Trio of Chefs Elevating The Wine Bar’s Culinary Offerings

With a name like The Wine Bar, it’s not entirely surprising that a lot of Saratogians don’t know that the longtime Broadway establishment serves entrées in addition to small plates and wine. But thanks to the arrival of not one, not two, but three ambitious, up-and-coming chefs, all of Saratoga will soon be aware: The Wine Bar doesn’t just have food. It has some of the best food in the Spa City.

“It’s hard to compete in the culinary world of Saratoga,” says Wine Bar owner Melissa Evans, who opened the restaurant in 1999, back when there weren’t nearly as many fine-dining establishments in town as there are today. “Everyone is doing such a nice job, and being the old kid on the block, we’re not thought of as ‘the hot, new place to go.’”

Chefs Skyler Jackson, Joseph Augustine and Peter Wurtmann

Evans hopes to change that perception in time for the Belmont and track season with her not-so-secret weapons: Chefs Peter Wurtmann, Skyler Jackson and Joseph Augustine. Since their arrival in February, the co-chefs have gotten to work not so much remaking The Wine Bar’s menu as elevating it. 

“We’ve always had tenderloin and rack of lamb and venison,” Evans says. “This is just a lot more creative.” Now, instead of mashed potatoes, the venison is served with thousand-layer potato pavé, cherry bordelaise and charred Romanesco. Other standout dishes? The 14-day dry-aged duck breast, served with a mushroom parmesan risotto; mussels, which come with sausage in a slurp-able beer sauce; and ratatouille, served atop a creamy Romesco sauce.

And then there’s dessert. “Peter’s our in-house artist,” Evans says. “He’s got a very artistic brain, and he loves doing the desserts because he can be really fun and creative with those.” Case in point: His angel food cake comes served with a slightly spicy Szechuan strawberry syrup and pomegranate-sumac whipped cream. (You also musttry the lemon curd layer cake.)

So, with three chefs, is there risk of there being—literally—too many cooks in the kitchen? It doesn’t seem like it. “We wanted them to work together as a team and see how that works out,” Evans says. “And so far, so good. They’ve all settled into their specialties and work together to make it all happen.”

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