At the Table: Haan Lao at Bound by Fate serving up Lao cuisine in relaxed, historic setting

Clockwise from top left: Red coconut curry with shrimp; chicken salad with Jasmine rice; a glass of wine on the deck; and tamarind fries at Haan Lao at Bound by Fate in Schuylerville.
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Clockwise from top left: Red coconut curry with shrimp; chicken salad with Jasmine rice; a glass of wine on the deck; and tamarind fries at Haan Lao at Bound by Fate in Schuylerville.

SCHUYLERVILLE — This is different. Bound by Fate is a licensed New York state farm brewery, and almost incidentally, there is food.

There was buzz about the place, but the focus seemed to be on the beer, with a menu too modest to merit a visit.

Well, there’s a proper restaurant now, Haan Lao, and it’s something new to our area: Lao cuisine. We went, and I didn’t even think about beer.

Schuylerville native Brett Demler and Pam Pradachith-Demler met while at Columbia University. They explored New York City and the San Francisco Bay area before deciding home was the best place to raise a family and start a brewery. The three Demler brothers and Pam are co-founders of Bound by Fate.

Their original plan was derailed by the pandemic and their business shuttered in 2020. They made the best of it — expanding the taproom, selling beer to go — and they built a kitchen.

Two years later, they opened Haan Lao. Pam’s dream was to share the flavors and heritage of her homeland.

Amy and I were delighted by the setting, an old hotel building broken up into first-floor businesses with a wide porch that wraps around.

We were pleasantly surprised to find the porch go on and on, overlooking a pond and park area in the back. Party lights were ready to go when it got dark.

We parked on state Route 29 in a shady spot and walked the short distance past a row of well-kept annuals on Ferry Street. You can park in the post office lot and there’s space behind the building. Just don’t park in the tenants’ spaces.

There was a warm welcome from a gentleman in a backwards baseball cap who stood behind the bar before we even had a chance to check out the place. Exposed brick walls and wood floor make the place look historic and venerable.

You can pick up New York state labeled beer, wine and spirits to-go from the coolers, and there’s plenty of merch for sale nearby. It’s relaxed, open, comfortable and clean-looking.

The business has posted a code of conduct stating they respect employees, vendors and customers, and will hold each to respecting all as well. It guarantees a safe and welcome community. No haters.

We settled at a long, narrow table in the rear, facing the pond. “The narrow tables are good for groups,” Amy observed. “It’s easier to have a conversation across the table.”

There are higher tables and lower ones and long ones, stools without backs and chairs with backs. There’s lots of room to spread out on the endless porch.

“This is no taproom menu,” Amy said. All dishes are given their Lao name as well. It’s limited, but a lot of it sounds appealing.

There are small plates, salads and larger plates. The fry vat supplies crispy chicken wings ($12) and crispy cauliflower ($10). Try papaya salad or crispy fried rice salad ($14); for something more substantial, there are ribs ($14) and roast chicken ($16).

You can choose your protein (beef, chicken, shrimp, tofu) for some dishes, increasing the vegetarian options.

We headed back to the bar to put in our order and get some sunlit ruby Cabernet Franc from the Raphael winery on Long Island ($9). They gave us a number to display and we headed back to enjoy our wine.

The menu informs you that Lao food is eaten communally, hence the long, large tables. The food comes out as it’s ready, and don’t be afraid to eat with your hands, Lao-style.

We didn’t wait long before a nice person brought it all out. The plates were beautifully presented, with lots of fresh herbs and vegetables adding color. All elements were neatly cut and arranged, with different textures and ingredients adding interest.

We shared the tamarind fries ($10), eye-candy browned, skin-on potatoes dusted with salt and tamarind powder, something new to us. The sweet and sour flavor didn’t mask the potatoes; instead, it perked up our taste buds. We liked the tangy kick. Two sauces, one tomato-based and one creamy, were both strongly flavorful.

Spring rolls ($8) are their most popular item, and we could see why. The crispy, cigar-shaped rolls are filled with pork and vegetables such as taro, cabbage, mushroom and bean thread noodle.

The sweet and sour chili sauce is at first super sweet, then offset by chili flakes that add their own personality and heat.

Tellingly, the sauces are in small portions because they pack a big punch. You don’t need a lot. The flavors are intense, as a result of Pam’s direction or by virtue of the cuisine, or both.

Amy ordered red coconut curry with shrimp ($18), a bowl of creamy, pink sauce with sliced bamboo shoots, mushrooms, skinny green beans and fat shrimp with fresh basil and cilantro.

“Lots of good veggies in here,” said Amy. “It’s a delicious sauce, delicately sweet, mildly spicy,” she added approvingly. It was the prettiest bowl, she thought, and she liked the abundant fresh basil. “So tasty,” she decided.

The flavor of the chicken salad ($16) filled my whole mouth, concentrating my attention on green onion, fresh cilantro and fried garlic. Red onion added color, and powdery toasted rice added an uber-crunch. The chicken, sliced small and very tender, is just a vehicle for all the flavors. It was incredibly good.

The salad came with three sturdy, Instagram-ready leaves of Romaine. There weren’t instructions, but I got the idea: scoop the chicken mixture into the stiff leaves. It was an inside-out salad. I loved it.

Both the curry and chicken came with bowls of fragrant sticky Jasmine rice.

Super-flavorful food fills you up in a way a bowl of pasta does not. We ate about half our meals and I brought home a spring roll for husband Eric, who called it nice and crispy with balanced delicious filling. “Nothing seemed to dominate,” he said.

Despite our best intentions, we polished off the fries. “And I’m not sorry,” Amy said. When we ran out of sauce we dipped the last of the fries in the curry.

The tab for all this, including two glasses of wine, came to $73.64 before tip. We stopped at the bar on the way out to pay for our meal.

Bound by Fate has the same vibe of some local popular brewpubs when they first opened: innovative, avant-garde, a feeling of discovery.

But this is no taproom food. Haan Lao brings new flavors and cuisine to our area. That it is in a historic building in a village undergoing a revival and they make beer means you shouldn’t give it a miss.

Get there before you can’t get in.

Caroline Lee is a freelance writer who lives in Troy. Reach her at [email protected].

Haan Lao at Bound by Fate Brewing

WHERE: 31 Ferry St., Schuylerville; (518) 507-6246; boundbyfatebrewing.com
WHEN: Kitchen hours: 4 to 8 p.m. Monday, Thursday, Friday; 12 to 8 p.m. Saturday; 12 to 5 p.m. Sunday; closed Tuesday and Wednesday
HOW MUCH: $73 for food and drinks, before tip
MORE INFO: Accommodations made for children’s meals. Parking lot in rear. All major credit cards. No reservations.

Categories: Food, Life and Arts, Life and Arts

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