Upstate camp vibes, elevated comfort food, and inventive cocktails? That’s precisely what you’ll find at Nat’s Mountain House.
Natalie “Nat” Freihon had a few goals when she set out to launch her novel eatery nestled in the Catskill Mountains. For starters, it had to be a casual place where patrons didn’t have to think too hard. Secondly, the food needed to be fresh, local, delicious, and insanely fun. Finally, she wanted it to be in that delightful corner of the world where locals and tourists could relax and simply be themselves.
She’s gladly checked all those boxes since opening Nat’s Mountain House in Tannersville in late June, the 20th restaurant the 43-year-old has opened during her esteemed career. Others have included Mercat in Manhattan, the Fat Radish in Savannah, Georgia, and her most recent ones in NYC—Nat’s on Bank, Nat’s on Bleecker, and the Orchard Townhouse—all part of her Strange Bird Hospitality group.
Freihon gets a lot of satisfaction watching diners enjoy her elevated New York classics like “Nat’s Fondue,” a creamy blend of gruyère, fontina, and smoked gouda, and whole-fried trout tacos for two. She knows she’s hit the mark when she sees customers making themselves at home in her cool and campy 120-seat dining room, bar, and lounge, and hanging out in the large backyard to melt s’mores over firepits.
“We want people to say, ‘Oh, wow, this is fun!’” says Freihon. “I feel restaurants should be places where more than just food is provided. Whimsy is a large part of it because food should be fun. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. We try to be inspired by our local communities and be a place where you can have it all in a thoughtful way.”
Nat’s Mountain House, set in a two-story, 7,000-square-foot chateau (just minutes from Hunter Mountain and right next door to Hotel Lilien), has all the features Freihon was looking for in her latest restaurant project, including a lovely outdoor terrace with mountain views, soaring 50-foot ceilings, a brick fireplace, and the vibes of an old-school upstate summer camp. “I had been coming to Tannersville for a few years and loved it here because I really appreciated being outside of the city, and it didn’t feel pretentious,” she says.The Tudor Revival-style structure, built in 1960, had most recently operated as Chateau Belleview, a longtime French restaurant, which closed during the pandemic. Today, it bears the touch of Savannah artist Juliana Lupacchino (known as JULU), sporting colorful, abstract murals and making use of the natural lighting streaming in from multiple windows.
The restaurant opened amid great excitement and has been billed as a place that nurtures community in a joyful, artful environment. Chef Jonah Eagen (formerly of New York’s Soho House and The Fat Radish) heads up the kitchen, along with Chef Robert Howay (Kitty’s Restaurant and Market in Hudson). Together, they’ve come up with a menu built around American comfort foods “with a touch of whimsy,” according to Freihon.
Starters include East Coast oysters with “Nat’s Hawt Sauce” (a piquant blend of pineapple, mango and habanero), mignonette, and cocktail sauce; peel-and-eat shrimp with Old Bay aioli; crab Rangoon dip with wonton chips; and chickpea-battered pakora-fried radishes with cucumber-herb dip.For entrees, labeled “Large” on the menu, Nat’s offers spicy spaghetti with corn, tomato, and pickled chili; falafel burger on a seeded bun with lettuce, red onion, and cucumber-dill yogurt; steak frites, a hanger steak paired with watercress and hand-cut fries; and the aforementioned trout tacos served in corn tortillas with sides of slaw and pickled vegetables.
Freihon added a salad called “Nancy’s Chopped,” which she based on one she enjoyed as a youth in Los Angeles. Named after acclaimed chef and author Nancy Silverton, it pops with the flavors of salami, provolone, and chickpeas. The dessert menu gives a nod to Nat’s mother, Mary Ann, by featuring her devil’s food cake dusted with powdered sugar, along with other options like coconut cake for two; banana cream pie pudding; and a build-your-own sundae station that includes soft-serve vanilla and strawberry and, says Freihon, “all the best toppings.”
“We want to encourage the community to join us in our backyard and have it become their hangout.”
Drinks at Nat’s are just as unpretentious as the fare, including cocktails like “Skinny Jeans,” a blend of tequila, cucumber, ginger, and lime and one called “Kick Start My Heart,” with vodka, cold brew liqueur, amaro, and espresso. The menu also features frozen drinks like a strawberry colada, a half-dozen beers, and a few non-alcoholic options like “Strawberry Things” made with muddled mint, strawberry, and ginger.
“There’s always something going on at Nat’s. We want to encourage the community to join us in our backyard and have it become their hangout. We have a big, green space, and we want people to utilize all of it,” says Freihon. “Your puppies can run around, or if someone wants to get married and have a reception out there, Nat’s is the place to be.”
Nat’s Mountain House
6589 Route 23A, Tannersville