Don’t Miss These Tips for Track Season in Saratoga

The thoroughbred racetrack in Saratoga Springs is said to be one of the most beautiful racetracks in the country, if not the world. For some of us, it’s a quick drive, but others come to the area just for the racing season. If you are visiting Saratoga this season, here are some local insights.

If you are like me, you want to enjoy a nice cigar. The best place to buy cigars in Saratoga Springs is the The Adirondack Cigar Shoppe. They have a great selection of cigars and a friendly, knowledgeable staff. You can enjoy a cigar in their comfortable lounge or take your cigar with you to the racetrack or next door to Gaffney’s outdoor patio to enjoy a cocktail and some music.

Staying at a hotel or renting a house and you need to stock your own bar? You need to visit Purdy’s Discount Wine and Liquor. There is an abundance of choices and the prices are the best in Saratoga Springs.

While at the track, I have two favorite places to eat. The first is Pies on Wheels. The Chef/Owner is David Britton. For many years, he was the Chef/Owner of Springwater Bistro on Union Avenue in Saratoga Springs. If you like thin, crispy artisan pizza, you will love Pies on Wheels. In the mood for the best burger at the track? Look no further than Shake Shack. The only Shake Shack in New York, north of Woodbury is open at the racetrack, only during racing season. I’m hoping they will open a year round location soon, but in the meantime, this is a must during racing season.

Ladies, if you are gearing up for a night on the town and you need a blow-out or an updo, my favorite is Simplicity, A Salon. There are lots of reasons to love this salon. The stylists all stay current on products, trends and techniques. The salon is conveniently located in the bottom floor of the Embassy Suites, so there is plenty of parking and you can even book your appointment on line!

Saratoga Polo is the second oldest polo field in the United States. The matches are on Fridays and Sundays at 5:30 p.m. so it’s the perfect place to continue the equine experience. There are two ways to enjoy polo. The General Admission side is laid back and casual. You park your car right on the side of the field and host your own tailgate party. The VIP side is more of the “Pretty Woman” experience. Spectators dress to impress, there are box seats and tables, complete with food and beverage service. After the third chucker (think of it like half-time), no matter what side you sit on, be sure to help repair the field, by stomping the divots. At the end of the match, there is a ceremony for the winners and the runners up, (there are no losers in polo!). You can watch the The Noble Art of Sabrage as they open a bottle of champagne with a sword!

If you are looking to stock up on provisions or some great “grab and go” meals to bring back to your hotel or rental home, I recommend The Fresh Market or Healthy Living Market. Both have a great selection of cheeses, meats, seafood, produce, snacks and beers. They also both have complete meals already prepared that you can take with you. Healthy Living also has a wine and liquor store and a big gluten free section.

There are so many great restaurants in Saratoga Springs, too many to mention, something for everyone. If you need a recommendation in Saratoga Springs, message me I will help you chose one to fit what you are looking for. They are all hopping during racing season, so here are a few places to visit if you want to avoid the crowds.

Just a short ride, in neighboring Ballston Spa is Sunset Cafe. This Southwest fusion restaurant is known for smoked chicken and salmon, pulled pork, brisket, corn chowder and killer Margaritas.

Slightly farther South in the Village of Round Lake is Lake Ridge Restaurant. Stop on the way to the track for lunch or after the track for dinner. The menu has something for everyone and everything is delicious! Their wine, beer and cocktail menu is reason enough to visit, but my favorite thing is the Artichoke Souffle.

If you are in the mood for classically prepared French cuisine, head just a few minutes north to Chez Pierre. This hidden gem has a neon replica of the Eiffel Tower out front and food is decadent. Be sure to save room for the Crepes Suzette, prepared table side, for dessert. If you are lucky, you may even get to hear Pierrette, one of the owners sing for you in her native tongue.

Venture a little farther North and you will be in my neck of the woods, Glens Falls. There a several great restaurants to chose from but one of my favorites is Morgan and Company. The setting is an old mansion, converted into a restaurant. They have the most incredible outdoor dining porch, complete with an outdoor bar. The entrees change seasonally and I’ve never had anything I didn’t love, but my favorite thing to do is sit at the bar and enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail and share some appetizers. I love the glazed spare ribs, the sea salt fries and the hummus platter.

If you would like more of my secret spots or recommendations, message me, and I will be happy to help. If you would like to rent a house for a weekend, a week or the season in Saratoga Springs, I can help with that as well.

Cheers!

