Last night Robin and I were lucky enough to head to a special after hours party at the new Comfort Kitchen, located in the downstairs level of the Saratoga Marketplace at 454 Broadway. I've been a fan of Comfort Kitchen since it first opened, and I love their spin on comfort food classics with an emphasis on using local and seasonal produce, and house made ingredients. They get all of their products from small, locally owned specialty purveyors and their produce and cheese comes right from the Saratoga Farmers Market every Wednesday and Saturday.
One of the best parts of Comfort Kitchen is that it feels like you're having a nice laid back lunch at a good friend's house. Casual and inviting, the atmosphere of the space works perfectly with the dishes Chef Rory Moran and his Sous Chef Dan Passamonte are creating.
The first dish we got to try was the veggie burger. Now, I consider myself to be a connoisseur of veggie burgers, and this one is definitely at the top of my list. Nice and moist but still with enough crispiness it was as far as one could get from the generic frozen veggie burger you usually are subjected to at restaurants. Then came the tater tots...
I have sung the praises for these little golden bites of deliciousness before and I will do it again (and again). These are true homemade comfort food and they deliver on anything you would want from a homemade tater tot. They are an incredible combination of crispy outside and almost melt in your mouth inside with just the right amount of seasoning. We made quick work of our serving of tots and subsequent extra servings. These are definitely a can't miss item on their menu, you will not be disappointed. The tater tots are also a big hit with the kids. The first time we tried them we finished our first order in the car before we even got home and the kids wanted more immediately.
Cheeseburgers were up next and I would have had two if I wasn't trying to save room for every dish. Unfussy and cooked to perfection, it was the "Awesome sauce" that really sets them apart from other burgers. The freshness of the ingredients really comes into play with the burgers as well. Last night the fresh, custom blended beef in the burgers we tried was ground only three hours before they were prepared.
We got to try two different kinds of their macaroni and cheese next, both being creamy and delicious using local cheese. The first was a pulled pork macaroni and cheese, pictured above. The problem I always encounter when I try to make homemade macaroni and cheese is the sauce consistency. Either it is too thin and sinks to the bottom of the dish or it is too thick. The cheese sauce for their macaroni and cheese was just right and held the still nice and crunchy breadcrumbs onto every noodle. The only thing I would have wanted with that dish was more tater tots. That's the thing about Comfort Kitchen food, it is the kind of food you want to eat all together. I could totally mop up any creamy leftover cheese sauce from the mac and cheese with a tater tot, or I could put a couple of tots on top of a cheeseburger for a great crunch, it all goes together so nicely.
Now, I don't know if you've heard about this whole Spa City Ice Cream Sandwich Throw Down, a challenge put forth by the mysterious and hilarious Saratoga Idiots, but I am SO GLAD they decided to challenge everyone because this is what Rory and Dan came up with. An ode to the classic Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake (a childhood favorite of mine) this Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream sandwich was pretty frigging amazing to put it mildly. With some crushed strawberries and sugar cookies as crumbs between two homemade sugar cookies it was sweet, creamy, crunchy and the fresh strawberries actually made it sort of refreshing instead of thick and heavy. I absolutely loved it and must say that the other competitors entering the Ice Cream Sandwich Throw Down ring have their work cut out for them.
Thanks so much to Rory and Dan for having us last night. I also got to chat with Rory's gorgeous wife Lucy who owns the Lucia boutique on the first floor of the marketplace and couldn't be nicer. As I said earlier, the feeling at Comfort Kitchen is like you're going over to your good friend's house who also happens to be an amazing Chef. The thoughtfulness they put into the dishes makes it feel like they're creating them just for you, and the nice thing is that they really are. When you come into Comfort and place your order you can peek around the corner and wave to Rory and Dan as they prepare it for you (trust me they really are that friendly). Their menu changes based on seasonal availability of produce at the market and is "completely inspired on ingredients at the peak of freshness", and I cannot wait to see what they have in store for Saratoga throughout the year. They also want to hear from everyone on what YOU want for your favorite comfort food dishes. They encourage their guests to email, call, tweet and post suggestions for specials based on their favorite comfort food dishes. Find Comfort Kitchen on twitter here, on facebook here, and online here. They also post their daily specials on twitter and facebook so follow them to stay in the loop (there have been many instances that my lunch has been decided based on one of their tweets). Below is their current menu and as I said, it will change so make sure to check in regularly to see what they have. My advice is to go try it as soon as possible, and take the whole family! I really am looking forward to seeing the menu change with the seasons. I guarantee you are going to love this food, the space they have, the people that run it, and just the whole vibe.