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Exploring the Hudson Valley: Culinary Institute of America | Apple Pie Bakery Cafe

Culinary Institute of America | Apple Pie Bakery Cafe


If a quaint New England pastry shop and a high-class New York power lunch place had a baby, that baby would be the Apple Pie Bakery Café. The Apple Pie Bakery Café, run by the students and faculty of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), is both chic and laid back, both stylish and down to earth. Unlike the other CIA restaurants, no reservations are required here. The CIA even allows sneakers and jeans—two clothing articles that would not be found in most of their other restaurants. One just walks right in, orders and sits down. Sort of like gourmet on the go.

The Apple Pie Bakery Café offers an equally perplexing, though delicious, menu that combines lunches and appetizers with sinfully rich and delicious desserts. When I was there over the summer, I glanced around at some of the people’s plates in the restaurant. Gourmet tuna salad sat alongside decadent strawberry shortcake. A platter of macaroni and cheese was right across from a banana cream tart. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason at all to how visitors select their food.

One thing is for sure: No one leaves disappointed. The Café offers a full selection of salads, soups and sandwiches, as well as a sinfully complete selection of desserts. My personal favorite lunch item is the Reuben Panini. It tastes like Jewish Deli-meets-Cheesecake Factory. The Café specializes in exotic, homemade breads, which makes any of the sandwich items excellent choices.

But lunch items are just the prelude. Few people seem to leave the Apple Pie Bakery Café without satisfying their sweet tooth. And there are quite a few satisfying options. The Devil’s Food Cupcake is tasty and rich, and under $3. For fruit lovers, the Seasonal Fruit Tart is the dessert of choice – it comes surrounded in whipped crème and chocolate sauce, with all sorts of fruity decorations adorning the tart. But my favorite is the Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse. I’ve never had anything like it. Complete with cream and light chocolate liquid oozing from the sides, this mousse is out of this world for chocolate/peanut butter lovers.

Vassar students with easy access to automobiles should consider a small lunch and a large dessert at the Apple Pie Bakery Café. The Apple Pie Bakery Café has received many accolades, including Best Desserts and Best Lunch Spot in Hudson Valley Magazine’s annual Best Of The Hudson Valley awards. Nothing is prohibitively expensive—lunches average between $7 and $10, and most desserts range from $3 to $7. And so we see yet another strange combination—diner prices and gourmet tastes.

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