Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Wine Bar

Saturday night my date and I decided to try out The Wine Bar, at the recommendation of a reader. I hadn't been for years so I was excited to go back to the swanky broadway restaurant. When we first walked in the first thing I saw was the bar. It was a beautiful, sophisticated bar that took up about half of the space. There was also a small seating area and a side room for those who like to enjoy a cigar with their wine. There was something about the set up that made me wonder if The Wine Bar was more of a lounge than a restaurant? Maybe a place to come for drinks and appetizers rather than dinner?

I thought this again when I looked at the menu. You sort of have to guess what is a full entree by looking at the prices. I thought the categories of Earth, Land and Sea were very clever, but I had a difficult time figuring out what I wanted to eat that would be enough for dinner. The wine menu on the other hand was very helpful, the descriptions of the wines made it easy for me to figure out which glass of white to choose. I ended up with a glass of Wine By Joe, a pinot gris from Oregon (yes, I picked it largely in part for the name).

Now I know everyone knows what a glass of wine looks like, but I wanted to also show you the beautiful purple flower on the sleek black table, very sexy. The theme of the decor was black and deep purple (which also happened to be the color of my dress so I blended right in), creating a very intimate and sensual feel. The intimacy was taken down a notch though when we were seated, the way our table are angled my date was rubbing elbows with our neighbor, oh well. 

We started off our meal with warm olives and complimentary home made crackers. The crackers were salty and savory (rosemary I think?) and we quickly went through those. We also devoured the olives before I could remember to take a picture. Sorry about that, they were good though I promise. 

My date ended up getting two small plates and started off his meal with the Romaine Salad.

The salad was fresh and flavorful, it's always good to eat raw onion on a romantic date. I was a little confused though - the feta, red onions and olives made me think of a greek salad, but the light lemony dressing tasted like Caesar dressing? Curious. 

After the Salad he got the Duck Procuitto. This came with fig paste, apple slices, candied pecans, and camermbert cheese. (the apple and pecans were not on the menu though, so careful with allergies!)

So I'm not much for duck, but apples, fig paste and soft cheese are enough to win me over! I can only imagine that the strong flavor of the duck would just add to the already decadent tastes happening on that plate. He said he wasn't, but I think that I may have still been hungry after those two small plates, especially when you're dining with someone who likes to take half your salad...

I ended up getting an order of the scallops (entree size for this hungry girl) that came with a meyer lemon-arugula risotto. 

The scallops were amazing, perfectly pan seared and seasoned. The risotto however I was not a big fan of. It was a bit too peppery for my taste and I would have preferred another way to enjoy the sweet tang of meyer lemons other than those big slivers of zest, both for flavor and texture reasons. 

For dessert we got something unbelievable. Almond Creme Caramel with sour cherries.

Now this was my first experience with sour cherries, and I am a true convert. They were tart and sweet and amazing...perfectly paired with the creme caramel. I didn't taste much of the almond, but that certainly did not mean that the dessert was lacking, all of the flavors were perfectly balanced. This was a light dessert that was the perfect end to the meal, a touch of sweetness without the overly full feeling that some desserts can give you. 

When we were deciding what dessert to order, I noticed something curious. On the back of my date's dessert menu was a menu for "pasta night", leftover from a night before. There were three amazing looking pasta dishes, all priced for $10. Of course we immediately asked our very friendly waitress. She said that every Wednesday is pasta night, and that you can check their Facebook page to see what's being served that night. How exciting, who knew! She also informed us of their happy hour which is weekdays from 4-6. It sounded like they have different specials for happy hour as well which are worth checking out. 

Overall The Wine Bar was a great experience, though next time we go I think it will be for classy drinks and small plates. It didn't seem quite like the right venue for an intimate dinner, definitely more suited for throwing on some fancy clothes and meeting up with friends or someone special you're trying to impress. While you're there, you can save yourself $8 with your Spa City coupon, hopefully that will make a small dent in your most-likely-to-be-steep check. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Guest Post on One Caroline

Hey guys, here's a guest post from Dan at Fun in Saratoga. He and his wife went to One Caroline and it sounds like they had a pretty amazing dinner!

