Fare FAVORITES 2016 Edition.... YOUR BEST BETS ON and OFF track...for dining, drinking and general, good-natured debauchery.
YES. It's THAT time of year again...
Ahhh...CHRISTMAS in July for ALL of us who love The Sport of Kings and all the craziness that goes with it when attention turns to our little corner of Thoroughbred Paradise. As I have been known to say..."It's NOT the days that will kill you...it's the NIGHTS".
But...man and woman cannot live by winning wagers alone...we've ALSO got to EAT when our thoughts turn from gambling to gastronomy. And, as I am in a unique position to recommend restaurants to all of my out of town visitors at the shop...and also have quite a bit of expertise in the area...HERE are MY 2016 PICKS. In NO particular order...
STILL THE best restaurant in downtown Saratoga and one of the toughest tables to be had. Chef Brady's creations are legendary, both in presentation and palate. The Lobster Parfait is a particular favorite of mine as a starter and the Halibut satisfies even the most carniverous of customers. We usually prefer patio dining, as our outdoor season tends to be somewhat abbreviated in these parts...and the patio menu at 15 Church is extraordinary. My picks are Hot Crab Dip, Smoked Trout Dip, Clam Chowder (and i KNOW my chowdah) and their spin on Chicken & Waffles. Can't go wrong with anything, really. And if CRAVING their Zeppoles daily is wrong...I don't WANNA be right. Fab dessert menu options...but I JUST can't order anything but these crunchy-soft, cinnamon-showered little puffs of joy. SUPERB cocktails...my favorites are Burke's Lemonade, Blood Orange Margarita and Fresh Squeeze... and wines??? Exceptional by the glass and bottle program and an equally exceptional cordial, scotch and after-dinner selection. FIRST CLASS in EVERY way. There is a reason it's the most sought-after rezzie since Rao's.
Sperry's was in need of a serious culinary facelift, in my opinion. With the arrival of Chef Brian Bowden...it got one. Chef B hasn't missed a beat...I, however, had REALLY missed HIS BEETS. Unlike the tedious Beet Salads that are, QUITE literally, EVERYWHERE...Brian's is more app than salad and features a goat cheese mousse that is HEAVEN.
I know--I KNOW. Bear with me, here. Siro's has suffered from a SERIOUS case of schizophrenia the past few years. Open..NOT Open..for sale...NOT for sale. BUT--I am happy to report that THIS year? I think they FINALLY got their meds right. The wine list is FAR more comprehensive this year...a tad more reasonably priced (it is SIRo'S after all) and a new Chef in the kitchen from Hunt & Fish seems to be just the medicine required. We went to their soft "friends and family" opening and loved the Crab Cakes...just loved them. Try the DuMol Chloe Chardonnay if you're in the mood...it paired extremely well with the Crab. I'm hoping the Siro's of yesteryear has been resurrected....only time will tell...
Salt & Char:
Lives up to the hype. Lobster, Crab and Corn Chowder...texture of silk. Wine list: Arranged by "style" rather than varietal, which gets me all totally geeked out. LOVE that. Reservations via Open Table and I would strongly suggest it.
Hamlet & Ghost:
Definitely the HIPPEST of all the recently opened spots in the Spa. Cocktails pay homage to the classics...Pimm's Cup, Pisco Punch and Gin Fizz are but a few...and small plate specials rotate frequently. Their Pimento Cheese is fairly addicting and I think we all know how I feel about that particular Southern staple. Check them out.
Makes my list every year. Just great Italian prepared with care. A super post-track spot. Greek Scampi is a favorite appetizer...their Steak is one of the best in town and the Shrimp Genoase melts in your mouth. Perennial favorite.
If you're a steak lover, your cup runneth over in Saratoga Springs lately. Morton's is real-deal classic steakhouse and the staff and service are exemplary. Excellent wine list...priced very well. Try the Liporita Napa...a well-priced Cab that over delivers for the price.
Offering more of a California-style spin on traditional Mexican, Blue Agave (located in the former Leon's spot on Crescent) is like a breath of fresh, cilantro-scented air. Guac offerings are traditional and a seasonal spin is also featured. Blue Agave Ceviche is a refreshing and LIGHT delight. The Queso Fundido is also a favorite...I mean, WHO among us can resist gooey, melted CHEESE in a dish? DON'T lie!!! And the cocktails? Please. Just order me a Diva Margarita and I'll meet you there.
When we feel like braving the parking disaster that IS downtown Saratoga---this is where you will most likely find us. Share several small plates...my suggestions? Blistered Shishito Peppers...Fried Potatoes with a garlicky aioli...Stuffed Dates....Ham Croquettes and Pork Belly.
Fish @30 Lake:
The latest addition to the Mazzone Group and my favorite of all of them. (in Saratoga, anyway...I love Tala also) A MUST order dish is the Goat Cheese Panna Cotta....served with a medley of tomatoes and a perfectly crispy garlic toast...delICIOUS. Raw bar is fresh, fresh, fresh....the Gnudi will make you want to get that way. LOTS of familiar and friendly faces as well. Say hey to Marty behind the bar and request Jillian as your expert server.
When you just can't take the hustle and bustle of Saratoga....venture a mere 15 minutes away to Galway, where you will find Sandy Foster in all her glory. MULTIPLE award winning wine list...Sandy GETS IT...she wants YOU to enjoy wine as much as SHE does...and, as such, her wine list is extensive and offers a bottle for EVERY budget. Couple that with wood-fired pizzas and perfect pasta? Yup, I'm IN.
The Wishing Well:
An institution in Spa City dining. The Lee Family just exudes such hospitality and CLASS that I always find myself wanting to eat here. Honestly, may just be my very favorite restaurant in all of Saratoga. Plus--it was always one of my Gram's favorites and nostalgia does hold a very special place in my heart...and my tummy.
There you have it! I am sure I have omitted some that are YOUR favorites and if so--drop me a note and let me know! We are fortunate to have SO many spectacular dining options in and just outside of town!!!
Bon Appetit...CHEERS... and I'll see you trackside, barside and tableside!!!!