Stephen Travels

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Maestro's at the Van Dam, Saratoga Springs, New York

Maestro’s at the Van Dam (Saratoga Springs, New York)

Broadway, the main drag in downtown Saratoga Springs, is lined with quaint mom-and-pop shops, a few chain stores, a great bookstore, a smattering of eateries, and playful life-size fiberglass horse sculptures, each painted with a different motif — remnants of the Horses Saratoga Style public art events held in 2002 and 2007. Mixed in with the horses are five-foot-tall fiberglass pointe shoe sculptures (Saratoga is, after all, home to the National Museum of Dance), each of which also bears a unique design, a favorite being “Fettushoenie Alfredo,” complete with a fork.

The best place to view it all is on the columned terrace about eight feet above street level at Maestro’s at the Van Dam. Housed in the soon-to-be-reopened Rip Van Dam Hotel, the town’s largest existing hotel from before the Civil War, this restaurant provides a bird’s-eye view of locals enjoying an evening promenade, Skidmore College students heading out for the night, and racing fans discussing a mudder’s odds in the third. It also serves up a dinner that comes in lengths ahead of the competition.

Fork-KnifeTry This: Before you’re halfway through perusing a very tempting menu, a friendly waiter will arrive at your table with a complementary white-bean salad, mixed with pine nuts, onion, pesto, fennel, and garlic, and some honey-oat bread topped with butter with Hawaiian red sea salt. Pop open a bottle of Saratoga Spring Sparkling Water and begin with agrodolce meatballs — succulent orbs of beef in a sweet and tangy sauce — served with grilled flatbread. Order the pumpkin ravioli with brown sage butter, butternut squash, toasted walnuts, chive oil, chèvre, and toasted pumpkin seeds. Finish it all off with a dense chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream, salted caramel, and ganache.

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