Blue plate customarily refers to the sort of inexpensive square meal dished out in a diner. The Blue Plate Restaurant of Chatham, New York, is something else. Calling itself an “American bistro with international implications,” it is a stylish dinner house with an ambitious kitchen. Nothing on the menu is commonplace. Burgers are made of grass-fed beef and served on brioche buns; a tomato salad is strictly heirlooms; meat loaf is sided by chili-glazed carrots; fudge sauce for sundaes is Judy’s Chewy Fudge Topping – some of the most delicious hot fudge anywhere.
For that sundae alone – made with house-churned ice cream – I will eagerly return to the Blue Plate; but in fact the pre-dessert menu is compelling. It is more trendy than soulful and it definitely is more expensive than most Roadfood, but for an expertly prepared, chef-driven meal in a casual country setting, it’s a winner.
Start with crisp-edge spinach-potato pancakes or PEI mussels lolling in white wine and garlic or – as I enjoyed one evening early in the summer – local ramps sheathed in fragile tempura crust and sided by lemon pepper aioli. Among the other specials that fine June evening were grilled shrimp in a festive coat of garlic scape pesto and Thai coconut mussels flavored with lemongrass, ginger, and red chilies. You always can count on perfectly al dente linguine crowded with vivid littleneck clams, cast-iron-baked chicken thighs, grilled hanger steak, and pad Thai either vegetarian or with chicken.
But let’s get back to dessert. Sticky toffee pudding, white chocolate cheesecake, Key lime tarts, and chocolate bourbon espresso cake all sound swell. But it is ice cream, made in house, that makes my heart go pit-a-pat. Regular flavors include vanilla, “killer chocolate,” and Kahlua coffee. One special flavor is Almond Joy – creamy-sweet and chockful of dark chocolate and shreds of coconut. It is grand with no adornment whatsoever. Topped with a warm spill of Judy’s Chewy Fudge Topping, it becomes stratospheric.