By B.A. Nilsson
Henry St., Saratoga Springs, 226-0655. Serving dinner Tue-Thu
5-9, Fri-Sat 5-10. Hours to expand in April. AE, MC, V.
price range: $14.50 (spaghetti pomodori freschi) to $26
(grilled lollipop lamb chops)
Tiznow, the colt, won two back-to-back Breeders Cup Classic
races, John Costanzo had money on the horse. When Costanzo
moved to Saratoga Springs to open Tiznow, the restaurant,
his short explanation was simple: “I wanted to ride him a
Costanzo had a long-standing relationship with the city because
of many summer visits to the track, and he saw a niche opportunity
to offer the kind of dining he enjoys in Manhattan. And he
has no illusions about the restaurant business: He’s put in
his time professionally downstate.
The search for a suitable spot led him to a former machine
shop on Henry Street at the corner of Lake Avenue; the across-the-street
neighbor is The Parting Glass. The result of much refurbishment
is a large, airy dining room with a bar at one end and plenty
of table space.
Although Costanzo credits his favorite Manhattan bistros as
an inspiration, he hasn’t gone in for the cramped seating
too common in the city. And the low-level lighting helps create
a sense of individual isolation without eliminating the sense
of community that’s important to a successful restaurant.
And which, at Tiznow, you’ll find centered at the bar on the
slower dining nights. An enthusiastic consort of regulars
has adopted the restaurant, open since January 2004, as their
watering hole—and if I lived near Saratoga I’d probably join
But for me it’s the food that’s chiefly the draw, and the
menu reflects the bistro heritage as well in an upscale, French-Asian
way. Chef Christopher Jones took over the helm just a couple
of months ago, but is preserving the approach of his predecessor
even as he evolves the menu to reflect some of his own culinary
Bistro fare suggests fresh, available ingredients with straightforward
preparations. Within that realm, though, magic can occur.
We found it, right off, in the soup.
Onion soup has been making a comeback of late, and no pub
menu seems to be complete without it. And what you find is
more often than not very reminiscent of what this item can
be, masked as a celebration of runny cheese. At Tiznow, it’s
about the onion. As it should be.
Six onions, in fact, demonstrating a subtle range of flavors
from this liliaceous plant. Careful caramelization brings
out the onion’s native sweetness, and a generous touch of
white wine picks it up from there and delivers it all over
the palate. And there’s melted cheese, of course, good gruyere
used in the right amount.
The soup is $7, the same price as a special, non-menu-listed
creamy concoction of asparagus and shrimp that went round
the table and was licked clean in minutes. The beauty of it
was its balance, never allowing the shrimp to take over (which
shrimp will do in an instant if it’s indulged).
We enjoyed the air of informality among the servers, who were
quick to take care of us when we entered; we did note, however,
that the floor would occasionally empty of them, at least
once when we were looking for someone. Costanzo himself is
often available on the floor, and keeps things rolling. When
plates emerge from the kitchen, it’s a procession of servers
who deliver the course to your table, which was helpful when
the soups came out.
Other listed appetizers include a pork pâté with pistachios
($9), tuna and salmon tartare ($10.50) and a plate of caramelized
roasted vegetables ($9.50). The recommended chicken and mushroom
shu mai ($8.50) epitomized the East-West fusion here,
with a generous foursome of dumplings served over swirls of
a coconut-sesame sauce. Again, flavors balanced well, with
seasonings so well mixed as to conceal their identities.
Sometimes the seasonings were more dramatic, as with the use
of vanilla in the vinaigrette that accompanied a spinach salad
($10.50). Baby leaves were accented with dollops of the sweetest
chèvre I’ve ever tasted.
Pasta is represented by three dishes, of which the lobster
and crab ravioli ($21.50) is a not-terribly-slimming but tasty
example. Striped pasta shells conceal a seafood compote that,
you’ll have to admit, begs for the cream that accompanies
I never did learn what makes the Burmese orange chicken Burmese,
but I suspect it’s the use of a sambal—a chili sauce
probably served in Rangoon—flavored with onions and orange
on a delectably tender chicken breast. Chinese black rice
sits underneath, soaking in more of the flavors ($18).
A special entrée that will become part of a new menu next
week was lamb tenderloin served over mashed potatoes ($23).
Grilled with a tangy dry rub of seasonings, the arrangement
on the plate was as pleasing to the eye as the entrée itself
pleased the palate. And it’s topped with an unexpected accompaniment
of onion rings. Real onion rings, battered and fried.
a brief menu of homemade desserts ($7 each) we enjoyed an
Asian spice cake in which the aromatics swirled around the
flavor of dark chocolate—and its opposite number, a serving
of white-chocolate mousse swirled into pastry containers,
the better to allow your fellow diners to swipe them off your
wanted to position this restaurant somewhere between the Springwater
and Gaffney’s,” says Costanzo. “Saratoga is growing and changing,
and I think we’re in the right place at the right time.” The
comparatively slack winter season may be the best time to
check this out: I have feeling his restaurant is going to
be hopping when warm weather returns.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
the way an airline rushes to paint out any identifying
insignia on a crashed plane, the owners of the
Guilderland Fresno’s have obliterated all signs
on and around the now-shuttered restaurant. I
have yet to discover if this is standard procedure
for chain units that go belly-up, but, brand sensitivity
being what it is, I wouldn’t be surprised to see
a trend emerge. No way to disguise the goofy architecture,
however. . . . Parisi’s Steakhouse (11
N. Broadway, Schenectady) hosts a wine-tasting
dinner Mon, Mar 7, a six-course meal that seats
at 7 PM and matches inventive fare with an international
array of wine. Among the courses are orechietta
with broccolini, chicken and sun-dried tomatoes
(with a Noble Chardonnay from France); mussels
bianco (Columbia Winery Pinot Gris from Washington);
and baby rack of lamb on a bed of lentils with
seared spinach (HRM Rex Goliath, Pinot Noir, California).
Hosts are Joann Van Stone and Greg Woolston from
Eber Brothers Wine & Liquors. Dinner is $50
plus tax & tip; reserve seats (only a few
remain) by calling 374-0100. . . . Remember to
pass your scraps to Metroland (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org).
want your feedback
you eaten at any
recently reviewed restaurants?
Agree or disagree with B.A.? Let us know what you think...
address not required to submit your feedback, but required to
be placed in running for a Van Dyck Gift Certificate.
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..