81 posts in this topic

Watkins Glen; Montour Falls; Dundee; Hector; Lodi; Ithaca

I travel to Watkins Glen, NY several time a year to indulge in my other passion [see sig line]. It's almost axiomatic that where the racing is good, the food is lousy. But not in the Finger Lakes region. Here's my take on a few restaurants in the area.

In Watkins Glen proper, for breakfast and lunch the best bet is Glen Mountain Market, with very good fresh coffee, pastires, and breads. At lunch they offer soups, subs, and creative sandwhiches (like turkey, blue cheese, and sliced apple). The wait is always ridiculously long - call ahead if you're coming from the track.

Savard's is a typical old fashioned American diner, decent for breakfast but otherwise awful. For the true greasy spoon diner breakfast head south toward Montour Falls and hit Chef's [open since 1949].

Jerlando's is not bad for a basic pizza parlor.

Seneca Harbor Station is barely acceptable - big space, decent outdoor seating in season, but boring American style steak and chicken.

Every other place in town that I've tried (Wildflower Cafe, Bianco's Daughters [For Sale in 2011]), is too terrible for words.

On the west side of Seneca Lake is an overblown 'bed and breakfast' (it's really a motel) - The Inn at Glenora, I think they call it - with an equally overblown restaurant. Avoid. They've clearly been exposed to finer food but totally fail to execute the (medium)high-concept dishes.

The east side of the lake is where you'll hit gold. The following places tend to emphasize local produce and dairy. And wines, which is not necessarily a good thing.

In Hector, the Bistro at Red Newt serves pretty good modern American food in a very nice space with a good view of the lake.

Stonecat Cafe is a quirky restaurant built out of an old roadside fruit stand. The food is kinda latter-day hippie style. Brunch on the rear deck in summertime is a real treat. It may not be technically the best in the area, but the owners' style really shines, it's laid back, and it's anything but formulaic (my main complain against Glenora, come to think of it). It's my favorite.

Further north in Lodi is Suzanne ("Fine Regional Cuisine"). Last summer the menu offered dishes like crab and salmon ravioli with Chanpagne vinaigrette; diver scallops with pea puree; salmon with morels leeks and sweet peas; roasted breast of duck with wild rice, currants, and pine nuts in green peppercorn sauce. I only ate there once but it was very, very good. I remember thinking that Suzanne could hold her own if she were in DC (I don't think the same is true of Red Newt, though Stonecat could make it in the right location - say, Del Ray).

In Ithaca Just a Taste offers some fantastic tapas.

That's it for a quick recollection. I know there are several others on this forum who've dined in the region. Hopefully you'll chime in with more restaurants and more details.

[this post was edited by DonRocks, who didn't have the guts to say so. :P ]

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Hector

For those lowbrow occasions when you need a roadhouse, by far your best bet is Big Johnson's in Hector, one of those shacks where the locals swill cheap beer between staggering up to the karaoke mike. I understand they used to hang Barbie dolls from the ceiling for decoration, too. However, don't pass up the Baked Alaska...it's quite satisfying, and exotic among the usual burgers and fries.

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I travel to Watkins Glen, NY several time a year to indulge in my other passion [see sig line]. It's almost axiomatic that where the racing is good, the food is lousy. But not in the Finger Lakes region. Here's my take on a few restaurants in the area.

We will be in the Glen area from June 9 through the 11th. I wish you had posted this about 2 months ago. tongue.gif I haven't been to the Glen for over 30 years so it's good to know any and all decent places to eat. (of which there aren't many). I'll accept any suggestions for good food because here is where we will be for dinner on Saturday night...Saturday night dinner...not exactly my first choice but anything that sounded good or avant garde was overruled as either too expensive or too exotic....Fortunately Saturday and Sunday lunch are still not group efforts so there may be a way to save a bit of the weekend.

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I'll accept any suggestions for good food because here is where we will be for dinner on Saturday night...Saturday night dinner...

Nothing to do with food but while you're out and about on the lake, wave at the big schooner Malabar X if she's out there. Last and largest of the Alden racing schooners, she was completely rebuilt a few years back by owner Doug Hazlitt of the Hazlitt 1852 winery, and nowadays takes tourists around the lake.

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Buffalo; Lodi; Penn Yan

Time and weather permitting, we often drive through the Fingerlakes region several times a year on our way from DC to Buffalo to see family. For many, many years, most of the Fingerlakes have been a dining nightmare, relegating us to munching Parmesan Goldfish and sipping diet Cokes while we cruise through. Things have picked up recently, however. We have eaten often at the Red Newt Bistro. The preparations are nothing to write home about, but decent, and best when they use local suppliers. The menu is creative for the area (it is posted on their web site). A warm spring or autumn afternoon on their Seneca Lake-facing deck is a good way to break up the trip.

