Blue Plate - May 2011 (dt)
6.56 - 7, 7, 7, 6.75, 6.5, 6.5, 6.25, 5.5
Blue Plate, with its three stories of
wrap-around balconies, lords over the traffic circle at the end of Kinderhook
Avenue, exuding hints of days past when a pre-automobile, railroad town needed a
comfortable hotel, while the first story façade of large plate windows
suggests a commercial enterprise
Chatham was an Adamses’ pick although the Teators also had Blue Plate on their list of dp8 places to try.
Entry inside is whiteness, with a clamshell wainscoting topped with beige walls topped by the antique-ish, clean-white tin ceiling. That whiteness is shattered with the fifteen foot long mural of bright colors and solid characters of the back wall. Most of us liked the modern, eclectic feel, although a couple were not so impressed; it certainly meshes with Blue Plate’s card’s logo – “The American bistro with international implications.”
Scattered in the front room lay about ten tables, with another ten or so queued along the sidewalk side – a long hall that appears to have been the hotel porch long ago, now enclosed in glass.
(A trip downstairs to the bathroom leads past the basement dining area, accommodating another forty people in front of a bar and fireplace – coziness personified.)
All the windows allowed for the late May sun to bounce brightly from the town’s buildings facing Blue Plate, and then to seamlessly fade in the post-eight o’clock dusk. That fading was countered by the soft glow of the set of four, three-armed chandeliers overhead.
Our two-table combo was a bit tight but cozy (ok, cramped for some, and definitely inadequate if there had been bread plates), topped with butcher block paper, inviting diners to utilize the crayons. A white linen napkin, with a four piece set of silver ware, and a small water glass, set the table. Ken and Chay headed (or, is it, footed?) the table, as customarily happens. Chairs were a bit upright and stiff, yet a comfortable fit most of the time (sorry, Chay).
The drink order was taken – Paul Jaboulet Aine 2009 Cotes du Rhone for five, a glass of prosecco (guess who?), and two diet sodas. Eventually, a half-carafe of the house red finished the order.
The menu is a mix of regular price entrées and inexpensive ones – a situation that causes dp8 some mild consternation, at times. In addition, the specials menu – printed, thank you – rivaled the regular menu in length, providing a further range of decisions.
The signature dish – the inexpensive meatloaf topped with bacon – was deemed very good by the three who ordered it (Don, Deb T, Kriss), an almost three inch mound of meat mixed with herbs. The garlic mashed potatoes with deep brown gravy, and the accompanying fresh chunk of steamed broccoli complemented this classic comfort meal.
Other entrées included:
baked chicken (Tim [suffering some grumble-belly], liked the potatoes and broccoli, good for chicken);
grilled shrimp specials (Deb K, Chay; both good; with bits of lobster, set in decent risotto [MVB is still the standard], some spinach;
rib-eye steak (Ken, who thought it the best he’s had in a while);
bouillabaisse (Judy; very good, a couple fishes, almost too much salmon, mussels, shrimp scallops)
With no accompanying salads, several appetizers and separate salads were ordered:
vegetable fritters (Deb T thought creative and excellent, and Don agreed);
the arugula and pear salad, with walnuts (Don, competent, would have liked a riper pear);
spinach & goat cheese salad, balsamic (Deb K-fresh and good; Chay-ordinary & boring;
roasted corn and avocado gazpacho (Judy; loved it);
young greens salad (Kriss, good);
Romaine & blue cheese salad (Ken, good).
Dessert. Dessert!?? It has become a
tradition, almost, that a meal in Chatham needs a visit to the Dairy Queen in
Ghent, as long as we hustle in by 9 o’clock. So, despite a couple of very
tempting desserts begging to be tasted, we forsook Blue Plate’s dessert menu
and finished in Ghent, again just before closing time. Blizzards, parfaits and
sundaes comprised the final course.
Back to action!
About 20 minutes after seating, a basket of bread arrived, with a ramekins of butter and of tapenade – a nice touch.
Two carafes of ice water were placed on the table. However informal that may be, dp8 likes this setup for most places. And whenever the carafe was more than a third empty, it was quickly refilled, something that is to our liking.
For a change, we did not get any of our wait /servers’ names. Service was efficient, capable, with little or no chatter, just down to business which was ok, but left little time for personality.
The noise level is high although we could follow most of our discussion across the table.
A classic Chatham sight, and sound, rumbled ponderously midway through dinner – the rare sight of a train rolling through town (we almost missed it with all the noise inside).
Pacing, overall, was comfortable. We left Blue Plate after one hour, forty minutes, short than usual by far, but dessert probably would have concluded dinner near the two hour mark.
The bill of $80 per couple approached our average – considering the a la carte salads, and lessened somewhat by three inexpensive entrées and no desserts.
We ran into a first – a 20% gratuity already figured in, and that caught everyone’s attention. Fortunately, the experience justified it.
The one, rarely seen, flavor of the evening was Tim’s not feeling up to par, diluting the usual TA flair. Sorry, Tim.
Another quirk of the evening was getting to the bathroom. With the tightness of tables, the walkway became the front of the room, which is also the space occupied by the greeter and new diners waiting to be seated, which made for a congested space for something that usually simple to do. Add a few waiters trying to reconnoiter and it became an adventure in patience.
All in all, most thought Blue Plate a worthy experience, and worth re-considering for Mac-Haydn nights or for the other signature dishes.
The evening had started at the
Adamses, who were quite tight-lipped about clues, at least, about truthful
clues! All were bemoaning the recent week of weather (seven inches of rain
during the week) and the forecast of more wet weather for most of the coming
Buddy ran circles around Deb K, Buddy’s most sought after playtime partner; meanwhile Tim warned us about touching him (Tim)!
Judy had prepared an hors d’oeuvres-filled counter – a carrots-guacamole-pepper dish; crackers and cheese, crackers for the guac, pineapple chunks and grapes, most of which disappeared before departure time.
We caught up on news, most of it the general catch-up kind, at first: wet weather, more wet weather; the gardens and lawns (wet weather); Tim not feeling well; Chay’s baseball season; Yankee tickets, or not; the kids and grandkids; the Adamses’ summer itinerary, especially Judy’s; the beginning of winter plans; RVing; health of parents; Nathan’s addition and Deb’s clerking of the works; spring cleanup; work schedules; school stuff and a raft of more items.
Later, we continued the same topics, and added current stuff, especially Schwarzenegger & Maria, which led to a bunch of spin-offs, some testing Kriss’s ability to maintain the group’s standard of decorum (fat chance! nice try anyway!).
Next meeting is close to the longest day of the year.