By B.A. Nilsson
Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 587-7766. Serving lunch Mon-Sat
11:30-4, dinner Mon-Thu 5-10, Fri-Sat 5-11, lunch and dinner
Sun noon-9. AE, DC, MC, V.
traditional, with steaks
price range: $19 (many items) to $32 (lobster and sirloin)
Victorian Spa City
It’s conceivable that Lillian Russell would have been comfortable
in a place like her eponymous restaurant. The comfortable
dining room, topped by high, tin ceilings and ornate fixtures,
has a nouveau-Victorian look that suits the singer’s era—although
I’m not sure I can picture Miss Russell tucking into a slab
of rare prime rib. On the other hand, when she was in Saratoga,
she hung out with the polyphagous Diamond Jim Brady, so, who
Prime rib ($20) is a weekend attraction at Lillian’s, reflecting
its 31-year-old heritage as a steakhouse. “We opened back
when the steakhouse was king,” says owner Raymond Morris,
“with peanuts on the tables and sawdust on the floor.” Things
have changed considerably since then, although the restaurant
continues to offer a core menu of steaks and other grilled
And the prime rib I enjoyed on a recent visit confirmed that
this is something they do well (not, of course, in the well-done
sense, which is a terrible state to inflict on any good beef).
Pink, tender, with the worst of the fat trimmed away, it was
served moistened with its own juice and with a nice sauté
of winter squash on the side. Although it was promised with
mashed potatoes, I had forgotten that by the time I ordered
and, given the choice of rice or a baked potato, chose the
latter while lying to myself that I wouldn’t anoint it with
To guarantee the steakworthiness of the place, a friend of
mine (on a different visit) enjoyed a N.Y. sirloin ($23),
a most generous portion that truly had a medium-rare (as ordered)
finish to its center. And there’s nothing like working your
way toward that center through a well-
seasoned, charcoal-charred skin.
And we did this while on display to downtown’s passersby.
Prime seating seems to be spang up against the window overlooking
Broadway, and the view from inside is enjoyable—at least those
evenings when the wind chill doesn’t clear the sidewalks.
But what if you don’t plan on tucking into a steak anytime
soon? I invited my vegetarian friend Liz to join me at dinner
to see what she’d make of the menu, and she was pleased to
see that, along with pasta dishes she finds tiresome as typical
meat-free alternatives, Lillian’s offers a vegetable stir-fry
($19). It’s a mélange of what’s fresh and what you’d expect
to see (broccoli, carrots) served up in a sesame-ginger sauce,
sporting a slice of grilled (canned) pineapple. And you get
a choice of pasta or rice; unsurprisingly, Liz chose rice.
Roasted vegetable ravioli ($19) would be another meatless
option, and it turns out to have a more robust flavor than
your typical cheese-filled item, accompanied by enough sauce
to balance the pasta component.
Two pages of menu items cover a range that shows how far the
restaurant has evolved since 1974. Appetizers include soups
(including a classic French onion, $4.50/$5.50), hot and cold
shrimp dishes, steamed clams and such.
Maryland crab cakes ($10) are another classic preparation—just
what you’d expect in a recipe that, thankfully, is light on
the breading, and served with a low-key lobster cream sauce.
Bacon-wrapped scallops ($9) arrive in a generous portion with
a Dijon sauce that you probably won’t even be tempted to use.
Entrées include a variety of seafood items: The specials during
one of our visits were grilled salmon and broiled haddock
($19 each), as well as a $21 seafood platter with clams and
scallops and sole and shrimp.
You can make a meal out of one of the salads, because there
are imposing servings of Caesar with chicken, shrimp or vegetables
($11-$15) as well as a Greek salad ($11). Most entrées come
with a house salad, a superior array of greens with lots of
trimmings, including sprouts, and a dizzying selection of
dressing, of which I’d recommend the house vinaigrette.
I never developed a taste for the formidable surf and turf,
but the number of such items listed suggests that this hoary
old combo remains a favorite, so who am I to quibble? Besides,
shrimp or scallops are among the pairings, which makes it
more interesting that putting lobster into the mix.
The lunch menu gives you scaled-down versions of many of these,
but a few lighter—or at least less-expensive—items persist
onto the dinner menu. A burger is $8, and there are other
grills and wraps in the $9-$10 range.
Service couldn’t be friendlier. I’m still no fan of the system
that puts you at the mercy of a single server who may get
sidetracked at your neediest moment, but we had the sense
of other eyes watching us—and entrées were delivered by whomever
In sum, there’s no culinary experimentation going on here.
It’s a long-lived, reliable restaurant that delivers what
it promises in a prominent downtown spot, and it’s good to
go back to.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
chef Eric Masson’s French heritage, the Saratoga
Lake Inn and Bistro offers its Fête des
Rois (Festival of Kings) menu Jan. 20-23.
The four courses include an appetizer (your choice
of crepe stuffed with ham and mushrooms, escargot
sautéed with wild mushrooms or quiche Lorraine),
salad or soup, an entrée of chicken and vegetables
in a velouté sauce, petit filet mignon du chef,
or sole amandine—and a special “Cake of the King”
dessert. Dinner is $29 per person (before tax
and tip), and you can make reservations by calling
the restaurant at 587-8280. Hours are Wed-Fri
5-9, Sat noon-10, Sun noon-8. . . . Remember to
pass your scraps to Metroland (e-mail email@example.com).
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very much enjoyed eating dinner at Daniel's
at Ogdens. You review described my dining
experience perfectly. This wasn't the case
with Pancho's. I much prefer Garcia's or
Lake View Tavern for Mexican fare. I agree
that a restaurant can have an off night
so I'll give the second unit on Central
Avenue a try.
yes I miss the star ratings, bring it back.
Second, I haven't had a chance to visit
Poncho's yet, but I especially like reading
would travel to Amsterdam to this restaurant
- it's not that far away. People traveled
from all over to eat at Ferrandi's in Amsterdam.
From his background, I'm sure the chef's
sauce is excellent and that is the most
important aspect of an Italian restaurant.
Sometimes your reviewer wastes words on
the negative aspects of a restaurant. I'm
looking forward to trying this restaurant
- I look forward to Metroland every Thursday
especially for the restaurant review. And
by the way Ferrandi's closed its Amsterdam
location and is opening a new bistro on
Saratoga Lake - Should be up and running
in May. It will be called Saratoga Lake
Bistro. It should be great!
comments about the Indian / Pakistani restaurants
being as "standardized as McDonald's"
shows either that you have eaten at only
a few Indian / Pakistani restaurants or
that you have some prejudices to work out.
That the physical appearances are not what
you would consider fancy dancy has no bearing
on the food. And after all, that is what
the main focus of the reviews should be.
Not the physical appearances, which is what
most of your reviews concentrate on.
A restaurant like The Shalimar, down on
Central Avenue, may not look the greatest,
but the food is excellent there. And the
menu has lots of variety - beef, lamb, vegetarian,
chicken, and more..