Saturday, February 27, 2016

Restaurant Review: A Return to Liquids and Solids

Liquids and Solids ExteriorAs a foodie, occasional restaurant reviewer, and newly minted full-time resident of the Adirondack Park, I plan to really delve into the region’s many culinary heights. Nearly two years ago I visited Liquids and Solids in Lake Placid, which was relatively new on the scene. As I wrote at the time, I was impressed with their creativity and ambition. So what better place to start my latest Adirondack food tour than a return visit to see how they have come along?

Bottom line: Liquids and Solids is coming along very well. As was the case the first time, I was impressed by the sophistication of the cooking. It’s possible to get a good meal at many places in the park, but excluding a handful of exclusive resort restaurants, no other place I’ve been is its equal. It’s that good.

My return experience showed that the kitchen is still playful and creative, but is more focused, more generous in the portions and more cohesive in how its varied preparations work together. All the dishes we tried were good. Three of of them were brilliant, though in a couple of cases a bit of attention to detail would have elevated them even higher.

Liquids and Solids offers a large variety of dishes in the classic vein of a small plate establishment, but without the disappointment that can happen when there are only tiny portions to choose from. They have charcuterie and sides, but their “smalls,” substantial and filling, serve perfectly well as entrees. The food menu is complimented by an equally eclectic and creative drink selection (my companion and I tried two different cocktails which were fun more than satisfying, a little too busy with different flavors for our taste).

We started with the Andouille charcuterie (charcuterie is typically a collection of cold meats, often smoked or cured) and two sides. Upon perusing the menu we wanted to try all the sides, but settled on cauliflower and cumin for my companion and mushrooms and porcini cream for me.

The Andouille was flavorful, but to my taste a little too mild, neither as coarse nor as smoky as I like.

The cauliflower with cumin was simple and delicious, cooked to a perfect texture and seasoned just right. It made me long for a good Indian restaurant in the area with aloo gobi on the menu.

The mushrooms and porcini cream plate was nothing less than superb, a dish that immediately announced that a first-rate chef was at work. Cooking mushrooms to take maximum advantage of their flavor complexity is easier said than done.  These were fantastic, but the the porcini cream was the master touch. Only attention to detail kept this plate from perfection: the porcini cream was a bit cool and brought the temperature of the dish too low, taking away some of its savoriness. This level of cooking deserves all the attention from plate to table that it can be given, .

Inspired by the first cauliflower plate, my companion ordered another version, buffalo cauliflower. This proceeded something like an illicit liaison, with my partner swooning between bites and praising the dish’s “right kind of sloppy.”

I moved on to the octopus with sausage, spinach, lentils, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. This typically eclectic ingredient list might suggest something a little too scattershot, but it wasn’t: everything fit wonderfully together and the octopus was tender, another basic sign of skill.

For my main plate I selected the kielbasa with sweet potato spaetzle and mustard fruits. This sausage upheld Liquids and Solids’ reputation for excellent meats: it was the best kielbasa I’ve had – juicy, tender, robust – and it was served at just the right temperature, as was everything else on the plate. The texture of the spaetzle – when done properly being somewhere between a dumpling and a noodle – was exactly right.   It was terrific.

So was my partner’s choice, the mussels with tomato saffron broth, bruschetta, rouille and caviar. The fragrant, earthy but natural aroma as it was served foretold a perfectly balanced dish. The mussels were fresh and the broth made excellent use of saffron in just the right amount. A rouille is one of the great inventions of cooking, an emulsion not to be trifled with. It was excellent.

This is a confident kitchen, having fun but dedicated to serious cuisine executed with talent and verve. It would be at home anywhere, much less Lake Placid.

Ashamed though we were, we left ourselves no room to see how they did with desserts. Next time.

Liquids and Solids is open Tuesday through Saturday from 4 – 10 PM. Bruch is served Sundays from 10 – 2 PM. Reservations are not accepted.

For more more about Liquids and Solids, check out Kim and Pam’s High Peaks Happy Hour post.

Photo by Kim Ladd, co-owner author with her sister Pam, of the Happy Hour in The High Peaks pub and bar guide.

Pete Nelson

Pete Nelson is a teacher, writer, essayist and activist whose work has appeared in a variety of Adirondack publications, and regularly in the Adirondack Almanack since 2005. Pete is also a founder and current Coordinator of the Adirondack Diversity Advisory Council, which is working to make the Park more welcoming and inclusive.

When not writing or teaching mathematics at North Country Community College, Pete can be found in the back country, making music or even walking on stilts, which he and his wife Amy have done professionally throughout the United States for nearly two decades.

Pete is a proud resident of Keene, and along with Amy and his dog Henderson owns Lost Brook Tract, a forty-acre inholding deep in the High Peaks Wilderness.


One Response

  1. Libby Robbins says:

    Thank you Pete Nelson for singing the praises of our favorite restaurant in LP! We go there for the Friday night beer pairing dinners every time we come up to our northern home. Between the creative, playful cooking, masterful mixology, and welcoming staff, there is no place we’d rather eat – and that includes all the 4 star restaurants in Washington, DC, where we live when we’re not here.

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