Bull’s Head Inn
Park Place, Cobleskill, 823-4446. Serving from 5 PM Tue-Sat,
from 4 PM Sun. AE, D, MC, V.
price range: $18 (sauerbraten) to $27 (NY strip steak)
can get to Cobleskill quickly via I-88, or you can wander
out along Route 7. The former offers a panorama of beautiful
Schoharie County farmland; the latter is a close-up reminder
that farms and farmers aren’t necessarily faring too well
these days. Cobleskill itself is a small, agriculturally oriented
city with a similarly inclined SUNY campus.
The village center hangs onto the old-world charm of historic
buildings, many of them well-maintained, but the outskirts
have been blighted by several stretches of low-rent strip-mall
stores, where Dollar General becomes the default department
The Bull’s Head Inn sits at a busy intersection in the nicer,
dare I even say quainter part of the village, a turn-of-the-19th-century
building bought at foreclosure two years ago and refurbished
into charming shape. It’s the oldest building in the village
and has been some kind of gathering place for much of its
200-year history. It’s right next to the town’s movie theater,
a single-screen reminder of the old days. The Bull’s Head
dining room opened late in 2008; after still more renovation,
the Cellar Tavern (downstairs) opened.
Most significant, as far as the menu is concerned, was owner
Tony Giammattei’s decision to hire chef Rick Vincent, bringing
yet another history into the place. Vincent ran the Brookside
Inn in Duanesburg for many years, where he was known for his
German cuisine. “So we put his German items on the menu here,”
Giammattei explains. “And it’s been very popular.”
grew up in Germany,” he adds, speaking with the trace of an
accent. “But I’m half German, half Italian.” He left in 1990,
selling everything to come here and start afresh. He started
a local catering business in 2006, working fairs and festivals,
and it soon became popular enough to warrant the need for
a commercial kitchen to service the bigger parties he was
booking. That’s how he discovered the Bull’s Head Inn.
Don’t look for too many surprises in the menu lineup—except
for the German fare, of course. The appetizers list is dominated
by such reliables as shrimp cocktail ($10) and crab cakes
($10), with mozzarella wedges ($9), fried calamari ($9) and
French onion soup ($6) rounding it out. There’s also escargot
($10), served over angel hair pasta—a novel touch—and it’s
been a long time since I’ve seen frog’s legs featured ($10).
A tube apiece of grilled knockwurst and weisswurst
are the stars of a $9 appetizer platter served over sauerkraut
with a side of spicy mustard. This gave us a welcome entry
to our revised dining strategy, and the wursts—obtained from
Schenectady’s White Eagle—certainly are attractive examples
of these classic items. The duo of crab cakes was far more
crab-intense than any others I’ve sampled recently, and the
topping, a tomato cream with a little kick to it, was an unexpected
I found the restaurant through an online search for a steakhouse
and had no other expectation until I read the menu. That we
didn’t sample the filet mignon ($25) or strip steak ($27)
only reflects how schnitzel-crazy a few minutes of menu study
drove us. We also passed up pecan chicken ($18) and chicken
Oscar ($20), and we gave the go-by to Tuscan-style red snapper
($19, with sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and garlic)
and panko-breaded haddock with lemon cream ($18).
That’s because there’s a page that starts with sauerbraten
($18), describing a classic preparation of long-marinated
beef served with a gingersnap sauce. It’s followed by several
different schnitzels, some with pork, like the mushroom-topped
jager schnitzel ($18), the sour cream-and-mushroom-topped
rahm schnitzel ($19) and the ham-and-cheese enhanced
kase schnitzel ($18), and one with chicken ($18).
And the house specialty: wiener schnitzel ($10), done the
fancy way with breaded veal cutlets, served with lemon wedges.
That’s the one we ordered, and just a couple of bites were
enough to prove it was a faithfully executed preparation.
Sides of roasted potatoes and tangy red cabbage gave it even
more Germanic credibility.
Rippchen ($18) is another take on pork. Here the chops
are smoked, then grilled, and finished with a compote of caramelized
onion and apple slices.
Antiques and found objects decorate the dining room walls,
and the room itself boasts wide plank flooring and old- fashioned
tables and chairs, enough to give you a 19th-century feel.
Service is prompt and efficient. And talented: Our waitress,
Alex, revealed that it was her first day on the job, but made
up for any lack of experience with a keen, intelligent manner.
The menu is different downstairs, where a more casual spirit
prevails. Burgers are popular, and there are plenty available
in the $7 to $9 range, alongside soup, salad, other sandwiches
and a few fancier entrées.
And speaking of casual spirits: The Inn has a long history
of ghost sightings, too. The Web site notes that “guests have
reported seeing a woman in period dress wandering through
the building, strange lights and shadows have appeared and
unconnected crank-handle phones ring mysteriously.” We saw
no such apparitions, I have to confess, but I seem to chase
away even the most persistent and legendary of ghosts. You’ll
have to let me know if your experience is different.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
Ristorante (18 Division
St., Saratoga Springs) celebrates the second anniversary
of its monthly “Twelve” Program, a fundraising
initiative supporting local nonprofits and named
for a bronze panel from the Holy Door at St. Peter’s
Basilica in the Vatican. On the 12th of each month,
you can have 30 percent of your guest check donated
to the featured nonprofit. On April 12, the beneficiary
will be Aspire Programs, a New York State Education
Deptartment-approved preschool for children with
developmental, learning, and emotional disorders.
No reservations are needed, but call 580-0025
for more info. . . . Remember to pass your scraps