Upon sitting down at Andre’s, we looked out across the patio to Seneca Lake and saw some elegant and beautiful swans gracefully gliding across the water. Then we looked down at the menu to see a swan etched on the cover. This logo is so appropriate for this noteworthy and memorable restaurant that is as distinguished as the beautiful swan.
Some of the dishes boasted imaginative touches that added to our delicious experience. Take for example, the appetizer of house-cured salmon, warm-crusted potato, caviar and creme fraiche ,which was brought to the table in an upside-down smoke-filled wine glass. The glass was raised and smoke poured over the salmon providing whimsy to this dish, which was now smoked salmon. An entrée special, a play on maki, had a bamboo leaf wrapped around sticky rice that was stuffed with crab. Hugging the roll was a fillet of halibut and zucchini ribbons. Our waitress told us to think of this dish as a crab cake with rice. Additionally, an amuse bouche of shrimp on skewers were presented on top of a black, metal Asian-looking table-top smoker that was emitting smoke. This was described to us as smoked shrimp. The plate had swirls of a spicy aioli; a delectable indication of the dishes to come.
We feasted first with our eyes and then on the multiple layers of texture and flavors in the dishes we ate. An unusual tomato-based artichoke soup was filled with chopped vegetables and soft artichoke leaves reminding us of gazpacho. Braised pork belly was presented in a lidded casserole dish with fresh noodles, pickled cucumber and a soft egg with a broth that was similar to ramen. Seafood bisque came with a raft of tarragon cream. All can be recommended.
A black lacquered Chinese-themed plate held a slice of brioche topped with duck pastrami and sauerkraut (Jewish deli food) and was presented with a glass of chocolate milk with seltzer (egg cream). Were these Jewish-themed delicacies along with the Chinese-themed plate, chef Andre’s reminder to the diner of the connection between Jewish people and Chinese food, especially on Christmas Day, when it is a tradition to go to a Chinese restaurant? Or, was it just his way of having more fun in the kitchen and/or stimulating our taste buds and conversation? Another mischievously named dish, which we did not try on this visit, was sparrows broth, bacon dashi and foie gras. Of course, we asked “what is sparrow broth?” and were told that sparrow is a German word for spaetzle. Mystery solved.
Pistou and ratatouille combined with a rich and perfectly grilled king salmon was sublime. An ample portion of medium-rare duck was tender and topped with mixed greens; one of the best presentations we have had in a long time. Equally satisfying was a sautéed lamb loin with broccoli and rice; a top-notch dish.
Desserts left us sighing and planning our next visit here. An exceptional dessert, a deconstructed lemon meringue pie consisting of lemon meringue with warm graham cracker triangles and ginger meringue was brilliant and a I-do-not-want-to-share-this dessert. A chocolate-caramel tart with sea salt, bourbon and black cherry was also devoured.
Andre’s offers a tasting menu asked you to put yourself in his hands. After a short conversation about allergies and dislikes, Andre will create a six- or seven-course menu, which is priced according to the daily offerings, with some selections from the menu and some at Andre’s whim. We would not hesitate to go with his whim. Additionally, diners can opt for 4 to 5 starters, add a dessert and design their own tasting menu. Or opt for a five-course dinner, where you can select a soup, appetizer, salad, main course and a dessert and add $38 to the main course price and enjoy.
With dessert a hot Vietnamese coffee was ordered, which was another visual experience. The coffee is in a filter on the top of a glass that has sweetened condensed milk on the bottom. Hot water is poured over the low acid grounds, think of it as a drip brew. You are told to stir the milk from the bottom up. There was a hint of chocolate in the smooth-tasting coffee and quite a realization about how special this type of coffee is.
The building where Andre’s is now located was vacant for many years. It was previously Zoe’s By The Lake, and has been transformed into a charming restaurant. The dining room has tables spaced far apart allowing for conversation and the décor is uncluttered and comfortable. There is a patio overlooking the lake as well as a balcony that seats 30. A small private dining room and super private dining room are also on the second level.
Chef Andre de Waal, a CIA graduate, has captured our hearts and our stomachs. Do try this restaurant, which recites specials with the prices. Jeff Galan is chef de cuisine and eagle eyed Tracey deWaal oversees the dining room.
Open Wednesday through Saturday from 5 PM; available for catering and private events; BYO.
Oh, and did I mention the buttermilk biscuit and brioche roll served with duck fat butter when we were seated? YUM……
112 Tomahawk Trail
Photos courtesy of Lowell Saferstein
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