Restaurant review

Classy Loda at Bolton Landing


In the summer, the main stretch of Bolton Landing is packed with people, store banners, sun hats, inflatables and swimming noodles in baskets outside the stores. Traffic is heavy, the queue for Ben & Jerry’s winds its way down the street, tourists browse gift shops, and island campers stock boats with ice cream and grocery store necessities Tops.

With steady growth over the past decade and the pandemic-driven exodus from the downstate to the Adirondacks since 2020, Bolton Landing has been in turmoil for over a minute, and it was just a matter of time for something more than sun hats to stick on. The Sagamore resort now charges a $20 “on-island” parking fee to non-guests visiting for meals; the much-anticipated The Gem Smokehouse and Little Gem Wine Shop have brought metro-level mixology and select wines to the lake. Now here is Loda, a stylish bistro-bar and the most unexpected newcomer of all.

You might miss Loda, hidden behind black glass in a former thin ice cream parlor that was more recently the Adirondack Winery tasting room. From the unassuming doorway, you enter a dimly lit lobby covered in trailing greenery, big banquettes dwarfing tiny tables, and a pink neon sign quietly declaring, “You’re here now.” Through a door adorned with heavy theatrical curtains is a dining room that looks like both a speakeasy and a singer’s club. Anchored to one side by a sprawling poured concrete bar (2,000 pounds, to be exact), shiny bottles shimmering against exposed brickwork, great splashing art, a glow from the open galley and busy tufted green leather cabins by a very well-dressed dinner crowd in an unexpected departure from anything else in town.

The owners are Danielle and Louis DeSantis, a New York singer and hedge fund banker respectively, who followed Danielle’s parents from New Jersey to Bolton after the parents turned the old Ryefield into The Huddle. The DeSantises got married, started a family and shifted gears to open Bear’s Cup, an instantly popular breakfast spot and bakery with Louis, a self-taught baker, earning pandemic shoutouts from Rachael Ray, who put its hand-rolled bagels and pastries on the menu. The pandemic business was so booming that they closed the restaurant part of the cafe to increase bakery space and operate as a take-out business with window service to the street.

Considering all the start-up costs and staffing issues of opening a restaurant in these trying times, you might be wondering why the DeSantises would open a high-end restaurant and bar next to the bakery. right now, but Loda, which is a portmanteau of their middle names, has an intriguing pattern made up almost exclusively of Bear’s Cup employees working double shifts between the bakery and the bar, as well as family and friends down south of State. Loda’s bar manager, Paul “Bouche” Boucher, a New York bartender and longtime friend of Louis, moved upstate to help out at The Huddle before managing Morrissey’s Bar at the hotel. Adelphi of Saratoga. Loda’s new executive chef, Andrea Rice, a graduate of the BOCES culinary program, was a waitress at The Huddle, while her boyfriend worked with Louis as a baker. For the Bear’s Cup and Loda team, it’s a family affair and a regular full-time gig. (Need I mention that Danielle’s brother owns Trailhead Pizza next door?)

The rice is perhaps the biggest surprise. For a novice chef, she prepares beautifully balanced plates with restraint and technique. A simple side dish of cold couscous is memorably light and fluffy, with juicy tomatoes and golden raisins, crunchy almonds, watermelon radish and little more than fresh mint, lemon and good olive oil. Its simplicity is its strength, discreet enough to pay attention to the summer flavors left to shine.

After working for eight years for George Biel’s upscale Hillstone restaurant group, Danielle took Rice to Paris for a pre-opening foodie journey. A few travel-inspired dishes made their debut on Loda’s menu, including Burrata Parisienne with Maplebrook burrata, heirloom tomatoes and the concentrated sweetness of cubed pressed watermelon sprinkled with peppery microgreens from Tray Farms, all in a olive oil stave that we sponge with Bear’s Cup bread. There’s a tribute paid in a Nobu-inspired miso cod; the white fish is firm, generously coated in the sweet, nutty funk of miso and served with torn herbs over charred asparagus. Bravo for more simplicity and sobriety.

If I have any quibbles, they’re limited to a burrata that’s too cold for the stracciatella to be a tight curd instead of oozing freely with the mozzarella skin, and the ahi tuna in the tower is too roughly diced to be delicately chic. But the latter is topped with lime caviar offering tiny hints of sweet citrus, as well as classic mashed avocado sprinkled with mango-habanero sauce for magical, controlled heat. With it, potato chips are the useful vehicle to bring every bite to our mouths.

Speaking of caviar, we’re amazed to see a caviar service for two – 1 ounce Tsar Nicoulai Estate California sturgeon with “the works” (blini, onion, caper, lemon) – for $75, with the option of add smoked salmon ($16) and champagne toast for an additional $20. It’s a luxury splurge, one of the trends of the year along with martinis and caviar bumps, but its presence on the menu says a lot about their intent. Splurge or not is actually a bargain, considering a 1-ounce jar of Tsar Nicoulai Estate alone costs $70. on the company website. But this burrata Parisienne, an entree, is priced at $36; miso cod, $46.

Of course, the bear cup brings dough for the piggies in a blanket, skillet buns with whipped honey butter and sea salt, and the fruit-filled “pop tart” dessert that comes together. sells almost every night. Lots of people will enjoy a charcuterie and cheese platter and one of Boucher’s balanced cocktails. They’re playful, mixing Earl Gray tea-infused vodka with honey, orange blossom and ginger beer in the Raincheck, or dark rum, raspberry, black pepper and egg in an intriguing, earthy ‘Dak. None turn sweet, but with a visiting Italian girlfriend on my arm, we’re not ready to try a bright orange ice cold Aperol spritz.

Loda

Address: 4973 Lake Shore Drive, Bolton Landing
Hours: Kitchen, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday to Sunday, closed Monday to Wednesday; bar 5 p.m. until last call.
Price: Food, $12 to $75; cocktails, $15 to $18; draft beer, $8 to $10; wine by the glass, $12 to $25; by the bottle, from $40 to $120.
Car park: In the street.
Etc: Handicapped accessible but table spacing very tight inside.


Loda is dynamic and crowd-pleasing and, yes, loud for those troubled by acoustic things. In its first few weeks, the friendly staff were still finding their feet, offering plates to several guests at the bar until they found the right house. It’s a small stage in its own right, blocked from view on the street and easily attracting its target, the buzzing crowd. Although I’ve heard the inhaled sucking of the teeth of those who don’t want Bolton to be ‘uplifted’ or ‘modernized’ as the DeSantises publicly hope, I can imagine stopping in regularly for a cocktail and a bite to eat. . From co-owner Danielle DeSantis’ blue satin dress swinging from table to table to guests in button-up shirts or – gasp – high heels, you can forget where you are until you blink in the face. night air and you can see Tops of Bolton across the street.


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