In Westerlo, Barn & Bistro offers homemade cuisine — but only once a week

The Enterprise — Michael Koff
Windows have helped transform a barn into a bistro. Reindeer made of birch wait outside.

WESTERLO — While some restaurants have long waits for a reservation, a new one in Westerlo allows only a couple dozen patrons a week to enter its doors.

Unlike a traditional restaurant, Barn & Bistro, is open just once a week, and diners must reserve a seat ahead of time for the four-course meal prepared by Regina Bryant, and served in a restored barn, located at 288 Route 143 in Westerlo.

The dining option is also unusual: Rather than letting patrons choose items from a menu, she prepares one specific dish for each course; drinks are the only options that vary.

Bryant, 45, has been working in the restaurant business most of her life; her family owned a chain of German restaurants, and her specialty is European cuisine. The entrée on opening night, Nov. 18, was pork shank, served with egg noodles, known as spaetzle, and sauerkraut. The meal started with cheese appetizers, followed by seafood chowder, and ended with a dessert of fresh apple strudel with custard. For the next meal on Dec. 9, she intends to cook roast duckling in the style of a traditional German Christmas dinner.

Bryant’s family owned four restaurants, all called Heidelberg Restaurant. One remains open in Manhattan, owned by Bryant’s sister, Eva Matischak. Bryant says she always knew she wanted to work in a restaurant; she attended culinary school in West Palm Beach, Florida, but maintains that her training began at home.

“My true knowledge comes from working in the kitchen so many years with my family,” she said.

She and her husband, Frank Bryant, 47, met while she was working with a rescue group for animals, particularly horses, and the two decided they wanted to live somewhere in the country where they could raise animals. They ended up finding Westerlo.

The couple approached Westerlo’s planning board two years ago about converting one of the three barns on their property into a restaurant. Frank Bryant did all the woodworking, and a separate milking parlor was turned into a kitchen.

The ingredients for the restaurant’s cuisine come from local sellers the couple have met during their time at farmers’ markets, said Regina Bryant. The egg noodles are made with eggs from their own chickens, meat comes from a local butcher specializing in German cuts, and produce comes from local farmers — they also hope to grow produce in their greenhouse.


The Enterprise — Michael Koff
The tree is lit and the table is set — ready for a feast.


The beer and wine must be imported, she said, because currently local brewers sell by the keg and the restaurant serves by the bottle for freshness, but she noted that some wine is from New York State.

“I work as closely as I can with the surrounding neighborhood,” said Regina Bryant.

The barn holds three tables of eight, though Regina Bryant promises that there is two-and-a-half feet of space per person. Pictures on the restaurant’s Facebook page show the barn decorated with unfinished wood, glass bottles, fairy lights, and Christmas knick knacks.

Barn and Bistro reserves up to 24 patrons. Diners pay $20 of the $55 cost for a meal to reserve a seat, using the website Eventbrite. The remaining $35 is paid at the end of the dinner along with the cost for drinks served.

“I know exactly the amount of food I’m cooking … ,” said Regina Bryant. “It just works for us.”

Keeping their business strictly a weekly event means they do not have to hire staff, and have time to spend with their four children, she said.

The Bryants have lived in Westerlo for the last 10 years. Since 2011, they have raised goats for their other business, a cheesemaking company called Goats and Gourmets.

At one point the Bryants kept 80 goats on their property, although their goats have since been taken to other farms, but they will obtain milk from them to process. The cheese they serve as appetizers at Barn and Bistro was made by them.

The couple takes their products to farmers’ markets in Troy, Hudson, and Coxsackie. Many of the people they met at the markets became interested in their new business venture, said Regina Bryant. Followers of their business awaited their grand opening, and made up many of their patrons that first night, with a few local guests, she said. The responses have been mostly positive, she said.

“I’ve just been overwhelmed with the compliments,” she said.


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