Looking for an elegant meal in a welcoming setting? Try New Paltz’s RUNA Bistro, opened by a passionate hospitality pro on the brink of the pandemic, surviving and thriving thanks to her creativity, persistence, and gift for fine, fine food. offer an entirely different cuisine than was available in the village, which I hope keeps people intrigued,” says chef/owner Clare Hussain. “Specials are different every night; depending on inspiration they might be drinks, appetizers, or main dishes. But it absolutely won’t be the same thing you’ll find anywhere else.” Indeed it’s not. RUNA menus include items like escargot, crepes, and French onion soup along with Kathi rolls and other South Asian flavors, all fresh and artfully prepared from locally sourced ingredients.
RUNA menus include items like escargot, crepes, and French onion soup along with Kathi rolls and other South Asian flavors, all fresh and artfully prepared from locally sourced ingredients.
Online reviewers rave about the dishes, as well as the quaint, comfy setting, open-hearted welcome, and caring service. Hussain originally envisioned RUNA as “French-ish,” but the menu has evolved; besides the French delicacies, you’ll find flavors inspired by Hussain’s international roots: Born in Bangladesh, she learned early to love her Bengali father’s tastes as well as deliciousness from North African, Basque, and Vietnamese cuisines. Her family loved to feast, and the preparation was a big part of the pleasure. “My parents always entertained friends when I was younger,”
“My parents always entertained friends when I was younger. My grandmother moved in with us, and I watched her crafting all kinds of dishes.” – Clare Hussain
she says. “My grandmother moved in with us, and I watched her crafting all kinds of dishes. I was always drawn to help them whenever I could, as a child and when I was home from boarding school and college.” she says. “My grandmother moved in with us, and I watched her crafting all kinds of dishes. I was always drawn to help them whenever I could, as a child and when I was home from boarding school and college.”
After graduating from TU Dublin School of Culinary Arts and Food Technology, Hussain found work with Marriott International.
“They are an incredibly disciplined brand,” she says. “They emphasized the importance of establishing well-thought-out processes, and definitely like to enforce this with staff, so this has always stuck with me having worked with them on and off for 14 years—though I am still re-learning and re-working these processes all the time.”
Working with Marriott eventually led her to New York, and upstate to these glorious hills in 2017. RUNA opened its doors for the first time in September 2019. Having to shutter the fledgling restaurant for pandemic lockdown six months after opening was a setback no one could have predicted. “I was totally discombobulated,”
“I offer an entirely different cuisine than was available in New Paltz, which I hope keeps people intrigued.” – Clare Hussain
Hussain admits. “Other restaurants seemed to have a takeout platform established, but I had not. I had to try to maximize that; it proved to be unsuccessful, so I had no choice but to close my doors for a few months.” She was down, but not out: The restaurant reopened in January 2021, though she had to simplify the menu and the hours a bit to get RUNA back up and running. She hopes to overcome the staffing issues that remain widespread in food service, offer more dinner service, and take on more events, but she’s grateful for the staff she describes as amazing and hardworking. “Camaraderie is key,” she says. “If you put your staff first and treat them well, they treat your customers with excellence and integrity in turn. Of course, you also need to constantly challenge yourself and be constantly learning.”
10 Plattekill Avenue, New Paltz