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PHOTO: B.A. Nilsson

Caribbean Connections

Lime

7 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 584-4315. Serving lunch Mon-Fri noon-3, dinner Mon-Sat from 5. AE, MC, V.

Cuisine: Caribbean-inspired

Entrée price range: $14 (grilled portobello steak) to $24 (Lime filet mignon)

Ambiance: casual

 

By B. A. Nillson

Flavors don’t contrast much more dramatically than in an entrée that finishes a creamy serving of tilapia in a sauce that ignites the palate, immediately soothing it with a cold mango salsa. The hot sauce comes from Barbados, which is also the inspiration for the cuisine of the Saratoga Springs restaurant Lime.

Chef-owner Will Yund traveled to Barbados on his recent honeymoon with his wife, Hayden, “and we were blown away by the food and how they use spices and other ingredients. We decided that we wanted to take a similar approach, but to open ourselves to food from all over the world.”

His cooking partner, Matt LaPorta, enthusiastically agrees, and works alongside Will at the small presentation kitchen toward the back of the restaurant. Their work is a well-choreographed dance of sautée pans and plates and garnishes, all of it cooked to order and served by an equally enthusiastic staff.

That staff includes Hayden, who sold me on the tilapia ($18) when I confessed a desire for a spicy dish. She warned me, yes she did, and took me at my word only after my wife and daughter both confirmed that I would, in fact, consume whatever was placed before me.

Usually I plead for heat only to be served something that would be modest even by Taco Bell standards. Here the dish had a worthy zing. Nothing especially fiery, but it woke up the mouth, and the interplay between that sensation and the chilled, tangy mangoes was great fun.

As if that wasn’t enough, the sides included blackened green beans, still with a good amount of snap in them, and coconut- flavored mashed potatoes, which you have to try to believe.

Lime opened quietly at the start of summer, following a four-month renovation to transform it from the defunct Pickle Barrel, a take-out sandwich joint, into something a little more formal.

The room has a clublike atmosphere, reinforced by the colorful prints that decorate the walls. Sit at one of the several tables or find a place at the counter. The just-acquired wine-and-beer license means you can start with a cold one as you contemplate the menu, but that won’t take too long: It’s brief. Comprehensive might be a better term. Munch on a crispy pita chip or two— they’re served with a mild chimichurri sauce—and consider your options.

Jamaican beef patties ($7) looked like an appealing starter, but they were unavailable. That led me to try the scallops citron ($9), which I otherwise would have missed. Plump baby sea scallops get an excellent browning in the sauté pan, and are served alongside sautéed crab meat. What sets the dish apart is the sweet but tangy brandy-and-ginger sauce that stripes the plate, and through which you’d be crazy not to drag that fish.

For more interactive eating, try the charred artichokes ($8), a serving of two plump halves well poached and then grill-blackened. Provided you know your way around this vegetable (some spiny needles lurk en route to the heart), you’ve got your work cut out for the next several minutes.

A house salad is five bucks, but I would go for the jicama pear concoction ($9), highlighting a root vegetable dubbed the Mexican potato, nicely matched with the pears along with snow peas, baby spinach and more.

That house salad worked its way into Susan’s entrée, grilled portobello steak ($14). The mushroom cap gets a jerk seasoning rub before hitting the grill, and the accompanying peas and rice (as the rice and beans combo is termed in the Caribbean), help to spread the flavors, again a mixture of savory and sweet.

Jerk chicken or pork is a new menu addition. The $15 jerk chicken arrives in a big bowl, with peas and rice. Jerk seasoning is one of the glories of Caribbean cuisine. It combines a wide array of elements that can include allspice, thyme, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, sugar, orange and lime juice, and chopped habañero pepper. It seasons and conditions the meat, and the flavor, as demonstrated here, is reassuringly lively.

We didn’t get to try the Lime filet mignon ($24), with its trio of dipping sauces, the sake steamed clams ($17), or the chicken Barbados ($17), an Indian-spiced cutlet served with a banana, coconut and curaçao orange sauce. But we met a duo dining at the counter, who had come in on their off night for dinner—an off night from this very restaurant!

“We love this place,” one of them explained, and it got easier and easier to see why. Service couldn’t have been friendlier or more attentive, and each course packed a lot of surprises. By the time we got to dessert—key lime pie and a serving of port-wine ice cream—we had settled into a pleasant dining-with-the-family mood and were swearing to the staff that we’d all be best friends forever. Or maybe it was just the tilapia talking. Whatever the case, this is a lively addition to Saratoga’s eclectically growing culinary scene.

Click here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.


TABLE SCRAPS

Give your Oktoberfest celebration a French twist at La Serre (14 Green St., Albany) at a food-and-wine dinner also featuring a performance by The True Tones. It’s at 7 PM Saturday (Oct. 20), and the menu includes Stuttgart cheese, smoked salmon potato pancakes, sauerbraten, apple strudel and more, each course paired with a selected wine—with a Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Noir among the varieties. The French Oktoberfest is $60 per person (tax and tip extra) and reservations are required: call 463-6056. . . . The next Farmer/Wine Evening at Marché (74 State St., Albany) features items from Denison Farm and Elihu Farm and will take place at 7 PM on Oct. 26. A champagne reception accompanies an hors d’oeuvres selection including winter squash pannacotta, shrimp rolls, lamb tartare and more; look for lamb meatballs, lamb tortellini and roasted leg of lamb among the other courses, along with minted spinach pesto, kale soup and pumpkin beignet for dessert. Wines include Marcel Deiss Pinot Blanc Bergheim, Pesquera Tinto and Talley Late Harvest Riesling. Only 50 seats are available; dinner is $85 plus tax and tip. Call 434-7410. . . . Remember to pass your scraps to Metroland.


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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