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Jul 22, 2004 04:38 PM

hidden saratoga

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Heading up to Saratoga Springs next weekend for the 28th year in a row, but wondering if there are any good new or old restaurants that are just slightly out of the traffic flow and won't be overcrowded with racetrackers and scenemakers. Could be out of town, but not too far. Thanks for any assistance.

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  1. Everything in town is very crowded these days, although there are tables to be had; reservations are good. The real Saratoga people are at Sperry's on Caroline St., and listen to jazz at 9 Maple after. For some less crowded joints head south on rt. 50 ten minutes, and you're in Ballston Spa, the county seat. Two decent places there, Sunset Cafe (Southwestern menu, good BBQ), and Paul's, an idiosyncratic chef-owned bistro.

    1. You're right. You need to get off the beaten path when the track is open. Two or three suggestions, from a local who has lived in Saratoga since 1970. Get on Route 9, south, leaving Saratoga. Once you get past the Northway (I-87 exit) continue on Route 9. At the second red light, you come to an intersection with Route 9P. Both of the restaurants on the corner, the Publik House, and the Red Tomato, are worth it. The Publik House is good pizza, good calzones, good sandwiches, etc. The Red Tomato, crowded in August, is worth the stop. Try the bisque, which has won local awards for best soup, or the pot roast, which, although you would not think it, is to die for. Everything on the menu after that is worth a try. If you make the left turn onto Route 9P at that intersection, about a mile and a quarter down t he road, on the left, is Cliffs Country Inn. You would not think it very imposing, but is considered the best beef place, in local contests, for its prime ribs, steaks, etc. Not horribly expensive, but that's where there locals go. A carnivores delight.

      The following is an answer to someone who posted a query on this board for best ethnic restaurants in Saratoga.

      Sushi-Thai, on Phila Street, about a block and a half east of the main drag in Saratoga, Broadway seems to be worth it. Extensive menu, and I have heard good reviews from other locals, but I have no personal experience with the place. There are also two Indian restaurants, one right on Broadway, and one on the intersection of Route 50 and Broadway as you come into Saratoga from the south. Both get good reviews. Minos, on Caroline Street, which is a block east of Broadway, is good for sushi, and I can recommend that based on personal experience. Chianti's is an upscale Italian restaurant, also on Broadway; and my son's father in law, who is Italian American and visits Saratoga during the track season, raves about it. Not necessarily ethnic, but in the running, would be Hatties, on Caroline Street, east of Broadway. Great Southern cuisine, smothered pork chops, jambalaya, etc, etc. Can recommend that one personally. If you're into barbecue, Everglades restaurant, north on Route 9 out of Saratoga, is good, and not horribly expensive. Can recommend that personally. Do not do PJ's barbecue, South of Saratoga on Route 9. Not good at all, and overpriced. If your definition of ethnic includes French, Chez Sophie, south of Saratoga on Route 9, is the creme de la creme. Great cuisine, service, not cheap, but also recommended by the New York Times. I have eaten there, and it is worth every penny

      4 Replies
      1. re: Bill L.

        Seconds on Ripe Tomato and Sophie's. I've been to both and they are both very good and reliable. PJ's BBQ is, as described, terrible and over priced. The others are unknowned to me from personal experience but based on the trend of the above writer they will be added to my list in the near future. Thanks!

        1. re: Bill L.

          Thanks for the suggestion on Publik House! We ate there tonight and had one of the specialty pizzas and it was EXCELLENT (garlic bread was just ok)! We checked out the menu at Ripe Tomato and it looked ok but we were interested in something cheaper tonight (the sandwiches on their lunch menu looked good).

          For lunch, we went to Mrs. London's (recommended elsewhere here). My wife and I split a grilled tomato and mozarella sandwich and really enjoyed it. My daughter had eaten fast food elsewhere so I got her a creme brulee (her favorite) and it was excellent. We were up there to tour Skidmore College, so after the tour we went back to town and picked up another creme brulee and a chocolate dessert to have for dessert in our hotel room. Sadly, they were out of the apple tarts that I had seen at lunch.

          1. re: Bill L.

            Are you kidding? PJ's BBQ is not good? We stop there regularly on our way from Montreal to New York (and back). PJ's is one of the best BBQ shacks I know. Yummy. And they have a nice lawn for kids and dogs to frolic on.


            1. re: Alex Epstein

              I respectfully disagree on PJ's, Alex. The portions are tiny, and every time I've been there the BBQ has been dry and largely tasteless.

          2. Yes, Mrs London's is excellent, especially the creme brulee! But not what I would consider "hidden".

            1. Dinner at Chez Sophie in their posh month-old minimalist digs last week. Table overlooking the pond. Very personable service became harried when the place filled up. Tried the mussels paired with a Belgian ale. Excellent: delicate mussels, savory broth. Eager to return come racing season.

              Avoid PJs. Like the Woody Allen joke: terrible food and such small portions! If you're craving BBQ, drive on down the NY Thruway to Hickory (just off Exit 19 on Rte 28 in Kingston) or, better yet, Barnstormer in Newburgh (Exit 17, to Rte 17K in the Target plaza). Both are quick stops off the the I-87 Thruway.

              Mrs. London's is sublime for bread and pastries. Can't bang that drum hard enough.

              Question for you Saratogans: What's going on with Miss Hattie's on Phila St. Still around? Downhill alert? Going strong? Please advise.

              1 Reply
              1. re: markp

                hatties is up and running under new ownership the owner defeated bobby flay in a fried chicken cookoff aired on the food network. I have lived in Saratoga my whole life and remember going to the old, old hatties when it was on federal st and run by miss hattie austin who was a very good friends with my aunts,. the food is as good as ever

              2. Wishing Well is an old-time place out of the traffic flow, on Rt. 9 four or five miles north of town; Village Pizzeria in E. Galway is about the same distance west of town on Rt. 29. Great sit-down pizza, Italian. Paul's in Ballston Spa, three or four miles south of town on Rt. 50 is worth a try.