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Anyone been to Ballston Spa Newbie, 51 Front Wine Bar & Bistro?

Anyone been to 51 Front Wine Bar & Bistro? What was your experience?


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  1. It's been open for a good year now. It's excellent and very reasonable. The owner formerly owned Saratoga's Eartha's restaurant.

      1. Been half-a-dozen times. Quirky wine list (beer and wine only here), menus has a Southern inspiration. Great fried chicken, duck quesadillas, very good fish dishes. Friendly, moderately-priced, with a nice buzz. Sometimes a little late seating people with reservations during peak times, but service is friendly and casual. The kind of storefront bistro that seems to be late arriving to this part of the world.

        5 Replies
        1. re: PSZaas

          Thanks everyone. I went for the first time recently:

          We went to 51 Front Street this week. Nice selection of reasonably priced wines. Had the goat cheese salad with roasted fennel, duck entree. SO had the grouper entree. I liked it better then the duck. By the way they don't serve espresso.

          Permalink | Report | Reply
          financialdistrictresident Apr 17, 2009 07:07AM


          PS gerchak198 - a year is a newbie in my book :)

          1. re: financialdistrictresident

            Went to 51 Front last night. Didn't have a reservation and they were pretty crowded. Luckily we were seated promptly. After that the bar area got full, so our timing was spot on. Service was excellent. Reasonably priced wine list. Had a nice bottle of Haza. Menu has changed a fair amount since our last visit. On to the food:


            *Oysters Rockefeller (special) - very good
            *Maple Leaf duck tenderloins, pecan encrusted, on mixed greens with cranberries and ? vinaigrette - very good. I didn't realize the duck tenderloins would be deep fried. They looked like fried clams. Probably would only get this again if the duck was prepared differently.
            *Pumpkin ravioli with brown sage butter - delicious. SO said it had too much nutmeg for him. I tasted something vinegary. Maybe it was something else on my palate or in the sauce? The sauce was creamy so it was a little different than the typical brown butter sage sauce.


            *SO had the grouper with haricots verts, a potato side. Very good. This and the Oysters Rockefeller were my favorites.

            We skipped dessert. BTW they still don't have espresso . . .

          2. re: PSZaas

            PSZaas, finally tried 51 Front's fried chicken this week. It was really, really good. I think I liked it better than Hattie's.

          3. Went a few times recently. No reservations, greeted warmly and seated quickly. Very nice staff.

            I had the foie gras pate (no pork - thank you from us poultry and fish eaters). Very good. Also the fried chicken. Excellent. I love their fried chicken. Enjoyed the vanilla grits. Had the creme brulee for dessert. It was okay. Still no espresso . . .

            SO and I went. Only a few tables and bar seating available. Once track season starts, reservations might be in order. Reasonably priced wine list, casual atmosphere. APPS:

            SO had ravioli stuffed with peppers appetizer. Good.
            I had a baby arugula, goat cheese, beet and pignolia salad. Very good.

            They forgot to bring our bread. We did not remind them. A blessing as we are always eating . . .and I'm not that crazy about their rolls anyhow :)


            I had salmon with a Mediterranean sauce (tomatoes, olives, garlic) and a cold cous cous (a little vinegary for my taste). Very good.
            SO had chicken Louise. I had a taste and it was dry and didn't have much flavor. Would not order this again.

            IMHO, their best dishes are Southern (fried chicken) and fish. Miss their catfish.


            Dark chocolate with rasberry cake - sounded better than it was, dwarfed in comparison to the bread pudding. . .

            Chocolate bread pudding - AMAZING!

            Coffee was very good. Still no espresso . . .

            1. Has anyone been to 51 Front lately?

              Do they have a new chef?

              We stopped going after the last time we went and found it to be just okay. With the exception of the fried chicken. Really good, better than Hattie's. And that amazing chocolate bread pudding dessert . . .

              Miss having a choice besides Lake Ridge and Bloomer's . . . or heading to Saratoga/Albany.

              5 Replies
              1. re: financialdistrictresident

                Bloomer's, which is your favorite anyway, is much better than 51 Front ever was, and it has a full bar. Sunset Cafe, across the street from 51 Front, is a decent southwestern restaurant; prices are moderate, margaritas are fine.