We had an interesting experience at Suzanne's, up a bit in scale and along the same road. We were overnighting in the area and heard that they were having a wine dinner with the owners of Standing Stone winery, so we snagged a table. Driving to the restaurant, we were suspicious about the utter quiet and darkness that had descended upon the eastern shore of the lake. A sudden, fierce storm had came up and knocked out the electricity for nearly the whole east side of the lake. Finding the place in the dark was a challenge. Undaunted, the restaurant had a gas stove and lots of candles, and we had a wonderful evening. The electricity came back on just as we were leaving. We certainly will return.

One Seneca Lake place that gets some good press lately is called Dano's. We haven't been, but will try it perhaps later this summer.

We were not impressed by the food at Esperanza, at the north end of Keuka Lake. Straight out of Sysco. Too bad, because the location is gorgeous.

I agree with Porcupine's evaluation of the Glenora; mediocre food in a setting that promises more.

We have yet to find the "we want to return" restaurant in Corning, which for its size and history should be able to do a lot better than it does.

Thanks for the suggestion on Stonecat; we will try it, too.

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Geneva

Belhurst Castle on the northwest side of Seneca Lake near Geneva is a beautiful place. Several well furnished, classic dining rooms in the mansion. A nice setting right on the lake. The kitchen did a nice job when we were there about 2.5 years ago. On the nights we were there, in late October, the Northern Lights came down south very far. Fantastic evening sitting out behind the castle with a bottle of wine and watching the colors in the sky shimmering over the lake.

They were in the process of building some new accomodations next to the castle when we were there. I don't know if these new rooms will add or detract from the ambiance of the place.

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Ithaca

As a Cornell alum, I had to chime in with two Ithaca recommendations: Just a Taste (excellent tapas/small plates-- not Spanish or Mexican, though) and of course, the venerable Moosewood Restaurant for vegetarian fare. If you find yourself in Collegetown, Aladdin's was good for Middle Eastern, though I have no idea if it's still around.

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Ithaca

As another Cornell alum, I suggest deep dish pizza at The Nines. I have heard, though, that its sister restaurant, The Chariot, is no more. Can anyone verify? [it closed during the summer of 2005]

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As another Cornell alum, I suggest deep dish pizza at The Nines. I have heard, though, that its sister restaurant, The Chariot, is no more. Can anyone verify?

I have heard the same too, from someone who actually went to reunion. I loved the corn fritters at the Chariot!

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Ithaca

Another Cornell alum here with a lot of nostalgia (and sadness over the Chariot's closing which I unhappily can confirm) -- and a few Ithaca dining ideas. Cheap and in Ithaca's Collegetown: I second the recommendation for pizza (it's deep dish) at The Nines (The Nines). Also: Aladdin's on Eddy Street for salads and middle eastern food, Souvlaki House on Eddy Street for Greek Salad, Ruloff's on College Avenue for sort of "American" food. Moosewood Cafe downtown in the DeWitt Mall is a piece of history. If you want to relive your hippie days go to ABC Cafe [Closed Spring, 2010] on Stuart Avenue. If you're in Ithaca by Cornell, and you're walking around and in need of a snack, head to the Cornell Dairy Store (on campus by the vet school) for some good, creamy and not frou frou ice cream . For a good Saturday night place, I'm a little stumped as the places I would love to recommend have closed. There used to be a wonderful French restaurant called L'Auberge du Cochon Rouge. It has become John Thomas Steakhouse which is apparently well liked. I also have heard that Just a Taste in downtown Ithaca is great. I haven't been to Willow, [Closed] although I have the sneaking suspicion I went there in its prior incarnation on the night before I graduated. I also haven't been to Madeline's (also downtown Ithaca on the Commons) but I've heard raves about its desserts -- and single malts. Now, if you're looking to hear a crazy band in a funky location, I can talk and talk and talk about the Rongovian Embassy in Trumansburg. In any event, I saw these two websites that may be of more help: Ithaca and Ithaca Dining.

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Ithaca

Corn fritters = THE BEST. I grew up eating homemade corn fritters with maple syrup, but at The Chariot, I learned to love 'em with blue cheese. RIP Chariot (and Little Joe's for that matter).

I have heard the same too, from someone who actually went to reunion. I loved the corn fritters at the Chariot!

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Ithaca

In Ithaca, there's a surprising amount of good food. Never been to Moosewoods... always meant to, but the vegetarian aspect of it never really motivates me. The best discovery in Ithaca is north of Cornell... The Heights Cafe. Excellent food and service that can rival any of the comparable places in DC. Expensive by Ithaca standards... moderate by DC standards.

I always liked Cosmo's for breakfast. I want to like Simeon's on the Commons, but it inevitably disappoints me. The one time I went to The Station, it also disappointed. The Thai place over by Wegmans was always good also. Forget about any Chinese food in Ithaca... Vietnamese place on Dryden Ave was always a good deal. Taughonnack Inn northeast of Ithaca is supposed to be a nice place also.

btw, Joe's Restaurant is back after a demise of a few years... I may go by when I'm there over 4th of July weekend.

