SARATOGA LAKE — Whether you call it Lake George South or Brown’s Beach, the public swimming, kayaking and canoeing area purchased by the town of Stillwater in 2013 on beautiful Saratoga Lake is a gem.
They did a good thing, bringing one of the only public access areas back after it was closed in 2007 and bought by developers. Almost all the land around the lake is privately owned, and now anyone can buy a day pass to Brown’s Beach (a bargain at $2 for those over 13) and town residents can get a season pass.
Dock Brown’s is conveniently located right at the beach.
The dining room is handsome and sunny, with crisp white paint and knotty-pine boards that make an attractive ceiling. White-painted wooden windows make it feel like a beach house.
“It smells good in here,” said Mom as we looked around the sunny, cheerful restaurant. “It’s such a pretty view,” she added, looking out past the deck to the broad vista of the lake and mountains beyond.
On a chilly spring day, we could see stacks of chairs outside, a gas fire pit and an awning frame with party lights, all ready for warm weather and the guests who were sure to fill the deck.
The loquacious server brought menus and water, and chatted on about how good the food was and told us about his favorites, selling us on the day’s soup: chicken vegetable and wild rice.
“It looks very tasty,” said Mom. We shared a crock ($5), and enjoyed the chunks of chicken, mushroom and carrot, and so many more vegetables, the al dente rice, all in a light and delicious broth. “The whole soup is very tasty,” Mom concluded.
Dock Brown’s website touts its “upscale pub food, scratch kitchen and fine cocktails.” Their Dock’s Burger is a good example of elevated execution, with a rich brioche bun and hand-formed, 8-ounce burger. It came in a paper-lined plastic basket accompanied by a mountain of hand-cut fries.
It was enormous, and Mom looked like she was about to tackle the whole thing when I suggested she try a knife and fork. Even sectioned, it was impressive. It was juicy; she needed lots of extra cloth napkins. “The roll is buttered,” she noted happily. “That is some hamburger. It has a beautiful charcoal flavor to it.”
We liked the fries, which tasted like freshly cut russet potatoes, although we would have liked them a little crisper. They made up for that with sheer volume.
I ordered the turkey bacon raspberry panini. The server had sold me on the mayo. “It’s homemade,” he said.
And it’s great, too, with the mouthfeel you only get from real mayonnaise. It’s a bit sweet from the cranberry and has just a little tang from the mayo.
Panini sandwiches can be dry. Points to Dock Brown’s for actually buttering the bread, making it crispy on the outside from the press, like on a grilled cheese sandwich. When the buttered toasted bread lands on your tongue, before you even discern the ingredients, you know it’s delicious.
The bread is light and soft, with oats around the edges. It provides a shell, crisp on the outside, almost disappearing within, that just holds the sandwich together.
The turkey was remarkably moist. “The chef roasts it herself,” said the server. I roast my own turkey, but it doesn’t come out like this, almost like it’s got gravy on it, although you can see it doesn’t. Even the pieces that look like they might be dry aren’t. The mayonnaise completed the sandwich perfectly.
They subbed out a side salad for an extra buck, fair enough given the large pile of mixed, fresh greens and homemade dressing. Very nice.
We wrapped our leftovers and got the check: $36.38 for the food and a Diet Coke.
By now the deck will be full of happy guests sipping seasonal cocktails. Enjoy the warm weather, and enjoy a meal on the deck at Dock Brown’s.
Dock Brown’s on Saratoga Lake
WHERE: 511 Route 9P, Saratoga Springs, 518-306-4987, [email protected]
WHEN: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $36.38, with tax, before tip
MORE INFO: Credit cards accepted. ADA compliant. Large parking area.