Boston Restaurant Blog -- August, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Another summer, and another trip to the Adirondacks in upstate New York...this year, several of us spent time in the Old Forge area, with some of us continuing on to Lake Placid as well, and along the way, we went to some repeat restaurants as well as a few that we had never been to before. The trip, which was this past weekend (plus a couple of weekdays), included a few regular spots that we ate at, such as the Riverside Diner in Rensselaer (a basic diner with typical diner food, including chicken croquettes that were swimming a bit too much in white gravy); the Hard Times Cafe in Eagle Bay (disappointing this time, with slow service and poor to average food, including a subpar haddock dish and a pasta with vodka sauce that had little taste); the Muffin Patch in Old Forge (excellent once again, with delicious banana French toast and pecan waffles); the Buffalo Head in Forestport (mostly decent, including some hearty steaks--the flatiron steak was especially tender and delcious--and a huge and decadent brownie sundae); and a breakfast at the Tamarack Cafe in Inlet that may have been even better than that of the Muffin Patch. And now, for the places we had never been to, as well as a couple that I had tried years ago, but not in recent memory....
On Saturday, which was our second day in Old Forge, three of us spent the late morning relaxing at the Big Moose Inn in Big Moose before heading down to Fourth Lake (between Eagle Bay and Old Forge) to the North Woods Inn Tap Room. The North Woods Inn (also called NWI) is a classic Adirondack lodging spot right on the lake, with a restaurant overlooking the water as well as a tap room that we went to for lunch. The tap room itself didn't look like much, but its covered outdoor patio was the perfect spot for a bite and a beer, as all of the picnic tables had outstanding views of Fourth Lake, as well as refreshing breezes off the water. The food was basic pub grub, with the burger and fries, French dip, and chicken sandwich all being satisfying. The bartender who served us was as friendly as could be, and the prices were dirt cheap. It wasn't fine dining by any means, but our overall experience at the NWI Tap Room was one we won't soon forget.
Sunday was a travel day, as we slowly made our way through the central Adirondacks, arriving in Lake Placid in the early afternoon. We went to a deli and market called Saranac Sourdough for a quick bite, and while the atmosphere was rather grim (dark counter area and dining section, unsmiling counter person, etc.), the freshly made sandwiches were simply wonderful. Saranac Sourdough seems to focus on the use of healthy, organic, local ingredients, and it really showed; the gobbler (turkey sandwich with the works), the herbed chicken sandwich, and the gorgonzola chicken sandwich were all delicious, with the homemade potato dill bread being the icing on the cake for all three sandwiches. Saranac Sourdough is certainly a place I'd return to in the future, though based on the rather glum environment inside, takeout might be the best option with this place.
On Sunday night, we drove over to Saranac Lake to have dinner at a restaurant that I had been to for a couple of times a number of years ago, but not since the start of this website. The place, which is called Belvedere Restaurant, has been stuck in my memory for a long time now, mainly because I had had memorable experiences there with groups of friends, but also because of the food and atmosphere. Well, it did not disappoint this time, either, as I fell back in love with the old-fashioned atmosphere (the restaurant is located in an old house with lots of neon outside) and the fresh Italian food that is well above average. This was the first time we didn't sit in the comfortable L-shaped dining room inside, as we were seated on the three-season porch to the left. The heavy rain that was pounding on the porch's roof made it a bit difficult to hear each other, but the breezes and the views of the trees beyond the porch made it all worthwhile. And the food we had--including a decent French onion soup, piping hot Italian bread, a savory chicken cacciatore, a nearly perfect plate of angel hair pasta with garlic, olive oil, and anchovies, and a hearty meat lasagna--was all good, and filling, leaving us no room for dessert, unfortunately (though we did get some small ice creams at the nearby Mountain Mist later on). Our server was friendly and efficient, and the prices were very reasonable, with entrees being between $10 and $15. Belvedere has really become one of my personal favorites for restaurants; I only wish it were closer to Boston.
We went to another restaurant that I hadn't been to in a long time on Monday morning, though unlike Belvedere, this one didn't turn out to be very good. But I do have some fond memories of Howard Johnson's in Lake Placid, partly because I used to go there a lot as a youngster, and also because groups of us would eat at the place on ski weekends back about 10 to 15 years ago. There are only a few Howard Johnson's restaurants remaining in the United States (all in the Northeast), and based on the breakfast we had there on our way out of the Adirondacks, it seems like the place has gone downhill. Not much seemed to be very memorable, from the slightly mushy and pasty pancakes to the undercooked corned beef hash to the rather distant server to the tired-feeling dining room. The coffee, however, was excellent, bringing back memories of how good it had been on my many trips to the place back in the 1990s. Overall, Howard Johnson's was a disappointment, though nothing compared to what awaited us later in the day.
Often when I end up at a restaurant that I didn't plan on going to, I find myself pleasantly surprised--and sometimes the restaurants are so good that they end up being featured on this site. The East Greenbush Diner just east of Albany isn't one of them, unfortunately. We had been looking for a dining spot near Rensselaer, bypassing the aforementioned Riverside Diner to try something new. Well, we probably should have returned to the Riverside, as the East Greenbush Diner was a big disappointment. The atmosphere was fairly pleasant, with a comfortable dining area to the right and a classic diner setup (complete with stools) to the left. But the beef barley soup contained a tomato sauce that reminded me of SpaghettiOs, the chicken soup was much too salty, and the turkey and roast beef dinners contained meat that seemed to have no flavor whatsoever. And the yellowish bread that was put on our table was in plastic wrap. About the only thing the food did was fill us up, but that was about it.
So not every meal was a good one on our trip to the Adirondacks, but there were certainly some standouts, including the Muffin Patch, the Tamarack Cafe, and Belvedere Restaurant, all of which I hope to get back to on any future trips to this beautiful region of upstate New York.
Eric at http://visitingnewengland.com/blog-cheap-travel/ said:
We ate a few months ago at the East Greenbush Diner. We thought it was pretty good, but have more of an affinity for the Metro 20 Diner on Route 20 in Albany. The food there is great classic diner food and we love the larger-than-life myriad chrome and neon fluorishes -- and, oh, yes, the amazing desserts!
Posted on 8/28/10
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