Transformation — When Change is Good

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Bottle Tree Grocery & Manna Dew Cafe

Sometimes things don’t always go the way you expect. To some, the idea of change is fear provoking…to others it merely presents them an opportunity to do something even better. These two fabulous “Food Finds” have a couple things in common. First, they’re great local and locally-owned restaurants. Second, they both started out being one thing and ended up becoming something else. They accommodated circumstances that were limiting their success with imagination, creative thinking, and sheer will. And, in doing so, they have become thriving local businesses.

The Bottle Tree Grocery in Ancram, New York
bottle tree exterior Began as a small grocery store and lunch/breakfast cafe last summer. Located on Rt. 7, right across the road from the Ancram Town Hall, it soon became THE weekend hot spot for locals and weekenders serving wonderful breakfasts, lunches and organic rotisserie chickens to-go. Once winter descended on little Ancram, things quieted down until owners, Eric and Liz Macaire, decided to limit weekday hours and to start featuring their very talented chef, Tim Cocheo, by serving Saturday night gourmet dinners (with two seatings at 6 pm & 8:30 pm). The small grocery section was transformed into a French style bistro and the food was …well, let me just say … my first meal there — I couldn’t believe we were in Ancram eating this quality of food. Clearly, Tim’s impressive “cooking chops” had been under-used scrambling eggs! With no liquor license, customers were encouraged (with little objection from me or anyone else) to bring their own wine.

BTG salad courseWord of this new and incredible food find spread like wildfire among local residents (who tend to be stricken with serious bouts of boredom and/or cabin-fever during our Ancram winters). Soon, The Bottle Tree was jam-packed every Saturday night. Customers signed up to receive weekly emails featuring upcoming weekend menus that literally made your mouth water! (Click here to see this weekend’s menu)

Now 6 months later…the grocery section is gone but the restaurant is more popular than ever. In addition to their two Saturday night seatings, Chef Tim and his wife, Taryn (pictured right), have added a Friday night seating at 8 pm and now serve a Sunday Brunch from 10 am – 2 pm. I was also thrilled to learn The Bottle Tree is available for catering as well!

We haven’t had brunch there yet…but after looking at the brunch menu…Auntie M will be there this weekend. I just hope I can bring my own Mimosas!

UPDATE: We went for brunch last Sunday… THE BEST BRUNCH I’VE HAD IN THE AREA!!  Organic pork sausage from Herondale Farms was perfect and lean; the eggs really taste like eggs; the orange juice is fresh-squeezed and the coffee isn’t some watered-down diner coffee…the roast is just right.  I’m going back until I’ve sampled everything on that mouth-watering Brunch menu.  Next time I’ll bring the Mimosas.

The Bottle Tree Grocery
1415 County Route 7
Ancram, NY 12502
(518) 329-0444
Friday Dinner 8:00 pm
Saturday Dinner – 6:00 pm & 8:30 pm
Sunday Brunch – 10 am – 2 pm


Manna Dew Cafe in Millerton, NY

manna dew sign

The summer of 1998 was the first time I ever went to Manna Dew — it was a health food/nutrition/vitamin store then and I was looking frantically for Red Yeast Rice capsules and thinking I’d never find them there…but I did. A year later, I went to the same place looking for some other supplement du jour and discovered Manna Dew was now a Coffee Bar. Cool! The next time I went, they were serving wine and a limited menu and the next time I went, they were a full-service restaurant…and the food was wonderfully eclectic and fresh. Not a surprise when I found out they used (and still use) their own home grown organic vegetables and herbs. What a delicious transformation!!

Now that Millerton has become the new destination-kind-of-town, Manna Dew continues to grow and change with the times. This Zagat Rated Wine Bar serves some of the most innovative cuisine around along with their very impressive wine and exotic beer list. They are now also featuring weekday food specials.


Our most recent visit to Manna Dew, was to introduce Joan to Tapas Night. My partner, Bonnie, and I have enjoyed the Thursday Night Tapas before but we thought Joan would love it! And she did!


Grilled shrimp with Coconut RiceI like to think of Tapas as an edible Mediterranean version of the Swedish (lutefisk and herring-laden) Smorgasbords I grew up with. What’s so great (and fun) about Tapas is that the portions are small yet large enough to share, so you get a little bit of everything without being stuffed. The three of us shared 4 tapas and 2 fresh salads. The Grilled Shrimp with Coconut Rice is pictured here…REALLY, REALLY GOOD! (click here for the tapas menu). With a glass of wine It was a delicious, perfectly-sized priced meal.

music at manna dewAnd, speaking of transformation…did I mention that Manna Dew is also a terrific music venue? By the time we were leaving, the Open Mic Night participants were beginning to arrive. Oh…and they also have rotating local art exhibits, garden patio seating and catering for any event.

Just click the photo to the left to see a schedule of upcoming food and music events.

Manna Dew Cafe
54 Main St
Millerton, NY 12546
Phone: (518) 789-3570

Wednesday 5:30 Roast Prime Rib Specials
Thursday 5:30-9:30 Tapas Specials & Open Mic @ 10:00
Friday 5:30-10:00 Live Jazz, Folk & Blues @ 10:00
Saturday 5:30-10:00
Sunday 5:00 – 9:30 Open Early for Dinner
Monday 5:30 – 9:30 Tex Mex Specials




Reservations are encouraged particularly Thursday – Sunday.

Yes…change IS good!

And sometimes it TASTES good too!


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