Archive for the Hattie's (Saratoga NY) Category

Hattie’s

Posted in Hattie's (Saratoga NY) on August 8, 2009 by jaydel818

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45 Phila Street
Saratoga Springs, New York
518.584.4790
www.hattiesrestaurant.com

5 Second Summary
Price Range- Dinner entrees $13-22 , three-course price fixe menu $19.38 (at time of posting)
Ambiance- Cajun-country casual
Cuisine- Louisiana and Southern style
Hits- Gracious and affable Chef Jasper Alexander greets patrons tableside, soft shell crab, smashed potatoes, classic fried chicken
Misses- Service is super-friendly but busy

Hattie’s opens at five p.m., and at ten minutes to five there’s already a line of customers crawling halfway down the block.  Hattie’s doesn’t take reservations, so get there early or be prepared to wait!

Walking in, the checkered tablecloths and vintage-y storefront are an anachronism, taking you back to a 1960s country café more like Georgia’s Whistle Stop than a two-hour ride from New York City.   DSC04284

We were quickly ushered to the backyard garden: homey, pretty, and adorned with fresh flowers, bright red accents, and the occasional N’Awlins Mardi Gras mask.

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As we considered our appetizer options, we were hospitably treated to a basket of delicious biscuits and mild corn bread.

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We started off with an order of “Good ‘n’ Evil Wings,” a delicious spin on teriyaki and a delightful break from the traditional, hot-sauce-and-butter-base. CIA-alum Chef Jasper (formerly of Aureole, Gotham Bar and Grill, Gramercy Tavern) offers plump, juicy wings that smack of soy sauce, hoisin, and fish sauce with a secondary smokiness and a soft, on-the-finish heat.  They’re pretty unique, flavorful, and cooked to be juicy on the inside but not so crisp on the outside.DSC04275

Rich enjoyed the soft shell crab over a bed of greens with the house vinaigrette and almonds.DSC04278

We also tried the fried okra, which was prepared into perfect, bite-sized nuggets without a hint of bitterness.  Chef Jasper appeared at our table to ask how everything was, the first of a few very sociable rounds, and was kind enough to share with us the base for the lovely, light green cream that came with the okra: scallions, red wine vinegar, garlic, and homemade mayo.  Yum!DSC04276

A purist at heart, I had Hattie’s original (since 1938) recipe fried chicken, the very same fried chicken that beat Bobby Flay’s in a throwdown, with smashed Sheldon Farms potatoes and a cucumber salad.  Just a side note here since I can’t resist the lure of local foods: the Sheldon family has farmed varietal potatoes and sweet corn in Washington County since 1845, and they are committed to IPM (Integrated Pest Management, which reduces pesticide use), low-spray methods, and farm-chef relationships that promote New York food.  The potatoes were delicious and creamy.  My cucumber salad was sweet with a vinegar tang and red onion.  The chicken was moist and delicious with a buttermilky crust.DSC04281

Rich was torn between the fried catfish and the jerk chicken, and went with the latter at our waitress’ recommendation.  The chicken is free-range and naturally raised by family-owned-and-operated Misty Knoll Farms in Vermont, also committed to sustainable methods and humane conditions.  While incredibly tender, moist, and juicy, the chicken was served in natural chicken jus without –it seemed- the jerk paste it was supposed to come in.  The apologetic waitress bought Rich a beer and assured us we’d have tasted the scotch bonnet peppers if there were actually jerk paste; we chalked up the lack of jerk flavoring to an oversight in the kitchen.   Although Rich loved the texture of the chicken, he was a bit disappointed that he hadn’t gotten to taste the seasoning (although I was probably more than a little grateful since I don’t handle heat nearly as well as he does).DSC04279

Rich’s side dish was a generous helping of red beans and white rice.  The beans had a variety of spices that afforded a unique flavor: coriander, clove, nutmeg, and allspice (all courtesy of Chef Jasper’s generous ingredient sharing).   We really enjoyed the spices and their overall meatiness.DSC04280
Hattie’s four dessert offerings included three of my all-time, after-dinner favorites: pecan pie, sweet potato pie, and peach crisp.  (The non-favorite, fourth dessert –in case you were wondering- is chocolate lava cake.  Nothing against chocolate lava cake… it’s just not one of my top 5.)  Although stuffed, we shared a pecan pie, which was lovely and not too sweet.  The crust was light and buttery.  The filling was brown-sugar-and-buttery, but just enough to really let the pecan be the star of the show.DSC04286

You can feel good about eating local, sustainable food at Hattie’s and about supporting a local, historical institution.  The eponymous Hattie is an American dream story of a young woman who saved her pennies to open the Saratoga staple, 24-hour Hattie’s Chicken Shack, in 1938.  Her tenure endured the speakeasy days and she was known for giving jobs to otherwise-unemployable youths whom she generously fed, housed, helped through school, and nurtured.  Known for her egalitarian treatment of all people, Hattie welcomed everyone, and that tradition, hospitality, warmth, and kindness are carried over into the current ownership.DSC04285

We had a great time at Hattie’s.  While minor service details were sometimes overlooked (I had no fork when my entrée was served, for example), the people were really friendly, warm, and welcoming.  The chef made us feel like houseguests, and our waitress was knowledgeable and chatted with us.  The food isn’t finicky or plated to look like something out of the Met; it’s just down-home delicious… something you might have in the home of a good friend, who happens to be a really good chef.

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