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Ithaca

In Ithaca, there's a surprising amount of good food. Never been to Moosewoods... always meant to, but the vegetarian aspect of it never really motivates me. The best discovery in Ithaca is north of Cornell... The Heights Cafe. Excellent food and service that can rival any of the comparable places in DC. Expensive by Ithaca standards... moderate by DC standards.

I always liked Cosmo's for breakfast. I want to like Simeon's on the Commons, but it inevitably disappoints me. The one time I went to The Station, it also disappointed. The Thai place over by Wegmans was always good also. Forget about any Chinese food in Ithaca... Vietnamese place on Dryden Ave was always a good deal. Taughonnack Inn northeast of Ithaca is supposed to be a nice place also.

btw, Joe's Restaurant is back after a demise of a few years... I may go by when I'm there over 4th of July weekend.

I agree that Ithaca has a lot of really good restaurants considering its size and location (I have spent time in another college town--I'll give a clue, its initials are AA-- that had pretty mediocre food). I forgot to mention Thai Cuisine-- they claim to have the "best Thai food in NY state outside of NYC." My husband LOVES that place (well, based on a 10-year-old memory), but I don't know if it's really worth going to if you live in an area like we do with lots of excellent Thai options. As for the Moosewood being vegetarian, I had always found that as a non-vegetarian, there were always many good and inventive things to eat. Also, they serve fish, so you will not be eating a plate of string veggies. Finally, I have always wanted to go to Taughonnack Farms as I remember that in order to get a reservation for graduation, you had to write an essay. (I don't know if that's actually true or if it is still true.)

The problem with dining options in college towns is (1) many people's recommendations may not be trustworthy because they are based on what they nostalgically remember was "good;" was "good" for when they were in college; or was the expensive place to take dates and parents. (2) If you return to your alma mater, you are not likely to want to sample a new restaurant but rather return to your old stomping grounds. I'll probably never make it to any of the places I never tried before in Ithaca.

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Ithaca

I agree that Ithaca has a lot of really good restaurants considering its size and location (I have spent time in another college town--I'll give a clue, its initials are AA-- that had pretty mediocre food). I forgot to mention Thai Cuisine-- they claim to have the "best Thai food in NY state outside of NYC." My husband LOVES that place (well, based on a 10-year-old memory)...

If it's the one I dined at last September, it's still good...fresh basil, rich curries. I think I digested afterwards while looking at the Carl Sagan monument thing farther along the pedestrian district. Considering how rural western NY (like most of the country) can be, Ithaca is a good little oasis for its size. Also worth a visit: Pie Girl.

If only AA had restaurants like they have bookshops! I had a pretty good Ethiopian meal in AA not too long ago, although being served Ethiopian in a modern restaurant space with conventional booths was kind of a first for me. Aren't they close enough to Detroit to have a critical mass of Middle Eastern food? And of course, there's Zingerman's.

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Ithaca

Was in Ithaca and the Finger Lakes over the long 4th of July weekend. Again mostly pleased with all the dining options up there.

First night went to The Heights cafe. They really have outstanding food. We all got some type of steak.... ranging from tenderloins to ribeye to porterhouses. They were all quite good... not quite prepared the same way as RTS. First the cuts were a bit thicker... and then on the ribeye there was a semisweet glaze, enough to accent the meat without overpowering it. Just way to full for dessert that night.

Other dinners on the weekend included Just a Taste, Joe's, and the Nines. I swear the Nines pizza is actually better than I remember. Get the deep dish.... dough doesn't have that little sweet taste anymore (which always seemed a bit odd to me). Pizza prep time/service just as slow as I remember. Joe's is back. Unbelievably, I never went to Joe's when I went to Cornell.... the one person in our group who had been said it was pretty much as she remembered... with a few changed menu items. Don't go expecting haute Italian cuisine... but for affordable southern Italian cuisine.... it fits the bill. Just a Taste was a bit disappointing to me. As DCinDC says, it's tapas, but not like Jaleo... just small plate food. We went late and they seemed hurried. Food was good, but not particularly memorable. The one distinctive thing were the wine flights they offered.... 5 3-oz tastes for $10. They had some pre-created flights, or you could create your own - very good value. My impression of Just a Taste could've been influenced by a full day of wine tasting on Seneca Lake though.

Couple other places that haven't been mentioned that are good for breakfast/brunch... Cafe DeWitt (in the DeWitt mall, where Moosewoods is) and the venerable Collegetown Bagels... I think I like the Collegetown location better though than the one downtown. We tried the Ithaca diner on State St one morning... passable, but nothing great... if you want diner food, go to Mano's instead.

