Ulster County Restaurant Review: Underground Coffee and Ales | Highland, NY
by Dylan Taft
on Wednesday, July 27th, 2016 at 9:36am.
The hamlet of Highland, NY is pretty consistent. Businesses making up the small area most folks would consider ‘Main Street’ (actually Vineyard Avenue, where all the parades, street festivals and town events occur) hasn't changed too much over the years. Sal’s Place has been the cornerstone bar that has been a fixture of Highland’s main drag for decades, as has the barber shop located next door and Elia’s Meat Market, and while other restaurants may have slowly come and gone, the sleepy hamlet has always had a pizza place (or two), a Chinese takeout, and generally, the same local clientele who tend to frequent them.
Over the years though, and with Highland getting more foot traffic from tourists and other Ulster County residents alike from the opening of the Walkway over the Hudson and the expansion and facelift of their Rail Trail system, the town is starting to feel as if it's waking up from its Rip Van Winkle slumber, and with new, youthful life.
Case in point, ‘Main Street’s’ newest face, the cafe/bar and bottle shop, Underground Coffee and Ales. If areas in Ulster County are being referred to as ‘the new Brooklyn’, then this is where ex-Brooklynites near Highland will be headed to make them feel a bit more at home. And locals are loving it just as much, excited for the new facelift and breath of fresh air to their quiet, country town at this new, trendy hangout for a different generation.
Underground Coffee & Ales serves specialty coffee drinks, teas, and wines, alongside some delicious cafe food, but what is impressive is their list of rotating local craft and specialty brews, available by the glass or growler full.
The dark, large exterior windows that run the length of the cafe will have you wondering what is inside as you pass by during the day, yet by night, the warm lights and dark wood accented interior of Underground Coffee and Ales seems incredibly cozy, just beckoning you inside. High top tables line the window so you can sit and watch life pass by on Vineyard Ave as you sip your cappuccino, the quintessential coffee shop experience.
You won’t find a printed drink menu at every table- the selections change far too frequently. Instead, all you need to do is look up over the bar for the chalkboard menu, filled with options and choices you've probably never heard of before, and never knew you wanted to try until now. You won’t find Budweiser in this Ale house, instead you’ll find a wild assortment of craft brews, local hard ciders and more, from B. Nektar Meadery’s The Dude’s Rug Cider, a tea and chai spice flavored hard cider giving a nod to The Big Lebowski, to Root Sellers Row Hard Root Beer. The ever changing list of kegs on tap means that you could frequent this place constantly and always get to try something new. Underground’s breakfast and pub menu items are simple and unpretentious with a bit of flair, putting their own spin on traditional offerings to pair with your specialty brew (ale or coffee!) It’s home cooked, no-frills, delicious food, much of which is inspired by local ingredients (their menu features a local cheese plate and a local sausage sandwich, to name a few) and will soon be expanding to include even more delicious grub. I tried the grilled chicken pesto sandwich, something that I will most certainly be going back for to order again. Food here is ordered at the bar and brought out to your table, very reminiscent of English pub style, further extending the laid back, friendly and inviting atmosphere.
Underground regularly hosts Trivia night on Wednesdays, Paint and Sip nights, live music, and other events that are planned and announced on a regular basis. This past spring, Underground Coffee and Ales even organized their own event that bused people up to Hunter Mountain to experience the TAP NY Craft Beer Festival where plenty of local brewers were showing off their best products. Their Instagram regularly posts up and coming events, as well as updates the list of changing brews on tap (many times with witty sayings or clever captions bound to make you crack a smile).
Underground Coffee and Ales is a great place to grab a drink and a snack with a group of friends for a relaxed night out. With live music and other events, Underground is more than a little coffee shop or cafe, it's a place where you feel you can hangout; one that you would expect to find in the likes of a small college town (think New Paltz). It's fun and youthful vibe gives this place a different feel to it than some of the other cornerstones of Highland. It's a place for a new generation of locals to call their own and a new excitement brought to the center of town.
With all of the newer and exciting changes coming to the hamlet of Highland and the Town of Lloyd, this area is beginning to be much more than just a convenient commuter real estate location, near the train station, NYS Thruway, area airports and more, it’s now starting to be the destination. If you want to be located in the middle of it all, with great state parks, shops and restaurants, like Underground Coffee and Ales, only minutes from your front door, 19 Troy Lane in Highland would be the perfect starter home for small families or great way to downsize and enjoy all the area has to offer. We’re excited for all the facelifts and changes that the Town of Lloyd and Highland have been experiencing in recent years and think that there are now even more great reasons to include Highland in your Ulster County real estate search. If you’re interested in learning more about Highland and it’s history, you can read more about it on our blog and start your own Highland home search from the comfort of your own home.