Welcome to our list of favorite dining destinations in New York's Hudson Valley and Adirondack regions. We visit restaurants, wineries, barbecues, and a smattering of off the beaten path culinary destinations like maple sugar shacks and fromageries. My friends and I have been dining out together weekly for over twenty years. The locations we write about are our favorite destinations. We are not claiming they are the best, just our favorites. The posts are not "reviews" in the classic sense. - we offer only our picks, not pans. We will leave the criticism to others. We are a happy blog. We much prefer a good bistro to "haute cuisine", especially if they also have a nice bar. We prefer a crock of cassoulet and a bottle of Beaujolais to just about anything else. If you enjoy simple home style rustic cooking with a decent (but not too expensive) bottle of wine, then pull up a chair and join us.

This Month's "Well Said!"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

Ferran Andria

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Bistro Tallulah - Glens Falls, NY

Bistro Tallulah
26 Ridge Street
Glens Falls, NY

Reservations 518 793 2004

The following is an update on our last post about Bistro Tallulah from September 18, 2010.
It was one of those nights when you really should not be on the road unless you have a good reason. My phone was buzzing regularly with updates on the winter storm warning. We were already in Glens Falls after taking in an afternoon screening of True Grit, and we had made 7 PM reservations for dinner. I parked the car in front of City Hall and sloshed my way up Ridge Street, expecting to find an empty restaurant. Silly me. We took our favorite two seats at the bar, which were the last two seats, and settled in. The place was rocking, as it does on any normal Friday night. What's a little snow in the north country?

From our perches at the bar we had a nice view of Chef Proprietor Shawn Whalen's kitchen. Our waiter, Bill greeted us as soon as we had taken off our coats. There was no bartender on duty, possibly because of the weather, so Bill was covering the bar diners in addition to his station in the dining room. He never missed a beat. As he offered menus and a wine list, he rattled off the evening's specials, and made three suggestions for wines to complement them, all of which he had sampled and highly recommended. I noticed that the three wines he mentioned were among the lower priced wines on the list. The more often we eat here, the more we like it. The wait staff is one of the reasons. Friendly, professional, and helpful without being overbearing, they really do seem to enjoy working here.  (and they don't push you to "order up" on the wine list.)

We went with Bill's first wine suggestion from the La Stoppa winery in Emiglia Romagna - a peppery red barbera and bonarda (also called croatina) blend from Gutturnio in Italy's Colli Piacentini region. It's a very well made wine for the money at $36. It retails around $20.

Bistro Tallulah offers most of its menu as small or large plates, eliminating the need for a regular appetizer listing. They do offer appetizer specials, and one of last night's offerings was a “fried oyster” salad pairing the shellfish with a tossed arugula, dressed with a vinaigrette dressing, with just a hint of bacon fat in the dressing for flavor. This is my kind of salad, and not as heavy as it sounds. The oysters were lighter-than-air and arranged around the arugula like pinwheel. They could have flown off the plate. Mary opted for the beet salad, served with arugula, shaved fennel, sliced Bermuda onions, and tossed with a pomegranate molasses vinaigrette.

The regular menu includes one of my all time favorite bistro classics – veal sweetbreads. Diners have the choice of a small plate for $12, or a full dinner portion for $23. The sweetbreads are dusted with an herb spiked flour, pan fried to a delicate, crispy golden brown, and plated with a luscious veal au jus infused with roasted garlic and portobello mushrooms. Alongside you will find a puree of celeriac and Yukon Gold mashed potato laced with blue cheese and a tiny pile of freshly sauteed vegetables – a perfect baby carrot, asparagus spears, and crispy al dente green beans. If you are a fan of sweetbreads you will be hard pressed to find a better rendition than Bistro Tallulah's dish. This is as good as it gets.

Another bistro classic is a roasted chicken ($11 / $21), but Chef Whalen's version is anything but your “basic” chicken. The hind quarters are seared with a little olive oil and then slow roasted with pancetta, olives, tomatoes, fennel, onions and carrots. All of those flavors come together beautifully in the end result which is falling off the bone into your sides of creamy polenta and grilled asparagus. The polenta is even better than the chicken.

Dining with a large crowd is the best way to enjoy the menu here. We'll order lots of small plates and pass them around. The moules frites or the hanger steak and frites are two ways to get more frites, which are one good reason to come here. Ditto the roast suckling pig, which is one of my favorites. A sample menu from the restaurant can be found here.

Bistro Tallulah has quickly established itself as one of the best restaurants in the area, and certainly one of the best values. The combination of Chef Whalen's interesting and well prepared twists on bistro classics, a solid friendly waitstaff, a well thought out and fairly priced wine list, and a casual upbeat atmosphere, are all reasons that it has become one of our favorites.
Our prior post about Bistro Tallulah can be found here.

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