For the CU (and IC) alums... Starbucks has finally invaded Ithaca.... on the ground floor of the Hilton Garden Inn that opened just north of the Commons. In Collegetown, the Greek House and the corner convenience store are gone. It's strange to see Stella's - coffeebar on one side... martini bar on the other, yes a martini bar in C-town. The usual beer hangouts are still there... Dunbars, Royal Palms, Ruloffs, Chapter House. Aladdins is also still there... surprisingly the cheap Vietnam restaurant is also still there.

Wine tasting was mixed on Seneca and Cayuga Lakes.... Rieslings had a tough year in 2004. The standout wines from the trip.... Wiemer Semi-Dry Riesling and the Standing Stone Vidal Ice wine.

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Wait...Joe's is back from the dead? Same "concept" new ownership or old ownership? Breadsticks?

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yes - Joe's is back in the same space. same concept; new owners. breadsticks and bottomless saladbowl. click for ithaca journal story on reopening.

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Hector; Lodi

Just back from having my a** kicked at the Glen, but the trip was worthwhile because of some fine eatin'.

The Stonecat Cafe was as good as always, if not better. Mr P had cremini and protobello mushroom ravioli in a red wine, chevre, and sage sauce. The flavors were nicely balanced, with no one thing dominant. I had a simple linguine with greens, mushrooms and tomatoes in a white wine sauce with a touch of pecorino.

I continue to think of this as one of my favorite restaurants ever, but I can't quite say why. It doesn't look like much from the outside - the building used to be a roadside fruit stand - but inside the decor is simple, a bit homey but not at all kitschy; airy and light. The back deck has a most delightful view of vineyards rolling down to the lake. The food is rarely high-concept but the quality of ingredients is excellent, the preparations well executed, and the taste is, well, just delicious. Service is simple and friendly. No pretentions here.

We also had brunch on that deck before heading home. It may be in New York State but it's still some of the best pulled pork barbeque I've ever had.

Maybe I like it so much because the food always exceeds the expectations you'd get from the setting. Unfortunately the opposite is true of The Bistro at Red Newt, which tries for high concept (mostly) and doesn't quite make it. The setting, a big, lofty, airy, wood-filled space also overlooking Seneca Lake, is much nicer than Stonecat - well, in a fine dining way, anyway. But the food just doesn't knock my socks off. Mr P had a bacon wrapped filet mignon, and I had a bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin with a filling of chevre and arugula, served with a blueberry and red wine sauce. Really nice flavors, but somehow boring. Service is not simple or friendly, but rather trying to be formal and not succeeding. I'd rather they set the bar lower and clear it rather than setting it high and failing. Also, it really irritates me when the server gets my order wrong and then argues with me about it.

Of course, the best of both worlds would be a place that sets the bar high and clears it consistently. That place would be Suzanne, in Lodi. We went with two other couples and had a grand time in a more formal setting (and more intimate, in an old farmhouse), with better service, and perfectly executed dishes that were well-conceived and showcased their ingredients. I had a simple, fresh, delicate corn soup, poured over a small mound of fresh tomato and roasted shrimp, and my main course was a perfectly cooked duck breast (medium rare inside, ultra crispy skin) in a red wine sauce, with a wild rice side enlivened by thin strips of candied lemon, and simple sugar snap peas (no sauce or other flavors).

Suzanne is easily the best of the three by any measure, but Stonecat is still my favorite, just for the vibe.

Also popped into Dano's Heuriger (also in Lodi), recently relocated from Ithaca. Apparently the chef was in Ithaca for something like 15 years and has a devoted following. Another big, open, airy, wood-filled space, with a menu offering spreads (liptauer, gorgonzola, horseradish walnut, artichoke lemon...); salads (corn and cabbage, celery root remoulade, Viennese potato, daikon cilantro...); lots o' different breads; charcuterie (pate, bockwurst, knockwurst...); fish (smoked trout, herring salad, smoked bluefish mousse...); roast meats (chicken and pork); side dishes (spatzle, knodel...); and several German desserts. I really wish I could have eaten here once or twice and report on how all of these taste.

Next time, no Red Newt, but a nice feast at Dano's instead.

I still don't like NY wines.

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I still don't like NY wines.
Slightly off topic, but we did find a Glenora Dry Riesling that is very nice. Limited run, 2003 vintage, very good for NY wine and beats Taylor by two country miles...bummer about the racing.

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Watkins Glen

PS - In Watkins Glen proper, Tobe's (coffee and donuts) has reopened. And the decrepit old building on the south side of town, at the junction of Rts 14 and 414, has been renovated and now houses a Great Harvest Bread Company, which has the great virtue (for Watkins) of being open at 6:30 am.

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Ithaca

Cucas87 and I dined at Moosewood Café on Thursday Night. Overall the experience was very good. The atmosphere is pleasant, the drinks were not expensive, the food was very good to great. We started with a chickpea humus like app. Tried some Veggie Jamacian Calliloo soup, and a flounder with rice and pastico entrée. Dessert was some homemade ice cream. Definitely a healthy low fat meal! Dinner with 2 drinks apiece was 80 bucks including tax and tip.

