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PHOTO: B.A. Nilsson

First Resort

Charlie’s Restaurant

Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort, 150 Main St., Lake Placid, 523-9886. Serving breakfast daily 6:30-11:30, lunch daily noon-2:30, dinner daily 5-10, light menu also available. AE, D, MC, V.

Cuisine: locally themed continental

Entrée price range: $12 (Black Angus burger) to $33 (12 oz. NY strip)

Ambiance: rustic elegance

By B.A. Nilsson

 

Jennifer Holdereid wants to see Lake Placid emerge as a leader in offering environmentally responsible accommodations and amenities. Charlie Levitz has designed a menu for his eponymous restaurant that sources as much food locally as is possible.

They’re setting good examples in a receptive place: With its Olympics-hosting history, Lake Placid attracts health-and-fitness buffs who stay to train, compete in various local events or just hang out with like-minded people. It doesn’t seem a far-fetched step to expand one’s fitness awareness from within to without.

Holdereid is part of the family that has run the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort since 1974, and has helped usher its expansion into the age of climate change, working to lessen the resort’s footprint even as it accommodates guests as comfortably as possible.

So it was fortuitous that the latest round of improvements included a complete refurbishment of the adjacent restaurant, allowing Levitz to work his culinary magic here. Comfort is as much a key as flavor, which is why our look at the place should start at T-Bar (local naming conventions tend to promote sporting images), the handsome bar just inside the main entrance to the restaurant. The bar itself—the place where you’ll rest your elbows as conversation with your neighbor grows more engrossing—glows with a soft amber light, its warmth picked up by the overhead fixtures.

Drink creations were overseen by Tony Abou-Ganim, one of the country’s top mixologists, an intimidating enough pedigree to persuade me to down a delicious, raspberry-infused mojito before dinner.

A large dining room opens from the bar; another, more window-intensive area sits beyond. The rooms are airy and comfortable, and if you want still more air there’s an outdoor deck.

A new menu offers a dozen appetizers and 16 entrées, a comfortable amount. Add to that a handful of light-fare items as well as a low-priced ($4 to $10) kids’ menu and decisions should be no problem.

My kid eschewed hot dogs and chicken tenders in favor of marinated grilled quail as a starter ($9.50). It’s nevertheless a great kid’s dish, requiring any serious diner to put aside cutlery and tackle the little joints by hand. With lemon juice and olive oil the easygoing accompaniments, and bed of lively greens to round out the plate, it’s a perfect appetite-whetter.

You can start with a stand-alone salad ($10), but it comes with a slice of blue-cheese cheesecake and grapefruit and orange slices. I opted for a more extensive array of cheese and fruit, with an amazing serving of Quebec-sourced triple-cream brie the centerpiece, flanked by an herb-aged cheddar and a pungent Morbier, the latter layered with ash (it’s now vegetable-sourced) to recall the time when two different milkings provided the main ingredients.

Crab cakes, clams, shrimp and soups are familiar favorites; not so familiar is a presentation of roasted leeks ($8.50) with prosciutto and mozzarella setting off the caramelized vegetable.

If the handsome look of the appetizer plates was a harbinger, the entrées delivered in spades. Each was a joy to behold, balanced in color and composition. And what flavors!

The pan-seared scallops ($26) are like outsized mushrooms: puffy, fluffy, and gently browned. More citrus here, in the beurre blanc that lightly accompanies it, along with an arugula salad and sliced, marinated pears.

Marinades abound. The duck breast ($26) gets it, infusing some herbs before the sautéed meat is served with a cranberry jus; the venison loin ($26) tastes like it gets it, but I think it’s the sweetness of the tangerine-roasted jalapeño reduction that gives it the extra tang.

Most of the entrées got sides of vegetables—baby asparagus when I visited—and starch, which included simple, superb mashed potatoes or a pilaf of white and wild rice.

The ravioli ($18), which changes regularly, arrives on its own; the serving of wild mushroom-and-ricotta-stuffed pasta was topped simply with chopped fresh tomatoes seasoned with lots of tasty basil.

Seafood entrées include pan-seared trout ($22) and grilled salmon ($21); rib eye, strip and flatiron steaks are available ($23-$33) and you can even content yourself with a $12 burger, although it’s a half-pound of grass-fed beef, unlike any burger you’ve recently had. And keep in mind that entrées include a soup or salad.

