The Algonquin, a popular dining spot on Lake George, is worth a visit if only for the great dockside view of Huddle Bay with its mist-shrouded islands and foraging ducks, but the food would make it a worthwhile destination even if there were no view.
We made the trek up Route 9N on the west side of the lake on a rainy Sunday. The Algonquin doesn’t take reservations unless you’re planning to dine in their upscale Topside Prime Steakhouse where young children and bathing suits are verboten. We were looking for a more democratic crowd and arrived to find the place bustling, but the hostess was able to accommodate us almost immediately.
WHERE: 4770 Lake Shore Drive, Bolton Landing. Phone 644-9442
WHEN: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily until Columbus Day.
HOW MUCH: $112.47
MORE INFO: All major credit cards accepted. Children’s menu available. Handicapped accessible.
We got a table on a covered veranda with an excellent view of the lake, so close to the water that one guest was able to toss bits of a roll to the little ducks paddling in the water alongside the docks. Part of the allure of The Algonquin is that you can arrive by car or by boat, as a number of customers did during our visit there.
The restaurant draws an eclectic crowd from locals to “summer people,” and it’s a family-friendly place. There were lots of young children dining with their parents during our visit, notably one young man who was digging industriously into a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs.
There’s a full-service bar and you can have wine, beer or cocktails with your meal. Besides the regular menu, there are daily specials and a soup du jour. Chef Keith Scott, a Culinary Institute of America graduate who owns the place with partner Brad Irvine, serves some creative dishes and some very good appetizers.
Besides standards such as shrimp cocktails and crabcakes, he features a very good chicken liver pate (Duchess pate, $7.96) served in a generous mound encircled by toast points and paper-thin slices of Bermuda onion. It’s easily enough for three or four people, depending on your appetite.
We also sampled the stuffed mushrooms ($9.50), which I found surprisingly good. I’m accustomed to a bland rendition, mostly filled with breadcrumbs, but these were succulent and flavorful with morsels of shrimp in the stuffing.
The steamed clams also were a treat, a dozen or more of them done to perfection and served with drawn butter for dipping.
Before our appetizers arrived, we were treated to a generous basket of warm rolls, some plain and some studded with sun-dried tomatoes. They were excellent and, as I mentioned, the ducks enjoyed them, too. I could have eaten more than one but I didn’t want to spoil my appetite for the main event, and there were the appetizers and salads to consider as well.
The Algonquin bills its bone-in New York strip steak ($28.99) as its signature dish, and so I decided to try that. It was a good-sized char-broiled hunk of beef (a pound) and I especially enjoyed the bone-in aspect because meat is always better when cooked with the bone. I ordered medium rare and it was close to what I expected. The steak arrived with asparagus spears and a massive baked russet potato with butter and sour cream. This was not a meal for the faint of heart.
My dinner guest opted for an interesting take on salmon — Blackened Salmon Oscar ($24.99). It had the traditional accompaniments that “Oscar” suggests — asparagus and a crabmeat stuffing with Bernaise sauce, but the fillet was nicely charred. I readily accepted the invitation to try it and found the crust delicious and the inside sweet and succulent. I would happily order this dish. It was accompanied by a rice pilaf that my guest pronounced quite good.
Before our entrees, we were served garden salads, generous bowls of mixed greens, grape tomatoes and, in my case, a wonderful dressing that was generously studded with bite-sized morsels of blue cheese.
Do I need to tell you we had no interest in dessert?
The Algonquin is open for lunch as well as dinner and you can keep it as simple as a cheese burger with fries. Sandwiches include a lobster roll for $13.99 and for an interesting vegetarian offering called Black Mountain Point — marinated eggplant with spinach, mozzarella cheese, roasted red peppers and sun-dried tomato aioli for $9.50.
Appetizer choices also include a baked brie with fresh fruit for $9.95 and a hummus plate for $8.95.
Besides lobster and crab legs, the seafood choices include pan-seared diver scallops served over fresh spinach with asparagus, grape tomatoes and crimini mushrooms for $24.99.
And steak offerings feature a Veal Edward, which the menu describes as sautéed medallions of veal served with crimini mushrooms and artichokes, all topped with a lemon butter sauce for $23.99.
I scanned the menu for the Topside Prime Steakhouse, The Algonquin’s fine dining room, and found a few different selections and only slightly higher prices.
Our tab for entrees, appetizers, sodas and three appetizers came to $112.47, including tax and tip.
We were especially impressed by the service. Our server was friendly and helpful and managed to keep us happy throughout our visit, even though the place was swamped.
The owners of The Algonquin, Chef Keith Scott and partner Brad Irvine, are hoping to open a second fine-dining establishment in Glens Falls. They have plans to renovate the old McEachron mansion on Ridge Street, which is owned by the city and for years was used as a health center where children were taken for free vaccinations. Nonprofit agencies also found space there over the years. It’s a beautiful old building with great expanses of hardwood flooring and would seem to be an ideal place for a restaurant. We’ll keep you posted.