Since there are some CU grads on the board, tonight we are "eating from the HOT TRUCK" Some sort of French bread Pizza truck that is only open from 9pm-3am. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornelliana

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HOT TRUCK? DID SOMEONE SAY HOT TRUCK?

How was it?

Signed,

Very jealous lover of MBCs

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Ithaca

HOT TRUCK? DID SOMEONE SAY HOT TRUCK?

Hot Truck,welcome back, how I had missed you!

Apparently Bob sold the truck and it's up and running again as of at least last year. It was a little odd to find the hot truck parked on the Arts Quad, but that was done, I'm sure, for Reunions and the many alums who never would walk down to west campus (especially in light of the fact that it is largely a construction complex now) to find it. We shared an MBC, which was warm and gooey and delicious. Prices, of course, are higher than I recall! I also should note that the wait time wasn't too bad because they had anticipated the onslaught of alums so the experience this time around was a little different than in the old days. But really good. Especially when we took the MBC to our tent party madness.

Incidentally, if you are a Cornell alum and haven't been to Collegetown recently -- and I hadn't been back in 5 years -- it's a sad sight as many storefronts are vacant. Still around: Ruloffs, Collegetown Bagels, Aladdins, Sangam, Dino's, Dunbars and, of course, the Royal Palm. Oh and Starbucks is in Collegetown now. Sigh.

One last note about the Moosewood Cafe: it's a wifi hot spot. This ain't the Mooseood of old.

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Watkins Glen; Hector; Lodi

Reporting from Watkins Glen, once again at the annual kicking of my a** (aka the July Sprints). [edited to add - not so bad this year cool.gif ]

Stonecat Cafe is still my favorite. Not much has changed since my last visit. Everything our small group ordered was almost perfect (a slightly overcooked double-cut pork chop was the only misfire). The Jazz brunch is a real treat - the pastry chef's blueberry crumble is a great amuse.

Tobe's is indeed reopened, and joy of joys open at 5 am seven days a week! The new owners have really cleaned the place up without losing the greasy-spoon diner charm. The chef supposedly came from Chef's in Montour Falls. We had a good basic diner breakfast - scrambled eggs, toast, bacon, coffee - but the really good news is that the donuts are fresh and lively. They must've finally dumped that 30 year old vat of fry oil. Afternoons they serve ice cream and milkshakes from the deck.

Dano's Heuriger is every bit as good as I hoped it would be, if not better. Fourteen of us went and sampled a very large portion of the Austrian/German/Hungarian menu, including charcuterie, spreads, salads, braised red cabbage, creamed squash, weiner schnitzel, breaded catfish filets, an unusual take on a hamburger, spaetzle... you get the idea. The Viennese Bento Box was a cute way to sample many different dishes. And for parties of six or more, you can order the Chef's Table, which is basically the entire menu. Desserts included various seasonal fruit tarts, puddings, and cakes.

Our New York (city) friend, originally from Austria, was absolutely delighted. "It's just like home! And almost New York good." He explained that a heuriger is a neighborhood place where people go to sample "this year's" wines, while nibbling away at small plates of food. So of course the place has a long wine list, featuring Finger Lakes wine (and beers from Wagner).

One thing I always look forward to when arriving in Watkins Glen is the big neon sign flashing Mr. Chicken. It's a silly place, with a bunch of crap junk food (Mr P's burger was just about the worst ever), but darn the fried chicken is tasty. I always get a plate of spicy hot wings with blue cheese dressing, and fries. Hits the spot. You can get fried chicken pieces by the bucket - they'll be just cool enough to pick up with your hands by the time you get back up the hill to the track.

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Hector; Watkins Glen

2009 report: Stonecat just keeps getting better and better - excellent local produce and dairy, good concepts well-executed, laid-back vibe. I want to move to Watkins Glen so that I can be a regular there, like twice a week or so. I think that it really is my favorite restaurant ever. Dano's hasn't changed a bit; it's still good; Glen Mountain Market, Jerlando's, and Mr. Chicken are same as they ever were. Mmmm, spicy wings. [and for the five or so people who read this thread and know me: a** kicked again; this year I lost fourth gear during practice and had to put in another transmission. I don't know why WGI hates me so much when I love it so much...]

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Hector; Lodi; Ovid; Geneva


2009 report: Stonecat just keeps getting better and better - excellent local produce and dairy, good concepts well-executed, laid-back vibe. I want to move to Watkins Glen so that I can be a regular there, like twice a week or so. I think that it really is my favorite restaurant ever. Dano's hasn't changed a bit; it's still good; Glen Mountain Market, Jerlando's, and Mr. Chicken are same as they ever were. Mmmm, spicy wings. [and for the five or so people who read this thread and know me: a** kicked again; this year I lost fourth gear during practice and had to put in another transmission. I don't know why WGI hates me so much when I love it so much...]

