Big city sophistication in a quaint country setting
Overall rating on a scale of 1-10
Service 9 Food 9 Ambiance 7 Price – $$$
The last thing I thought I’d experience at a 150-year-old farmhouse in Jonesville, a tiny, historic hamlet near Clifton Park, is one of the most innovative, refined and thoughtful meals I’ve had in the Capital Region. The first thing that occurred to me was how on earth have I not come across this place sooner? The second thing was how soon can I come back? It’s nice to know that no matter how many places you go out to eat or for how long you’ve been dining out, there are still great new discoveries to be made. This was one such unexpected discovery.
Before I continue, let me properly set the stage for this culinary revelation. The Jonesville Store has been owned and run since 2006 by two families, the Travis’ and the Unger’s. Not only is it a restaurant in a beautiful historic building, it also houses a gourmet deli, gift shop, features live music on Friday and Saturday nights, and is even home to an art gallery upstairs. So far, there’s nothing not to like.
When trying to find a parking spot in the Jonesville Store lot on a recent Saturday night, dining companion Peter and I knew immediately that not making reservations was a mistake. On the other hand, the packed lot was clearly a good sign and we were excited to find out what all these people apparently already knew.
Walking in, we were welcomed by friendly staff and a room that emanated with energy, thanks to a crowd of lively patrons and a lively musical performer. The restaurant has two rooms with seating. The main room is where most of the tables are situated along with an expansive deli counter that runs along the left side of the room. There are also half a dozen tables in the back room, which is where we were seated after a short wait.
The dcor was simple, country; the menu, however, was all sophistication, including the wine and cocktail list that offered some unusual domestic and imported red and white wines, and a nice selection of draft beers. My drink choice was easy, the Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand ($8). This complex wine has slight citrus notes and a balanced acidity; it practically shouts “summer”. Peter had the locally-made Brown’s Tomhannock Pilsner ($6), a refreshing and completely accessible choice that most any beer drinker would appreciate.
Diving right onto the salad menu we decide to share the Cheese Plate ($8.99), which included three cheeses and crackers. All of the cheeses were enjoyable, but the standout was a sharp, crumbly cheddar that was wonderful alongside sweet pear jelly and candied walnuts. Peter also ordered a Gorgonzola Salad ($3.99) featuring fresh mixed greens, sliced pears, candied nuts and an abundance of creamy gorgonzola cheese in a light Balsamic dressing. Other options on the Salad menu included an Antipasti Plate ($5.99/$10.99) with sopressata, prosciutto, capicola fresh mozzarella and roasted peppers and a Caesar Salad ($2/$4.99) made with shaved Parmesan and garlic herbed croutons. Although this menu was not extensive, I think any of the choices would be marvelous; the cheeses are handcrafted and the vegetables are locally grown in most cases. And if this wasn’t enough, there was also plenty of freshly-baked bread.
As good as the starters were, judging by the menu, dinner had the potential to be even better. More innovative and imaginative, all the choices were listed with wine pairing suggestions, a nice touch, especially given the impressive wine list. The dinners ranged from a Petite Chicken Cutlet ($15.95) with Raspberry Chutney alongside couscous and arugula pesto to a Slow Braised Pulled Pork ($15.95) served with Wasabi mashed potatoes, braised cabbage and a whole grain Gruyere mornay (essentially a Bchamel sauce made with cheese, how bad could this be?).
So, how were we ever going to choose? Most times, my strategy is to ask the server. This can be hit or miss, depending on the knowledge and taste level of your server; however, at the Jonesville Store I did not feel this would be an issue. Up until this point we found the staff to be informed, accommodating and eager to share their opinions.
After my line of questioning and a reassurance that I could also customize any selection, I ordered the mouth-watering Trottole, a pasta dish with portabella mushrooms, spinach, capicola and shaved Fontinella ($14.95). Peter ordered what was the most fascinating- sounding dish on the menu: Seared Scallops with Rhubarb puree and strawberries served with sugar snap peas and vanilla risotto ($17.95). Wow…! I am usually the more adventurous diner of the two of us, but on this night Peter was the one who ventured into new territory. And he was duly rewarded. This was one of those meals that I will likely never forget.
The scallops themselves were superbly seared producing a tender and flavorful bite. The unexpected pairing of vanilla with risotto was a resounding success; not sweet, but slightly floral, rich and intoxicatingly fragrant. This meal was made truly harmonious by the sweetness of the sugar snap peas and slightly tart rhubarb puree. Describing this dish I can foresee your puzzled look – but trust me, the Jonesville Store clearly knows what they are doing.
My Trottole, although not quite as daring a choice, was a dish in which every ingredient was of the highest quality. The olive oil, although perhaps a little overused, was fruity and earthy, the mushrooms were firm and meaty and the spinach was wilted, but not over-cooked. There was also some serious spice in this dish thanks to the sacrifice of many, many cloves of garlic. This was a heavier meal than Peter’s, yet when our waitress came by, somehow both of our plates were (licked) completely clean. I implore you to put yourself in the hands of these culinary experts, and you will leave satisfied and delighted, and maybe even with your horizons expanded.
Saying no to dessert was not an option, especially given the fact that you unavoidably walk by the impressive dessert case upon entering the building. (Hmmmm, was that by design? Whatever the case, it was effective). Peter and I shared a piece of Carrot Cake ($4.95) generously spiced with clove and nutmeg. However, I think it may have been overly-spiced; the delicate sweetness of carrot was unfortunately overpowered. However, we found a bright spot in the cream cheese frosting, which we devoured with no complaints. There were also a variety of chocolate cakes (like the Chocolate Raspberry or Chocolate Pecan Praline) and NY Style Cheesecake. All desserts were from the Glens Falls-based Chocolate Mill Pastry Shop & Caf.
At the end of the evening the restaurant quieted down a bit, but was by no means empty. Obviously the secret is out about the fashionable, modern food being served in this friendly country setting. I encourage you to try it; not only can you enjoy dinner at the restaurant, but you also have the option of ordering a daily Grab and Go Dinner. Each day for only $12.95 a different entre is featured with salad and bread. Check the website for the menu. The deli is open all day, offering a wide range of salads, sandwiches and homemade soup.
The Jonesville Store is brimming with both bucolic charm and upscale urban flair. This is a winning combination that shouldn’t be missed.
The total cost for three glasses of wine, one bottle of beer, two salads, two entrees and one dessert (excluding tax and tip) was $80.83.
The Jonesville Store is located at 989 Main Street in Clifton Park. Open Tuesday-Thursday 8am-8pm; Friday & Saturday 8am-8:30pm and Sunday 8am-3pm. Closed Monday. Dinners served Tuesday-Saturday. For more information call 877.0507 or visit: www.thejonesvillestore.com.
Christina DeMers is an online marketing manager, food blogger and amateur cook who lives in East Greenbush, but eats just about anywhere.