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New Scotland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, February 5, 2009
Moon lights up Clarksville restaurant scene
By Saranac Hale Spencer
NEW SCOTLAND Jake Moon cast about two generations ago, but his likeness now graces an old diner in Clarksville.
He was “sort of a Rip Van Winkle type,” Moon’s great-grandson said of him.
Daniel Smith chose his great-grandfather’s name for his restaurant that draws food from neighboring farms. The well-bred chef opened the restaurant and bakery after a decades-long career heading the kitchens of several epicurean destinations, most recently Nicole’s Bistro in Albany.
“It was like a diamond in the rough,” Smith said of his modest spot on Route 443 in Clarksville, which has been host to several eateries over the last few years. He wanted “a little bit more room for my elbows,” he said, and he isn’t worried about the building’s recent history of high turnover. “This is my fourth restaurant,” Smith said.
He redesigned the logo from a restaurant that he had owned further down the Hudson Valley, with his great-grandfather’s name layered in a box with Moon’s second “O” dropping off the plane like a moon dropping off the horizon. The original design was made by Milton Glaser, the famed graphic artist who created the “I © NY” logo and dozens of other iconic designs of the last five decades.
Smith may develop a brand around Jake Moon, he said, which would probably start with selling his fresh-baked bread, made with Champlain Valley Flour, in local stores and later opening a satellite café in Albany or Saratoga.
For now, Smith is developing a menu that includes sausage, jams, and granola that he makes himself. Formally trained to cook in Europe, Smith said, “French is the foundation of cuisine.” He ended up there after being stationed overseas in the Army, where he learned “institutional, large-scale cooking.”
When he was discharged, Smith stayed in Paris and graduated from the La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine before traveling the continent, perfecting the craft. “It formed the way I cook,” he said.
Part of that philosophy is using local ingredients, like milk from the dairy down the road and vegetables from his own garden. Smith lives on an old goat farm about a mile from Jake Moon and plans to triple the size of his green patch, which helps to fill the boxed lunches that he makes while patrons eat their breakfasts.
Jake Moon is located at 2082 Delaware Turnpike and is open every day for breakfast and lunch. Prices range from about $3 to $7 on the breakfast menu and from $5 to $7 on the lunch menu. It serves dinner until 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.