My wife and I went to One Caroline Wednesday night for dinner and I don’t know what we enjoyed more, the great food or the outstanding entertainment. I would recommend the place based on either attribute.

I had the salmon special which was tasty and certainly filling; it came with I guess a type of salsa that included a healthy supply of kidney beans. I sure got my protein for the evening. Margarita had the Cataplana, which can be best described as a Portuguese version of Paella. Both dishes were great and the Cataplana gets extra points. Even the bread was great -hot and crusty right from the oven. The service was excellent as well - our server Stefanie seemed to be there every time we needed her to be.

I mentioned the really talented band, Masters of Nostalgia, with owner David Pedinotti leading with some guest singing from his daughter Sarah, which really made the whole experience a great night. We will be back on a Wednesday again because I think the Masters of Nostalgia plays every Wednesday. They were not only talented and fun, but their play list was great as well - it was a mix of what seemed to be mostly American roots rock and roll - some Petty, Eagles, The band, Rick James - I think I heard a song with that rockabilly beat when I was walking in. OK, maybe not Rick James but…. I hate the fact that I have no pictures for this post because one of the best things about Aliza’s blog is her vivid pictures of the food. Forgive me Aliza - but how about you go to One Caroline and get some pictures for this - you will take better ones than me anyway!

With that review I think I have to go to One Caroline (with my camera haha), it sounds like a delicious experience. When you go, don't forget to bring your Spa City Pack Coupon and get two meals for the price of one!

Thursday, April 12, 2012


When my friend and I walked in to Gaffney's for lunch, the first thing I noticed was suits. Lots of suits. Everyone in there was dressed to impress, I had no idea that Gaffney's was such a hot spot for business folk to grab some lunch. Normally I think of the bar crowd - the drunk college kids and free but slightly stale popcorn at the door. I was excited to see Gaffney's as more of a restaurant and check out what they had to offer in terms of food.

When we walked in it was one of those awkward situations where we didn't know if we should just sit down or if we had to wait to be seated or what. After lingering for a little while by the front door the waitress said hello and pointed at one of the empty tables. We didn't really see much of our waitress, I think she was the only one there and she was running around from table to table. I'm pretty sure when she came to take our order she said something like "alright so what do you want today?". Don't get me wrong, she was very nice, maybe they just needed another waitress to help out?

Looking at the classic American menu, I was impressed that there were as many vegetarian options as there were. My friend got the eggplant special which was stacked eggplant with mozzarella and spinach over spaghetti.

I could have gone for a little more sauce but overall the dish was pretty good (and a great price, I think our bill totaled up to $14!). I was also impressed by the amount of food she got, sometimes lunch entrees are on the smaller side but I thought it was the perfect amount of food to get you going again for your afternoon. Eggplant and mozzarella with pasta is such a great comfort food, it always hits the spot.

I ended up getting the Grilled Portobello Mushroom that was big chunks of grilled mushroom on ciabatta with caramelized onions and gorgonzola. It also came with a side salad that I got with sun dried tomato vinaigrette.

I really enjoyed this dish, I thought it was full of flavor and extremely filling. I was so full I barely even touched the salad, but I was still excited about the sun dried tomato dressing. So even though I really liked this dish I feel like it's important that I talk about what happened next. And by next I mean until about ten o'clock that night. I don't know what it was about the dish, but my stomach was all sorts of funky for the rest of the day. I know I normally have a fairly sensitive stomach, but this was definitely more than your average indigestion after a meal. Nothing tasted like it had gone bad or anything, maybe the cheese was a little off? Whatever it was, it certainly put a damper on the rest of my day.

Because of that, I may have to wait a little while before going back to Gaffney's. It's a shame because the price was right and there were a lot of other things on the menu that I would have loved to try. I was particularly eyeing a lot of their appetizers, it looked like a fun place to go after work with friends and order a bunch of small plates for the table along with a healthy amount of beer. If you check out the first post I ever wrote for Savoring Saratoga I talked about how much I liked their calamari and happy hour. Oh well Gaffney's, once my stomach has recuperated I'll try back again.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


I've always heard people raving about Cantina, and I had been there a couple times before on what must have been off nights, so I thought I would give it another shot. I love the atmosphere of this place, the exposed brick walls and the punched tin candle holders, all very trendy and inviting. I went with two other friends at around 4:30 for a very early dinner/very late lunch. While we waited for the third friend to get there, my one friend and I ordered a couple drinks to go with our complimentary chips and salsa. The chips were deliciously fried and could handle some serious salsa dipping - always a plus. The salsa itself was fresh and flavorful, on the milder side to cater to all sorts of tastes.

