Boston Restaurant Blog -- December, 2006
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
As if the Kennebunkport festival wasn't enough, we decided to head to Cooperstown, NY to enjoy the pre-Christmas activities out there. We left from Boston last Friday, stopping at a truck stop off of the Mass. Pike in Chicopee called the Fifties Diner. Now this was not your typical bright, touristy, cheerful diner; rather, it was a bit gloomy and tired-looking. But the waitress was terrific (very cheerful and funny), and the food was very good, albeit extremely unhealthy. The turkey plate was swimming in white gravy, and the double cheeseburger was easily the greasiest burger I have had anywhere. But the diner food was definitely satisfying, and the price was right.
We arrived in Cooperstown around sunset, checked in, then drove around a bit, eventually ending up in Fly Creek, an attractive village on a hill just outside of Cooperstown. There, we ate at Portabello's, which we had been to a few years back. Portabello's is the type of classy, elegant restaurant that you might not expect to find in a tiny rural town such as Fly Creek. It almost feels like a speakeasy, with large ceiling fans, old-fashioned wall lamps, and hardwood floors. Our veal margherita and salmon entrees were both very satisfying, and the salads and sides were excellent, too. Plus, our waiter was a terrific guy who knew his beers, so he steered us toward some excellent ones from the local breweries (more on that later).
On Saturday morning, after a delicious waffle breakfast at our bed and breakfast, we wandered around Cooperstown, enjoying the decked-out shops and the beautiful old tree-shaded side streets of the village. We were going to head to Oneonta for lunch, but found a wonderful old place in the center of town called Danny's Main Street Market. Danny's looks a bit like Mr. Gower's soda fountain in the movie "It's a Wonderful Life," complete with a tin ceiling, a few booths for lunchgoers, tiled floors, and a window that gives views of the village center. We ordered pastrami and roast beef sandwiches, both of which were lean, tasty, and relatively inexpensive. After reading the local newspaper while hanging out at one of the booths in Danny's, we went to two brewers in the area: Brewery Ommegang and the Cooperstown Brewing Company, picking up various beers at each place. I particularly liked the Cooperstown Brewing Company, as the folks there talked my ear off about beermaking (which I have been doing for awhile now).
On Saturday night, a large group of us drove down to Oneonta to have dinner at Brooks' Bar-B-Q, which is a huge place featuring a neon sign out front of a farmer chasing a chicken with a hatchet. Having seen this with mouths dropped open, we went inside the place and viewed hundreds of people gobbling down ribs and chicken like there was no tomorrow. We ordered several dishes, including bbq chicken and the bbq beef dinner, and also took a trip to the salad bar. All in all, I was not all that thrilled with the food, as the chicken had a strange smell and taste, and the bbq sauce on the beef was extremely sweet, but everyone else in the restaurant seemed to be loving their food, so I will give Brooks' BBQ the benefit of the doubt.
After another terrific breakfast at the bed and breakfast on Sunday morning, we hit the highway, heading east toward Boston. Along the way, we took a detour to the charming town of Hudson, NY for lunch. Our lunch stop was an attractive two-story restaurant called Mexican Radio. And while the food was tremendous (the Mexican fondue was amazing, as were the cheese enchiladas rojas and the chicken burrito verde), the service at Mexican Radio was unacceptably poor. The staff there did not seem to care all that much about their patrons; one nearby diner was given sour cream after asking to have it left off the dish, only to have the waitress explain that he wouldn't taste it much anyway, and our appetizer took forever to arrive (it came just before our meals). It is a shame, since the food at Mexican Radio really was outstanding, but I really don't see myself going back there. We headed back to Boston with happy stomachs but were still talking about the poor service as we hit Route 128.
Before signing off, I'd like to give a quick hats-off to the bed and breakfast that we stayed at. The Whisperin' Pines Chalet is truly one of the greatest places I have stayed at in all my travels. Situated in a hollow deep in the woods a few miles south of the village, the inn has almost an alpine feel to it, with a bubbling brook alongside the place, and a real stone fireplace in one of the rooms that fills the area with aromatic woodsmoke. Plus, you would be hard pressed to find nicer people than the family who owns the Whisperin' Pines Chalet. This was the second time we have stayed there, and it surely won't be the last.
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