At the Table: Fifty South offers best of roadhouse and upscale dining

Almost always, time constraints require that our restaurant reviews be written on the basis of one v
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Almost always, time constraints require that our restaurant reviews be written on the basis of one visit. But, in the case of Fifty South, I was able to drop by a few times and get a better sense of the place and the food before putting fingers to keyboard.

Fifty South

WHERE: 2128 Doubleday Ave., Ballston Spa. Phone: 884-2926

when: 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday; 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday

HOW MUCH: $47.82

more INFO: All major credit cards. Handicapped accessible Children’s menu available.

So this is a slight departure from our conventional reviews following a dîner à deux.

From the outside, Fifty South looks like an ordinary roadhouse sitting along Route 50. Inside, there is a full-service bar to the left where you can sit in a booth or at the bar, and there is a separate dining room that wraps around the bar.

Kim Klopstock, owner of the Lily and the Rose Catering Co., has created both diner and fine dining establishment at Fifty South where you can get a short stack of pancakes with eggs and bacon all day long or, at dinner time, you can choose dishes such as pan-seared duck breast over wild rice with Asian orange sauce or perhaps the Lily and the Rose’s signature crab cake with the house remoulade. You can’t go wrong either way, based on my visits.

Specials and more

One of the interesting things about Fifty South’s menu is that there are no dinner entrees listed, but nightly dinner specials are offered such as pork loin or roasted turkey. But you can also get inventive on your own, which is what I chose to do, and sample the interesting “twisted tapas” Klopstock offers.

There is, for example, a rack of lamb served in a martini glass with mashed sweet potatoes and demi-glace ($14 for the tapa size or $21 if you size it up for dinner, which means four little chops instead of two).

This dish was particularly pleasing. The lamb portions, while tiny, were really nicely done with a grilled crisp exterior and pink, flavorful inside. After gnawing the bones clean, I wished I had upsized my order. The mashed sweet potatoes were delicious, not doctored up with brown sugar that I could tell but simply mashed with a little butter and, as a result, quite enjoyable. The demi-glace was a nice complement to both the meat and the sweet potatoes.

The menu describes the lamb as “New Zealand,” but generally, the philosophy here is to use locally grown and organic ingredients whenever possible.

Fifty South also offers wheat-free, vegetarian and vegan dishes and invites diners to phone ahead to indicate special dietary needs.

Appetizers and tapas are available after 4:30 p.m. Appetizers include hand-cut calamari served with the house tomato sauce or a zesty cocktail sauce ($12), or the previously mentioned six-ounce crab cake with remoulade ($10).

Pot stickers

I particularly enjoyed Fifty South’s take on pot stickers ($8), little golden-brown turnovers plumped with ground pork and shredded vegetable fillings and served with a light Asian dipping sauce. I was unsure where the bite came from — the innards of the pot sticker or the sauce, but there was definitely a little zip to this appetizer, which I found to be quite delightful.

The tapas also include a pan-seared tuna served rare over wasabi mashed potatoes with steamed snow peas, baby bok choy and sesame ginger Asian sauce ($14), or you can order the appetizer size, which is slightly smaller and served over seaweed salad with a wasabi cream ($8). The salmon tapa is a maple-glazed Tasmanian salmon, the menu reads, served on red bliss wasabi mashed potatoes topped with sauteed seasonable vegetables ($13).

You can also order a Thai shrimp bowl, described as three colossal shrimp over rice noodles, Asian sauce, snow peas, baby bok choy and cashews ($13). All of these can be upsized to dinners if you’re not tempted by the night’s specials.

Lunch visit

On a recent visit for lunch, the special was a roast turkey dinner with all the trimmings, but I wanted red meat and chose the charbroiled cheeseburger, 8 ounces of coarse ground beef with cheddar cheese and a side of french fries ($8). It was served on a grilled roll with tomato slices and lettuce, and was perfectly medium rare, as I had ordered. The exterior of the burger was nicely charbroiled with a great outdoor grill flavor and the inside flavorful and juicy, what a good burger should be.

Fifty South offers a range of breakfast foods, available at any time, including “create your own” omelets, house home fries and breakfast sandwiches. They have a light menu served from 11 a.m. that features soups of the day, salads (including a blackened steak salad for $10) and a variety of sandwiches, mostly traditional.

The prices are quite reasonable. The recent dinner and lunch I described came to a total of only $47.82 with tax and tip. The staff was very friendly and helpful

I resisted trying the desserts, but not because they weren’t tempting, especially the sampler of three desserts for $10, the meringues with fresh fruit and the cheesecake with three-berry sauce.

NAPKIN NOTES

On my last visit to Fifty South, there was a birthday party going on in the bar where revelers were having a great time singing with a karoake machine. At least three different times, the staff apologized to me needlessly because of the noise coming from the bar, though it really didn’t bother me at all. It was nice to hear people having a good time without behaving too badly. It did make me wonder, though, why it always seems to be that the world’s worst singers hog the microphone for much of the evening.

Categories: Food, Life and Arts

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