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Teri Currie

When It’s Time to Relax
By B.A. Nilsson

The Sedgwick Inn and Restaurant

17971 Route 22, Berlin, 658-2334, www.sedgwickinn.com. Serving dinner Wed-Sat 5-9 PM, Sun 1-8. AE, D, MC, V.

Food: * * * *
Service: Discreet

Ambience: Lovely

The beaten path: Who defines it? My literal imagining of that phrase includes thuds of galloping hooves on dusty byways, which suits the Sedgwick Inn: It was once a stagecoach stop, back when traveling was slow and you couldn’t be in a hurry, and stops along the way in little towns like Berlin added to the adventure.

You can’t conveniently drive due east from Troy, which is the crow-flies direction to Berlin. Route 2 angles northeast; Route 43 is its southeasterly mirror. So a trip to the Sedgwick requires you not to be in much of a hurry. Which is good. It’s a restful, stress-busting place to visit, and you’ll have the lure of colorful trees in the weeks to come.

Built two centuries ago as a private home, the main building soon was converted to a hotel. With the addition of a motel building next door, there are 11 rooms available, all recently tastefully remodeled with antique furnishings. Even the motel, which looks very motel-like on the outside, will surprise you with the handsomeness of the rooms within.

Owners Chet and Diane Niedzwiecki bought the place three years ago; Chet installed himself as chef, and his wife usually works the floor, although she was taking a night off when we visited last week.

Two book-lined sitting rooms offer a nice place to relax before dinner, of which we availed ourselves. The two dining rooms are nicely appointed, with antique wooden tables and chairs and busily decorated walls. Napkins are cinched by wooden rings; coffee cups are upended on their saucers. Dried flowers and a discreet lamp decorate each table.

The brief menu lists five appetizers and a soup, priced from $5 to $7, and it’s free of shrimp cocktail. Grilled portobellos, beef carpaccio and Swedish gravlax are a few of what’s there. The seven entrées include rack of lamb ($26.50), roasted duckling ($22.50) and crab-stuffed cod ($19.50), so you get the idea of the range.

Several of the items hew closely to the mainstream path. Susan’s appetizer of stuffed mushrooms ($6.25) sported the expected filling of breaded crabmeat, but with an added flavor of provolone cheese in the cream sauce. New England clam chowder ($4.75) was another example of a mainstream item presented in a textbook manner: a good consistency with pronounced flavors, but spruced up by its presentation, which was a pewter bowl (with lid) and a side dish of oyster crackers (not in cellophane wrapper, for which much thanks).

I opted for the exotic: grilled ostrich ($7.25), a cold appetizer featuring sliced, grilled ostrich with a peppercorn coating on the rim of each slice. The meat has enough flavor to stand up to the pepper, just as it’s nicely paired with a ramekin of horseradish and mustard sauce (actually a mayonnaise). It was several slices of the meat (not too chewy) and a few points of toasted pumpernickel.

Simple comes-with-the-entrée salads of red leaf lettuce and a few leaves of other baby lettuce varieties are served with a small, hot loaf of bread. House dressing is a slightly sweetened balsamic vinaigrette that’s subtle but tasty enough to make you sit up and take notice. “I tried changing it once,” the chef told me. “People got upset. I had to change it back.”

Our sequence of courses was nicely paced by the single server working the room. With a large party also to tend, he and the chef did a good job of juggling the food presentation.

Susan’s entrée, lobster ravioli with lobster cream sauce ($19.25), was more about the sauce than the pasta, which were very much standard-issue squares wrapped around a lobster meat and ricotta mix, undistinguished enough to have come from any food supplier. After all, when you go through the trouble of making them yourself, you do something different.

The sauce, however, had a worthy presence set off by the flavors of Madeira and cream and, of course, more lobster. Sides of baby carrots and big broccoli florets were cooked to a perfect crispness and seasoned lightly, without butter.

On my plate, those vegetables were joined with baby roasted potatoes, crisp and steamy. My entrée, befitting our locale and season, was grilled venison, although the meat itself came from a farm in Texas. Two medallions were cooked medium rare, served with an excellent sauce that imparted flavors of sage, garlic and rosemary without wine or cream or other such vehicles—a reminder of the effectiveness of simplicity.

Thoughtful preparation and attractive presentation make these plates worth the money; combined with service that easily allows you to relax, you’ll find this an extremely satisfying destination, especially if you throw in an overnight.

We finished with coffee and a slice of rich cheesecake, and eased ourselves into the summer night for the long journey home. Dinner for two, with tax and tip, dessert and a couple of glasses of wine, was $106.

Click here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.


TABLE SCRAPS


Ferrandi’s French Restaurant
(Route 67, Amsterdam) hosts a wine-tasting dinner Sept. 19 through Sept. 22, offering each night a four-course meal for $40, with three glasses of wine chosen by chef Eric Masson. Begin with the casserole d’escargot aux champignon des bois, for example, and the selected wine is a glass of Languedoc-Rousillon Pinot Noir, while the garlic-and- rosemary-scented roast leg of lamb will be matched with a special St. Emilion. On Sept. 18, the restaurant holds a buffet fundraiser with several wines to taste, also $40, with proceeds to benefit programs like the Creative Learning Nursery School in Johnstown. For more info and reservations, phone the restaurant at 842-6977. . . . New World Home Cooking Co. chef Ric Orlando has completed his first TV series, titled Ric Orlando’s TV Kitchen, set to begin airing at 7:30 PM on Monday, Oct. 7, on WMHT (Channel 17). He’s working on national distribution for 2003, and also reminds us that his first book, Thirteen Episodes in the Kitchen, will be available in October. . . . Remember to pass your scraps to Metroland.

—B.A.N.

(Please fax info to 922-7090)


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