At the Table: Indulge is pleasant destination to yield to temptation

At Indulge in Latham, on one of the last clear evenings of the summer, there was a breeze that broug


WHERE: 181 Troy-Schenectady Road, Latham. 220-9900,

WHEN: Monday to Saturday, 4 to 10 p.m.; Sunday 3 to 9 p.m.

HOW MUCH: $123.15, with tax and tip

MORE INFO: Wheelchair accessible. Children’s menu. Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover, Diner’s Club

At Indulge in Latham, on one of the last clear evenings of the summer, there was a breeze that brought with it the promise of chilly nights and cozy suppers to come. My companion Mary and I passed a pleasant evening there, in good company and with good food.

The restaurant is much bigger than it appears as you approach from the highway. There are three dining rooms, a large bar area and a patio. They don’t crowd the tables in the dining room, which I like, and the new owners warmed up the voluminous spaces with black ceiling tiles, dark carpet and muted classic colors.

The tables are dressed in black and cream, candles flicker about the place, and the crystal-trimmed window treatments add a bit of pizzazz. With its widely spaced tables, soft tinkly music and carefully subdued atmosphere, Indulge is a good first-date restaurant.

The menu is not too long, which tells me that they’d rather do a few things well. Seafood, beef, chicken, pork and veal were represented on the summer menu, along with a vegetarian option. I saw two steaks (14-ounce ribeye and filet mignon) and chicken Parm, popular choices that some people expect wherever they dine out, which is a smart move.

Wine pairings

Thank you, Indulge, for the wine pairings. Beneath the description of each entree is a reasonably-priced wine suggestion, available by the glass. You don’t feel obligated to order a whole bottle to appreciate the effort that went into matching the wine with the food. And you might discover something you really like.

Indulge gets serious points for offering some dishes in small plates. That night, three of the 10 entrees were available in two sizes. “I had the small sized scallops last time,” said Mary, “and that was plenty.”

Mary started with the French onion soup ($9), which was remarkably good, the broth exceptional in its sweetness. Melty cheese trailed slender strings from a bowl chock-full of onions. There was just enough bread on top, she said, to enjoy without filling you up.

Indulge uses those privacy bowls for salad; you know, the deep ones that angle toward the diner. Mary said her Caesar salad ($9), with optional anchovies, had plenty of dressing. She approved of the thin slices of toasted crostini in place of croutons.

My mom makes a warm spinach salad and Indulge does too ($9). Her recipe uses bacon, theirs calls for pancetta, and they’re both good. She instructs you to pour the warm sauce over the spinach, cover the bowl and wait a few minutes for it to wilt. That’s exactly how my salad was, with the addition of just enough cannellini beans to spear with the dainty leaves. The red vinaigrette lightly coated the spinach and pooled in the bottom of the bowl.

Pleasant palate cleanser

We enjoyed the lemon sorbet offered to cleanse the palate before the main course. The petite glass dishes were icy and frost-covered, which made it especially refreshing.

Indulge kept our table cleared and water glasses filled, and the server was helpful without being overbearing. She apologized that our entrees were delayed, and we could see she meant it.

The chicken wasn’t available in either large or small sizes that night, so I ordered the pan-seared halibut ($24). There was a square thick piece of halibut, like a steak, stacked atop haricots vert stacked upon saffron-flavored jasmine rice.

Let me start with the sauce, a swoon-inducing lemon buerre blanc. A buerre blanc is a classic French reduction of wine, vinegar and shallots into which chunks of cold butter are whisked until the sauce is velvety and thick. It looked gorgeous puddled on the glossy black plate, and as it seeped under the rice, the lemon flavor softened the saffron a bit. The fish was pleasantly crispy at the corners and moist within. Microgreens, which are exactly what you think they are, garnished the dish and had a vegetal flavor that put me in mind of a greenhouse on a summer day.

It’s a shame to deconstruct a handsomely arranged dish, but I had to tease the haricots vert out of the pile. The sauce, which I rationed, completed the fish. The dish was nicely composed and well executed, but the focus ended up being on the saffron.

Pork osso bucco

Mary was enjoying her more memorable meal, the braised pork osso bucco ($26) with wild mushrooms. “The risotto is a meal in itself,” she said, “and good enough to stand on its own.”

The tender meat came away easily from the bone, and she mixed it with the rice. White truffle oil, more perfume than flavor, added richness and depth to the dish. She brought at least half home.

The dining room was filled by the time we finished our entrees, and our server brought the dessert tray in good time to make up for the earlier wait. Soon we were settled down with the last course.

Mary had a tidy round serving of chocolate mousse ($8), and enjoyed the two sauces painted on the plate, especially the raspberry reduction. Like the lemon tart ($8) I enjoyed, it was light, full of flavor and not too sweet. The carefully mounded, luxurious whipped cream was almost as thick as mousse; on my dessert, it incorporated enough of the abundant fluffs of lemon peel to make me think it was similarly flavored.

It was a leisurely but very pleasant meal, and I was glad when the server returned my credit card promptly. The tab for dinner, with an iced tea and tip, came to $123.15.

Autumn is under way, with all the harvest goodness it implies. Spend a cool, cozy evening at the restaurant in comfortable surroundings and allow yourself to be indulged.

Categories: Food, Life and Arts

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