We have been making visits to Saratoga two to three times a year for the past 4 years, and most times we end our stay with an "upscale" dinner in a quest to find the best food and wine in the area and land at a place that we would come to regard as our "go to" spot. Well, we are still looking. The structure itself is quite beautiful. High marks for design and decor, though the tables are far too close together. Also, I am one who usually disregards the criticisms of others who complain that a restaurant is too loud. You are dining at a public place, and if you are lucky, the restaurant is good and therefore crowded. Noise is to be expected. Well, Chianti Il exceeded even my generous allowance for comfortable noise. Our server had to speak in an awkwardly loud voice just to be heard, and the four of us at the table had a difficult time carrying on a conversation. It became comical after a while. Yes, the restaurant was filled to capacity, but some serious noise dampening strategies are needed to correct the problem.
Service was fine. No complaints about any of the three or four servers who attended to our party except that every single one of the 8 dishes that we ordered (salads/apps x 4 and mains courses x 4) were initially presented to the wrong diners. Four people sitting at a square table, two to a side, should not be that hard to figure out. But the speed of service and the attentiveness of the servers was on the mark.
On to the food. Good. Just not good enough for the style of restaurant, the décor, the atmosphere or the prices. You go in thinking that you must be dining at one of the premiere places in town, and given the well-heeled clientele that Saratoga attracts from major metropolitan areas with fine dining, you would hope that the food coming out of the kitchen would meet the expectations of people who obviously do quite a bit of dining out. But in the end, the quality of the food was barely better than a family-style Italian restaurant. One diner wanted a Caesar Salad. There wasn’t one on the menu, but the server explained that they offered a salad that was very similar, anchovies and all. When the salad arrived, it was barely dressed and there wasn’t an anchovy to be found. Must have slipped through the net. When this was pointed out to the server, she hustled back to the kitchen and brought out a small plate with a few anchovies on it, along with an apology. A pasta dish that promised sausage was tasteless and severely undercooked. Not al dente, mind you. But almost crunchy. We took the leftovers home and when I tried to resuscitate the dish, I found that I needed to add almost every spice in my pantry to coax any flavor out of the dish. The Seafood Fra Diavolo was little more than a bland sauce of crushed tomatoes with 2 mussels, a shrimp, a clam and a whole heaping of rubbery calamari rings. None of this food was bad, per se, but given the price paid, it all added up to disappointment, as has been the case with the previous three “fine dining” meals we had in town, (Sperry’s, Maestro’s and a place that is now closed). Seems as if we want a good meal I town that is worth the price, we have to head back to Hattie’s. But sometimes, we feel like dressing up and going out for fine dining. Just haven’t found anything in town that draws us back.
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