I am so charmed by Spindles on Remsen, a pocket-sized tapas and wine bar that opened last summer, with its charming casual dining room and thoughtfully prepared food. Everything Lisa and I ate tasted fabulous, service was friendly, and the prices were right.
Spindles is in a small storefront on a street struggling to attract and keep merchants. Judging by the crowd in the restaurant that night, I’d say they’re doing well. Perhaps it will encourage other businesses to move onto the block.
Our gritty cities are experiencing revivals, and Cohoes, while lagging, is starting to show some life. New apartment buildings join Harmony Mills, and impeccably restored homes gleam like gems.
Spindles has nine tables, a small seating area with sofas, and seats at the bar. Lisa and I took a two-top well away from the door. Our server brought menus right away.
Spindles on Remsen
WHERE: 241 Remsen St., Cohoes, 788-8613, spindlesonremsen.com.
WHEN: 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $35.50 (without wine and before tax and tip)
MORE INFO: Credit cards: Visa, Master Card, American Express, Discover. Wheelchair accessible. Accommodations made for children’s meals. Reservations accepted.
The music was plinky New Age and although the restaurant was almost full the noise level was comfortable, and the lights were turned down low.
The wine list has respectable, familiar names like Santa Margherita and Beringer and Stag’s Leap, and Spindles has assembled enough bottles under $35 so you can afford the luxury of choice here.
There’s one list of food, from warm rosemary cashews and spiced mixed olives (both $5.50) through seared duck ($15) and lollipop lamb chops ($14). They’re all small plates. We shared five between us, which provided a lot of variety.
Lisa started with the satisfying Southwest chicken soup ($4.50) with small white cornbread dumplings, corn, carrots, celery, and scallions in a light broth. “It reminds me of Southwest egg rolls, but fresher,” she said.
We shared an order of bruschetta ($7.50), slices of French bread piled with fresh chopped tomato, garlic and feta, drizzled with sweet, dark balsamic vinegar. The bread was toasted and the overall result was outstanding.
Next came sliders ($7.50), the best of all. Two hand-formed juicy beef patties were grilled until crispy, served with tomato, lettuce, and onion on a buttered and toasted roll.
A pile of hand-cut, salted shoestring fries was a tasty bonus. “It’s very hard to stop eating them,” said Lisa, dipping fries into the Dijon mayonnaise. “I absolutely love the mustard.”
The burgers’ crunchy crust had a flavor that brought back memories of summer, a treat for a frigid night. Two small perfectly constructed burgers and just enough skinny fries for $7.50 made for a very good deal.
Pizza tarts ($8.50) were not what we expected. Take tidy squares of puff pastry, top with basil pesto, mozzarella, grilled tomato, and bake. Or prosciutto and blue cheese with roasted red peppers and creamy bechamel sauce, or roasted mushrooms, spinach, and garlic with béchamel. The puff pastry makes it luxuriously rich.
It’s not pizza, it’s a tart. More sweet balsamic vinegar was drizzled over generously; the pesto, mozzarella and grilled tomato together were so Italian, but the buttery pastry raised the ante on richness. I loved it, Lisa not so much.
The desserts are homemade and carefully crafted. We shared a warm brownie with graham cracker and melted marshmallow — a grown-up s’more ($7.50). The caramelized, crispy marshmallow brought me right back to marshmallows jammed on sticks toasted outside.
We require food for fuel; Spindles reminds us that we’re lucky enough to have flavor and variety. There’s a spark of liveliness here, in the tidy storefront on the main street of this industrial city. Enjoy the delicious food and drink and help bring this worthy city back to life.