My friend got a margarita that was very well made with that strong kick of tequila that warms you up with the first sip.

Nothing says warm weather like a good margarita!

Myself on the other hand...I'm sad to say I got one of the worst white sangrias I've ever had.

It was so watered down, there was literally no taste to it. Not to mention none of the fresh fruit (other than the orange slice) that I've always thought makes sangria such a special drink. Though I hated to do it, I sent back my sangria for another one. When I got my second one the waitress said that the bartender made this one without the sprite. Is there normally sprite in sangria? Regardless, even without the sprite, the sangria was still watered down and disappointing.

After getting the second drink and still not digging it, I was hoping that the appetizers we ordered would help make up for the sangria. We ordered guacamole and the cactus fries. I was particularly curious about the fries, I don't think I've ever had cactus before, have you?

The guacamole was pretty good, nothing too exciting and certainly not worth the almost ten dollars we paid for it, but dependably good guac. The fries on the other hand...those were VERY exciting! They were spicy and juicy and fried to perfection. I'm trying to think of what to compare cactus to, but it's really in a category of its own, you might just have to try it for yourself. It also came with a spicy aioli, but I was eating the fries without the sauce, they can really hold their own.

One of my friends got a cup of black bean soup and the special salad as her main meal. The black bean soup was similar to the guacamole - good but not knock your socks off great.

I did love the cream on top though, that was definitely a nice touch.

The salad was avocado, cucumber, and tomatoes in a light dressing. I thought this was a great refreshing summer salad, but maybe would have been better suited as a side dish? It was just a lot to have a whole plate of it.

I went for a salad as well and got the Taco Salad with shrimp instead of chicken which cost me an extra $2 but was worth it, I love grilled shrimp on salads. I have to say though, as much as I love the presentation of salad in a taco bowl, it's so hard to figure out how to go about eating it...

Doesn't that look pretty? This salad has avocado, corn, black beans, cheese, jalepenos and tortilla strips (and chicken or shrimp) with a rancho dressing. This is an extremely filling salad and even though I ate as much of it as I possibly could, I had plenty leftover for the next day's lunch. I liked the spicy kick of the dressing and jalepenos matched with the sweetness of the corn and mild Mexican cheese. This salad was definitely a winner.

The last dish ordered was the Roast Duck Taquitos, normally an appetizer but my friend ordered it as an entree since we had already gotten two appetizers. When they came out she was pretty disappointed that they were deep fried, the menu said the taquitos are wrapped in corn tortillas but didn't mention that they were fried. Oh well, lesson learned.

Do those edges look a little burnt to you? What I loved about this dish was the blackberry-habanero salsa, it had complex flavors of sweetness with a burning (in a good way) aftertaste to it. I don't know if Cantina uses this salsa with other dishes, but I know that I would definitely order something with blackberry-habanero goodness. The salsa was the saving grace of the taquitos though, my friend ended the meal far from satisfied.

I have to say, I was fairly disappointed with Cantina. I know a lot of people like going there for drinks, but after that sangria experience I don't think I'll be going back any time soon. I like the feel of the place and I wouldn't mind having those fries and the Taco Salad again, but it was overpriced for the overall quality of food. I wasn't impressed much by anything but the fries and salad, and a restaurant needs more than that to make a good impression.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


So earlier this week I wrote a guest post on lunch at Wheatfields for fellow blogger Dan at Fun in Saratoga, you should check it out! His blog has got all sorts of great information about Saratoga. While you're at it, if Wheatfields is looking good to you, you should revisit the week of specials I told you about, Wheatfields has one almost every day!

And while I have your attention, I thought I would take the time to ask you guys if there are any restaurants that you would want to see reviewed? Do you have a favorite restaurant that I haven't gone to yet? Is there a restaurant that you think needs to get their act together? Is there a new restaurant that you're curious about? Let me know!