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B.A. Nilsson

Mountainside Marvel
By B.A. Nilsson

The Prospect Restaurant Scribner Hollow Lodge
Route 23A, Hunter, 263-4211. Serving dinner Sun-Thu 5-10, Fri-Sat 5-11. AE, D, MC, V.

Food: ****½
Service: Dignified

Ambience: Delightful

Notice the artwork. Thanks to the example set by most hotels, you’ve probably learned to shield your eyes from the atrocious mediocrities that adorn the walls. At Scribner Hollow Lodge, care was taken to use the space indoors to complement the natural beauty of nearby Hunter Mountain. And hotel founder Guy Chirico also happens to be an artist so accomplished that his work hangs in prestigious galleries around the world, mostly in France, which has been a second home to him and where his landscapes are particularly acclaimed.

Chirico’s son, Guy, now owns and runs the hotel, and has found the secret to expand the appeal of the place beyond ski tourism. He has turned the restaurant, the Prospect, into a fine-dining destination with a special emphasis on New York wines. The wine list is impressive, and the menu, which changes frequently in summer to feature locally grown and produced items, highlights the talents of Austrian-born chef Eduard Lanzinger.

He’s one of those kitchen masters who can be both true to his heritage and also take any other culture’s cuisine and make it his own. For a recent dinner celebrating a selection of Italian wines, he came up with such items as rigatoni in a white (veal-based) Bolognese sauce and a sautée of veal scallopini with porcini mushrooms, prosciutto and garlic.

My family’s dinner visit, on a recent Monday, gave us the dining room pretty much to ourselves, which meant that we could edge toward the windows that afforded both a close-up view of the mountainside with its bright green swaths of ski slopes and a spectacular sunset just beyond it.

The view, the elegantly dressed tables, the quiet assurance of our server—all of it conspired to provoke that sense of well-being that defines a superior dining experience. To then enjoy such a harmonious progression of food courses was, well, the icing on the cake.

We started with cold stuff, more or less, fobbing off a cup of chicken soup ($3) on our child. I suppose it’s pretentious to impose some highfalutin’ moniker on soup, but something more detailed is needed. You won’t find this in a can of Campbell’s. Lanzinger puts together a chowder thick with potatoes and carrots and chicken and beans, nicely seasoned.

Susan chose the Austrian summer salad ($9). Two homemade types of sausage are featured, both light-colored and -flavored, julienned and tossed in a lightly vinegared marinade, along with fresh baby greens and garnished with pickles and slices of red peppers and red onion.

I couldn’t resist the Platter of Early Summer Delights ($9) just based on the name. But better still is the cheese that’s featured—a sheep’s milk brie from the Old Chatham Sheepherding Co. that brings back memories of a fine restaurant—and its accompaniments of fresh strawberries, kalamata olives and a summer sausage made with venison.

House salads are served with a restrained but just-right amount of house vinaigrette; fresh cucumbers and tomatoes are among the simple array.

Stuffed tenderloin of beef almost sounds like sacrilege, doesn’t it? I usually regard sirloin and tenderloin as something you might as well cook at home, placed on menus only to assuage the faint of palate. But stuffed? I ordered it ($28).

There’s something of traditional roulade about this dish, but because it’s using what’s already the most tender portion of the roast, it needs far less cooking. Still, after wrapping the meat around thin-sliced ham (very tasty stuff from the Victory Pork Store) and spinach, it spends some time in a marinade before hitting the oven. The result is as yielding and flavorful a meat dish as you can imagine, with just the right amount of vinegary flavor to complement the sweetness of the meat. A mix of wild mushrooms (porcini, shiitake—you know the ones) dominated the sauce, giving it an appropriately woodsy edge.

Susan’s entrée, chicken ridge ($23), took a similar approach to chicken breasts. Black Forest ham is rolled in the flattened chicken, it’s seasoned with sage, and the baked result gets a gorgonzola béchamel, which itself is flavor heaven. Rich? Oh, you betcha.

Both entrée plates were garnished with roasted and sliced potatoes and a medley of baby vegetables: sliced zucchini, pattypan and carrots, as well as slices of grilled fennel. This is what lifts a great entrée presentation into the realm of the extraordinary: the sides and presentation. While the latter opts for straightforward over fussy, the veggies and starch have wonderfully cultivated flavors.

Guy Chirico (the younger) tells the story of when Lanzinger was first hired. “I told him he didn’t have to bother with desserts,” says Chirico, “and came in the next day to find an array of desserts and pastries for me to try.” If the apple strudel is any indication, it must be second nature to the chef.

Susan and Lily dove into one of those chocolate-covered balls of ice cream, a surefire crowd pleaser.

With the sky darkening gently, we finished with espresso (or I did, at any rate), and took an evening walk around the grounds. This is the time of year, before the nights get too short, to drop down here for dinner. It’s only an hour away from Thruway Exit 23, and you might also explore the overnight options.

Dinner for two, with tax and tip, a couple of glasses of wine and dessert, was $130.

TABLE SCRAPS

Hubbard Hall (25 E. Main St., Cambridge) presents a Harvest Dinner and Wine Auction on Saturday, Sept. 7, to benefit the several arts programs of the organization. Hosted by Santé magazine, the event takes place in the restored barns of Oak Hill Hollow Farm in Cambridge. The multi-course meal, catered by Food Glorious Food, will feature the produce of local farmers, and entertainment will be provided throughout dinner, which begins with a champagne/hors d’oeuvres reception at 4 PM, and the auction at 5:30 and dinner at 7. Admission is $75 per person, with advance reservations required, which you can make by calling Hubbard Hall at 677-2495. . . . Jockey Richard Migliore turns chef at the Springwater Bistro (139 Union Ave., Saratoga Springs) on Tuesday, July 30, when he teams with the Springwater’s David Britton to offer a cooking demo at 3:30 to preview the dishes they’ll serve during the dinner to follow (5:30-10). At the demo, Migliore, who has a professional stake in keeping the weight off, will discuss cuisine minceur, developed in France by chef Michel Guerard to get away from butter and cream and other fats. For more info and reservations, call the restaurant at 584-6440. . . . Remember to pass your scraps to Metroland.

—B.A.N.

(Please fax info to 922-7090)


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