Renee’s….when a mistake becomes the Next Great Thing

Prosciutto wrapped Pork Tenderloin served over fresh spaetzle with a chablis apple glaze
Prosciutto wrapped Pork Tenderloin served over fresh spaetzle with a chablis apple glaze
I recently watched the Netflix documentary, “Cooked”. In one of the episodes, they talked about the history of bread. The story goes that someone accidentally left a bowl of porridge out overnight. The mixture fermented and rose and they decided to bake it. Bread was born.

In Saratoga Springs, NY, in the 1800’s at Moon’s Lake house a cranky customer ordered the hand cut french fries. When the fries arrived the customer sent them back because they were not cut thin enough. The cook, George Crum, cut a new order of fries, thinner this time. The customer sent them back again. This time, an angry George, cut the potatoes paper thin and dropped them in the oil and left them there until they were hard, then, covered them in salt. He planned for and presumed them to be inedible. Instead the cranky guest loved them and the “Saratoga Chip” was born.

Last Friday night my guy and I went out for dinner at Rene’s on Elm Street in Glens Falls. We love Rene’s, it’s off the beaten path. The restaurant is only open five nights a week, three hours a night and they only have 7 tables. They also don’t have a liquor license so we can bring our own beer and wine.

We have our routine. We pack the cooler bag with a bottle of wine for me and few bottles of beer for Jeff walk over to Sandy’s Clam Bar for a pre-dinner cocktail. Hey, it’s on the way. After we chat with our favorite bartenders, we walk the rest of the way to Rene’s.

The food there is always amazing and the menu changes seasonally, although the favorites like the Weiner Schnitzel and the Ahi Tuna consistently appear. We know we always have to save room to at least share a dessert. The desserts at Renee’s are not to be missed. Friday night we decided to split a dessert. We were torn between the Coconut Creme Brûlée and the Chocolate Pots de Creme. I asked Jeff to choose and he picked the Creme Brûlée. When the dessert arrived, together we cracked at the Brûléed top and dug in. We were talking and enjoying each other’s company, as well as this delicious creamy dessert. Well, a few bites in we realized we weren’t eating Creme Brûlée. The kitchen had accidentally Brûléed the the Pots de Creme!!! We couldn’t believe how delicious it was! We are regulars in the restaurant, so we called our server over to let her know, in case the next people didn’t find it as amazing as we did. She went into the kitchen and let them know. One of the other servers was helping in the kitchen and she came out to apologize. We told her there was no need, it was our new favorite dessert. We all had a good laugh. Check out Rene’s You will be glad you did. It’s one of the best kept secrets in Glens Falls.

Incredible music and a “Sweaty Gug”

The music scene at Gugs
The music scene at Gugs
First you have to find Gugs. It’s almost like an underground club. It’s not near any other bars in Glens Falls. There’s not a big sign outside. Other than a postage stamp size ad in the Glens Falls Chronicle that mentions the music line up, there is no advertising. It’s not a bar you would stumble upon, you have to actually go looking for it. The bar has been there for decades, with the ownership passing from one generation to the next. It started out as a store over 100 years ago and then became a restaurant in 1932. The current owner. Mike Rios has been operating the bar since 1989.

The crowd at Gugs, you won’t find anywhere else. It’s a eclectic group of mostly 20 and 30 somethings. There are a few 40 and 50 somethings that have been going there for years to see Mike. He is the perfect bar owner, friendly, remembers your name, great to talk to and he really cares about the patrons.

I think to to fully appreciate Gugs you have to fully appreciate the music scene. The music scene has a very cool vibe. There’s a open mic night on Wednesdays that packs them in. Some really talented musicians show up to entertain. Every Friday and Saturday night there is also live music. Sometimes one band, sometimes two or three. Sometimes some really well known local and national acts play there under a pseudonym. You never really know what you will hear, but you always know it will be good.

Then there’s the Sweaty Gug. It’s a shot. They make them by the pitcher, in advance, so you never are really sure what’s in a Sweaty Gug. You can’t go there and not have one. It’s an unspoken rule. It tastes pretty sweet, but it sure packs a punch. Drinks are reasonably priced and the crowd, though lively, is well mannered.

Hungry? Guys only serves one thing, the Gug’s Ham Sandwich. The ham is baked on site, hand sliced and piled on Villa Bread (another Glens Falls icon) topped with a spicy secret recipe sauce, sharp cheddar cheese and pickles. They may only serve one thing, but they do it well!!!

So where is Gugs, you ask? It’s a 18 Haskell Ave in Glens Falls. Here’s the catch though……it’s only open from the night before Thanksgiving through April 20th (4-20), every year. The reason is the other family business, The Ridge Terrace, is open from May to October. That’s a topic for another blog post.

Turnkey restaurant opportunity in Saratoga Springs, NY
Turnkey restaurant opportunity in Saratoga Springs, NY