LAKE PLACID —Why would anyone in their right mind name a restaurant Liquids & Solids? The name is different, for sure. But maybe that’s why — because the food and drink are different.
While the name may suggest that Liquids & Solids has basic offerings, the thirsty or hungry person is in for anything but basic — it’s upscale food and drink in a laid-back atmosphere.
Liquids & Solids is an unpretentious, almost rustic place just past the downtown strip on the way to the ski jumps. It’s a bar/restaurant in this quintessential tourist town with an obviously passionate food wizard in the kitchen.
It was a Sunday, and the town was crawling with out-of-towners. It was a little quieter at L&S, just off the beaten path in the space formerly occupied by the Handlebar. Our first impression of the place began with the specials, posted at the entrance, written on brown paper bags.
Inside, a very compelling bar almost snagged us, but we went directly to one of the high-tops in the center of the long room. We noticed more bags behind the bar with drink specials written on them.
Our server, Liz, was terrific. An equally passionate devotee of L&S’s offerings and a former patron herself, she helpfully answered all our questions and steered us through the menu of small plates, big plates, sides and sweets, as well as the largest list of beer offerings we have seen, and a fascinating list of fancy mixed drinks.
The menus were printed on plain, recycled paper and presented on clipboards. We began with a round of drinks from the “liquids” page and the separate beer menu: Mama’s Little Pils ($4), a true pilsner from Oskar Blues Brewery in Colorado, a Mother’s Milk stout ($6) draft from Keegan Ales in Kingston, N.Y., a gin “lavandula” and a nonalcoholic “barracuda slice.”
The specialty drinks were most intriguing. The lavandula ($10) was a very large and beautiful gin cooler, made with gin, raspberry puree, lemon juice and lavender syrup. Tasty and exceptional, perfect on a warm summer night.
Equally outstanding was the boozeless barracuda slice ($5), a combination of grapefruit, guava, apple, pineapple, lime, simple syrup and soda water.
Now for the solids.
The eclectic menu of many tantalizing small and large plate dishes is perfect for trying many things, and especially for sharing. We began with the poutine preparation of the day ($10), curried goat.
This dish was phenomenal. The perfect long, thinlycut fries—crisp on the outside, soft on the inside—and creamy cheese curds were doused in scrumptious, savory, curried meat gravy. You could tell the meat had been braised slowly in wine and herbs for hours, resulting in succulent, fork-tender shredded goat meat.
It was a dark curry with very complex flavors. Not only were there the hints of cumin and cayenne, but cardamom and other sweet savories also sang through.
Hey, this isn’t your ordinary restaurant, we quickly realized. This is going to be fun!
Now for four “smalls” to share.
Italian-style white bean and kale soup ($6) was perfectly done. It was an excellent balance of white beans and kale in a rich broth topped with a float of crisp-baked Parmesan over a slightly sweet dollop of tomato and basil jam.
Chilled pea soup ($9) was in fact a soup and sandwich. Mint and crème fraiche enhanced the flavor of the soup. It had a small, smoked-ham and cheese baguette sandwich tipped into it. Delightful.
There are a number of low-priced smalls that could be considered sides: grits ($4), crispy polenta ($4), fried egg ($1), Caesar salad ($4), and the two we tried, beet and orange salad ($3) and fried Brussels sprouts ($3).
The salad was special and delicious, small slices of orange tossed with chunks of cooked beets in a creamy tarragon dressing — a treat that could easily sell for twice the price elsewhere.
The zingy Brussels sprouts were one of the unexpected delights of the menu, quartered, flash-fried until the outer leaves were slightly crispy, tossed with olive oil and capers. There was little or no bitterness associated with sprouts.
Just to say we bought something in a nice restaurant for a mere dollar, we got pickles. They weren’t spicy as advertised, but they were dill pickle-tangy, thinly sliced lengthwise and simply presented on a small white side plate.
Rather than order “big” plates at this point (hot sausage crepinette, mixed chicken grill, seafood sausage and more), we continued with more of the interesting and intriguing smalls as a sort of tasting menu.
The charcuterie platter ($15) was something right out of Europe. It was served on a cute piggy trenchon and included duck pate en croute, terrine of rabbit, duck prosciutto and smoked ham, all made in-house, along with baguette crostini, baby gherkins, pickled onions and dried-cranberry mustard. The quality of the meats was superb.
We also ordered the mussels ($10), about a dozen of them prepared with broccoli rabe, carefully arranged in a winey, garlicky broth that only lacked soft bread for sopping. Threads of candied lemon peel were scattered on top.
The ratatouille ($10) was outstanding, a mélange of summer squash, zucchini, tomatoes, onions and herbs. The highlight was a lovely little individual goat cheese panna cotta (“cooked cream”) with bits of basil included.
Although it was greeted with anxiety, the crispy beef tongue ($12) was quite surprising. For those of you who remember pickled tongue, cooked for hours until it turned into something grey and tough, this was not that.
It came burger-shaped with a crispy seasoned breaded crust, served on two thick slices of heirloom beefsteak tomato with basil-ricotta pesto in between. A very subtle tzatziki-like sauce accompanied.
The consistency of the meat was a little fatty, but still retained a vague reminiscence of roast beef, with a little imagination.
You vegetarians still with me? I should mention some options for you, like the zucchini and wild rice fritter with poached pear, bok choy, lime oil and aged goat cheese … or the polenta with grilled asparagus, candied olives, pickled garlic scapes and sauce gribiche … or the greens with snap peas, radishes, feta, beets, grapefruit gastrique and candied nuts.
Desserts (categorized is “Solids-Sweets”) followed the over-the-top adventurous theme and cost $8 apiece.
Chocolate bacon crème brulee was as rich and decadent as it sounds, chocolate custard poured over salty bacon bits. Then there’s almond milk panna cotta served on an almond tuille placed on a bed of rhubarb sauce. More traditionally, the peach “shortcake” — fresh peaches and strawberries between homemade lemon shortbread, topped with real whipped cream — was just plain delicious.
Dinner for four cost $110.69 before adding in drinks and tip.
Much credit is due to chef/owner Tim Loomis and his business partner, Keegan Konkoski, the competent and adventuresome mixologist. These two very talented risk-takers have a restaurant that would send any foodie into a frenetic frenzy.
The food was skillfully prepared and beautifully presented. The wait staff is enthusiastic and superbly trained. We can’t wait to plan our next visit to Liquids & Solids.
You can contact restaurant reviewer Walter Siebel via email: email@example.com.
Liquids & Solids
6115 Sentinel Road
Lake Placid, N.Y.
1 (518) 837-5012
The name is different. But maybe that’s because the food and drink are different.
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday
The menu changes frequently, but here are some of our favorites the night we visited:
SMALL PLATES: Curried goat poutine, white bean and kale soup, beet and orange salad, chilled pea and mint soup, fried Brussels sprouts, charcuterie platter, ratatouille
DESSERTS: Chocolate bacon crème brulee, rhubarb with almond milk panna cotta
LIQUIDS: Gin “lavandula,” nonlcoholic “barracuda slice”
RATING: 5 forks