Sorry to hear about your transmission misfortune! We were at Stonecat over the July 4 weekend and have to agree with you wholeheartedly about the food. The smoker was going full tilt, too, which only whetted my appetite. (Stayed at a B&B a couple hundred yards up the road, so could even walk there!) Dano's could have been better; they were out of many things I wanted; would have been easier if the server had told me as I ordered, rather than going back and forth four times with bad news whenever I ordered a substitute! Got some other places for you to try, too. If you have time on a race weekend, go over to the west side of Cayuga Lake and try "Simply Red Bistro" at the Sheldrake Point winery. Terrific food in a pretty setting and some killer rieslings. Also, if you can wander up to Geneva on the north end of Seneca Lake, try Ports Cafe. Alltold, a great time of year for dining in the Finger Lakes with many local ingredients available!

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Thanks for the tips! I'm happy to read that Ports is still around; I really liked it last time we went there, probably 6 or 7 years ago. And I will put Simply Red at the top of my to-do list next time I'm in the area.

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Hector; Lodi

I am just seeing this thread now. I had posted to another section to get winery advice before my trip last month. Thankfully, I happened upon Stonecat Cafe somewhat accidentally. One of the best dishes I've ever had honestly, it was sort of bizarre since it was "just" a corned beef hash served over potatoes with 2 poached eggs and a dijon thyme sauce. But it was phenomenal. Had a rasberry mojito alongside - ate on the deck with our pups hanging out in the grass beside us. It was a very leisurely pleasant brunch. I will make that a must visit every time I go back.

Went to Dano's again as well - as good as always. They were kind enough to allow us to eat on the patio with dogs (all 5 of them) in tow. And were very accommodating when, right after desserts and coffee were served, it started to pour on us (I mean a torrential downpour). As we huddled under the eave, the servers came out with umbrellas and moved our belongings and desserts out of the rain and brought our coffees to us so we could stay warm. smile.gif We sampled quite a bit and the food was good as always. Some favorites were the pumpkin seed oil spread, the sausages, and the knudel.

Those were the only opportunities I had for meals out, but I look forward to trying some of the other suggestions on here next time. Am thinking I might go back in the fall - I've really been enjoying the whites I've brought back so far.

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Ithaca; Hector; Trumansburg

Finished up a wonderful weekend in Ithaca and the Finger Lakes. Highlights included a wonderful meal at Maxies in Ithaca including delicious crab and corn chowder and a wonderful fish fry. Also had a fabulous lunch at the Stonecat near Watkins Glen. Wonderful smoked beef sandwich, a hearty, flavorful vegetable beef soup and a tasty reuben with house made corned beef. Finally, we had a fabulous meal at the Hazelnut Kitchen in Trumansburg. Probably the highlight of the vacation. I had a very nice frisee salad with poached egg and a wonderful, flavorful, perfectly cooked hangar steak that would give the best steaks i've ever had a run for the money. My wife had a nicely prepared quail for an appetizer and a wonderful trout with lemon butter sauce for a main, served with a delicious local greens salad. Highly recommend the Hazelnut Kitchen if you are anywhere near it.

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Aurora

Aside from the Pleasant Rowland owned establishments, does anyone have any ideas for someplace decent to eat around Aurora?

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Lodi; Hector; Watkins Glen

The 2010 Report

Dano's hasn't changed a bit, and that's a good thing. But Stonecat was disappointing. The preparations are getting more complex and not necessarily better for it. Had a boneless pork chop that managed to be dry and undercooked at the same time, and not enhanced in any way by a too-sweet cherry sauce. But maybe it's just my tastes changing.

A big social event that I couldn't wiggle out of had me dreading Friday dinner, because it was held at Seneca Harbor Station, whose only redeeming feature is the ability to feed two different parties of twenty at the same time, with all the other tables full, too. "Feed" - yeah, as in human feed-lot with a bunch of human bovines gorging themselves. It was just bad. Cheese-stuffed rigatoni in vodka tomato sauce: cold in the center, yet the pasta was overcooked. Nasty side salad - this is the kind of place where you get an iceberg lettuce salad no matter what your main course. You know, "and what kind of dressing would you like with your salad?" Had to try a bite of MrP's cheesecake. God, how can you get cheesecake so wrong?

Fortunately, though, I didn't have to actually eat much of what I ordered, because before the event I stopped at Mr. Chicken for a plate of spicy wings. Now Mr. Chicken serves junk food, no doubt, but it's honest junk food. Deep fried wings with buttery Tabasco sauce, enjoyed under the tin-roof on the patio during a terrific thunderstorm. So much better than that rigatoni.

Didn't have the opportunity to try Simply Red Bistro.

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Rochester

Was in Rochester this weekend for a wedding. Dinosaur BBQ is a must-eat. The ribs were tender, but not too fall off the bone. The pulled pork was great, kind of a cross between NC and GA style, but juicy and full of flavor without being watery. Brisket was ok. Cajun corn was a great side, although it doesn't have much nutritional value. You could smell the smoke outside and the atmosphere inside is very Roadhouse in a great way.

