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Building A Bathrobe Bistro

October 24, 2017

Was there a time when the Capital Region was boring? What I originally wanted to write about today was the fact that Esperanto’s doughboys are now available in the hot food case of select Saratoga county Stewart’s Shops.

While that’s kind of exciting, and while I might pay the $4 for one of these delightfully heavy pizza dough rolls filled with cream cheese and diced chicken, I’d still have to drive to Clifton Park for the privilege. My hope of hopes is that this experiment goes well, and we’ll see doughboys down by SUNY Albany in the near future.

However, just yesterday I got the scoop on a different story that I’ve been waiting to share for weeks.

All the way back on October 10, I took a hard hat tour of Spa Mirbeau, which is being built in Crossgates Mall. And while it would be strange for the FLB to talk about a place to go and get your nails done, it would make perfect sense to write about a new restaurant. The owners see this as more of a day resort than a day spa, per se.

It’s the kind of resort where you can eat lunch in the comfort of your bathrobe. And that’s kind of awesome. Here’s what I know.

When I first heard someone was going to put a day spa in Crossgates Mall, I kind of rolled my eyes a bit. But I did that when I heard about Speakeasy 518 too. Maybe it’s time I start having more faith in humanity. Because, this place is shaping up to be pretty sweet.

Walking around, I had to use a little bit of imagination. There were no finishings. There were no fixtures. Just walls and artist renderings of how rooms would look when completed.

The main entrance to the spa is upstairs by Macy’s. There’s a small pocket parking lot up in that corner of the mall, which few people use. And that mall entrance will bear a Spa Mirbeau sign. People will still be able to use it to access the main mall, but I imagine most of the foot traffic will lead right into the day resort.

What’s the difference between a day spa and a day resort? Good question.

A day spa is where you go for a treatment or treatments. Maybe a massage and a facial. A day resort is like a mini vacation, it’s a place where you can go to leave the cares of the world behind.

So here’s how this works. If you buy a treatment at the spa, you get access to the facilities for the day. And really there are a few key areas. There is a gym and showers. But the big draw is a room called the Aqua Terrace, which not only has an eleven person hot tub, but also a large bar and tables where you can enjoy a full menu in the comfort of your bathrobe.

Yes. Everyone is in robes. You get fitted for one as soon as you check in. And apparently as you get deeper and deeper into the spa, the lighting gets softer and softer, bringing you further down the path of relaxation.

It sounds fabulous.

Although, you do not have to buy a treatment to experience the bistro menu. There will be a publicly accessible sixty seat bistro that you can access from the mall directly. It sounds like those at the spa could have the option of dining out in the actual bistro instead of the Aqua Terrace, but I’m not sure why anyone would want to do that.

What I didn’t know until just yesterday was anything about the menu, or who would be heading up the culinary operations.

Michael Morelli has been named the executive chef. He’s coming from a gig at Jacob & Anthony’s in Saratoga Springs. But he’s also an ACF Certified Executive Chef so he’s probably friends with my buddy Chris Tanner, who is also back in town. That’s another story.

Le Bistro isn’t quite as French as I had hoped. The menu is trying to have something for everyone, since some people will be at the spa for improving their health and well being, while others will be treating themselves to a decadent getaway.

I’m probably most excited by dishes like the warm mushroom salad with oyster mushrooms, crispy egg, artichokes and goat cheese. But the grilled oysters with pancetta, fennel pollen, tomato panko and chive fondue sound lovely too. Things like tuna crudo with sriracha sour cream, wakame and wontons might prove to be popular, but feel off base. We’ll have to see.

So much of this depends upon execution, which is why I was reassured that the person tapped to be the Albany spa director was Mirbeau Hospitality Services’ third employee, who was hired by the organization 17 years ago. They have two other resorts. One in Skaneateles and another in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

But instead of building a third resort, Michael and Jonathan—the CEO and his business partner—were looking to launch a concept with a smaller footprint. They expect this location to employ a total of 100 people, and to be able to fulfill 170 treatments over the course of a day. Which isn’t to say the place will be mobbed. Keeping it peaceful, tranquil, and private are important issues, so the spa itself should not have more than thirty people in it at any given time.

There’s even a membership option, if that’s your thing. But I know very little about that. What I do know is that soon we may have a cute little bistro at the mall where I can go for a delightful salad, and maybe a glass of wine.

And when I want to treat myself or Mrs. Fussy to some time away from the hustle and bustle of life, I can send her to the mall for the day. She can have a massage, drink something fun, soak in the hot tub, and enjoy a delicious meal. Then she can take a Lyft home.

I’m looking forward to checking it out again during the open house on November 15, so I can see if the execution lives up to the vision. Then on November 16, the first treatments begin, so the only way in after the open house is to book a service. Assuming, of course, that everything goes to plan. I mean, this is New York, what could possibly go wrong?

One Comment leave one →
  1. Don permalink
    October 24, 2017 11:46 am

    I sat around all day in my robe the day after my kids’ bnai mitzvah. Ate caterer’s leftovers, and probably had a glass of wine. My lyft was probably a second glass.

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