SARATOGA SPRINGS — “I love that place!” said my niece Ann Marie when I suggested we have dinner together at Fish at 30 Lake. My sister JoAnn loves it, too, and asked to come along. When my brother Bob heard, he wanted to attend, and at that point husband Eric said he might as well come along, too.
So we all went to Fish at 30 Lake and had terrific food, great service and the best time ever.
There’s lots and lots of food to talk about, but the tab given here for the meal is just for Ann Marie and me. Bob, as usual, picked up the rest.
It’s a swanky joint, sleek with tall windows and wood and modern fittings correct for a contemporary building, casual enough that Bob’s neat shorts didn’t look too out of place. Decor is minimal and utilitarian — orderly rows of wine bottles behind glass doors, more bottles stacked in shelving and fish painted on walls here and there.
There are placemats on plain wood tables, but the chairs are padded and comfortable. The noise level can get lively, as sounds reverberate off wood floor, painted brick, and glass. You can get a table on the sidewalk, cafe-style.
When I received a belated birthday present, the server took note and brought us each a small gift from the kitchen to celebrate — a fat shrimp croquette on a tiny bed of diminutive glistening greens with a dab of sweet sauce handsomely presented in a large white bowl. Small pieces of shrimp and soft potato steamed when I broke the crispy breaded crust. It was a considerate and hospitable gesture, and not out of character for a Mazzone restaurant.
The summer menu features a range of smart appetizers, pasta dishes with fish, seafood platters by availability and a few things without fins, like a burger and a Delmonico steak. Four kinds of oysters displayed on a bed of ice with seaweed and fancy-cut lemons add to the decor.
Ann Marie started with a bowl of clam chowder ($10), a meal in itself, soft clams with loads of chorizo sausage, sweet fresh corn and chunks of new potatoes in a creamy stock. It was rich and delicious, she said.
The shrimp and pork potstickers ($17) are best shared; they’re hefty and numerous, with one for each of us. We liked the aromatic peanut sauce and the filling, so flavorful I slowed down to enjoy it. We agreed that a more lightweight wrapper would improve them, you certainly couldn’t eat more than one or two of these.
Bob said the grilled octopus appetizer ($16) was the best he’d ever had, anywhere. It was a bit smoky and charred, amazingly fork-tender, with pieces of crispy prosciutto and white beans on a bed of kale sautéed with plenty of garlic.
Our server was exceptional, unobtrusive and foresighted. She changed out flatware, kept drinks refilled and brought extra plates so we could share, “Just in case.” We did.
Lobster, cod & more
Ann Marie’s spectacular lobster spaghetti ($36) was topped with meat from a whole claw and lots more tossed with the pasta and small tomatoes. The sauce, she said, was more butter than cream, didn’t weigh it down, and the toasted homemade breadcrumbs brought the dish to a whole new level, as they added crunch and even more flavor. Excellent, she said.
The breadcrumbs were a standout in my cod Francaise ($28), too. The gorgeous hunk of fish was amazingly delicate and mild, its coating crisp and fragile and the sauce light but rich, with garlic and peppery edge. Sauce soaked into the coating, and into the seasoned toasted breadcrumbs, it was so good I wouldn’t even miss the fish. But that was awesome, too.
We all had some small red and yellow tomatoes; roasted into sweetness, they just melted in the mouth.
Bob was kind enough to share his sides of Brussels sprouts, their little leaves fried to crispness, served with a sticky sweet sauce, and garlicky greens of just-barely cooked kale, so rich and salty with myriad small pieces of lightly sautéed garlic.
Desserts are spectacular, in keeping with everything else. Ann Marie had the chocolate gooey cake ($11) with a molten filling, a miniature delight served with fresh fruit, whipped cream and a smear of chocolate sauce. I had my favorite — fruit sorbet ($7) made from a mix of summer berries, slightly melty and so delicious. And they put a birthday candle on it.
The tab for Ann Marie and me came to $109.
We’re a tough crowd, but we liked everything. Mazzone restaurants set a high bar, and Fish at 30 Lake bounded over it. The experience was delightful and the food and service impeccable.
Fish at 30 Lake
WHERE: 30 Lake Ave., Saratoga Springs, 518-539-3474, fishat30lake.com
WHEN: 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $109 for food, before tax and tip
MORE INFO: Credit cards: Master Card, Visa, American Express. ADA compliant. Parking in public lot. Children’s menu.