The Wishing Well Restaurant — a treasure for all generations since 1936
Whether you are looking for a romantic evening or a night with the family, or whether you prefer more creative or traditional American cuisine, the Wishing Well Restaurant offers something for every generation. The atmosphere is comfortable and warm, the people down to earth and the food extraordinary. The delightful music and presence of child prodigy pianist Lou Palmer sets a romantic and relaxing atmosphere; he doesn’t just play Jazz – he swings.
The five rooms in this historic restaurant include the Victorian Room which dates to 1823, the main dining room, the bar, The Stone Room and the New Room. The wide variety of rooms is ideal for intimate romantic dinners, private family gatherings, or rehearsal dinners for up to 60. For weddings and special events, seating for up to 125 guests is available.
Slightly off the beaten path, this is a restaurant that thrives on its great reputation. Once you have dined at this restaurant, you will come back. Most of the Wishing Well customers have been doing just that for some time; in fact the Veal Casson was named after a customer who has dined at the restaurant for 25 years.
It’s rare to find a truly fabulous restaurant that also is kid friendly. The Wishing Well children’s menu was voted Best Children’s Menu in the Country in 2006. The kids menu features choices from the ever popular chicken fingers and spaghetti and meatballs – sure to please even the pickiest eaters – to the more unexpected frog legs with garlic butter and baked Virginia ham with raspberry sauce.
Inspired by the natural curiosity of his own young son, owner Bob Lee says, ‘Coloring books are great, but if you can teach a five year old how to tell the difference between a male and female lobster, you’ve got a life long customer’.
So, how do you keep your loyal customers who have been patronizing the restaurant for years happy, while attracting new ones? According to Bob Lee, the current menu pays respect to the people who have been dining there for twenty years, preserving the time tested recipes that have been in the family for generations, while the daily specials menu allows the chef some creativity to create unique dishes to please the next generation of diners.
Upon arrival we were seated in the Stone Room, a large room with vaulted ceilings, dark oak walls and beautiful stonework. Softly lit by candles, a fireplace keeps one toasty on a wintry night or cool summer evening. We were warmly greeted by Leah, a 25 year old waitress who has worked at the restaurant for eight years. She looks just like Cameron Diaz and has a fabulous smile! She is down to earth (like the owners), and her experience showed as she was knowledgeable, attentive yet unobtrusive.
The menu offers a plethora of fresh seafood, lamb chops, steaks and live lobster as well as the must-try menu item, Garlic Frogs legs. According to Bob Lee, people drive from Massachusetts and Connecticut just for the frog’s legs. Since the Jumbo Shrimp is also one of their specialties, I thought I’d give it a try’ a classic dish with three huge, flavorful and tender shrimp. The dish arrived with its own caddy of horseradish and spices so you can customize your cocktail sauce to your liking.
The Wishing Well offers ten to fifteen wines by the glass that change daily. Owner Bob Lee has also been known to open bottles of wine upon customer request to be sold by the glass. As I am not a wine connoisseur I asked Bob to select the wine pairings for our menu. He is humble about his
knowledge but out of all the places we’ve dined to date, he did the best job pairing the wines to
the food. What a difference a great pairing makes as it enhances the flavors of both the meal and the wine.
My partner had the garlic frog’s legs and was in absolute heaven. All great restaurants have their ‘must haves’ and this was it for us. Be adventurous, you will not regret trying this dish! In his expert opinion they were, ‘fabulous, tender, juicy, frogolicous’ (OK, he likes to be funny), then he added seriously, ”these were absolutely the best frog’s legs I’ve ever had’ (my husband has ordered frog’s legs at every possible restaurant he’s been to for the past thirty years, so I was rather impressed). This incredible dish paired with a dry Pierre Spar Riesling wine made the experience incredible.
Among the other special appetizers on the menu were Fresh Blue Point Oysters on the half shell (12.95) and Lobster Ravioli (12.95)
After the appetizer my partner was given a fingerbowl, just one example of the many touches of class and tradition at the Wishing Well which you don’t see much of anymore. After our appetizers, my partner enjoyed the Caesar salad with homemade dressing and I chose the Roasted Red Peppers and Fresh Mozzarella on mixed greens with vinaigrette. We were then offered fresh ground pepper, another touch of tradition.
For the main course, I feasted on the fresh broiled halibut in toasted pecan butter (22.95) with fresh green beans and garlic mashed potatoes, which were out of this world. The fish was mild and moist and had just the right seasoning. My partner chose the Wishing Well’s famous broiled triple thick Colorado lamb chops (23.95) which were beautifully prepared, juicy, and outstanding. This was perfectly paired with the Stagecoach Vineyards Black Bart Syrah 2003 Napa Valley, a dark grapey wild berry wine with nuances of pepper, nutmeg and mocha. By this time, all of the cares of our stressful week had melted away. We truly were transported to another realm through a spectacular meal, wine, service and atmosphere. We have been fortunate to dine at some of the best restaurants in the country and the Wishing Well is definitely one of our favorites.
It is not yet over, though; we then heard about Sandy, the pastry chef. Besides the hot raspberry and apple pies – which are made by an elderly neighbor – and the famous Morningkill bakery cheesecake made locally in Ballston Lake, all of the desserts are created at the restaurant by Sandy. Sandy also makes the best Mississippi Mud Pie, and I just I had to try it. (I apologize for the photo but the hot fudge was melting the whipped cream and I couldn’t wait to indulge in this sinful dessert. It was worth every calorie!)
The atmosphere and food at the Wishing Well Restaurant is extraordinary, but what makes it truly unique is its culinary range and ability to truly please everyone in your party with an exceptional
For more information or directions, visit www.saratogarestaurants.com/business/wishing-well-restaurant-1165/