By Erica Paige Schumacher
Before a bridge can be built from the past to the future, something must ignite in the memory, emotional landscape or imagination. For Eric Silver, a Gen Xer who grew up in Woodstock helping to build the famous playground Wonderworks — and spending his hours listening to Neil Young and other artistic heavyweights that influenced his world view — he ponders the kinds of processes that move community beyond the modern promise of instant gratification. “I grew up in an era of mixtapes and records…I had to find the music myself, and I couldn’t go on Napster to find it in three seconds,” Silver said.
Perhaps it is this quality of ‘building’ and ‘unearthing’ that led Egg’s Nest owners and Gen Xers, Cristina and Eric Silver, to embark on the journey to carry on a locally adored institution and invest in the restaurant’s future.
Cristina and Eric met in New York City, and moved out to California where they lived for nearly a decade before making many trips back East and finally deciding to move to Ulster County. While Eric grew up in Woodstock, Cristina was originally from New Jersey. “We wanted to move back to start a family, return to our roots, and live in a place that had a greater sense of community.”
Eric took a job in the city, and Cristina started scouting businesses in the area when they came upon the opportunity to purchase the well known and frequently visited community eatery from artist Richard Murphy, who ran the restaurant for forty-three years. He retired and closed the business in 2016, and the couple decided to write him a letter about what the venue meant to them. “We wanted him to know why we wanted this place.” In January 2017, they packed their bags and moved back to the area together to start a family and run the restaurant. “It just kind of happened naturally,” Cristina said. Eric remembers eating at the restaurant with his family, where his parents came to have lunch after walking their beloved dogs.
The Egg’s Nest restaurant has an eclectic and deeply welcoming vibe and provides an imaginative visual feast for the eyes before the customer even has a chance to order one of its many popular and unique locally-sourced dishes. Eric’s father who worked for CBS records, contributed his Saturday Evening Post magazine collection to adorn the walls, which is integrated well with the colorful artwork of parrots, images of David Bowie, distinguished dogs, Napoleon, Swans, Art Nouveau ladies, Buddhist statues, and ambient incandescent lighting that graces the beautifully renovated bar. There are nooks and crannies to sit in with intimate friends and beautiful objects and art to look at throughout the restaurant, vintage plates and cups to drink from, and locally-sourced vegetables and meats to sample throughout their formidable and ambitious menu. Famously delicious Monkey Joe coffee (of Kingston) is served as well as bread from Bread Alone; Tree Juice Maple Syrup is offered on buttermilk pancakes as well as produce from many New York state and local farms and dairies curated from throughout the Hudson Valley.
While Murphy, the former owner was rumored to paint art in the restaurant and shoes for patrons late into the night and hours of the early morning ‘as an outlet for stress’ or ‘when the world was too much with him,’ the Silvers refer to his painted shoes as another object of respect and care that they keep for posterity. In addition, they updated the beautiful bar area and ‘peeled back some of the layers’ revealing an archeological site’s worth of unusual artifacts and images, and the Silvers ‘added some of our own’ artwork and influences to grace the walls of the beloved venue and its impressive interior. They removed the restaurant’s impractical carpeting and kept the original church pew bench that now sits beautifully on floors of White Pine and Douglas Fir. Of course, much of Murphy’s transcendental influence remains, and is carried on by the Silvers. Etched into the building’s exterior and spiritual roots are the words, “Hope,” “Kind,” “Soul,” and “Nest.” These are not instant qualities, but values that are imbued by time, patience, love, respect, wisdom, care and commitment.
If you drive through High Falls, and the restaurant is open, one can see the Egg’s Nest is usually packed with residents, neighbors and others who are happily talking and munching on breakfast items such as the Egg’s Nest Omelette or Huevos Rancheros, or later in the evening eating such popular dishes as Honey Sriracha Fried Chicken with locally farmed poultry, sweet potato hash mixed with chopped collard greens. Another main dish residents select often is the Chicken Milanese with poultry from Campanelli’s Poultry Farm with arugula, fennel, parmesan, heirloom tomatoes and lemon vinaigrette. In the warmer months, the patio area offers a beautiful feeling of sanctuary that features umbrellas, tables and an outside bar with a great deal of charm; this special outside zone makes one feel as if one is far away on a Jamaican vacation or in a remote outdoor hideaway with beautiful lighting, steel drums, a Tiki Bar and their favorite drink.
For the Silvers, taking the risk to continue the spirit of the Egg’s Nest onward had everything to do with maintaining relationships with local farms and having head chef Mel Rosas — a regional chef for over twenty years- – translate those relationships into original meals made from scratch that were locally-sourced and respectful of the community, its farms and its ecosystem. The restaurant also has many vegetarian options. “As newbies, the best way for us to be part of the community is to support local businesses, farms and vendors,” Cristina said.
“We’re not trying to ‘replace’ anything, Eric said. “With the art, it’s a continuation of what he (Richard Murphy) started, and we’ve also tried to be true to who we are.” They both mentioned they are inspired daily by their crew of talented chefs who bring a blending of cultures and international travel influences into the kitchen for customers to enjoy. “The menu is meant to be a confluence of our lives and travel influences,” Eric said. “It’s a change for everyone, and we want that to be positive. This is our life, and we have a vested interest in the community and in the area.”
The Egg’s Nest is located at 1300 Route 213, in High Falls. To review the menu and check out this charming restaurant for all ages and tastes go to http://www.theeggsnest.com. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner every day and night, except on Tuesday.