Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul. ~ Dorothy Day
When you're from a small town, you notice when something changes. On a drive to Tupper Lake last year, I couldn't help but notice a previously vacant lot that had transformed into a bustling hub of activity. After a year-long renovation and a lot of elbow grease, The Woodshed on Park emerged as the latest restaurant in the Adirondacks, offering a dining experience that beautifully balances top-tier cuisine with a welcoming, cozy atmosphere.
Meet the owners
Behind this culinary haven are husband and wife team Siobhan Spencer and Evan Sloan, a couple who had spent the last decade residing in Brooklyn, NY. There, Siobhan managed a restaurant, while Evan ran a kitchen in Manhattan. However, when the pandemic hit, the couple found themselves confined to a tiny one-bedroom apartment. In response to this challenge, they adapted and created a catering business from scratch. Their catering venture centered around open-fire cooking after Evan's creativity led him to build an outdoor grill using an old cast iron bed frame, which naturally transitioned into a restaurant built upon the same concept. Reflecting on this evolution, Evan expressed, "As your culinary career progresses, you tend to focus on refining techniques, but there's an innate desire to return to the fundamentals of open fire, and you come to understand that it's a complexity unto itself."
As they searched for a kitchen to rent for their catering enterprise, the couple began to realize that their culinary path was leading them toward the creation of their own restaurant. Ultimately, their aspirations brought them back to Tupper Lake, Evan's hometown, where they had previously run the Tupper Lake Country Club together from 2008 to 2009. In the midst of the ever-changing pandemic landscape, this familiarity must have provided a sense of comfort.
The space they found had sat dormant for nearly a decade, but Siobhan and Evan recognized its potential. The building's original incarnation was known as The Red Barn, a delightful full-circle moment since it happened to be the very first kitchen Evan had ever worked in. Drawing from their rich history of culinary success and having first crossed paths while working together in Schenectady, the couple embarked on their most ambitious project yet. Now, The Woodshed on Park stands as their labor of love, a French-Canadian-inspired restaurant and cocktail bar that has significantly enriched the thriving local food scene alongside notable establishments like Amado and the food trucks at Raquette River Brewing.
A glimpse inside the restaurant
The Woodshed on Park opened its doors in the summer of 2023, and it immediately captured the essence of the Adirondacks with its classic décor. Wood accents, polished rustic style, and vintage décor transport you to a dimly lit, speakeasy-style setting. The ambiance is intimate and sophisticated, with a dash of mystery and intrigue, embracing the charm of the Adirondacks without clichés.
Siobhan, Evan, and their team have poured their hearts and souls into the space, upcycling materials and employing DIY craftsmanship throughout. They've cut and stained the original long tables, sanded and stained the chairs, and even repurposed red glass from overhead lights to create an enchanting atmosphere. Many of the upcycled items also came from local antique shops. A custom swing-in bookshelf door reveals a secret wine cellar, adding to the aura of whimsy and intrigue. Other fun décor elements are hidden in plain like Siobhan's handmade moss art, which keeps you on your toes. I'm going to stop there so you can discover the rest for yourself; it's all part of the fun.
One of the highlights of The Woodshed on Park is its cocktail program, led by the talented Emma Crouse, who has curated a menu that perfectly complements the atmosphere and Chef Evan's food. Fresh-squeezed juices and seasonal ingredients find their way into every cocktail, ensuring a fresh experience. Take advantage of their happy hour from Tuesday to Thursday at 5 p.m., which offers an enticing selection, including wine, daiquiris, and old-fashioned cocktails.
My dining experience
I arrived just in time for happy hour and had the pleasure of indulging in a refreshing daiquiri that set the tone for a remarkable culinary journey. During my visit, I was introduced to the world of gazpacho, a cold soup made with the freshest ingredients, perfect for a hot summer day. The white gazpacho, a delightful blend of cucumbers, almonds, grapes, herbs, and grilled breadcrumbs, was a revelation. The server's theatrical pour of the gazpacho added a unique touch to the experience.
My entrée continued to impress. I ordered the Hudson Valley Steelhead Trout, served with Swiss chard, Castelvetrano olives, tomatoes, stewed beans, and dill, which was a harmonious symphony of flavors. For dessert, I couldn't resist the homemade peach pie with rosemary ice cream. It was a sweet conclusion to an unforgettable meal. Some of the menu's other standout items include pâté chinois, a Québec-style shepherd's pie that is a crowd favorite, and skillet chicken and biscuits that evoke a sense of comfort and nostalgia.
The Woodshed on Park is a tribute to the Adirondack region, offering an approachable yet sophisticated dining experience that is equally welcoming to locals and visitors. The focus here is on the cocktail bar, and the result is a masterful fusion of culinary excellence and cozy elegance. It's not just a restaurant; it's a destination that embodies the spirit of the Adirondacks, and it's a must-visit for anyone seeking a unique and unforgettable dining experience.