272 Main Street North Creek, NY 12853
518 251 0199
Last night, as we were driving from our dinner at barVino in North Creek back to Schroon Lake, we were trying to put our finger on the reason we like barVino as much as we do. We came up with quite a few reasons.
When we arrived for dinner at 6:30 we were greeted by a familiar face behind the bar. Jeremy was working the stick during his teacher's summer recess. We had last seen him when he worked summers at another favorite haunt – The Owl at Twilight in nearby Minerva. We settled in for dinner at the bar, and anticipated the arrival of the evening's entertainment, a Jazz quartet due to arrive at 8 PM. barVino features live jazz on Wednesday evenings. The Tony Jenkins Jazz Trip was featured last night.
barVino opened a few years back, and very quickly became one of our favorites. They specialize in “small plates” - tapas style. The establishment also offers a large selection of wines by the glass and draft beers. A special board on the wall highlights the nightly discounted offerings. Jeremy persuaded us to try a glass of Ca'Donini Pinot Grigio for only $4 per glass. Coincidentally, I had this wine on my shopping list, having been introduced to it last month at Aroma Osteria in Wappingers Falls. I sensed the presence of Greg Taylor, wine merchant for Frederick Wildman, who is the wholesaler for this value conscious label. I think Greg had a hand in setting up the original wine selections at barVino, and you couldn't ask for more knowledgeable guidance. Years ago his Friends Lake Inn wine cellar helped put the area on the culinary map. barVino's list is a wonderful collection of affordable selections focusing on no particular region, but always interesting and very reasonably priced. A retail wine store next to the restaurant offers wine to take home if you find something you like.
We usually go out of our way to try something we have not tried before, and have not been disappointed. On a past visit we tried the El Coto Viura – a white Rioja offered at $6 per glass or by the bottle at $18. Also on the list is an Arboleda Chardonnay from Chile ($7/$23), a Michel Torino Pinot Noir from Argentina ($7/$24), A Wishing Tree Shiraz from Australia ($6/$18) and everyone's new favorite wine – Malbec from Argentina, a Don David offered at $8/$25.
My Pinot Grigio went perfectly with our starter selections of Marcona almonds, roasted and sprinkled with sea salt ($5) sauteed spinach tossed with raisins, pine nuts, and asiago cheese $(9), and a bowl of steamed shrimp ($7), cooked in shell with Old Bay seasoning and served with a cocktail sauce. Since it was ninety something degrees outside I was hoping, and assuming, that the shrimp would be served chilled, especially since they were served with a spicy cocktail sauce. As it turned out, they were served piping hot, which was a surprise. It turned out to be a pleasant surprise. I didn't think a spicy cocktail sauce would go well with a spicy “crab boil” preparation of shrimp, but it was just fantastic.
A winter time dish that is not on the summer menu is worth mentioning. A white bean soup with spicy chorizo sausage is a wonderful way to warm up after a day at Gore. Also worthy of note are the potatoes – which seem to alternate between two choices. Last night we were offered frites ($4). Frites are the bistro version of french fries. The frites that we are served at many restaurants are – well – we'll not go there. We only think happy thoughts on this blog. These frites are frites – hand cut, then fried to a perfect golden brown crispy exterior with a moist flavorful center, sprinkled with parmigiano reggiano, and heaped in a bowl that will easily feed two or three (hungry) people.
The second potato choice, which was not on last night's menu are tater tots. Yes, tater tots. I know what you are thinking, and you are wrong. I have wonderful childhood memories of tater tots. That is because tater tots were one of very few dishes that my mother could properly cook. (I learned to cook as an act of self defense, and self preservation.) When I first tried barVino's tater tots, I actually called over the chef, and asked him if he was somehow trying to replicate the tater tots of my youth, or if these were the original frozen item. He leaned over the bar towards me, and whispered, sotto voce, “you don't mess with perfection”. I totally agree. Tater tots are the perfect food (and they are, after all, a vegetable).
barVino is a wonderful addition in North Creek. The town seems to be enjoying a renaissance. The Copperfield has reopened with another new restaurant. The farmers market draws crowds on Thursdays. Laurie's Hudson River Trading Company is still one of our favorite destinations for gifts and home furnishings with a north country theme. Cafe Sarah is considered by many to be the best cafe - bakery in the area. Bar Vino is one more good reason to visit the town. The food is great, the atmosphere is casual, welcoming, and fun. And they add that one extra ingredient that makes a place special – the owners seem to be genuinely nice people. How nice? On a recent visit one of the owners spent a goodly amount of time trying to convince us that we should go across the street and try the new restaurant at the Copperfield – Lorenzo's. How nice is that?
A follow up blog post about barVino can be found here:
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