Escargot and oysters. Nutmeg gnocchi. Bread and olives. A jaw-dropping wine list.
Welcome to Rare Earth Wine Bar, brought to you by Paul Parker, the chef who pampered us for years at Chez Sophie Bistro.
Now, a half decade after that fine Saratoga Springs establishment closed its doors, Parker is pleasuring palates in downtown Glens Falls, across the street from the Charles R. Wood Theater.
After the Chocolate Mill Cafe and Pastry Shop closed in July 2013, Parker and Michael Belanger, his co-owner, moved in and transformed the 2,000-square-foot space. The grand opening was in January, and this summer, diners enjoyed glasses of wine in a patio space outdoors.
Glens Falls, which Look magazine once dubbed “Hometown U.S.A.,” has never seen anything quite like it.
Dozens of paintings, from landscapes to female nudes, from Belanger’s personal collection, fill the walls. Under the attractive pressed-tin ceiling, a long bar has replaced the glass chocolate counters; it was crafted from materials salvaged from The Montcalm, a Queensbury restaurant that was recently demolished.
Rare Earth Wine Bar
WHERE: 164 Glen St., Glens Falls, 409-8055 or Facebook
WHEN: 4:30-11 p.m. Mon.-Thu., 4:30 p.m.-12 a.m. Fri.-Sat., 4:30-11 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $89.34, with two glasses of wine, including tax but not tip
MORE INFO: Visa, American Express, MaasterCard and Discover. Street parking, outdoor seating. Accessible.
Tables for two are set against a wall and there’s a plush red couch near the bar.
On a quiet Sunday night, Wendy and I had our choice of seating and we picked a larger, marble-topped table next to a piano with a front-window view of Glen Street.
“No clams, polenta or fish,” Renee, our server, announced after she handed us the menu.
We were undaunted, as there were other tempting choices.
Rare Earth is divine for dabblers, with a menu that borrows from French, North African, Spanish, Italian and Greek cuisines.
Deviled eggs and paté were on the list of salads, breads and cold plates, from $2 to $15. If you prefer a more substantial meal, there are “hot plates” that include roasted beef marrow bones and duck breast, from $8 to $24.
Or pick clams, shrimp, mussels and oysters from the raw bar.
Renee helped us with the extra-long wine list, and brought us tastes of a Chilean white and an Italian red, which we ordered by the glass.
We decided to share a first course, but it was difficult to decide between a cheese plate and the charcuterie for two, $11, as each offered tastes of five items.
We settled on the plate of cold meats, served with baguette and butter.
“It’s sinfully delicious,” said the friendly and efficient Renee. “If you need some more bread, I’ll cut some up for you.”
Generous ribbons of prosciutto, Jamon Serrano, a Spanish cured ham, and soppressata were arranged around pieces of fennel sausage and bits of duck rind.
It was a chilly night, so for my next course, I picked Shakshouka, $14, a savory dish popular in Israel, that’s made with beans, chili peppers, tomatoes, onions, cumin and egg.
Parker’s version, served in a shallow crock, featured cannelli beans and three creamy pools of chevre. The egg was placed in the center, like a small cheery sun, and when I poked it with my fork, it ran into the spicy broth.
With slices of bread, I mopped up the broth, and then asked for a spoon, so I could get every drop.
Wendy was extra hungry, so she went for Steak Bordelaise, $24, a nice thick filet nestled in an bed of sauteed potatoes, asparagus and carrots. The carrots, Renee told us, were handpicked at Amorici Vineyards and Farm in Washington County.
Wendy loved her steak, which was cooked perfectly, and insisted that I taste the sauce.
For dessert, Wendy went for the Queen O’Sheba, $9.50, a flourless chocolate cake, and I picked the bread pudding, $8.50. Made by Chef Paul, both desserts were encircled in a light citrusy Sauvignon Sauce. When we raved about the sauce to Renee, she went to the kitchen to ask about it and report back to us.
While Wendy declared her cake spectacular, my bread pudding was a little too dry.
If you look on Facebook,, you’ll see that Rare Earth is all about special offers and special events.
Up to four people can be seated in the kitchen, at a chef’s table. But call ahead if you want to watch Parker do his thing.
Groups can also gather in the basement wine cellar, where Belanger will answer your questions about wine.
On Sunday, bottles of wine are half price, and on a recent Saturday night, there were cocktail discounts and a contest for patrons wearing stilettos.