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Photo by: B.A. Nilsson

The Right Sort of Resort
By B.A. Nilsson

The Trillium
The Sagamore, 110 Sagamore Road, Bolton Landing, 1-800-358-3585 or 644-9400. www.thesagamore.com. Serving dinner Mon-Sat 6-9. AE, D, DC, MC, V.
Cuisine: American contemporary
Entrée price range: $29 (pan-roasted turkey) to $33 (lobster and foie gras combo)
Ambiance: elegant and restful
Clientele: discriminating travelers

Given the luxury of the environment here, the shoulder season is distinguished mainly by the comparative lack of people. Which suits me fine, although I was worried that it might compromise the quality of service.

No need to worry. The Sagamore maintains a reputation as one of the area’s finest hotels through fanatical attention to detail, and this includes any meal you enjoy at the resort. When we approached the Trillium, the top-of-the-line dining room that is one of two flanking the main hall, we were recognized at the reservations table and handed over to Henri, the maître d’, who glided us through the salmon-colored room to a table set in anticipation of my threesome.

Nothing stuffy about the process: It was practically transparent. As we studied menus, a tux-clad server shimmered to our side and noted some specials. I ordered a glass of wine and we were off.

Homemade bread arrived shortly, a variety of rolls and slices. An amuse-bouche followed, a getting-started taste of a creamy salmon concoction that we spread on accompanying sesame-coated crackers.

That’s all very well, you’re saying. You were there in May. What’s it going to be like in August? We saw the staff deal with the unexpected in a way that assures me there’ll be no problem even at the height of the season. A crowd of folks from The New Yorker were weekending at the Sagamore while we were there—we saw them muscling their way around a fitness course, suggesting they were from the advertising side of the magazine, not the editorial, unless writers have changed in recent years.

Something about the group’s arrival at the Trillium suggested they weren’t expected, at least not in such numbers. Small discussions erupted among the staff, with Henri calmly outlining service strategies. It was the tiniest glitch, hardly discernible as such, and then it was absorbed into the smooth fabric of the restaurant’s service style. I wish any restaurateur running or contemplating a fine-dining establishment would experience this place in full swing. It’s the definition of excellent service.

The spring menu reflects chef Tony DeStratis’ skill both with using seasonal material and fashioning it in a way that’s different and palate-pleasing. He’s a 10-year veteran of the kitchen at Mohonk Mountain House, another superior resort.

From a handful of starters we selected a plate of fresh, and I do mean fresh, heirloom tomatoes with handmade buffalo mozzarella, seasoned with basil and served alongside grilled leeks ($11). Jo’s Pho ($11) is a dark, rich broth ladled at table side over a bowl of soba noodles and slices of shaved beef tenderloin. Excellent compote, although the noodles do not come out of the bowl gracefully. Bib yourself first.

Lobster and avocado croissants ($14) present a build-it-yourself dish of those ingredients, served cold and accompanied by a tangy aïoli and tomatillo jam. Nothing like that mix of the cool and the spicy to awaken the palate.

Pan-roasted “filet mignon” of turkey ($29) turns out to be a breast of a young bird that’s cooked to order, emerging with a steak’s juiciness but appealing to a red-meat-hater like, oh, let’s say my wife. The meat itself had sweetness enough to make anything like cranberry sauce superfluous, and here it’s served with mushrooms and leeks, pancetta and shallots, with some sautéed fiddleheads filling out the vegetable ration.

Although the fava bean falafel accompanying the grilled Hawaiian ono (wahoo) was a selling point for that dish, my daughter finally opted for steamed New Zealand salmon ($30), which arrived pink and pliant and perfect, winning her trust enough to lead her to try the gingered parsnip purée and lemongrass-infused coulis of English peas.

Argentinean-style mixed grill ($31) is a way to get your filet mignon fix with some contrasting flavors from the grill—in this case, breast of poussin, which is a very young chicken, along with sausage made from rabbit meat. The beef, a superb cut, dominated the mix, but the sweetness of the chicken filled in a flavor area, and the sausage, with the lively bite typical of good charcuterie, rounded it all out. And, of course, what the grilling brings out also was a boon.

Garnishes included a chimichurri sauce, native to Argentina and made from garlic and parsley, lemon juice and olive oil, as well as a blend of root vegetables and the string beans and baby carrots that graced each plate—plus mashed potatoes.

To simply list those elements hardly begins to describe them, but the description risks monotony. They couldn’t have been better prepared or more simply and nicely presented.

Desserts are equally incredible, represented for us by a chocolate coffee cup containing tiramisu and a pyramid-shaped chocolate marquis ($8 each).

