Table Talk: Black Watch Steakhouse
By Blaze Marshall
Friday, April 1, 2011
Talk about renovating one restaurant into another and you would have to have experienced the transformation of Bill Brown’s Fiddleheads into the new Black Watch restaurant. It is simply amazing!
Talk again about the resurgence of downtown Glens Falls as a dining destination and you must include Jason and Susan Baker’s Black Watch near the top of the list.
Fiddleheads was always one of my favorites. Bill Brown put his heart and soul into making it one of downtown’s classiest dining spots. A homey, friendly atmosphere with top notch crab cakes, probably caught in his own boat. I suspect he tired of the daily grind. He did what he did best, and yearned to capture the great outdoors, particularly fishing.
Along came the Baker’s who had a restaurant in Greenwich and the Black Watch was born.
The storefront entrance belies the classy interior with a large suitcase, a menu board and yes, some Black Watch wallpaper, and a bottle of wine.
To the left of the hostess stand, a full bar now winds its way around the downstairs dining room hallway. The lower level dining room has not changed much. The brick wall is still exposed, wood table tops and some classy paintings are also familiar.
Upstairs is the new “Tower Room,” formerly the Brown’s apartment. A carpeted staircase leads to the 8 or 10 tables appointed with fresh linens and candlelight. Upscale dining with a service bar and even a coach for waiting or perhaps desserts.
Two hostesses greeted us at the door and we were escorted to our table upstairs. The dining room was full and we were promptly welcomed again by Jessica, our waitress-in-waiting.
Jessica delivered some warm rolls, menus and ice water. The rolls were accompanied by a tureen of soft parsley-chive butter that was a knockout. NASCAR Nut and I devoured them in less than a lap.
The Black Watch menu exudes local, fresh, farm raised ingredients and creativity. There are a la carte steak selections, entrees and a chef’s tasting menu available with or without wine pairings in 5, 7, and 11 course varieties. They are priced accordingly.
Tonight’s farm du jour offering was a 26 oz. steak called a “Tomahawk.” We were able to observe this interesting cut being sliced tableside by our neighbors. It was shaped as such; thick bone-in and I heard raves from the nearby patrons.
Appetizers range from a whitefish and crab cake to a braised pork belly with caramelized onion relish, orange emulsion and smoked bacon. There are also shucked oysters, a shrimp cocktail and a beef-trio consisting of Carpaccio, tartare and black and blue.
Salad choices include caesar, chilled root veggies and chevre as well as fresh mozzarella. Also offered is an interesting lobster bisque with pumpkin seed, pumpkin oil and pumpkin butter. How about that for a special on Halloween?!
NASCAR Nut, Companion and I chose two caesars and a Bibb and Brie for our salad choices. The latter consisting of Argyle’s Little Field Farm bibb lettuce, pancetta crisp, roth case buttermilk blue cheese and dollops of tomato brown butter vinaigrette.
Our caesars were cold mixed greens, slivers of domestic romaine, a white anchovy and roasted garlic vinaigrette. The mild white anchovy kicked it up a notch but the dressing was very light, hardly noticeable. We asked for crushed black pepper but Jessica said it was not available and delivered two shakers of salt and pepper to our table.
Miss Picky Eater chose her usual steak from a selection of ribeye, New York strip, filet, porterhouse 16/32 oz. and a Kobe flat iron 8 oz. She opted for the 10 oz. filet.
NASCAR ordered a side of house made gnocchi, done perfectly to accompany his filet which he declared “One of the very best ever.” Tender, juicy and plump done just right medium as ordered.
Miss Picky Eater however ordered her filet well done, yet had to send it back as it was served medium rare. Perhaps the chef is sending a message that steak is at its finest not well done. In the meantime she enjoyed a one-pound olive oil baked russet potato. The second time her filet was delivered it was brown throughout and well charred on the outside. Miss Picky Eater was pleased.
Companion’s 12 oz. New York strip au poivre was dry aged, very flavorful and cooked to perfection. It had a little more than its share of fat but we all agreed her dog Gumby would be pleased with the leftovers. It was accompanied by crusted fingerlings, charred leeks and mushrooms.
Yours Truly received his osso buco of limousine veal in a steaming covered tureen. Three very generous cuts swimming in a tomato and saffron broth, fennel and aromatics. This was a true delight! For my sides, I enjoyed fresh carrots, fingerling potatoes and pearl onions. A great presentation and great experience.
We also shared a side of asparagus with banyuls hollandaise. Although this is one of the veggie a la carte selections for one, it is generous enough to feed two. The menu also includes other creative entrees of filet Oscar, a pork rib chop, crusted rack of lamb, diver scallops and a Freebird Farm half roasted chicken amongst others.
NASCAR Nut and Companion split a rather ordinary crème brulee with some wonderful fresh roasted coffee.
Jessica delivered very friendly, professional and caring service throughout dinner. I have but one regret and that is that I wish I had asked for more rolls with that wonderful butter! I was pleased we were able to garner a table in the “Tower Room.”
The new Black Watch is a classy, professional and interesting culinary journey. Two levels of dining is a challenge for the wait staff but the “runners” delivered. Jason Baker; the chef and his wife Susan; the pastry chef, have brought to Glens Falls another level of dining experience.
That downtown is tasting better all the time!