Photos courtesy of Stéphanie Abanto
From the team behind Woodstock’s Silvia, Good Night features Hollywood Regency design, farm-to-table fare and a marble bar.
As you approach the dark structure of the barn that stands on Rock City Road in Woodstock, it’s hard to predict exactly what might be inside.
At Good Night, large picture windows emit an alluring glow in the evening, attracting curious diners. It’s the team’s second restaurant in town behind Silvia, a farm-to-table dining destination with a strong fan base. Part of Silvia’s charm comes from a plethora of paintings hanging on the emerald walls, along with other classic Art Deco elements.
However, Good Night is something completely different. And the surprises don’t stop at its striking interior design.
“We wanted it to be different from what Silvia is. We have a big thing there; it’s really hard to compete with that. [We wanted] something a little more feminine, a little lighter, a little more fun, a little more glamorous, a little more soothing,” says co-owner Craig Leonard. He runs Silvia and Good Night with his wife Betty Choi, his sister-in-law chef Doris Choi and her husband Niall Grant. “Doris is well versed in Southeast Asian cuisine – it was a natural feel for her. The area really lacked that.
The four discussed expanding to a second location just before the pandemic hit. Within two years, Silvia’s capacity could no longer keep up with demand. The popularity surrounding Chef Choi’s culinary creativity could support two places. Although the team considered several concepts and locations, finding this place on Rock City Road was a pleasure, according to Leonard.
“We walked through the door, looked around, and basically turned to each other and were like, ‘Wow, it won’t get better than this.’ »
Perhaps they sensed the rich history of the building. The barn first served as horse and cart stables for a nearby hotel in the late 1910s and early 1920s.
In the 1940s, it became a notorious “rough and ready” drinking hole nicknamed The Sea Horse. Leonard researched this lively chapter of the building’s past from a book written by Dr. Wallace Sife.
Subsequently, The Sea Horse became a rock and roll club known as The Elephant. In the 70s, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, The Band and other notable artists elevated Woodstock’s reputation as an artist center.
“It felt a lot like the heyday of Joyous Lake,” Leonard says, referring to Silvia’s old identity as a location. In fact, folksinger Fred Neil recorded a live album at The Elephant in 1970. It never achieved commercial success, but a track called “Everybody’s Talking”– also featured on the live album – became a hit when Harry Nilsson’s cover was used in the film Midnight cowboy.
Good Night pays homage to this era through vintage fixtures from the 60s and 70s. Leonard found unique antique pieces from all over Europe—Budapest, Berlin, Amsterdam and Rome. Good lighting was essential to create the right atmosphere inside.
“It was a big, cavernous space… which was beautiful, but it’s hard to make a space like this cozy and comfortable. And, of course, we kept everything white and clear, so I had to find fixtures and fittings that would work in the environment,” he explains. “We wanted it to stay as airy as possible, letting diners feel its original bones of being a barn… People tell us it has a kind of 1930s Hollywood Regency feel.”
An Art Deco aesthetic with softer contours? Perfect for Silvia’s sister restaurant.
Likewise, to realize the team’s vision, an iconic bar was essential. Leonard envisioned it as the focal point of the play. At Silvia’s, it’s the open kitchen and the raging fire that “jumps you in the face” when you walk in, as he puts it. Therefore, the group sourced an amazing Italian pink marble as the defining element of the bar. Once the Good Night team cooked up an idea for a curved bar, they incorporated gentle curves and bends throughout the space. A large mirror reflects the entire restaurant to those perched at the bar. Additionally, a tiered back bar creates a tiered wedding cake effect, redefining the term “upscale”.
Meanwhile, Leonard learned another design lesson from their success at Silvia.
“We also wanted a lot of banquettes, because everyone wants to sit at the corner tables of Silvia’s banquettes,” enthuses Leonard. So they developed a floor plan with plenty of seating for fan service, so to speak. Therefore, almost every table on the ground floor of Good Night is a street corner. Couples can work side-by-side with Chef Choi’s eclectic menu, making Good Night one of the best date nights in town.
The renovations took about eight months, as most structural components were completely compromised. Good Night opened in November 2021, providing a warm respite from the impending winter season.
So what does the menu look like?
Admittedly, the crispy puffer tail appetizer made the biggest splash with diners. This scrumptious starter offers so much to love. First, the fried puffer fish and wild shrimp are cooked to perfection. Second, crunchy peanuts, crunchy Thai basil and perfectly roasted shishito peppers offer a range of textures. Finally, the sweet and spicy chili sauce ties the whole dish together.
Plus, the Sichuan tenderloin carpaccio is just as impressive. Served with deliciously crispy lotus root and shallots and finished with a tangy and sour mustard yolk, it’s one of the most Instagrammable orders on the menu. Dim sum pork wontons, five-spice duck breast and fried Shan tofu round out the entrees.
“Doris is just a natural talent. She’s great with food and flavor,” Leonard says. While preparing Good Night, Doris removed some of the Asian-inspired dishes from Silvia’s menu. There, she has a true farm-to-table American experience. For Good Night, she researched unique Southeast Asian dishes and perfect applications for Hudson Valley produce. “However, she pretty much had most of the menu in the back of her head,” adds Leonard.
A dish that Chef Choi brings from her vast experiences in the food industry is also one of Good Night’s signature specialties: walnut larb. Larb is the national dish of Laos and is also commonly eaten throughout Thailand. The savory meat salad usually includes ground chicken, beef, duck, pork and/or fish. However, Chef Choi trades in the nuts to create an all-vegetable version. Flavored with lemongrass and other Thai herbs and spices, Good Night’s walnut larb is extremely delicious. Plus, locally sourced lettuce wraps add even more complexity.
The main courses are just as satisfying. For example, Leonard cites the local dish of oyster mushrooms and egg noodles as one of his favorites. Mushroom lovers will also love the stir-fried yuba, which includes wooden ear mushrooms. Likewise, Good Night offers a Thai basil and beef stir-fry for meat eaters. Other plates to try with a massive appetite include Vietnamese grilled pork (served with rice noodles and vegetables), fresh red snapper in tamarind sauce, and house dry-aged rib eye. If you’re craving a real taste of Southeast Asian cuisine, go for the Green Coconut Seafood Curry.
As for drinks, Good Night offers an extensive and ever-changing menu of signature cocktails. Kumquat Blossom combines smoky mezcal with almond orgeat, lime and kumquat. On the other hand, the Sake Coconut Colada deftly achieves a concoction of tequila blanco, sake nigori, coconut, and a pinch of chili. Banana daquiris, grapefruit and lychee tonics and more round out Good Night’s list of delicious libations.
“I think Woodstock is changing and always has been. And I think we’re just another part of that feeling of change,” Leonard says. We’re a small community, but I think the people here are sophisticated. about their food and that they like choices. And that’s just another choice.
Related: Millstream Tavern does Creekside, farm-to-table dining in Woodstock