Front St., Ballston Spa, 884-2664. Serving Sun-Mon 11-5, Tue-Wed
11-6, Thu-Sat 11-7. AE, D, MC, V
sandwiches and tea
price range: $3 (peanut butter & jelly) to $12.25
(complete high tea)
cozy, to say the least
watch the wall, my darlings, while the Gentlemen go by,” wrote
Kipling, in what was once a famous ode to tea smuggling. And
anything worth smuggling obviously was worth something.
It’s difficult, in these waning days of the flo-thru bag,
to appreciate the way tea once dominated the landscape, socially
and economically. It had to have been good and vital stuff
in order to be so integral to that revolution-inspiring party
in Boston Harbor way back then. Now it’s a tepid cup of colored
water that’s been flavor-free for so long that it’s merely
a vehicle for too much milk and sugar.
So I invite you to discover the taste of tea. Start with a
whiff. Begin near the entrance of the Whistling Kettle, after
you’ve passed the cozy-looking outdoor tables and entered
the handsome dining room. To your left is a long sideboard
on a shelf of which you’ll find an array of some 80 containers,
each petite case sporting a sign that identifies the tea within.
Choose a container and lift it to your nose. Remove the cover
and inhale slowly (there’s no need to snuffle tea leaves up
your conk). Notice how the aroma swirls, grabbing your various
olfactory and flavor receptors like a mad organist playing
a too-quick toccata. Notice next how your brain starts sparking
and your head comes alive.
Give yourself a chance to settle, then smell another blend.
This is the telling moment, because the first one you sampled
was merely tea. It’s the second one that points out the tremendous
difference there is among tea varieties.
Then take a seat and go for broke. Order a pot of Belgian
chocolate rooibos. Make it a large pot. It’ll cost
you $7.60, but anyone you’re with will insist on sharing (if
you’re alone or miserly, a personal pot is $4.80). This tea
needs seven minutes of steeping time, so settle in.
When you pour your first cup, savor it as a wine snob does.
Drink in the aroma first as your warm your hands around the
cup. Let the steam curl against your face, dampening your
cheeks. Then sip with an aerating slurp. Isn’t it an amazing
flavor? Can you believe how much chocolate flavor is worked
into the brew? It’s a flavor that’s distinct, yet it’s inseparable
from the many other flavors competing for your attention.
Kevin and Meahgan Borowsky saw fine tea—and teahouses—as a
niche that was growing in the country’s major metropolitan
areas, and so were inspired to open this, the area’s first
such establishment. Meahgan’s tasteful hand is behind the
design and decor; together, the couple developed the sniffing
bar and the menu.
The menu is designed as an accompaniment to the tea-drinking
experience, with a selection of tea sandwiches (including
the classic cucumber and cream cheese, $4.25), a changing
couple of soups (the apple-butternut squash combo was impressive),
a couple of $6 club sandwiches and a panini array that costs
$7 or so. I like the Kettle club panini, which features sliced
turkey that has cracked peppercorns worked, with a spinach-artichoke
spread and a chunk of mozzarella, on the grilled ciabatta
What’s also nice is the mixed green salad ($3.50), to which
you add any number of items at various prices. For example,
adding green peppers, chick peas or mushrooms would add 35
cents per item; eggs or any of the cheeses are 50 cents apiece;
and meat or bacon adds 75 cents per item. My wife went whole
hog, or I should say whole hen, by adding a scoop of curried
chicken salad for $1.75, and she was very pleased.
But you probably want the teahouse experience. Its zenith
is high tea ($12.25), which gets you a personal pot of (non-
premium) tea, a tea sandwich (perhaps you’d care for the goat
cheese-watercress-pecan?), a fruit selection and a scone with
A little lunchier is the san souci tea ($11), which
offers unlimited fills of the day’s iced tea special along
with soup or salad or a tea sandwich as well as a scone, brownie
or tea bread. For an extra buck and a half, add a personal
pot of tea in place of the iced variety.
The Kettle’s quiche tea ($10) features a slice of the day’s
quiche; both the broccoli and the spinach versions I sampled
were nothing more than overcooked, cakelike commercial products.
When you raise chickens, as I do, you learn to cook up some
I’ve barely touched on the many teas here, but what good is
a printed list? At home, I begin most days with a pot of Earl
Grey, brewed with bergamot-rich leaves, so I made it a point
to sample others, like the oolong orange blossom and Borengajuli
Assam. And there are green teas, white teas, herbal and fruit
teas, black teas blended and flavored and lots, lots more.
Despite the many types of tea and the purist attitude of the
place, the tea seems somehow modest compared to the attention
all those fancy coffees get at the dreaded Starbucks and its
many knockoffs. That’s because the coffee boutiques aren’t
presenting their brews as things to savor, but rather as vehicles
for goofy additives that turn the drinks into one more high-fat,
oversugared dessert for the mall-addicted masses.
home lies in the Valley of Romance,” wrote Ibsen of tea, “a
thousand miles beyond the wilderness. Fill up my cup . . .
Let us hold on tea and love a good tea-table talk.”
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
Regional Farm & Food Project presents
its eighth annual fall feast “Through Farmers’
Hands — A Country Prom” from 6 to 10 PM Monday
(Sept. 26) at the Canfield Casino in Saratoga
Springs, New York. The event features farm-fresh
local foods prepared and served by 29 farmers
and chefs, as well as old-time country music and
a live art auction. The event is presented in
collaboration with Putnam Market and Putnam
Wine of Saratoga Springs, who have organized
a presentation of New York State wines to complement
a selection of New York State cheeses. Brown’s
Brewing Company of Troy will be serving ale
and lager. Beekman Street Bistro, Easton
Mountain Retreat Center, Lily and the Rose
Catering, Mrs. London’s, Roadhouse
29, Slice of Heaven Breads and Spoonful
Catering will be presenting gourmet creations.
Divinitea will be serving artisan teas.
And High Peaks Java of Glens Falls will
serve organic fair-trade coffee. One of the goals
of this event is to produce zero waste. McEnroe
Organic Farm will accept all biodegradable waste
from the event at its composting facility in Millerton.
The event will introduce biodegradable table service
manufactured by Biocorp® of Rogers, Minn. Tickets
are $35 in advance or $45 at the door. Buy tickets
online at www.farmandfood.org or at Hawthorne
Valley Farm Store, Ghent; Honest Weight Food Coop,
Albany; Natural Food & More, Cobleskill; the
Open Door Bookstore, Schenectady; Putnam Market,
Saratoga Springs, or The Village Store, Cambridge.
For more information, call 271-0744. . . . The
Saratoga Lake Bistro (511 Route 9P, Saratoga
Lake) presents a Fall Wine Tasting Dinner Sept
29, 30, Oct 1 and 2. The four-course meal paired
with three glasses of wine is $49 per person.
During the Fall Wine Tasting Dinner, rooms at
the inn will be able available at a reduced rate
starting at $75. For a room reservation, call
495-7408; for bistro reservations, 587-8280. .
. . Remember to pass your scraps to Metroland
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..