Drive up Route 34 to Route 90 toward Aurora, NY, and you’ll pass two exceptional wineries as you come up on a bistro unlike anything you can experience anywhere else. Pumpkin Hill Bistro and Vineyard, a 30-minute drive from Cornell Campus is situated on a grassy hill and vineyard overlooking Cayuga Lake. The old farmhouse is welcoming with its outdoor, indoor, upstairs and downstairs seating.
Jen decided to take us there for the first time for a very special occasion … it was Sunday and we were hungry and wanted to try something new. She called ahead and found out that the Executive Chef, Cookie, would accommodate our gluten-free and vegan diet. And she did. She really did.
Our meal was comprised of a starter of hummus and olive tapenade with homemade fresh out of the oven gluten-free vegan toasted bread triangles. This was one of those moments when I asked the server 5-6 times if they knew what gluten-free vegan meant … because this bread was that good.
I ordered a black cup of coffee that was also delicious and our main course consisted of black bean burgers stacked high with vegetables on Cookie’s homemade gluten-free vegan buns that were so good … I had to ask the server 5-6 times again if she knew what “gluten-free vegan” meant. She did.
The entire meal was fantastic. Truly beyond anything we could ever get in Ithaca (which is known for its amazing restaurants for omnivores). Besides the ambiance, the flavors, the company, and the location … what made this trip so special and this meal so memorable was, Cookie.
She takes such pride in what she is preparing. She later mentioned to us that she believes everyone should enjoy what they are eating and not be limited by what they can/not eat. She is what every chef should be … passionate about her food and focused on the patrons.
The entire day was so great, we vowed to return and return we did. Calling the morning before we left lets Cookie know to pre-make the gluten-free vegan rolls and to let the servers know we’re coming. We asked her to make extra rolls this time so we could bring a half dozen home. This time I ordered the grilled portobello burger and a side of rosemary-infused gluten-free pasta and Jen got the black bean burger again with homemade kettle chips. All of it was so good. I also love that these vegan burgers are served with a steak knife and homemade vegan mayo. Every item offered on the menu is made from scratch.
The meal was just as delicious on our second visit and the waitstaff just as attentive. There are very few restaurants we have visited that are this accommodating and generous with their time. While Ithaca may boast an incredible diversity of dining options for omnivores, we were hard-pressed to think of one place that would put this much effort into two (and a half) gluten-free vegan patrons. I cannot recommend Pumpkin Hill Bistro and Vineyard enough.
One other important thing to note: the owner is vegan. Boom.
We’ll go back.