The hotel offers an abundance of dining opportunities, with a summer buffet in the main dining room where, as a hotel guest, you’ll enjoy a buffet breakfast while enjoying a glorious view of the lake. Mister Brown’s Pub is for more casual fare, where an Adirondack theme is complemented by an abundance of TV screens—but the fare is light-years better than most pub grub. The Veranda offers a menu of sandwiches and a daily tea-time ritual, and from there it’s a short path down to the boat dock, where you can lounge at lakeside. And if golfing lured you to the resort, with its world-class Donald Ross-designed course, you’ve got the adjacent Club Grill.

Wherever you choose to dine, there’s a comfortable feeling of being taken gently in hand and guided through a meal that will be a surprise and delight, and that’s really what fine dining and resort relaxation are all about.


TABLE SCRAPS

It’s the seventh year for the annual Sinatra tribute at Nicole’s Bistro at the Quackenbush House (Clinton Street and Broadway, Albany), and once again you’ll enjoy a re-creation of the singer’s favorite dinner even as vocalist Ed Clifford re-creates Frank’s favorite songs. As served at Jilly’s Restaurant in Manhattan, Cucina Sinatra includes a cocktail reception with hors d’oeuvres, a first course of littleneck clams with roasted peppers, rigatoni arrabiatta, insalate verde, then a veal scaloppine alla Milanaise. To finish, cassatta Palermitana, a rum-soaked cake with a ricotta filling and chocolate glaze. Each course is paired with an appropriate wine. The dinner is $100 per person, which includes wine, spirits, music, tax and tip, and it starts at 6 PM Thursday, June 17. It’s a lovely event—especially if the weather allows outdoor seating—and worth booking early. Call 465-1111 for reservations. . . . Remember to pass your scraps to Metroland (e-mail to food@banilsson.com).

(Please fax info to 922-7090)

Click here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.

We want your feedback

Have you eaten at The Trillium or any other recently reviewed restaurants? Agree or disagree with B.A.? Let us know what you think...

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What you're saying...

I very much enjoyed eating dinner at Daniel's at Ogdens. You review described my dining experience perfectly. This wasn't the case with Pancho's. I much prefer Garcia's or Lake View Tavern for Mexican fare. I agree that a restaurant can have an off night so I'll give the second unit on Central Avenue a try.

Mary Kurtz
Castleton

First, yes I miss the star ratings, bring it back. Second, I haven't had a chance to visit Poncho's yet, but I especially like reading the reviews.

Pat Russo
East Greenbush

I would travel to Amsterdam to this restaurant - it's not that far away. People traveled from all over to eat at Ferrandi's in Amsterdam. From his background, I'm sure the chef's sauce is excellent and that is the most important aspect of an Italian restaurant. Sometimes your reviewer wastes words on the negative aspects of a restaurant. I'm looking forward to trying this restaurant - I look forward to Metroland every Thursday especially for the restaurant review. And by the way Ferrandi's closed its Amsterdam location and is opening a new bistro on Saratoga Lake - Should be up and running in May. It will be called Saratoga Lake Bistro. It should be great!

Peggy Van Deloo
Schenectady

So happy to see you finally made out!! Our experiences have always been wonderful, the staff is extremely professional, the food subperb, and the atmosphere very warm and comfortable. Let us not forget to mention "Maria" the pianist on Friday and Saturday nights.

Charlie and Marie
Michaels Restaurant

I have been to Michael's several times and each time I have enjoyed it very much. The food is delicious and the staff is great. Also, Maria Riccio Bryce plays piano there every Friday and Saturday evening, a nice touch to add to the already wonderful atmosphere. It is also easy to find, exit 27 off the thruway to 30 north for about 5 miles.

N. Moore
Albany

Wonderful!

Elaine Snowdon
Albany

We loved it and will definitely go back.

Rosemarie Rafferty

Absolutely excellent. The quality and the flavor far surpasses that of other Indian restaurants in the area. I was a die-hard Shalimar fan and Tandoor Palace won my heart. It blows Ghandi out of the water. FInally a decent place in Albany where you can get a good dinner for less than $10 and not have tacos. The outdoor seating is also festive.

Brady G'sell

Indian is my favorite cuisine available in the area--I loved Tandoor Palace. We all agreed that the tandoori chicken was superior to other local restaraunts, and we also tried the ka-chori based on that intriguing description-delicious.

Kizzi Casale
Albany

Your comments about the Indian / Pakistani restaurants being as "standardized as McDonald's" shows either that you have eaten at only a few Indian / Pakistani restaurants or that you have some prejudices to work out. That the physical appearances are not what you would consider fancy dancy has no bearing on the food. And after all, that is what the main focus of the reviews should be. Not the physical appearances, which is what most of your reviews concentrate on.
A restaurant like The Shalimar, down on Central Avenue, may not look the greatest, but the food is excellent there. And the menu has lots of variety - beef, lamb, vegetarian, chicken, and more..

Barry Uznitsky
Guilderland



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