So anyway, I was just perusing the real estate listings and I saw that the Carriage House Inn, the beautiful place on South Broadway with 14 rooms, is for sale. In fact it looks like it has been for sale since July. A cool $1.7 million, give or take, gets you the deed and keys to this classy property featured in the Youtube video below. Select Sotheby's has the listing here.
Just over two weeks ago, Margarita gave birth to our beautiful daughter Antonella Eva. Obviously, blogging comes way down the list after feeding her, diaper changes, reading to her and generally loving this precious gift that my wife and I have been waiting a long time for. So hopefully in the coming weeks I will fire up the ol' blog and start posting again - after all I have so much to say - but for now, fatherhood comes first. Take care folks - life is good!
Margarita and I recently had dinner at Jack Dillon's Farm To Fork Cuisine, the relatively new restaurant on South Boadway where the Big Apple restaurant previously was. The long and short of it is it's worth getting off the beaten path of downtown's Broadway and going to Jack Dillon's.
First of all, let's give former Siro's chef-owner Tom Dillon credit for having the confidence to go out and open a restaurant in a large building on Saratoga's restaurant skid row. In addition to the Big Apple, that location was the site of the brief stay of Morrissey’s and before that, the Joe Collins Restaurant for many years. It says here that Dillon still has what it takes to run a first-rate restaurant and it is so satifsying to patronize an establishment where the owner, and consequently the staff in both the front and back of the house, both have a cool confidence and know what they are doing.
It's great to have restaurants offer locally produced food, and I should note there are many Saratoga area restaurants that have been doing just that quite well for years. Jack Dillon's does it while offering a unique and pleasing overall experience with great service, presentation, and taste. This is a minor point but something I appreciated: even the bread service had a level of proficiency and thought to it.
Margarita ordered the fluke, which was breaded and pan fried with a tropical theme - it was served with a cooked banana still in the skin, and a mango, onion, and parsley salad. I ordered the wood fired salmon, which came with polenta and a remoulade. As you can see from the pictures above and below, they were presented beautifully and tasted as good as they look.
So venture out of downtown every now and again and try a restaurant or two in the outlying stretches. You might just like what you find.
For Steve Barnes' comments about Jack Dillon's on his Table Hopping blog, click here.
I want every new business in Saratoga to succeed. I go into Saratoga's new places with such high hopes and sometimes I'm encouraged, and sometimes I'm discouraged.
With that in mind, I hate to say it, but I'm not exactly feeling it with Alpha Dogs, the new hot dog place in that tiny little cave at 6 Phila Street that formerly housed among other things a bank vault, a laundromat, and most recently, a store selling high-end backpacks. My experience there wasn't awful, but if an entrepeneur is going to try to stake out a limited food niche then he/she better do it right and you better create future cravings so I keep coming back. Alpha Dogs did neither.
Don't get me wrong, it wasn't an awful experience. And they were only open about eight days when my wife Margarita decided she was in the mood for something quick for dinner, so maybe they will improve to the point that they do get it right and therefore create cravings in their customers. Time will tell I guess.
Part of the problem is that there is a stellar local hot dog chain called Ted's Hot Dogs in my home town of Buffalo. They broil their Sahlen's brand dogs over charcoal, and becuase Sahlens dogs are so delicious, they only need offer traditional toppings like relish, mustard, ketchup, sauerkraut, onions etc. It's the hot dog that's the center of attention, not a bunch of exotic ingredients. They handbread their onion rings and make real milk shakes. Suffice to say Ted's sets the bar high for other hot dog stands; my mouth is watering just thinking about a Ted's charbroiled hot dog.
Above: A Ted's in suburban Buffalo. Below: Some of Ted's hot dogs
Saratoga's Alpha Dogs offers a lot of creative ingredients for their dogs, which are cooked on an electric skillet. I had the “LA Street Dog,” a hot dog wrapped in bacon, deep-fried and topped with hot sauce, jalapenos and grilled onions, and Margarita got the “Tsunami Dog” with is a dog with teriyaki, grilled pineapple and green onions. The fries we ordered were undercooked and there was a pool of grease on the bottom - a result of not draining the grease properly and failing to briefly place and shake the fries on a paper transfer plate prior to serving. Like I said, I want it to succeed and they have been only open 8 days, but when a restaurant has a limited menu then they'd better get it right the first time or there may not be a second time.
The owners, Shelly and Mark Taber, are real nice and seem eager to please their customers. Perhaps the late night bar crowd won't be as discriminating, and along the way they'll improve to the point where they have a following. Or perhaps there is a niche to be filled for hot dogs with a lot of interesting ingredients. Because the place is so small, there is no seating available there so you have to take your food somewhere else to consume.