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Apr 17, 2009 04:40 AM

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.