By B.A. Nilsson
47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs,
583-2755. Serving daily 8 AM-3 PM. AE, D, DC, MC, V.
Food: * * *½
rural community I call home puts on a pancake supper every
Election Day (you can check it out this Tuesday), a once-a-year
chance to have breakfast at sunset. Not that this is a foreign
concept to everyone: Musicians, over-the-road drivers, anyone
whose livelihood upends the diurnal norm knows the pleasure
of tucking into a plate of ham and eggs while others grill
steaks and roast chickens.
How did particular foodstuffs—or foodstuff forms—come to define
breakfast? Back in the Middle Ages, meals defined status,
and breakfast for the nobles was a skimpy thing because a
formal dinner was served at around noon. Supper appeared after
sunset because they could afford lighting; the peasants had
to dine during daylight, and, what with a busy daily workload,
tended toward heartier fare first thing in the morning.
Before 1800, breakfast might have included toast or gruel
or some manner of porridge, and got fancier only if there
were guests to impress. Thereafter, it grew to include cold
meat, cheese and beer, although the English added omelettes,
ox tongue, fruit, biscuits and tea, an array that has proven
too excessive to remain common in-home fare, and became featured
instead in hotels and restaurants.
Credit colonists with puffing pancakes. The French model,
crepes, were unleavened, but American settlers helped popularize
the idea of making cakes and, eventually, waffles out of the
batter, topped, of course, with maple syrup and honey.
As a culinary art, breakfast doesn’t enjoy the same rarefied
renown as dinner entrées, yet the most revealing test of a
chef is an omelette—and I worked for a chef who wasn’t bashful
about putting job applicants through those egg-prep paces.
When you’re looking for those two eggs with a side of sausage
and toast, you can usually count on a diner to serve it up
fairly inexpensively, but it’s anybody’s guess how that hen
fruit will be treated once it hits the pan. I’ve seen what’s
supposed to be scrambled eggs look more like aging spackle;
likewise, putative omelettes can emerge with the look and
feel of mailing envelopes.
My daughter was in a breakfasty mood the other afternoon at
Beverly’s, and ordered two eggs, scrambled, with pork sausage
and home fries ($6.75), and toasted peasant bread. “Keep ’em
loose,” I was instructed when learning to scramble, and this,
fortunately, is what you get at Beverly’s. They’re not runny,
but they haven’t turned into sculpture.
Opened 13 years ago on busy Phila Street in downtown Saratoga,
Beverly’s first positioned itself as a specialty foods store
with a café on the side. The retail end of the operation is
gone now, and Beverly Reedy’s son, Michael Bowman, now owns
and runs the operation with an occasional hand from his mother.
There have been occasional flirtations with dinner service,
but for now the restaurant operates daily with a breakfast-and-lunch
menu that has won a loyal following—and impressive crowds
at events like Skidmore Parents’ Weekend and Travers day.
Even better, there’s a patio for comfy outdoor dining when
the season is right.
We visited in the middle of the day in the middle of the week
and found a few others enjoying a late lunch. The brief menu
offers traditional breakfast and lunch food, with egg dishes,
pancakes, waffles, sandwiches and salads comprising most of
the fare. A specials board lists the day’s coffee flavors
(they take their joe seriously here), fruit dish (a strawberry
autumn blend when we were there), omelette of the day (tomato,
cheddar, pepper), quiche (salmon, dill and Swiss cheese) and
I tried a cup of the sweet potato bisque ($3) served very
hot and pleasantly thick, with potato chunks to vary the texture.
That and a salad would have been meal enough, but my need
to research drove me to also order a frittata with mushrooms,
broccoli and herbed chèvre ($7). Frittatas are open-faced
omelettes, Italian in origin, dotted at the top, pizza-like,
with the added ingredients. With accompanying sourdough toast,
it was a very satisfying meal.
My wife, Susan, more committed to lunch, ordered a sandwich,
but no ordinary concoction was this. Grilled eggplant was
squeezed between toasted sourdough slices, with lightly sautéed
spinach, onion slices, Swiss cheese and a sundried tomato
mayonnaise to finish the architecture ($9). She chose their
homemade potato salad as a side dish and was able to wrap
half the sandwich for an at-work dinner later in the day.
Seating is comfortable and service is attentive, headed by
Bowman’s sister, Kimberlie Till, who filled me in on the restaurant’s
history. You can dine at the counter or choose a table, and
a big part of the pleasure is Bowman’s eclectic choice of
Breakfast/lunch for three, with tax and tip and a couple of
drinks, was $36.
the resident of New York, Paris, or London, the word
DEATH is never pronounced because it burns the lips.
Mexicans, on the other hand, frequent it, caress it,
they sleep with it, they celebrate it, it is one of
their favorite games and their most permanent love.”
So wrote Octavio Paz, and the culmination of this is
Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos), which will
be celebrated at the Mexican Connection (41 Nelson
Ave., Saratoga Springs) tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday
(Nov. 1 and 2). Traditional Mexican fare (with guacamole
made to order), more than 70 fine tequila choices and
many Mexican beers will be available. Guitarist Maria
Zemantauski will perform both nights. The restaurant
is open daily at 4 PM for dinner, closing only on Tuesdays.
For more info and reservations, call 584-4466. . . .
It’s been eight years at Quackenbush Square for Nicole’s
Bistro (Clinton Avenue and Broadway, Albany), and
18 years in business. What better reason for a party?
It’ll begin at 6:15 PM Thursday, Nov. 14, with a champagne
reception, followed by a four-course dinner paired with
Loire region wines. It’s $65 per person and seating
is by reservation only, so call 465-1111 to reserve
your places. . . . Remember to pass your scraps to Metroland
fax info to 922-7090)
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.