                1. re: PSZaas

                  Thanks, PSZaas. I've also been trying to get SO to Satsuma (former Chicory location) :


                  1. re: PSZaas

                    Went to Sunset Cafe recently. Friendly service, mediocre food (maybe I didn't order their best dishes?). I make better margaritas at home. Their tortilla chips were very good :)

                    Back to my rule of not eating Southwestern/Mexican food on the East coast . . .

                    Also ate at The Factory recently. Service was very good. Like the atmosphere w/brick, exposed ducts, etc. My salad tasted like salad in a bag with that preservative flavor. I think 51 Front (dinner), Pizza Works or The Coffee Planet (lunch) is it for me in Ballston Spa. Might need to check out The Whistling Kettle. Wish there were more choices . . .


                    1. re: financialdistrictresident

                      At the moment, the Brickyard is turning out better comfort food than the Factory, but that's not a strong recommendation. Our most frequent dining destination close to home is 50 South; funky, not very pricey, decent bar, locally-sourced food, often there's live music, often worth hearing. Otherwise we typically head to Max's/Sperry's/Chianti.

                      1. re: financialdistrictresident

                        Whistling Kettle is a terrific lunch place. Nice people, nice atmo, good food.

                  2. Thought it was time to try 51 Front again so we went recently. The atmosphere is charming with brick, candles and a nice bar. Perfect for a casual dinner. Service was very good. Now on to the food.

                    Bread service was 2 small round rolls w/butter still wrapped in the little foil packets.

                    We shared one of the specials for our appetizer. Salmon (served warm) on flatbread with some goat cheese and dill. Accompanied with some mixed greens and a balsamic drizzle. None of the flavors were overpowering. Enough for two. Very good.

                    For entrees SO had beef stroganoff and took half of it home. I had the roasted cod served with sweet potatoes, vegetables, etc. The cod was cooked perfectly. It could have been spicier since chili was in the menu's description. To be fair our server did tell us it didn't have much heat when we asked before ordering it.

                    For dessert we had cheesecake with rasberry and coffee. Espresso was not available. As a reminder they do not have a full bar, just wine and beer. Also, their web site doesn't have their current menu.

                    If you haven't been in awhile, it might be time to vist 51 Front again.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: financialdistrictresident

                      I didn't see the beef stroganoff around. SO told me it was cubed stew meat and it was overdone. He threw the leftovers out.

                      The classic stroganoff is usually made with strips. At least the Larousse Gastronomique version is. I believe the original Russian version used cubed meat. The Joy of Cooking is top loin or sirloin tip. Chef Thomas Keller's "Ad Hoc at Home" preparation uses strips of sirloin tip (or braised beef short ribs). This month's F & W had a beef stroganoff recipe and their preparation used beef tenderloin.

                      As mentioned in previous posts, they do fish well.

                    2. Finally found our way to 51 Front Street since the ownership change:


                      The menu is "inspired Mediterranean and sourced locally."

                      Good service. Pacing was a little relaxed.

                      We started with foccacia, olive oil and olives. The olive oil was really good.

                      The amuse was lemon soup garnished with parsnip crisps and served on a spoon. Very good.

                      SO and I started with a few apps:

                      Falafel crab cake, encrusted with chickpeas seasoned with cumin and coriander and served with mixed greens, tahini yogurt and preserved lemon.

                      Cornmeal oysters - breaded oysters on the half shell drizzled in sauce choron on a bed of roasted fennel. This was my favorite dish.

                      Grilled octopus - grilled octopus with smoked potato salad and almond butter. SO liked this better than me. I have impossible standards when it comes to grilled octopus and Periyali's is probably the best I've ever had outside of Astoria.

                      SO had the pan roasted veal sweetbread deglazed with crushed peppercorn and red currant demi-glace over grilled portabello which he really enjoyed. Not sure why he left the portabello behind?

                      I had the rocket salad with smoked duck breat over arugula with warm roasted shallot vinaigrette, roasted pears, blue cheese and candied nuts. I didn't care for the blue cheese which was broiled or the pears. The duck was very good. I probably wouldn't get this salad again.

                      They have espresso!

                      We shared a couple of desserts. One was orange and chocolate.

                      Better than the last time we went. . .