sampling from each other's plates, we all agreed that this is another wonderful restaurant in the Catskills that rates our highest accolade of Four Forks. What? You expected us to have dessert as well? You know we did. Tammy did her alma mater proud with moist lemon poppyseed poundcake, covered with rich, red strawberries and whipped cream prepared by her assistant, Chris Tuleweit, a decadent chocolate Mississippi Mud pie, and a warm apple pecan crisp with vanilla ice cream. Because of Tammy's C.I.A degree, the menu is both eclectic and traditional. Specials are indeed very special and change seasonally, but regular standbys are executed perfectly. The food is lovingly prepared and skillfully presented. You will not be disappointed.

signThe Riverside Cafe and Lodge at 16624 County Highway 17 Roscoe is located just off Route 17 (soon to be Interstate 86) at Exit 92. Many people consider it to be a good halfway point and ideal meeting place between New York City and Binghamton or Syracuse. Riverside Cafe is the perfect destination for a scenic Sunday drive and dinner in the country. Reservations are not required, but a phone call to inquire about the menu specials and for travel directions is suggested. Overnight accommodations are available on premises at the Lodge.