Table Talk: Rene’s Restaurant
By Blaze Marshall
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
I was one of many who was disappointed when Chef Rene’ Plattner shut down his restaurant near Loon Lake several years ago. A visit to the quaint farmhouse was a special night out and always worth the trip. My Albany hotelier, Jack Hoffman, and I made many trips together to soak up the atmosphere, perhaps even have a few scotches with Rene’ and savor his French inspired menu.
Well, he’s back!! Smaller, but as good as ever, Rene and his son have teamed up in a former small home to open up…you guessed it, Rene’s Restaurant. Tucked in between two small residences on Elm Street, diners are invited to share one of only seven tables in the former home’s living room and dining room.
Rene’ has put his sweat and hopes into converting this spot into a cozy, casual setting. He and his son work behind curtains cut through an open wall into the kitchen. His own artwork adorns the walls.
There is no bar; diners can bring their own alcohol if they so choose and will be supplied with the proper glassware, ice and buckets. Rene’s serves lunch and dinner and from what I understand also does a brisk take-out business to the nearby medical centers.
Carol is the lone waitress on Thursdays, with Dawn for the remainder of the week. Both are energetic, knowledgeable and outgoing ladies who bring a lot to your overall dining experience.
Our party of four went on a recent snowy Saturday and found all the tables reserved, each with a name card attached. There are four 4-tops and three deuces in the two tiny rooms, yet the tables are spaced to provide adequate room to listen and chat!
Dawn asked if we brought beverages and supplied us with wine and pilsner glasses as well as a round of ice water. She returned immediately with menus, a platter of fresh hummus and a cup of extra virgin olive oil for dipping slices of French bread.
Thankfully, Rene’s menu mirrors his former features; his Swiss potato and leek soup, roast duckling and Austrian Weiner Schnitzel. There is lobster bisque, Greek salad and Swedish gravlax (fish) for starters as well. Other apps were goat cheese, tomato and portobello bruschetta and oriental shrimp with chicken dumplings.
Entrée choices include roast pork tenderloin wrapped with prosciutto, pulled pork BBQ, grilled chicken breast with feta, salmon en croute, macadamia nut and sesame tuna as well as grilled New York strip steak. Almost all entrees, salads and appetizers are offered in two sizes.
Our CPA teammates quaffed down Ithaca pale ales, while Companion and I enjoyed a Wyatt’s pinot noir from Oregon; a truly delicious red with a soft, mellow finish.
I opened with Rene’s Swiss potatoes and leek soup; it was rich and creamy with shredded cheddar and diced fresh leeks, and steaming hot. A nice opening for a wintry, snowy night.
The others enjoyed the small house salad that was larger than most, with baby mixed greens, apples, cucumbers, grapes and toasted walnuts, accompanied by some wonderful parsley vinaigrette on the side.
Ms. CPA, who almost rivals Miss Picky Eater as a discerning diner, chose a veggie burger made with bulgur wheat, walnuts and pinto beans with lime mayo on Tuscan bread. This rather unique dish came with some wonderful garlic mashed potatoes.
Mr. CPA, who loves to cook and eat, dug into a generous portion of grilled chicken and shrimp with fennel, leeks and asparagus in a roasted garlic tomato sauce over creamy parmesan risotto. He was more than pleased!
Constant Companion’s “Yummy” set the tone for her special dish of salmon, wrapped in prosciutto with spinach and bowtie pasta.
I stuck with another of Rene’s signature dishes, enjoying two large, tender veal cutlets Weiner Schnitzel blanketed with panko breading in a light demi glaze over homemade spaetzle. Next time I’ll request Schnitzel ala Holstein, with a sunny side egg, capers and anchovies. However, it was great plain with just a hint of lemon.
Rene’s was out of our first choice for dessert; bread pudding, but still had tiramisu mousse, chocolate raspberry cheesecake and crème brulee. We were completely satisfied, too much so to delve into dessert, so we passed for another time.
The evening was a great success. Dawn was a gem, running about but never a pause in her friendliness and attentiveness. The food was excellent and very reasonably priced, especially considering the lack of any alcoholic beverages. The lighting could use a slight upgrade, and perhaps the fine quality of the offerings deserves more than paper napkins.
Rene’ loves to play golf and he’s hit an eagle on Elm Street. Great to see him back in his own place, doing what he truly loves. And we love it too!!
As I write this review, I am saddened by the passing of John W. ‘Jack’ Gates on Wed. December 26, 2012. He was the owner of Jack’s Bistro in Queensbury and worked many years for the DeSantis family at Howard Johnson’s and the Red Coach. I and many will forever remember Jack as friendly, caring, knowledgeable and a major contributor to our local hospitality industry.