When Paul Parker and Cheryl Clark closed Chez Sophia in Saratoga Springs a few years ago, the New York State Capital District lost one of its greatest restaurants, ever. It was a special place for us because we had been to their original location when Paul's mother, Sophie was in the kitchen and were frequent visitors to the Malta and Saratoga locations where Paul carried on superbly in mom's footsteps. And our daughter's wedding reception was hosted by Paul and Cheryl at Malta. That was 10 years ago and the compliments of the greatest wedding ever are still coming in. We were thrilled that Paul and his partner, Michael, took the risky plunge into this unique venture. The wine bar is a visually stunning and comfortable space that offers exceptional fare and many fine wines in a casual but chic atmosphere. At our last visit we started with a flight of white wines that complemented the impeccably fresh oysters and moved on to the main faire and a glass of a superb Syrah blend from the southwest of France. The wine complemented our exquisitely prepared small plates of braised sweetbreads and rack of lamb perfectly. While we were enjoying our meals, Michael came around and gave us a sample of a lovely rose. Meanwhile, we had a delightful conversation with the couple at the next table, with whom we had jokingly offered to do battle over the sweetbreads should they have been in short supply. Fortunately that was not the case. In fact our new acquaintances went for seconds. They were that good. There is always a great offering of cheese available and many other familiar and unfamiliar delicious appetizers and main courses to choose from. It was impossible to forego the signature house desert, an incredibly rich chocolate cake. The excellent decaf coffee would have sufficed, but Michael gave us an even better accompaniment, a sampling of a rare Manzanllia sherry that he had been able to procure in limited supply. That was, in itself, worth the trip. Our neighbors quickly availed themselves of the last remaining bottle. Graciously, we did not challenge them to a duel over it. But it may have been worth it. Some customers have found the Ipad ordering system daunting, but after a while it becomes easy to use. You just have to go back a few times. And even though we live an hour away, we plan on making the trip frequently. Currently the Wine Bar is offering a special Friday Flights and Bites seating that features nine wines each accompanied by a small plate that complements it. On Sundays they offer a half priced prix fixe menu with half priced bottles. We are hoping the Wine Bar thrives so that we can continue to enjoy the great food and hospitality that we have always appreciated from the Parker family.
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