The team behind Rare Earth Wine Bar doesn't adhere to a hierarchy. Owners and staff alike are proficient in every aspect of service, from recommending wine to washing the dishes. This sense of open-mindedness and community is evident throughout. They encourage visitors to try something new or to even peek into the kitchen to watch the chef prepare their dinner, ensuring it wasn't created by evil robots. And then, of course, there's the wine, available in adventurous flights or by the varietal. Their well-curated selection of vinos hail from California to Canada to New Zealand. And the staff is always happy to make pairing recommendations with their wide variety of food choices?from small, shareable plates to hearty entrees.
The chefs incorporate wine into many dishes, such as a poussin, or young chicken, braised in a Madeira reduction and a Delmonico strip steak seared with red wine, but all them were designed with wine pairings in mind. For example, the staff recommends sipping Bois Noyer merlot with the seared duck breast and Between the Lines pinot noir with the braised quail.
Irish eyes smile in Niall Roche’s traditional Gaelic pub, at once cozy and grandiose with iron chandeliers and imported Irish furniture strewn throughout the many rooms of the 6,000-square-foot space. An Emerald Isle native with restaurateuring in his blood, Niall realized his dream of owning and operating a pub of his own in Saratoga. He's poured energy into The Irish Times Pub & Restaurant's tiny details: the hunter-green leather on the second-story furnishings, the serving staff of accented Gaels, and the wall-mounted fiddle painted as green as a three-leaf clover jealous of its four-leafed cousin. The bar and booths on the first floor form a cozy country-pub ambiance, and the castle-like second story takes advantage of the space and spills out over a rooftop terrace overlooking Congress Park.
As much care, if not more, is taken with the menus, which feature an all-day Irish breakfast, chicken with imported Irish curry, and Celtic fusion food that incorporates anything from egg rolls to nachos. Fresh haddock, broiled or fried, offers a taste of the North Atlantic, and a splash of Guinness improves menu items from the beef stew to the chocolate cake. While diners dig into hearty shepherd's pies or rasher-topped burgers, live musicians play anything from Celtic pub songs to contemporary radio jams.
The wines of Thirsty Owl Outlet & Wine Garden have won nearly as many medals as there are grapes on a vine. Produced on the shores of Cayuga Lake, these wines have attracted a dedicated fan base at competitions near and far, with the riesling earning especially high marks. Filling out the rest of the portfolio are a late-harvest chardonnay, a jammy syrah with notes of pepper and oak, and a port-style dessert wine that's perfect for pouring all over a sundae. Visit the winery's gorgeous tasting room and bistro, where you can sip on the handcrafted wines while enjoying lunch or dinner.
Erected in 1890, the sprawling, country-style house that harbors The Good Times Lakeview Restaurant carries on a rich tradition of lakeside hospitality. After a stint as a speakeasy, the tree-flanked dwelling wrapped itself in a cocoon and emerged as a tavern in 1940. Over the next several years, the house shape-shifted into various establishments before reaching its current incarnation in 1973. Visitors munch classic American fare from a seasonally rotating menu as they warm up by the fireplace or attempt to coat Ballston Lake in mustard as they look out from old-fashioned wooden booths. The lake thrives with coastal wildlife as blue herons and flying squirrels traverse a landscape flourishing with impatiens, zinnias, and herbs. Stardust garnishes plates on the outdoor veranda, and private parties of 30–120 revelers tap toes on the dance floor of the sunny banquet room.
Actor and comedian Russell Brand frees chortles from belly prisons with his unique style of manic, irreverent humor. Riffing on the nature of fame and celebrity, Brand regales audiences with edgy observations and outsized characters to delight audiences grown bored with tamer comedians and telephone time-of-day services. Visiting a series of colleges, the tour filters the eccentricities of American universities through Brand's singular wit. George Mason University's recently renovated Patriot Center contains the glee in arena-style seating, ensuring everyone has a clear view of both Brand and the cricket whispering jokes in his ear.