room is a bit smaller, however, having sacrificed some of
its ceiling space in order to accommodate a banquet room above.
This allows the many wedding receptions they book to take
place without displacing dinner guests. While construction
took place, the veranda was expanded, offering many more tables
for those who’d like to dine al fresco near the handsome fairways.
new menu reflects the formula that has enjoyed success at
Albany’s 677 Prime, one of Angelo Mazzone’s several area eateries.
“That’s our core menu,” says Saratoga manager Stuart deVoe.
“We do a few things differently to tailor it to the local
market, and we enhance it with daily specials.”
that the kitchen also strives to use locally available ingredients
where possible. An example is the chicken, which comes from
Shaw Farm in Greenwich. This becomes a roasted chicken entrée,
a $29 plate sporting an unfussed-with half bird, with salt
and sage the primary flavor enhancers.
is exactly how you should treat good meat like this. Crisp
the skin (which my wife will discard anyway as she pursues
a pleasure-free diet), keep it moist, and serve it atop potatoes,
baby carrots and roasted onions. It’s a simple, good-looking
plate that’s as about good as chicken gets, competing only
with the chicken leftovers, eaten cold the following day with
a dab of aïoli.
have leftovers. Big portions are served here, with big prices
to match. Angelo’s 677 Prime is noted for its ambitious pricing;
the Saratoga menu saves you a few dollars here and there.
Albany’s $93 porterhouse for two (a 40-ounce slab that conceivably
could serve many more) is only $80 in Saratoga; the 10-ounce
filet mignon is $34 at both places, but the 14-ounce cut is
$46 (Albany) or $43 (Saratoga).
restaurants offer caviar, but the Saratoga menu lays out the
pricing ($100 to $230 for 28-gram portions, with Russian varieties
at the highest end).
steaks are the stars, most of the supporting players are seafood.
Lobster tails top the price list, at $70 for a pair of them,
but a serving of seared diver scallops comes in at a more
reasonable $28. I like the sound of the pinot noir-lacquered
Chilean sea bass ($33), served with creamed leeks and lobster,
and there’s a $29 blackened salmon filet.
other end of your meal, a raw bar includes not only an array
of clams, shrimp and oysters but also a $15 ahi tuna sashimi
and, for $14, Mediterranean tuna tartare.
the last-named with which I began my meal, keeping in mind
that I’m never called upon to share raw seafood when dining
with my wife and thus can indulge my greed. It’s a molded
serving of seasoned fish, approximately (and appropriately)
the size of a tuna can, with a wonderfully complementary flavor
of olives and capers in the spicy mix, a trail of arugula
purée decorating the plate.
the Mediterranean theme into the salad course, I ordered a
Caesar ($8), assuring Robert, our server, that I wanted anchovies,
which were served whole atop the greens, long strips of pickled
white anchovies that nudged the salad’s flavor in a sweeter
direction. The other components were as expected.
the appetizers list, which includes calamari ($12), foie gras
($25), shrimp ($16) and poached lobster ($18), Susan asked
if she could start with one of the vegetable side-dishes:
nori tempura asparagus ($8). It’s a lump of battered and fried
spears, stuck together and sparsely coated, that’s not an
easy thing to eat.
chop salad ($7) is another molded course, this time mixing
a rough cut of iceberg and romaine leaves with tomatoes, onions,
cukes and avocado and a sprinkling of blue cheese, dressed
with a tangy vinaigrette and topped with crisped onions—a
fun-to-eat interpretation of this course.
here was to sample a steak. It’s a daunting choice. There
are those filets, of course, but I long ago learned to prefer
the sirloin cut. Would I want one with peppercorns pounded
into it? It’s a great preparation, but for this visit it probably
was best to let the meat speak for itself.
beef supply comes from a local farmer, so I’ve been eating
the meat of grass-fed cattle, which sports a different flavor
and texture than the grain-fed variety. “It’s a different
flavor,” confirms deVoe, “and we’re not sure right now that
our customers would prefer it.”
New York strip ($41) arrives unadorned. I ordered it rare,
and it was cooked to the not-so-raw edge of that designation.
It was as delicious a cut of beef as I’ve enjoyed in a long
time, well-trimmed, lightly seasoned, each bite tender and
dish of gorgonzola gnocchi ($7) was well-prepared, but too
overpowering an accompaniment—but it was my choice. Next time
I’ll opt for potatoes. Vegetable sides are also a la carte,
and include baby carrots, sautéed corn and roasted shiitake
caps ($7 each). The sautéed spinach ($6) was buttery and garlicky,
and that’s the best you can ask of it.
Frank Volkhommer is the chef, and he’s also a certified master
pastry chef who shows that skill in the truffles and biscotti
($10) we split for dessert. (Note that this is the first dessert
list on which I’ve seen cookies and milk as an offering.)
and Matt, our servers, did a terrific job of helping us find
the right seat, shape our order, and make sure we were satisfied
throughout. My only complaint is about tea service, which
always should present an already-steeping pot.
options include weekday lunches, a lighter dinner menu that’s
served later, and an expansive Sunday brunch that includes
at Saratoga National may be a little rich for the workingman’s
budgetary blood, and its Texas-style excesses border on the
silly, but what it does it does excellently. Got something
in the fourth race? Here’s what to do with your winnings.