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Champetre offers fine French fare

PINE PLAINS — It was a somewhat rocky journey to get their new restaurant off the ground, but Patricia and Michel Jean were at last able to breathe a sigh of relief as they officially opened Champetre in Pine Plains this summer.

For 15 years, the Jeans established their reputation in Pine Plains as owners of The Stissing House at 7801 South Main St., offering many returning customers a night of fine dining in a cozy tavern atmosphere. 

Serving the popular restaurant’s last meal in January, the Jeans bid farewell to what they considered their greatest accomplishment in the last decade-and-a-half, when they closed The Stissing House with plans to start a new restaurant in the future.

Focusing their new venture on offering French cuisine, the Jeans set their sights on the building at 2938 Church St., just steps from their former Stissing House. 

The new locale had previously housed a variety of restaurants during the last three decades, including Crumpets, the New Age Diner and Agriturismo. 

This summer, the Jeans along with the new site’s landlord, Jack Banning, received an outpouring of support from local residents as well as complaints from its next-door neighbors. All were lodged with the Pine Plains Planning Board at a public hearing for the site plan review on June 9 and June 23. 

The Planning Board ultimately approved the site plan on June 23, thereby permitting Banning to reopen the site as a restaurant and the Jeans to open Champetre in time for diners to enjoy this summer.

Asked about their new restaurant’s namesake — which derives from a French expression for “pastoral festival” or “country feast” — Patricia said, “I think that’s a good description… the thought about a gathering in the country is really what we’ve always liked about being up here — a much more laid back feel and the access to local products — and we’re happy to be in a much smaller space.”

Opening for business on July 28, she added the couple is happy to be cooking and serving local fare in Pine Plains again.

In designing the layout for Champetre, Patricia said they took some elements from The Stissing House (such as her paintings of the Hudson River) and added a few new elements. Drawing from Michel’s origins, the menu at Champetre offers French bistro cuisine with a Provençal theme that changes every week. 

While diners may find the escargot, bouillabaisse and steak tartare they once savored at The Stissing House on Champetre’s menu, Patricia said about a third of the menu rotates weekly.

Champetre opens at 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays with the kitchen closing at 9 p.m. those days and at 8 p.m. on Sundays. 

Eventually, she said they’d like to be open for Sunday brunch as well. The restaurant  employs between six to eight workers, all of whom worked at The Stissing House at one point or another.

As Champetre only has a 23 person capacity right now due to COVID-19 restrictions, Patricia said the restaurant is open by reservation only until they can figure out how to maximize the space. To make a reservation, call 518-771-3350.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled with the success they’re having so far,” said Banning, who said he was happy to support the Jeans in their endeavor. “They have one heck of a following… We did it because we believed in it, and I think it’s going to be a terrific success.”

“We’re just happy to still be in Pine Plains with our wonderful, supportive clientele and doing what we love,” Patricia said.

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