1909 Adds Elegance
Intimacy At Otesaga
Tradition Of Great American Steakhouse
Reinterpreted On Shores Of Otsego Lake
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – At 1909, The Otesaga’s “intimate new dining experience,” it’s all about the presentation.
“Our Wagyu beef” – from a prized Japanese breed of cattle – “is prepared tableside,” said Jim Miles, general manager/vice president. “We have a special Japanese cast iron skillet and we sear it right at the table before serving with daikon and snow peas and a citrus Ponzu.”
Dressed only with a Himalayan salt, you can hear the sizzle halfway across the dining room – and experience the aroma, too.
“It’s meant for sharing,” said Miles. “It’s very rich, so a little goes a long way.”
Opened since July 4, the new entry – 1909 is the year the elegant resort hotel opened – is Miles’ brainchild, located in the former Lobby Bar and the small Glimmerglass Room reconfigured into an intimate dinner space.
“We use the Glimmerglass Room for our breakfast buffet and for lunch, but we wanted something different for the evening meal,” he said. “We removed two walls and opened up the double-sided fireplace, so now everyone feels like they’re in the main room.
The dining room also opens out onto the veranda. “We’ve had such great weather this summer, so people have really enjoyed dining out there,” said Miles.
In addition to the Wagyu, the new house-made salami plate is also sliced tableside, using a hand-cranked Red Berkel slicer. “You see it getting done,” he said. “You can have it sliced however thin you want it.”
The menu is designed to be an upgraded version of a classic American steakhouse, overseen by Executive Chef Jim Perillo. “I want people to experience something they’ve never had before,” he said.
The meal starts with house-made bread and goat-cheese butter. “I love goat cheese,” said Perillo. That it’s local, from the Painted Goat farm, near West Burlington, only adds to the allure.
The goat cheese also appears in the Spring Vegetable Crudite, stuffed inside a squash blossom and fried crispy in a gluten-free rice flour batter. “Squash blossoms are part of my Italian heritage,” he said.
Garnished with bright green herb tahini, Perillo knows there’s more than just taste involved in eating.
“People eat with their eyes as well as their stomachs,” said Miles. “It’s a lot of artistry, and Jim is good with that.”
For entrees, the house specialties include mint and garlic lamb, pan-roasted tilefish or, if you’re really hungry, a 36-ounce, long-bone Tomahawk steak.
“We advertise it for two,” said Miles. “If portion size is an issue, this steak just flies in the face of that.”
“It’s a Fred Flintstone steak,” said Perillo.
And like the Tomahawk steak, the sides – favorites include the hand-cut fries, the loaded baked potato and the Mexican cream corn – are designed for sharing.
“They’re big; we joke that our baked potato comes with a pillow!” Perillo said. “But really, you haven’t lived until you’ve had our Mexican cream corn.”
Whatever your entree, you’ll want to save room for dessert. “The lemon curd is my favorite,” said Miles. “It’s perfect on a hot summer day.”
Harry’s Berries from Oxnard, Calif, have been celebrated in such publications at the New York Times; Perillo has been using them for years, now as a garnish on their lemon curd.
“They’re not pretty, but they’re the sweetest strawberries you will ever have,” said Perillo.
The restaurant opens at 5:30 p.m. every night, offering a prix fixe menu specifically timed for visitors with Glimmerglass Festival tickets.
“We can have them in and out and on the trolley to make curtain,” said Miles. “We didn’t want them to feel left out.”
The restaurant will close at the end of the season in October, but Miles said that he intends to host specialty dinners in the space during the winter.
“With a little nip outside and the fireplace going, we think 1909 will be very inviting,” said Miles.