Slow Food Saratoga Region held its second monthly area restaurant dinner the other night at the Beekman Street Bistro in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. As the first, this was well attended with 23 members showing up to partake of the offer.
The idea behind this restaurant series is two-fold. One is to support and bring attention to area restaurants that provide good food and follow, purposely or not, the Slow Food credo of "good, clean and fair." The second is to provide our members with a good, well-valued meal in a convivial setting. For $35pp for members and $40pp for non-members inclusive of tax and tip for everything but beverages our members receive a three course meal with menu options. In addition, the restaurant may embellish the value by throwing in some additional bites.
The Beekman Street Bistro located in the formerly run-down Beekman Arts District of Saratoga has been around now for a few years, celebrating the fine produce of area farms and supplementing it with additional quality ingredients not otherwise available within the region. Though not an "Italian" restaurant, The Beekman Street Bistro, under chef/owner Tim Meaney has an Italian sensibility. The modus operandi is to take nice quality ingredients (preferably local and artisanal) and treat them simply to highlight their natural flavors. Set in one of the most aesthetically attractive dining rooms in the Saratoga region (there is an ever-changing display of some of the finest painting and photography of the area always on display), the style generally works, quite, quite well, especially when paired with its reasonably priced and interesting wine list.
Our group was arrayed along the long wall of the dining room taking up nearly all of the wall. With greetings and introductions at the 6:30PM start, guests took seats as they wished, with menus laid out at each place setting. Once beverages were ordered and delivered, the kitchen sent out plates of house made charcuterie including a rabbit terrine with rabbit from Wannabea Farm and Boudin Blanc accompanied by lovely little gherkins, toast pieces and mustard – all tasty morsels.This was followed a little bit later by more platters sent from the kitchen, these containing mussels bathed in a tarragon and shallot laced wine sauce. The only fault of the latter was a lack of bread to soak up the flavorful sauce.
The next two courses necessitated making choices from our menus. The first was a salad course. One choice was a beet salad with goat cheese and other delights. The other was a cabbage salad with bleu cheese, nuts, apples and currants. I ordered the latter which was a lovely, subtle, well balanced dish with the nice, crisp texture one would expect from fresh, shaved cabbage. My wife had the beet salad, which was also nicely done, highlighting the freshness and flavors of the produce.
Main course choices included a rabbit cassoulet, duck confit, striped bass and a pumpkin risotto. I had the cassoulet, which was good. The beautifully cooked, fresh striped bass and the succulent duck confit appeared to make everyone happy as well. I didn't see if anyone had ordered the risotto.
Dessert, a pumpkin upside down cake made for a perfect ending for this fine meal offering nice pumpkin flavor with just enough sweetness.
The next dinner in the series is scheduled for Wednesday March 11 at Chez Sophie in Saratoga Springs at 6:30PM. Make reservations directly with the restaurant and mention the Slow Food Dinner. Suggestions for or inquiries from Saratoga, N.Y. region restaurants that are consistent with the Slow Food mantra of "good, clean and fair" are welcome.