Some reviewers have made much of the fact that this restaurant is in the middle of nowhere. That is a bit of an exaggeration. It is just off Route 17, above the Neversink River, and on the way to the Holiday Mountain ski area. It is certainly not in the middle of New York City, but they do have electricity and indoor plumbing.
Many steakhouses market themselves as "men's" restaurants - with dark woods throughout. The physical environment of the Old Homestead is exactly the opposite. It feels like being invited into someone's home (admittedly a home in which a lot of people eat) with pineapples on the wallpaper in the front room that have served a symbol of welcome since the early days of this country. The restaurant is also quiet enough to be able to carry on conversations - another difference from many steakhouses today.
The restaurant does not take reservations, but I informed Alice over the phone that one member of the party would be using a wheelchair. She immediately reassured me that she would set aside a table up front for us to minimize inconvenience for my party. True to her word, immediately after arriving on a Saturday night with a nearly full restaurant parking lot, we were shown to our table.
The service is informal, but attentive. Unlike the formality of an urban steakhouse, the vibe throughout is to meet your needs without creating unnecessary barriers. The waitstaffperson took our drink order promptly and explained the limited specials that supplement the small written menu. One member of our party had a vodka martini that was generously poured and in which the bartender did not skimp on the vodka. Because no one else in our party ordered wine, I had the house Cabernet and was pleasantly surprised by the soft but full quality of the wine.
The specials that night included an onion soup and a pecan encrusted halibut. My mother had the onion soup and it had a rich broth and delicious cheese gratinee that did not need to compensate for the weak broth that one sometimes encounters. My father ordered the AhI tuna and was served a beautiful rare piece of fish that was so large as to evoke the comment from "Jaws" that , "You're going to need a larger boat." My father barely made a dent in the fish. The fish was graced by a delicious sauce, but the piece of fish was of sufficient quality that it could have survived with lemon alone. I had the ribeye steak, again enormous and served perfectly cooked. All entrees are served with a choice of potatoes and the addition of a salad costs an additional $3. I do not begrudge them that small increment, especially in light of the size of the entrees. My mother is a relatively small eater and was happily accommodated for her entree with an appetizer portion of two crabcakes served with a remoulade sauce.
Since we barely made a dent in the steak and tuna, the waitstaff suggested (and we quickly agreed) to take the remainder home. They were happy to pack up everything on the table and suggested taking home the remnants of the bread basket. That was a great suggestion since the bread basket includes cinnamon raisin bread that made excellent french toast the following day.
Although we were well satisfied with the meal, we could not resist the possibility of sharing a piece of banana cream pie for dessert with delicious coffee and cappuccino (with a little bit of cinnamon). Unlike some cream pies, the banana cream was not overly thickened or overly sweet - just the right taste
Some reviews have complained about the prices. Perhaps they have not been to Peter Luger or Ruth's Chris or Morton's recently. The prices at this treasure of a restaurant southeast of Monticello are quite reasonable and completely appropriate in light of the quality of food served and in light of the comfortable ambience of the surroundings.
Thank you to Alice, Carol and the staff of the restaurant for a lovely evening in a beautiful setting.