Boston Restaurant Blog -- August, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Two weeks ago, several of us made yet another trip to the Adirondacks and Upstate New York, hitting a handful of familiar spots along the way (Hardtimes Cafe in Eagle Bay, Northern Lights in Inlet, Buffalo Head in Forestport, White Pine Bakery in Inlet). We also tried a couple of restaurants we had never been to before, including an outstanding dining spot in Old Forge that features broasted chicken, and an impressive Mexican restaurant in Saratoga Springs. Since I have talked about the "repeat" places several times within this blog over the years, the focus of this entry will be the two restaurants that we went to for the first time.
Restaurants that feature broasted chicken are generally pretty hard to find, perhaps because of the equipment needed to cook it. That is one reason why we were looking forward to trying Randy's Restaurant in the Southwest Adirondack town of Old Forge, since broasted chicken is the main focus of this dining spot. And was it ever worth it, as the chicken was crispy on the outside, yet moist on the inside, and it was not greasy at all because of the broasting process used, which entails pressure frying. But Randy's is not just about broasted chicken; indeed, their mild yet flavorful chili was probably the best I've had since The Grog in Newburyport (my personal favorite), the turkey sandwich was loaded with real turkey slices, the baked cheese sandwich with tomatoes was delicious mainly because of the homemade bread used, and both the sweet potato fries and regular fries were tasty and not too limp or greasy. The place itself, which used to be a bakery, has a pleasantly rustic feel to it like so many spots in this rugged resort town, and it almost seems like being in someone's home. Add to this the rock-bottom prices and incredibly friendly service (Randy and his family make everyone feel welcome) and you have a place that, if it were closer to Boston, would be the perfect restaurant to feature on this site, as it is about as much of a hidden gem as you will find out there.
The other restaurant that we went to for the first time - Cantina in Saratoga Springs - couldn't have been more different from Randy's, as it was a bustling, noisy place in a city that can often get overrun with cars and people. The restaurant was no less appealing, however, and the food was really quite good. Located on the city's main drag, Cantina is one of countless restaurants in Saratoga Springs, and it was catering not only to viewers of horse racing when we went, but also to music lovers who were in town for a big concert. When we arrived, it was well after the lunch hour but the place was still packed. Fortunately, we were able to get a seat right away, and were immediately struck by the historic charm of the restaurant, with its pressed tin ceiling, exposed brick, hardwood floors, and use of dark woods throughout. In a way, Cantina reminded me a bit of Doyle's in Jamaica Plain, with its cozy nooks and crannies and bar area that was full of character. And the food was no less impressive, with crunchy homemade tortilla chips that came with a deliciously chunky tomato and onion salsa; an "SF Mission" burrito that was loaded with both dark and white meat chicken as well as rice, beans, and salsa; and a spicy beef enchilada that included soft, white, and mild Chihuahua cheese as well as a hearty red sauce. And everything we tried had a good amount of cilantro, which may not be a good thing to some people, but this cilantro lover was certainly very happy. Service was prompt and friendly, and prices, while a bit high, were probably in line with other restaurants in the area, as Saratoga Springs is not exactly a place filled with cheap eats.
Both Randy's in Old Forge and Cantina in Saratoga Springs were places I liked very much, albeit for much different reasons. Randy's, especially, was a place I won't soon forget, and would encourage anyone going to the Southwest Adirondacks to try to make a trip to this special dining spot at some point.
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