At the Table: Black Watch Steakhouse offers good food, solid service

The Black Watch regiment fought valiantly at Ticonderoga in 1758, and the more recently, the Black W

Black Watch Steakhouse

WHERE: 21 Ridge St., Glens Falls. Phone 792-5225.

WHEN: 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday

HOW MUCH: $113.23, with drinks, tax, and tip

MORE INFO: Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover. Parking on street, two municipal lots nearby. Accommodations made for children. Wheelchair accessible.

The Black Watch regiment fought valiantly at Ticonderoga in 1758, and the more recently, the Black Watch supported U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The owners of the Black Watch Steakhouse in Glens Falls hope to keep alive their history and honor all veterans, their website says.

Like the regiment at Ticonderoga, the restaurant is battling, too. Some tweaking is needed, but it is doing some things very well.

The lobby, with its black-and-white tile floor, polished wood and high ceiling, feels historic. To the left, a cozy bar beckons. Straight ahead, though, were carpeted stairs, and the hostess was halfway up them.

“Mom, are you OK with the stairs?” I asked. “Fine, fine,” she replied gamely. The stairs turn and open into a light-colored room with glossy caramel wood trim, lots of beige napery and Mission-style modern light fixtures. It’s pleasant and attractive, but not what I’d expected of a steakhouse.

There is a dining room on the first floor along the hallway past the bar, and a trip to the ladies’ room revealed it to be mostly empty. Next time, I’ll request a table on the first floor.

When I returned from my exploratory visit, I checked the basket to find freshly made bread. The sweet butter was what I’d expect to find.

A bit of everything

We both liked the simple menu — which features a few appetizers that showcase their beef. It’s easy to read, with steaks and a la carte sides on one page, specialty dishes and a few entrees on another. There’s a little of everything, and options are built in to give the chefs the flexibility to use their best seasonal ingredients and show off a bit.

We thought the steak prices were very reasonable — considerably lower than at the premier steak houses in the Capital Region.

Mom just returned from Baltimore, where she sampled crab cakes at every meal but breakfast. The Black Watch version ($9) was better, she said, more delicate and flavorful.

The greens got her approval as well. Fluffy local mesclun with orange sections was dressed lightly and seasoned with fennel. The remoulade had a nice horseradish bite, she said.

There was a good variety of greens in my Black Watch salad ($8), which was presented with crisp pancetta and local feta cheese. It was dressed just right with a sharpish vinaigrette that had a hint of mustard. The feta held its own against it, but the bacon got lost. Lovely salad, though.

Mom’s steak au poivre ($25) had finely ground pepper dusting the meat that got almost obscured in the cooking.

While the steak was cooked as asked, a long strip of gristle had to be excised, and a bulky steak knife added to the difficulty. “There’s no pepper on here,” said Mom, but I found it on the leftovers; little specks, finely ground and fragrant. I thought the leftover steak was delicious.

“The mushrooms are so good,” she said, and we both approved of the seared white onion, which was firm but cooked enough to give it some sweetness. Lovely fingerling potatoes were halved and browned, but the flavor wasn’t compelling. I took a bite and didn’t want another.

Mixed grill

The mixed grill ($29) features homemade pork sausage, a “premium cut of beef” and the chef’s selection, accompanied by delectably creamy risotto with fresh corn and smoky bacon. The selection was a delicate quail. The small steak was fanned to show off the expert cooking.

This premium cut of beef was lean, but velvety demi-glace helped it out. The fennel flavor present in the dressing earlier in the meal might have punched up the house-made, juicy pork sausage (points for grill marks at 90-degree angles). The tiny bird had dark meat, with crisp skin that was the most delicious thing I had all evening; it was perfect. Risotto: ditto.

Now, here I must comment on the quality of the service: It was low-key and professional throughout our visit.

There are many kinds of single-malt Scotch available, as you might expect, but we just had dessert. The desserts are house-made and all very reasonably priced at $7.

Slight deviations

Ours deviated from their menu descriptions, but not in unpleasant ways. Mom’s cheesecake was supposed to come with raspberry coulis; freshly made caramel was substituted. My chocolate mousse was missing its whipped cream; instead, it was topped with something sweet.

The cheesecake was dense, with excellent flavor and a cinnamon scented graham cracker crust. The mousse was fluffy and sweet, making the topping unnecessary. They are an excellent value for the price.

The noble Black Watch is valiantly working out its bugs, but its bones are good, as evidenced by the top-quality, local provisions, well-thought-out menu and solid service. Watch the Black Watch; it will only get better.

Categories: Food, Life and Arts

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