Jamie Scotts Downtowner Restaurant & Bar in its first year of operation is evolving as a popular spot in the city for lunch or dinner and, more recently, Sunday brunch.
The restaurant is on Cayadutta Street, a block or two from the main street, but it’s easy to find and worth doing so. Chef Jason Knapp’s menu is limited to a handful of creative entrées, salads and appetizers, but there are several enticing specials each evening, along with a soup du jour, a pasta appetizer of the day and a risotto appetizer of the day.
Opened last January, the place is attractively spartan in its decor — light-colored walls, clean lines and monochromatic abstract art on the walls that matches the dark wood tables and chairs.
Owners Jamie and Scott Luey are a young, hands-on couple. She was our server the evening we visited and he was behind the bar with its three behemoth television screens, which were tuned to sports and news channels. There is no separation between the bar and the dining area, and the noise level was a little bothersome, but when the early evening drinkers cleared out, everything settled down to a relaxed hum conducive to intimate conversation.
Jamie Scotts Downtowner
WHERE: 52 Cayadutta St., Gloversville; telephone 725-8877
WHEN: 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday (bar open until midnight); 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday for brunch
OTHER INFO: All major credit cards accepted; handicapped accessible
I ordered a cup of one of the soups of the day — a Manhattan clam chowder — which was actually a bowl of the spicy, tomato-based broth chock full of crispy veggies and bits of clams ($3). I enjoyed it immensely except for one oddity — the potatoes were not fully cooked. Al dente vegetables are great, depending on the dish, but not potatoes, and especially not in soup. Nevertheless, I crunched my way through it, relishing the clams and spicy broth.
Dinner date Beverly chose the Prince Edward Island Mussels ($8) for her appetizer and was rewarded with a big pile of the bivalves in a broth of white wine, fennel pollen, chilies, shallots and butter. She said they were wonderful and, after sampling a couple, I agreed heartily. It was also a very generous serving, easily enough for two. The broth was particularly good with the plate of bread that was delivered before the soup and mussels. The bread, some slices from a baguette and some from an Italian-style loaf, came with butter and olive oil and vinegar for dipping.
Entrées at Jamie Scotts include Guinness Stout Braised Lamb Shank with creamy polenta and caramelized onions for $24, and I vacillated between that and one of the evening’s specials, scallops encrusted with grainy mustard and bacon and served over spinach and couscous. The scallops ($19) won, and I have no regrets. Five big sea scallops, sweet and luscious, were arrayed over tender and flavorful couscous and sautéed spinach, the tops of the scallops browned by the mustard and crispy bacon pieces. It was a pretty dish and tasted as good as it looked.
Beverly, in a seafood kind of mood, moved from mussels to the Cippino ($24) for her entrée. Like a seafood brodetto or stew, the cippino consisted of a variety of fish — shrimp, scallops, white fish and clams — with tomatoes, saffron and chilies served over couscous. Like the mussels before it, the cippino was a generous portion but not so large that we needed a doggie bag.
We concluded our evening with coffee for me and espresso for Beverly and a shared wedge of flourless chocolate cake infused with a Chambord ganache ($6). It was a chocolate lover’s dream with raspberry highlights — rich, velvety smooth and dense. One piece was more than enough for both of us, and it was decadent enough that I was still talking about it the following day.
Salad choices at Jamie Scotts include grilled scallops with shaved fennel and grapefruit and a salsa verde ($11); and a local arugula and pear with Parmesan cheese and champagne vinaigrette ($8).
Other entrées to consider are the Pan Seared Rare Yellow Fin Tuna with local baby spinach, heirloom cannellini beans, lemon and sage ($23) or the Grilled Local Pork Chop with horesradish mashed potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon and maple syrup ($19).
And, yes, you can get a burger — the House Burger with aioli and frisée and Vermont Cheddar cheese for $9.
Our tab — for two appetizers, two entrées, coffees and a shared dessert — came to $83.12 with tax and tip.
We visited briefly with Downtowner owners Jamie and Scott Luey after dinner. The couple worked on the building where the restaurant is housed for a year before opening, and they had an experienced restaurant consultant on board for the first four months of their operation. The careful preparation shows in the seamless service we experienced as well as in the cuisine. Part of their goal, they say, is to incorporate in their offerings as much locally produced food as possible, as is evident from the “local pork chop” and “local arugula” on their menu.