Table Talk: Mouzon House
By Blaze Marshall
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
A bad day at the track ends by everyone rushing home! A good day at the track ends with dinner, to celebrate with good friends and unexpected earnings at a Spa City restaurant.
Any trip to Saratoga brings back fond memories of my childhood, growing up in the forties and fifties when there were illegal gaming casinos like Piping Rock and Meadowbrook, infamous Congress Street with brothels and a Broadway dotted with huge hotels like the United States and Grand Union.
I shined shoes on the corner of Broadway and Caroline Street. Stewarts opened one of their first stores on Church Street and Convention Hall hosted professional basketball. Governor Dewey shut down the casinos, the police chief was indicted, the great hotels burned along with Convention Hall and I went off to college at Boston University.
The city is much different today. It is more upscale, cosmopolitan, busy year-round and somewhat pricey. Yet with these changes, it is very successful as a beautiful, vibrant community that offers an assortment of choices for residents and visitors alike.
There’s no lack of things to do, from the parks, racing and museums to shopping, SPAC and the Racino. Not lost among all those choices are the wonderful dining options.
Our gang of five chose the day before Travers to attend the track. Ms. Planning USA secured us a box from NYRA and we gathered with great hope and expectations. If anyone’s favorite number was “2,” this was your day. The pick six was 2-2-2-2-2-6 and favorites ruled the turf and dirt.
Some won, some lost, but we wanted to extend our great time and chose the Mouzon House. This huge former residence has been transformed into a great dining destination by Dave Pedinotti; also owner of one of Saratoga’s favorite jazz-dining combos, One Caroline Street.
The Mouzon House is located near High Rock Park, next to one of the cities huge parking lots. It was packed upon our arrival. Risking a ticket, I chose a spot next to the grass lawn, and happily saw four other vehicles immediately follow. Now I am safe!
Sounds of bluegrass from the Mouzon House’s outdoor patio drifted across the lot, compliments of the band Street Corner Holler. We announced our arrival to the hostess but chose to ‘have a touch’ on the patio before entering.
It’s a nifty little niche, with a small outdoor bar, a sofa and some chairs and the band sitting almost hillside. We had a round of drinks highlighted by a couple of glasses of St. Michelle Riesling and a Jim Beam and coke for Mr. Homemaker. At our reserved time, the hostess seated us promptly at a nice table for six as we were joined by the Latecomer; Ms. Office Pro’s spouse.
The interior is very cozy and warm. The home is much as it was with ornate chandeliers and art work. The dining area has wonderful appointed tables with linen, silver and candlelight adding to the ambiance. There is a small outdoor porch for dining as well. An indoor bar is barren for the summer months as patrons are favoring the outdoors. A good choice!
Pauline, a seasoned member of the wait staff, arrived tableside with menus and perhaps the lengthiest, most knowledgeable and concise description of her favorite menu items that I have heard. Without missing a beat she covered every menu special and more, to the delight of our entire entourage.
The Mouzon House is a farm-to-table restaurant featuring produce, herbs and entrees from over sixteen local farms. To start, there is an interesting cheese, sausage and pate platter, bruschetta, a chef’s gumbo, and a local berry salad with chevre cheese.
The evening’s special included bouillabaisse, grilled flat iron steak, chilled melon and yogurt soup as well as a mixed grill. Nightly entrees include a shrimp creole, a Napoleon dish of fresh pasta, cheese, onions, mushrooms and tomato drizzled with oil.
We began with hearty helpings of wonderful Porreca’s Italian bread with herbed olive oil for dipping, along with some great Lucky Star Pinot Noir.
Our shared starters were highly varied including my most often selected Caesar salad. Mouzon House’s Caesar consists of crisp romaine, Saratoga sliced apples and Willow Marsh Farm cheddar slices. Interesting and very good.
We also shared some crawfish beignets, drizzled with remoulade sauce as well as a great beet and chevre cheese salad. Four huge, fresh oysters on the half shell with a spicy cocktail sauce pleased Ms. Planner USA.
Mr. Landlord was drawn to a platter of shrimp Creole for his entrée; four huge prawns sautéed and served in a mildly spicy tomato sauce over white rice.
Ms. Office Pro enjoyed a baked haddock filet finished with pork bouillon, tomato, onions and garlic over white rice. A sure thing!
The Bachelor loved his Sap Bush Hollow Farm pan roasted chicken breast, anointed with a Marchand de Vin sauce over truffle potatoes.
Latecomer Dave had the house mixed grill consisting of quail, pulled pork, wild boar and a mild pork sausage. His entrée was accompanied by cole slaw and smashed potatoes. Enough for two!
Ms. Planner USA chose warmed sliced beets with chevre cheese, risotto and a medley of vegetables. She’s not a vegetarian but the combination interested her and she loved her choice.
Yours Truly took on a platter of golden fried chicken, all moist dark meat and boneless, served over sweet potatoes and some wonderful collard greens. A great combo.
None of our party of six had room for dessert, but Pauline again provided thoroughly detailed descriptions of the enticing offerings. However, no bets on that race!
Service was impeccable, and the music outdoors helped lend a festive atmosphere through the dining room only half filled throughout this busy night at the Spa.
The entire experience; the track, the box seats, dining out and renewing friendships made the day special.
The Mouzon House, the location, ambiance and creative menu are very special. It’s about as close to a ‘sure thing’ that you’ll find in the Spa City.