I had a rare opportunity to dine farther north than usual this past Saturday night. Neither Cassie nor I had a clue what we wanted. So I reached out to the twitter community. I got a couple of good suggestions, but nothing that we were enthusiastic about committing to. We were watching a Bobby Flay cooking program on the new Cooking Channel, and he made some weird ricotta fritters, and I commented on how much they looked like hush puppies and how much I loved hush puppies. At that point, Cassie wouldn’t take no for an answer about eating at a place called Hatties in Saratoga, located at 45 Phila Street.
Hatties food was actually featured on an episode of Food Network’s Throwdown with Bobby Flay and actually beat out Flay’s chicken in that competition, so you know it has to be good. At home, I browsed the menu on the internet. I had decided between the fried chicken and jerk chicken breast, long before even entering the restaurant.
So we made the drive from lovely Latham, NY to downtown Saratoga. We parked in the nearest parking garage and walked the short 3 blocks to Hatties. There were about 10 people waiting outside. It was 4:58pm, and the restaurant was slated to open at 5pm. After two minutes, the waitresses greeted everyone at the door and seated everyone. The dining room was very small. The tables were positioned very close to one another. We were given the choice between dining inside and dining on the heated patio. We opted for the dining room, just because it seemed quaint and homely.
We placed an order for hush puppies as an appetizer, and I was still undecided on my entrée. So I asked our server a simple question that would decide whether I ate jerk chicken or fried chicken: how spicy is the jerk chicken? She gave me the feeling that she was not confident that it was spicy at all, so that there made the decision to order fried chicken a no-brainer. If jerk chicken isn’t at a minimum “ridiculously hot,” it’s not worth ordering.
Our hush puppies arrived. They were alright. Yes, just alright. The flavor was there, but they were extremely dry. The same comment was made for the complimentary corn bread that was placed on the table. Both had very nice flavor, but the fact that they were so dry made it difficult for us to enjoy them fully. In order to combat the dryness, I used the hot sauces that were at the table. The hot sauces were pretty good.
Our entrées arrived. My fried chicken came presented on top of my mashed potatoes and candied sweet potatoes. Take a look:
My mashed potatoes were mediocre. I actually would have ordered just about anything other than mashed potatoes, as I never have had great mashed potatoes and argue that even what people call great mashed potatoes are in fact mediocre. The candied sweet potatoes were amazing. They were cubed nice and small and covered in a buttery, sugary, spicy glaze. Next time, it’s definitely double candied sweet potatoes as the side, this much I know.
The fried chicken was outstanding. I generally dislike ordering foods on bones, just because I never enjoy having to deconstruct the food. The flavoring of the chicken was so unique and palatable that I had no problem digging into the joints and taking apart the chicken. I would say that as far as the spice and tang that you expect when you bite into fried chicken, this chicken has it all. Perfect execution.
Cassie ordered the special fish of the day dish, which was a salmon served over grits. As she ate the salmon, she discovered an arugala salad under the salmon. Her comment was that such a salad would have been much better suited on top of the salmon or served with collard greens under the fish. She also liked the grits much more than the salmon.
I was stuffed, but Cassie wanted to try their pecan pie with homemade whipped cream. This was a different style pecan pie than I was used to; it was nowhere near as sweet as the pecan pies I’ve been exposed to. The filling was also dry and brittle as opposed to moist and sweet. The flavor was nice, but the whipped cream made the dish; it was awesome!
We received our check at around 6pm. So we were there for just about one hour. Within that time, the restaurant filled past capacity. The sign at the bar states maximum occupancy is 50, we counted 55 people (including the wait and bar staff – not counting the people in the heated patio, mind you) in there as we were leaving. While I was impressed with the food, if I were to return, and it was that busy, I probably would opt to eat somewhere else. That place was definitely pushing my claustrophobia limits.