Culinary Arts Too
beekman street bistro
Beekman St., Saratoga Springs, 581-1816. Serving dinner Tue-Sat
5-9. AE, MC, V.
price range: $15 (grilled polenta cakes) to $25 (grilled
rabbit with black truffles)
intimate and artsy
Springs’ Beekman Street is booming, transforming itself from
a rundown residential neighborhood into an off-the-main-road
arts center. The Beekman Street Bistro is in a building that,
not too long ago, was condemned; its owner, a construction
engineer, crafted its reconstruction with ideas and input
from Tim Meaney and Dan Spitz, who decided to take a chance
on this burgeoning neighborhood and commit to a fine-dining
Owner Meaney and Chef Spitz met while working at the popular
Flying Fish in Lake George, but that restaurant went away
and left them considering their options. The partnership was
a good one and Saratoga beckoned.
opened last July, on the 14th,” says Meaney. “I couldn’t open
until the new sidewalks went in. They were poured on the 12th,
so we were able to start serving two days later.” They did
so with no fanfare, but were able to attract word-of-mouth
attention during track season.
The building sits beside an art gallery, and is itself hung
with a regularly changing artwork display, which may be the
most striking aspect of the space when you enter; the dining
room itself is a comfortable, calm, discreetly lighted space.
Service throughout the evening was easygoing and we had attention
when it was needed, but we, as newcomers, were given far less
attention than those who’d been there before. Both chef and
owner took time to talk with others; neither stopped by our
table. It’s a dangerous practice to pay too much attention
to anyone in the room just for this reason, and the virtuoso
restaurateurs know how to spread the table stops around.
Our server also succumbed, for too-lengthy periods, to the
lure of conversation with an adjoining party.
What she bears to the table, however, makes up for a lot,
because this certainly is virtuoso cookery. Dan Spitz has
developed a coterie of farm-based purveyors of meat and produce,
and builds his menu around what’s fresh. “When we get a pig,
for example,” explains Meaney, “we put it all on the menu.
Pork loin one day, then the shoulder, the ham, and so on.”
So it is with rabbit as well. They have a new supplier, which
they celebrated by offering rabbit three ways—three different
preparations on one plate. Previous offerings included rabbit
hind quarters braised in olive oil with stewed artichokes
and black truffles ($25), and the same meat braised in pork
stock with leeks and cream, bacon and thyme ($20). I enjoyed
a somewhat simpler preparation of braised rabbit over soft
polenta ($19), scented with a piquant mixture of herbs.
Seasonings suit the ingredients well here: Potato and leek
soup ($7) was not the traditionally creamy variety, and was
livened with pepper; a starter of Prince Edward Island mussels,
generously topping the bowl, sparkled with the flavors of
chili and fennel ($9).
surprised at what we’re able to sell,” says Meaney, citing
the sardines with bruschetta ($7) as an example. I sampled
the dish, or rather, the fish—the dish itself was a long,
handsome platter on which three large, fresh sardines awaited
my attention as I easily scraped the meat off the bone. You’ll
never go back to the canned stuff after this.
Oxtail is another often-neglected item, usually the basis
of a soup. Here it was stuffed with tasty breading and served,
lightly sauced, over polenta ($18)—very moist, and rich with
delicious fat, tasty enough that my wife, who usually bitches
about such things, finished it all.
Grilled quail has its own strong flavor, so if it’s going
to be marinated, it needs the strength of balsamic vinegar
to accomplish anything. This dish ($19) is served over creamy
mashed potatoes and adds the fun of eating with your fingers.
With a vegetarian friend in tow, we sampled a pastry shell
packed with porcini mushrooms and ricotta, among other savory
Desserts are made in-house, and a chocolate-and-figs tart
($6) was unusually enough flavored to give my daughter pause;
even as she passed it around, though, she decided it was good
enough to reclaim. A $10 fruit-and-cheese plate was a disappointment.
The menu and the servers here need to stress the local origins
of the products: There’s no better place to preach the gospel
of local harvests than where you can taste the stuff, and
the philosophy of this restaurant is supported by an extraordinary
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
of Beekman Street activity, the Yawning Duck
Pasta Co. and Gotchya’s Trading Co.
are combining forces to open Gotchya’s Trattoria,
a fresh pasta market and espresso bar by day and
neighborhood Italian restaurant by night, which
means that the Yawning Duck will be moving to
the current location of Gotchya’s, 68 Beekman
St. The combined opening will be on March 31;
Got chya’s Trattoria will be open Tuesday through
Saturday at 11 AM for the fresh pasta market and
espresso and pastry bar, and dinner service will
begin at 5. They will begin to take dinner reservations
next week. 584-5772 or www.gotchyas.com. . . .
In Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird,
Scout Finch makes several mentions of Miss Maudie’s
Lane Cake. A version of this multilayer cake,
with coconut, pecans, candied cherries and raisins
in the filling, will be the centerpiece for a
“Mission Society Dessert Table” at a reception
on April 8 at 2 PM at Schenectady County Community
College. The reception follows a lecture by Claudia
Durst Johnson with the provocative title “Bela
Lugosi, Rosa Parks, and Harper Lee: Social and
Universal Issues Reflected in To Kill a Mockingbird.”
The program is free. . . . Remember to pass your
scraps to Metroland (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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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..