Over-rated in Saratoga
Saratoga has been known for great restaurants, but in the past couple of years we go to Saratoga we end up having a bad meal. This includes Brindisi's, Chameleon on the Lake, The Old Bryan Inn, One Caroline, Mouzon House and several others that are supposed to be good (and expensive). It reminds me of The Emporer's New Clothes. People believe it's good because they are told that this is what's good, and they would be embarrased to admit they paid so much for dinner and it wasn't good like everyone says, or that they don't understand what's good about it like their. Let's raise the bar and start demandig a great dining experience to go along with the Saratoga price tag.
I couldn't agree more. It's very discouraging, especially when out of town friends or family ask for a recommendation. I tend not to go out much since I dine out often while travelling for pleasure or business and all I want to do when home is cook. But I'm further discouraged by the local dining scene. Ironically, the tourist season used to be limited to just the track season, but it's way extended now. Unfortunately, the growing affluence and somewhat increase in sophistication in the area has not translated into better food-just more pretension and higher prices. I can usually get much better food for less money in NYC than home in Saratoga. I think we are seeing the Emperor as is-at the risk sometime of coming off as a food snob.
janwil, I agree with your take on Brindisi's-- my husband and I went there a few weeks ago and were pretty disappointed. It seemed like all 'fluff' -- atmosphere, and good service, it's true--but food boring and pricey. And I noticed at Brindisi that hardly anything was healthy; even a dish I had with a vodka (pink) sauce tasted like it was heavy and fatty (which tasted good, but for the arteries not so good). Tons of veal and heavy duty meats but little in the way of interesting fish or pastas.
The other places I haven't tried. I do like Ravenous in Saratoga-- more of a lunch place. And I adore Mrs. London's. I was at Hattie's and liked it a long time ago; anyone been there recently?
There's some great dining in Saratoga Springs, although not at any of the places you mention. Lanci's, Chianti, Beekman St. Bistro are some current favorites, single malt and jazz at 9 Maple before or after or both. Brindisi's is always terrible, Mouzon House is a more expensive version of One Caroline. What Saratoga Springs lacks is mid-range dining, although Hattie's is still good, and the pub grub at the Parting Glass is usually satisfactory.
I also agree about the prices/quality of food in the local restaurants. You can get a GREAT dinner at Gotham Bar and Grill or Union Square Café in NYC for the same price as a GOOD dinner at Chez Sophie. Chez Sophie prices are probably related to the rent they pay in their new space. I happen to think that Chianti is not very good. I agree with the first posting, Chianti falls into that category. The one meal I had there was a veal dish and the “sauce” congealed on the veal. I don’t think a sauce is suppose to do that. Once Chianti moves to its new quarters (new office/residential building under construction on Division St) you know the prices will go up to pay for the rent.
While I have not been to Lanci’s or Beekman Street Bistro, I have tried all the other restaurants in Saratoga and a few in the capital district area and the two restaurants I have found to be good for price and quality are Springwater Bistro on Union Ave and Tiznow’s on Henry Street, both in Saratoga. The best night to visit Springwater Bistro is Monday night The menu is tapas only. A lot of different dishes, the prices range from $5-$9, maybe a few $11. Portions are enough for 2 people to share one plate.
Being new to Saratoga and the capital district area I read the reviews by the food critics and other articles in magazines and then try the restaurant. But when I leave I have to wonder about the review because I don’t feel I had the same dinning experience as the reviewer or article stated. So while I use to eat out quite often, now that I moved to this area I tend to cook and eat at home more often. That leads to a whole other discussion about finding good quality meat and fish to cook at home since the only sources seem to be the price chopper and Hannaford. But I am finding other sources like the honest weight food coop, etc. Anyway that’s my venting for the day :) !
I went to Springwater last night for tapas for the first time, it was pretty good. Two of us shared 6 items and 4 were good, 1 was ok and 1 was real bad. You can't beat the price, and the selection. Light eaters would love it. We will go back.