The physical location of The Epicurean Bistro (at 579 Troy-Schenectady Road in Latham, inside of Latham Farms) has some strong personal significance. It’s where Cassie and I met when the location was a fun wine bar named Vin Santo.
That was years ago, and the space has changed hands. The interior has also changed significantly. In addition to the main dining area and bar area, both of which have been decorated with a lot of brown, there is a small shop area where there are some fine meats and cheeses that are sold to go. There’s also a bunch of fancy knickknacks available for sale next to the main dining area.
I haven’t been in a tremendous hurry to eat at the Epicurean Bistro, but, one morning, I was in charge of choosing where to go for brunch, and this was my idea.
I decided to order the Charcuterie & Cheese Plate (Cheese, Cured Ham & Chef’s Homemade Pâté – $12) as a starter.
The size of the platter was in line with my expectations, but I was a little disappointed that there was no cured ham as indicated on the menu. I mentioned this to the server, and she said that the platter is really whatever the chef decides to put together that day. She was a little defensive about it so I didn’t want to nitpick the language in the menu any further. [But, for the record, if something is supposed to come with Cheese, Cured Ham & Chef's Homemade Pâté, there should be ham on the plate. Otherwise, the menu should replace the & with "or."]
There were two types of pâté on the plate. One was a veal liver pâté, the other was smoked salmon. The first one was delicious and was very nice with the whole wheat crackers and toasts. The salmon pâté wasn’t for me; I’m not particularly a fan of salmon to begin with, so I didn’t expect to love it.
The cheeses were interesting. I asked the server to explain the cheeses, and she said one was Moody Blue and the other was a French morbier. The first cheese was outstanding. It’s smoked, so it eats sort of like gouda, but has a more brittle texture and the funkiness of blue cheese. The morbier was a very strong cheese that was more soft.
As my main dish, I ordered croque madame (Ham, Swiss & Béchamel Sauce Topped with a Sunny Side Up Egg… Served Warm – $10).
A few things about the plate puzzled me. The first was the spice garnish around the plate; it didn’t really add anything. The bread was a bit of a disappointment. I imagined that the sandwich would be assembled with a nice hearty wheat bread with a nice crust and great texture, not sliced bread that was soft. The white in the egg on top was still raw in parts, so I let the carryover heat cook it a little more before I started eating.
The ham inside, although flavorful, was a standard deli ham, and the cheese used on top (swiss, according to the menu) had little flavor. I couldn’t finish this sandwich.
The lentil salad that was served on the side was actually pretty delicious.
I’ve heard some mixed things about the food at the Epicurean, and I went in with high hopes. The experience fell a little short. There’s a lot more to the menu to sample, so maybe brunch just isn’t what’s special about this place.