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Monday, April 15, 2024

Hungry for Glens Falls

Capital Region foodies, take note: Glens Falls is going through a culinary awakening.

For most of its history, Glens Falls’ claim to fame was its role in the American Revolution and the mighty waterfall-driven power dam facility that gave the town its name. My, how times have changed—these days, the Warren County town is becoming known for its peerless food scene. Whether you’re craving sophisticated fine dining, whiz-bang inventiveness, trendy hotspots or authentic farm-to-table fare, you’ll find it in Glens Falls. Insider tip: Make a reservation in advance, or you might be disappointed this busy season. 

Park & Elm: Innovation, Surprising Flavors and Cocktails Galore

Park & Elm is a new, multi-concept eatery that successfully fuses fine dining, gourmet food shopping and premium deli life in one rigorously curated, chicly adorned place. 

In many ways, Park & Elm is one part next evolution of Doc’s, a restaurant the team ran in The Park Theater until recently, and one part next evolution of fine dining made convenient. (That’s where the breakfast menu and superlative deli come in). “The core of what made us successful at Doc’s has been kept intact,” says operations manager Ben Miller. “But we’ve expanded our model to accommodate a wider demographic.”

Think gourmet, fast-casual breakfast and lunch at the market, a larger space for fine dining at night, and a booming patio dinner service perfect for warm summer evenings. Accolade-strewn Executive Chef Matthew J. Delos prioritizes working with local farmers like Battenkill Valley Creamery, Sunset Farm and Haux Nest Bread to produce a rotating seasonal menu.

In-the-know locals return for mainstays such as housemade gnocchi cacio e pepe and a delectable seafood risotto. Beverage Director Ethan McKee creates balanced, imaginative seasonal cocktails that pair beautifully with Delos’ Italian-inspired menu, and also offers local craft beer on tap and an impressive wine list. If you can, grab a table by the large shop windows and peep the bustling street life of Glens Falls. parkandelm.com

Radici Kitchen: Modern Small Plate Comfort 

Chef Brian Bowden brings three decades of clout and experience garnered at regional fine dining mainstays such as Saratoga’s 15 Church and Sperry’s to his own project at Radici, plus the personal heart and soul that can be missing from larger corporate collabs. 

Alexis Connor, a food influencer who documents her dining adventures in (mostly) Glens Falls and Saratoga on Instagram (@saratogadining), is a regular at the three-year-old Radici, citing both the vibe and pasta as her prime motivation. “The cozy, intimate setting, great service and homemade pastas keep me coming back,” Connor says. “When I’m not trying the latest special, one of my go-tos is their short rib pappardelle with tender, flavorful short ribs and a mushroom-madeira demi cream.”

The focus at Radici is Old World Italian filtered through a modern, worldly small plates lens.  (Think toasted bao buns with prosciutto San Danielle, fig mostarda, burrata and aged balsamic, and a braised rabbit risotto dish with morel mushrooms, fava beans and garlicky breadcrumbs.) Skipping dessert here isn’t on the menu—ricotta donuts with cinnamon sugar and salted caramel, please. radicikitchen.com

Mint: Polished, Post-Mod Fun

The buzzy new Mint may, as it claims on its website, offer “farm-to-table scratch cooking,” but this is no down-home affair. 

Launched by retired school teacher Johanna Geldern and daughters Katriel and Cagney Houlihan (of Greenwich’s Sweet Beet Bistro fame), the gorgeous décor—green leather banquets, lush floral arrangements, gilded mirrors and gleaming subway tile bar backsplashes—and colorful, architectural food and cocktail presentations exude Williamsburg, Brooklyn-chic. 

But their hearts, as Geldern makes clear, are in the food, from sourcing to execution. 

“Our vision is to connect our beautiful northeast city with sustainable family farmers,” she says. “If we work together, we can heal our broken food system and create a healthier, sustainable and more delicious future for all of us. Our menu reflects these ideals. We call it a ‘Contemporary Balanced New American’ menu.”

Newly mint-ed Executive Chef Tyler Courtney sharpened his knife skills on the West Coast in LA and San Diego, and prioritizes working with local, sustainably minded farmers such as Kilcoyne Farm, Grazin’ Acres and The Mushroom Shop.

Mint snagged attention initially for its superlative fare and incredible atmosphere, but it’s earned longtime love with competitive specials and prices that keep everyone coming back for more. Taco Tuesday ($5 tacos and $8 margaritas), dollar oyster Wednesdays, and pizza and pint nights on Thursdays (buy a pizza and get a pint free) make “dropping in” a thing of the past. Make a res, and make like the regulars by ordering the popular Kilcoyne Farm 10-ounce strip steak—served with chimichurri sauce—and a pot d’ crème dessert. mint518.com

Craft on 9: Cozy, Upscale Hop Vibes

Great food is often associated with hefty wine lists. But at Craft on 9, while wine and fantastic cocktails are on the menu, so is a rotating list of killer craft beer, with an emphasis on local. 

Executive Chef/owner Rob Murphy set out to create the type of place he and his friends felt was missing. The ambiance is mellow but warm—think exposed brick walls, warm wooden floors and tables, soft lighting and plenty of seats. The food is elevated comfort—think pork and egg croquettes and hand-cut frites topped with shaved parmesan and served with a chipotle aioli dipping sauce.

“Our ramen dish is the most popular,” says Craft on 9 Co-owner (and the chef’s mother) Maria Murphy. “The layers of flavor in the base broth take days to create, and the toppings—pork belly, pork shoulder, pickled jalapeno, mushroom, soft boiled egg, nori and scallions—keep people coming back.” crafton9.com

Farmacy Restobar: Charming Experimentation

Farmacy’s HQ is a 1900s family feedstore, and the charming, funky vibe translates to its dishes and carefully curated cocktails. 

Connor says that Farmacy is her No. 1 Glens Falls watering hole thanks to its “phenomenal food, exceptional service and great vibes.” For the full effect, she likes to grab a seat at the chef’s counter and eat whatever chef/owner A.J. Richards deigns to serve her. While the rotating chef’s menu changes constantly, menu stars such as the “Charred” beef tartare, fried cheese curds and the vegan mushroom loaf clue you into what’s in store. 

“Farmacy also has an incredible selection of wine, craft beers and cocktails,” Connor says. “One of my favorite drinks is the Camp Counselor with bacon-infused whiskey, maple syrup and fresh smoke.” farmacygf.com

Other Can’t-Miss Hot Spots

We would be remiss to not mention a dozen other places, but ink and paper prices demand restraint. At the risk of leaving out a few worthy destinations, here is our all-too-brief sipping and dining nirvana cheat sheet: Downtown City Tavern for boozy milkshakes and burgers; Morgan and Co. for intimate, gourmet date nights (NY strip steak and Vocal cabernet); Flight Wine Bar & Restaurant for killer international pairings (hit the Italian regional pasta tour); Alif Cafe for authentic chicken tikka and mango lassis; Mikado for sushi that will make your Manhattan friends jealous; and Laurella’s Restaurant for balanced indulgence (get the beet salad and the hot meatball sandwich, then wash it down with a good Chianti).

Hungry? See you in Glens Falls!                  

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