We also went to breakfast in Pittsford at the Coal Tower because the crepe place was packed. That was a nice homey diner and my spinach, mushroom and swiss omlette with homefries was really good. They seem to be able to do the classics right here.

The Woodcliff Resort was ok as a hotel, but don't expect a real resort. And as a note their restaurant isn't very big so it is hard to just walk in for a meal when they are busy.

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Geneva

Going to a wedding this weekend at the Belhurst Castle in Geneva, NY.

I have never been up to this part of the country, so a couple of quick questions:

-Any suggestions for places to stop and grab a bite to eat / drink on the way there (leaving early Friday afternoon from DC) as I wouldn't mind breaking the drive up some or on the way back Sunday?
-I will have a car, so are there any places worth checking out food / drink wise (or suggestions on wineries) in Geneva or nearby?


Thanks!

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Going to a wedding this weekend at the Belhurst Castle in Geneva, NY.

I have never been up to this part of the country, so a couple of quick questions:

-Any suggestions for places to stop and grab a bite to eat / drink on the way there (leaving early Friday afternoon from DC) as I wouldn't mind breaking the drive up some or on the way back Sunday?

-I will have a car, so are there any places worth checking out food / drink wise (or suggestions on wineries) in Geneva or nearby?

Thanks!

Herman J Wiemer has long been one of my favorite Finger Lakes producers. About halfway down the west side of Seneca Lake. Konstantin Frank isn't too far away on Keuka Lake.

At all costs avoid Castel Grisch.

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Geneva; Watkins Glen; Hector; Lodi


Going to a wedding this weekend at the Belhurst Castle in Geneva, NY.

I have never been up to this part of the country, so a couple of quick questions:

-Any suggestions for places to stop and grab a bite to eat / drink on the way there (leaving early Friday afternoon from DC) as I wouldn't mind breaking the drive up some or on the way back Sunday?
-I will have a car, so are there any places worth checking out food / drink wise (or suggestions on wineries) in Geneva or nearby?


Thanks!

We ate at Ports (Geneva) in July, and were somewhat disappointed. It wasn't bad, just not as quirky good as we'd remembered. But at least it's an independent. Sorry that I can't recall any details.

In Watkins Glen you can get really good utterly junky chicken wings at Mr. Chicken. (The rest of the food is pretty bad, though a bucket of chicken is good enough to feed your crew and friends while at the track.)

I still haven't made it to Simply Red. If you don't mind a fairly lengthy detour, Dano's and Stonecat (both on the east side of Seneca Lake) are worthwhile (see various descriptions upthread).

Trusted food-oriented friends rave about Suzanne (in Lodi) every year. I've been twice and it was indeed excellent, but it's been a few years.

A lot of small places close for the winter or have limited hours, so call first to make sure they're open (winter comes early to the Finger Lakes, or so it seems).

Depending on which route you take (and it's a great game of theme and variations there), you can hunt for barbeque. Some friends (with trusted palates) told me they'd stumbled across some excellent barbeque on the east side of the Susquehanna, when they crossed over to take PA 147 as a scenic alternative to US 15. I'm not sure if they crossed on PA 61 at Shamokin Dam or US 11 in Northumberland, but it was somewhere in that area. If you try it and find anything delightful please let us know!

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Hammondsport


- (or suggestions on wineries) in Geneva or nearby?

Ravines. On the southeast side of Keuka lake. They've gotten rave reviews (recently from the NYT) for their Rieslings but I've been very impressed by their reds. They also have a kitchen that looks like it turns out some good grub.

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Herman J Wiemer has long been one of my favorite Finger Lakes producers. About halfway down the west side of Seneca Lake. Konstantin Frank isn't too far away on Keuka Lake.

At all costs avoid Castel Grisch.

I absolutely second Wiemer and Dr Frank's... our third favorite up there is Standing Stone

Labor Day weekend at Wiemer and Standing Stone resulted in purchases of Wiemer semi-dry rieslings and late harvest rieslings... and 3 types of ice wine at Standing Stone (Gewrutz Ice, Chardonnay Ice, and Vidal Ice). We didn't make it over to Keuka Lake. A new find this year was JR Dill and a surprisingly good cab franc.

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east side of Seneca Lake

I was utterly disappointed with my visit to Standing Stone this summer. Compared to my trip 2 years ago, when I came back with a case of wine from there, this year I didn't buy a single bottle. The single stand out winery of the trip for me was Damiani. They've got a new tasting room that's easier to find (right next to the distillery) that's much fancier than their previous garage sort of tasting room (although I actually preferred the old place), but more importantly I was really impressed with their wines, whites across the board, a dry toasty champagne, and an older vintage of pinot stood out. And the staff was great.

