I love the Lake Placid area. I think it goes back to my days at Paul Smith’s college. I travel there for work and I usually stay at the Courtyard by Marriott so there is no kitchen in the room. That means I have to explore the many restaurants the area has to offer. Among my favorites is Liquids and Solids at the The Handlebar.
I first learned about this restaurant when I participated in a panel discussion at my alma mater, Paul Smith’s College. I learned the Chef is a Paul Smith grad, so I knew I had to give it a try. A true Gastropub, Liquids and Solids has an ever changing menu for food as well as drinks, wines by the glass and beer. The choices change so often that the menu is printed on computer paper and presented on a clipboard to each diner.
My companions and I set forth on this culinary adventure with a completely open mind. We chose three “liquids”. My choice the Balsamic Fizz Vodka (Strawberry Juice, basil, balsamic vinegar, soda water and pineapple juice) was refreshing and surprisingly not too sweet, garnished with a peppered lemon slice. One of my companions ordered the Sweet Manhattan (Blantons, stout jam, apple syrup, sweet vermouth and cherry bitters), a little too sweet for his taste, but still wonderfully blended and delicious with a pear peel garnish. My other companion opted for a non-alcoholic beverage, Lavender Soda (Lavender syrup, apple cider, pineapple mango juice and soda water). It was wonderfully fragrant and flavorful.
We ordered a tableful of food to share and our server brought it out in stages so we could savor each dish. First we had the Fried Brussel Sprouts, crispy, perfectly season and topped with a fried egg. The Potatoes with Smoked Ham, Honey Mustard, Shallots and Cheddar was the only disappointment. It lacked the smokiness I was hoping for and the potatoes were too large. The 5 Oysters with Duck Confit and Kimchi however, was a dynamic flavor explosion of sweet oysters and crispy confit.
The next round started with Chicken Liver Creme Brûlée served with root vegetable chips, red onion and cran-orange jam. An odd combination, but it all worked together. The sweetness from the brûlée with the savory chicken liver and the salty root chips made this my favorite dish of the night. We found it was important to have a little of everything in each bite. Then there was the Pork and Pumpkin Chili Apple Cheddar Pie with sour cream and pickled jalapeños. I know this may look like a typo, but I can assure you that this crazy combination worked. It’s like all your favorite Thanksgiving side dishes mixed with pork instead of turkey and all in one dish.
Oh, and then there was the Grits, broccoli rabe, shrimp, bread crumbs, crispy kale and romesco sauce. Creamy grits with succulent shrimp with the added depth of the crispy kale. So many different textures keep you going back for more. The last dish was a pasta dish. Wild mushrooms, bacon, salmon, peashoots, and egg yolk served over ribbon like fettucine. It was an interesting take on Fettucine Carbonara. The wood plank smokiness of the salmon was a exceptional addition to the this dish.
We couldn’t possibly end the meal with out dessert, but we had so much food that we decided to split two desserts between the three of us. I thought for sure the Chocolate Stout Cake with hopped frosting and and stout syrup would be my favorite. It was certainly rich and decadent, but a little bitter. On the other hand, the Almost Milk Bar and the PBJ Pannacotta was that kind of knock you socks off, have to have it again dessert. The peanut butter flavor was in the oats of the milk bar and the jelly flavor was part of the panna cotta. I, of course enjoyed my dessert with a nice single malt. The perfect ending to an incredible meal.
There are plenty of restaurants in Lake Placid that have typical fare. But if you are looking for an adventure for you palate, Liquids and Solids is the place to go.