by Jac Bergenson

Behind the curtain lies one of the Hudson Valley’s best kept secrets: Tomas Tapas Bar and Restaurant. With restaurants popping up in Poughkeepsie, Wappingers Falls, and Kingston, traditional Spanish tapas are finally making their way into the diets of Hudson Valley diners. Among the best are the plates offered at Tomas.

Deceptively cozy, the dining room gives way to a bar and lounge area stocked to the brim with the best scotches and whiskeys and wines. The care Tomas took in compiling its wine list was apparent. Nestled in an extensive list of Spanish varietals are local favorites, like the Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, and Tocai Friulano of Millbrook Winery in New York. Proper wine pairings can be difficult for the best-traveled of diners, and fortunately, there’s a wine for every dish at Tomas.

Wine aside, the food itself is the main draw at Tomas. The menu does have a limited list of salads and entrees, but it’s easy to get lost in the sheer amount of small plates available. Upon our first visit, my guest and I dined exclusively on the small plates: papas bravas, crispy potatoes served with habanero aioli; stuffed piquillo peppers, with vegetables and goat cheese; 18-months aged Serrano ham, the Spanish equivalent of Prosciutto di Parma. In total, the eight tapas plates we tried were a tour-de-force of traditional Spanish flavors.

I was particularly pleased to see a “Chorizo & Manchego” option, Manchego among my favorite varieties of international cheeses. Regretfully, I realized after I received my food that I ordered a rather large amount of cured meats and cheeses. But each was of the highest quality, and the “Queso de Espana” cheese plate afforded me the opportunity to try varieties I had never heard of.

In both my and my guest’s opinion, the two highlights on the tapas menu were the “Lemon Hummus” plate, served with grilled pita bread and marinated olives, and the “Truffled Parmesan Fries.” The lemon hummus was smooth and vibrant with just a hint of acid, and the fries were crisp, coated and fried with Parmesan, not tossed after frying.

The hummus and fries were so exquisite, during out second visit my guest ordered them for a second time. I forewent the tapas plates on this visit and ordered a paella with chicken and chorizo. The paella had an unexpectedly creamy texture, the rice cooked tender with the chicken tossed throughout. The chorizo was unexpectedly served fried with the chorizo chips garnishing the top of the plate. I had never seen chorizo served this way, and it added a contrast of textures to the plate.

As for desserts, we tried a cupcake sampler during our first visit—we just couldn’t help ourselves. Served with five mini-cupcakes, including two flavored with lemon, one with chocolate and almonds, another with raspberry and Chambord liqueur, and another with vanilla. Each cupcake was bite-sized and bursted with flavor.

Over the course of two visits, Tomas received good accolades—the restaurant won both Editors’ Pick and Readers’ Pick for Best Tapas in Hudson Valley Magazine’s 2013 Best of the Hudson Valley list. What began as a whim visit ended as a new favorite, just a half hour away from the Mount Saint Mary College campus.

Tomás Restaurant – Cablevision Clip (Video by rossmedia on Vimeo)