March 5, 2023
“Gastronomic Mastery on Glass Lake”
Tighe’s Bistro Americain, Averill Park
Article by Ilona Weisman, Vice Chargée de Presse
Photos by Bailli William Harris
Once upon a time there was a chef and a bartender. For 11 years the chef demonstrated a passion for global flavors at his gastropub, New World Bistro, while the bartender was a popular fixture behind the New World bar. But the bartender loved French cuisine and dreamed of having his own restaurant. That long ago collaboration between Ric Orlando and Kevin Tighe inspired the Albany Chaîne’s March 5th fête—a dinner engineered by both men at Tighe’s Bistro Americain in Averill Park.
Situated at the edge of Glass Lake in the Berkshire foothills a mere 15 miles from Albany, Kevin Tighe’s dream come true is yet a world away. The restaurant stands at a country crossroads in Rensselaer County in a building that dates to 1845. It first served as a stagecoach stop on a heavily travelled route between Albany and Boston, and doubled as a boarding house for journeymen mechanics who worked at the local glass factory. In 1850 the factory exploded never to reopen, and the building morphed into Glass Lake Hotel hosting city dwellers who wanted to escape the summer heat. For the next 150 years a succession of taverns and hotels occupied the site until Kevin Tighe and his wife Janice purchased the property. After nearly four years of restoration, the restaurant now sports a homey French vibe, the interior fitted out in red velvet banquettes with a long mirrored bar.
New World Bistro is no longer, but Chef Orlando leads food and culture tours to Sicily, hosts pop up dinners and cooking classes, and has developed his own brand of spice mixes and sauces. He rose to national fame with several appearances on the Food Network’s smash hit Chopped, and later appeared on Beat Bobby Flay, defeating the titular host with potato latkes fried in duck fat. Locally he won Best Chef in the Albany Times Union poll so many times, the newspaper retired the category. On Chopped Champions,judge Mark Murphy declared Ric’s Rum Raisin Jerk Quail ‘the best thing I’ve eaten on Chopped.’ A proponent of local produce, Ric counsels home cooks, “Be bold, be assertive, be real.”
Those were words to live by for the Chaine dinner at Tighe’s bistro. The fun began with Ric’s signature New World hors d’oeuvres—Ropa Vieja on fried plantain, Thai paste stuffed potstickers, and shrimp ceviche with tropical fruit. Dinner lifted off with crispy veal sweetbreads in a tangy caper sauce, plated next to eggplant tahini with zataar and a strip of flatbread still warm from the oven. Dr. Loosen Urziger Riesling Spatlese Mosel 2021 offset the zing with its notes of pear and peach. The second course exhibited Ric’s trademark fusion style: tamale stuffed with lobster and beech mushroom paired with that classic of French cuisine—Nantua sauce. Huitlacoche in the tamale imparted a smoky aura to the dish, while Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rosé added clarity.
Calmari stuffed with black risotto made for an interesting contrast to its bed of Trapanese sugo, dense and dark to complement Planeta “Eruzione 1614” Nerello Mascalese 2018, a medium-bodied Sicilian wine with a mildly licorice nose and a hint of the rocky, volcanic soils of the Etna region. Time for a break, said the chef: an intermezzo of caracara oranges with a whipped cream prepared from braised fennel was ingenious. The dinner closed with sliced medallions of duck breast in ginger duck demi glace, rutabaga purée and grilled bok choy, a suitable fit for Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape 2015. For dessert Kevin Tighe composed a plate with Champagne poached pear, lavender crème fraiche and a petite chocolate tart, the parade of flavors capped by a glass of Moscato.
In a tour de force two old friends came together again to regale the Albany bailliage – the one with verve and a worldly perspective, the other turning his fairy tale into reality. We are glad they did.