Susie’s Spotlight is an occasional feature that showcases favorite dishes that our dining critic, Susie Davidson Powell — and in one case here, Table Hopping columnist Steve Barnes — has found during recent restaurant visits. Susie’s regular reviews will return next week.
Spotlight: Drinks at Mint, Glens Falls
Susie says: Cocktails start with craft spirits and move onto low-ABV and alcohol-free featuring Lyre spirits or housemade syrups. Those paying attention to cocktail trends will catch the pickle juice mixed with rye in The Emperor. Drivers will appreciate a blood-orange mint Junbucha, lavender lemonade or peppery ginger and jalapeno syrups heating up a boozeless pineapple margarita.
Spotlight: Updated tea sandwiches at Bocage, Saratoga Springs
Susie says: Springy white bread from Rockland Bakery in Newburgh — its crusts removed, as any respectable tea sandwich should — is spread with crunchy peanut butter, sour cherry jam and soft duck liver mousse made from Hudson Valley foie gras that infuses each bite with buttery umami taste.
Spotlight: Going with tradition from Haan Lao at Bound by Fate Brewing, Schuylerville
Susie says: At its heart, Lao cuisine is rice-based, so you find bowls of sticky rice jostling your gaeng phet red coconut curry — best, in my opinion, with tofu and hon shimeji and oyster mushrooms — and fill lettuce leaves with coconut rice studded with rice pan-crisped into golden nuggets tied together with peanuts, cilantro and basil.
Spotlight: Anything meaty from Rhea, Saratoga Springs
Susie says: Where the kitchen excels in its execution of meats. The smoked short rib brings umami joy to French onion wontons, and excellent pork belly in ramen and bao benefits from a 24-hour togarashi spice rub and 24 hours sous vide for tender, steak-like bites.
Spotlight: Bacon Bleu Prime Rib at Restaurant 605, Albany
Steve says: The Bacon Bleu Prime Rib is a powerhouse twist on a French dip (also offered conventionally). The shaved meat is dipped in au jus and stuffed into a suitably sturdy roll with crumbled blue cheese, caramelized onions, mixed greens, balsamic glaze and more of that roasted garlic aioli. It’s the sandwich equivalent of a marching band with 76 trombones.
Spotlight: Whatever everyone else is having at The Gem, Bolton Landing
Susie says: I went back with kids in tow, and though I wanted the family combo — a pound of pulled pork, half-pound of brisket, two brats, five ribs, half of a smoked chicken — the youngsters had different ideas for family meal. One chose pulled, smoked chicken in a sandwich, to be sauced with one of the four state sauces: Alabama white, Carolina copper (a twist on the mustardy German-influenced Carolina gold), Georgia mustard with brown sugar and apple-cider vinegar, and Texas barbecue. The other wanted a juicy watermelon salad topped with pulled barbecue chicken sprinkled with paprika and extra virgin olive oil — a true revelation worth repeating at home.