All of the meat and poultry here is certified organic, and this is the time of year when the produce will come from nearby.

Breakfast features egg dishes, French toast, buttermilk pancakes and even grilled fresh trout, all priced from $5 to $11; lots of grilled items for lunch, along with salads and sandwiches ($6 to $11). You might also want to go down the street to Chair 6, Levitz’s first Lake Placid eatery. It’s a small, deli-like operation with a handful of tables and an amazing plate of sweet potato pancakes among the breakfast fare.

Levitz is an Albany native who ran Creative Catering in this area before heading north to operate several Lake Placid-area facilities, including the Interlaken Inn and the Black Bear Restaurant. He notes without a trace of phony sentimentality that the key to his cooking is “putting love on the plate,” and its presence can’t be disputed.

It certainly informs the morale of the service staff, who speak excitedly about menu items (and, I was told, are given regular sessions to familiarize themselves with the food) and tend the tables with easygoing diligence.

Fine dining hasn’t always been a Lake Placid phenomenon, but it’s evident more and more—and Charlie’s has raised the bar (or T-bar, if you will) to a welcome height.

Click here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.


TABLE SCRAPS

Table scraps: Bastille Day approaches, and there’s nowhere better to celebrate than at Nicole’s Bistro (Quackenbush House, Clinton Avenue and Broadway, Albany). Chef Daniel E. Smith and owner Nicole Plisson present a menu of French classics on Sat., July 14, with choices including vichyssoise, escargot a l’ancienne, grenouilles Provençale, gigot d’agneau and mousse au chocolat—and much more, along with an evening of jazz and international cabaret songs with Sonny & Perley. Dinner is $50, not including tax and tip, and you can reserve seats by calling the restaurant at 465-1111. . . . Tomorrow (Friday) night is Hell Night at New World Home Cooking Co. (Route 212, Saugerties), with a wine pairing to set off the hottest of spicy fare. Actually, most of the food is only moderately spiced, but you’re given the tools to wreak havoc upon your palate—and the wine to cool it down. Start with a Cambodian chili duck salad and an Australian shiraz, then try the Mexican five-chile streaked fondue with shrimp and mushrooms alongside the St. Chapelle Sparkling Riesling from Idaho. There’s much more, including a triple-chile sundae for dessert. Six courses for $60; the event starts at 7 PM. Call (845) 246-0900 for info and reservations. . . . Remember to pass your scraps to Metroland (e-mail food at banilsson.com).


We want your feedback

Have you eaten at any recently reviewed restaurants? Agree or disagree with B.A.? Let us know what you think...

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What you're saying...

I 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.

Mary Kurtz
Castleton

First, 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 the reviews.

Pat Russo
East Greenbush

I 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!

Peggy Van Deloo
Schenectady

So happy to see you finally made out!! Our experiences have always been wonderful, the staff is extremely professional, the food subperb, and the atmosphere very warm and comfortable. Let us not forget to mention "Maria" the pianist on Friday and Saturday nights.

Charlie and Marie
Michaels Restaurant

I have been to Michael's several times and each time I have enjoyed it very much. The food is delicious and the staff is great. Also, Maria Riccio Bryce plays piano there every Friday and Saturday evening, a nice touch to add to the already wonderful atmosphere. It is also easy to find, exit 27 off the thruway to 30 north for about 5 miles.

N. Moore
Albany

Wonderful!

Elaine Snowdon
Albany

We loved it and will definitely go back.

Rosemarie Rafferty

Absolutely excellent. The quality and the flavor far surpasses that of other Indian restaurants in the area. I was a die-hard Shalimar fan and Tandoor Palace won my heart. It blows Ghandi out of the water. FInally a decent place in Albany where you can get a good dinner for less than $10 and not have tacos. The outdoor seating is also festive.

Brady G'sell

Indian is my favorite cuisine available in the area--I loved Tandoor Palace. We all agreed that the tandoori chicken was superior to other local restaraunts, and we also tried the ka-chori based on that intriguing description-delicious.

Kizzi Casale
Albany

Your 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..

Barry Uznitsky
Guilderland



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