If you're on that side of the lake (east of Seneca), there's a new place, Two Goats brewing their own beer and also pouring a lot of nice craft beers.I particularly liked their oatmeal stout. All they serve food wise is a single sandwich, but it's a damn good sandwich, hand made by the owners who are a young couple that make you want to spend lots of time there.

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Anything new to report in this area? I'm headed out Friday for my annual trip. There are 2 "new" wineries included in our event this year (new in that this is the first year they've participated in the event I go for), Eremita and Seneca Shore Wine Cellars. Are either worth visiting?

I will be visiting some standbys like Damiani, Standing Stone, and Red Tail Ridge, but a big wrench was thrown in my plan when I found out 2 Goats has asked us not to patronize them so I need somewhere else to idle away my Sunday afternoon.

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Seneca Shore Wine Cellars.

2 Goats has asked us not to patronize them

IMO, Seneca Shore is more about playing ren-fest than about wine.

What's 2 Goats?

Geograpically, where do you wish to idle away said afternoon?

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Have you been to Bloomer Creek before? Recent article on them here. I've been looking forward to the first releases from Forge Cellars too, they don't have their own facilities yet (they use Hector Wine Co.) but you can likely arrange a tasting.

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IMO, Seneca Shore is more about playing ren-fest than about wine.

What's 2 Goats?

Geograpically, where do you wish to idle away said afternoon?

2 Goats is a small brewery on the East side of Seneca lake, right next door to Atwater. They serve microbrews from elsewhere as well (really nice selection when I was there last year) and serve only one food item, a hand made roast beef sandwich that people rave about. Sadly they were out of the roast beef when I was there, but if the turkey sandwich they were subbing in was any indication, it's a nice sandwich. :)

I actually emailed the owner and we are still welcome to come, they just couldn't invite all fo hte event attendees because of the rules regarding dogs and food, but I'm not sure I'll go.

I'm staying in Watkins Glen so southern parts of Seneca Lake are ideal, but there's an organized walk at Taughahannock Falls Sunday morning so I'm thinking now about going to the Ithaca farmers market afterward and making a piecemeal lunch from the vendors there. Depends on weather as dogs are no longer welcome in the market.

Have you been to Bloomer Creek before? Recent article on them here. I've been looking forward to the first releases from Forge Cellars too, they don't have their own facilities yet (they use Hector Wine Co.) but you can likely arrange a tasting.

I actually read about them yesterday and added them to my list. Also Billsboro if I can make it up there (they are farther up the West side than I typically go). It's apparently the same winemaker as Atwater, whose wines I enjoy so I figure it's worth a stop and hopefully they'd be amenable to allowing the dogs in since Atwater hosts our event. I'll check out Forge Cellars too, thanks!

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east Seneca Lake; west Seneca Lake; Watkins Glen

Had my best trip yet to the Finger Lakes this past weekend. Did a lot of eating and wine tasting, will just touch on some of the highlights.

Friday I started at Bloomer Creek on the east side of Seneca Lake. Note that while the website says they are open Fri-Sun they are technically only open Sat/Sun (he didn't realize the website said that so hopefully they will fix that). I really enjoyed the whites here. A bit disappointed in the rose and pinot, but I think it shows promise and is worth a stop for the interesting varietals alone. The owner was very friendly and interesting to talk to as well.

I always love a stop at the Finger Lakes Distillery. Saturday was no exception and the bacon bloody mary (bloody mary mix, Fee Bros celery bitters, and bacon salt all available for sale with their whiskey) was a nice way to "ease myself" back into drinking. :P I also really enjoyed their gin and left with a bottle of it. After a few more winery stops, I did end up stopping at Two Goats for a glass of their IPA and the infamous roast beef sandwich. I would likely never order a roast beef sandwich if I had other options and I did wonder how good a roast beef sandwich could be before having it, but wow, I am in love. Slow cooked roast beef dripping with jus, a horseradish mayo sauce of some sort on a bun with a top sprinkled with a few caraway seeds and this was the kicker, a heavy dose of salt. An extremely messy endeavor, but SO satisfying, especially mid way through a day of drinking. Oh, and the beer was good too. :P Dinner that evening was at Red Newt's bistro. We had a really lovely meal on their deck with a beautiful view of the sunset. The salad I ordered was disappointing, but the meatball appetizer was tasty and the bronzino I ordered as my entree was delicious. They have a lovely wine list featuring some of the best local wines by the glass and half glass, all nicely arranged into interesting flights (or available on their own). I wasn't sure I'd make it all the way up to Billsboro on the other side of the lake so I was able to start with a glass of their dry riesling. I moved on to a flight of dry roses and then finished with a glass of Head and Heart pinot. The latter was a real treat - I had heard great things about what they were doing, but a trip to the East side of Cayuga lake was out of the question so I was thrilled to have the chance to taste it. Granted I had been drinking all day, but this wine was amazing. One of my favorites wines from the entire trip.

Sunday I started the day with lunch at Stonecat, always a nice place for solid food and a lovely seat outside. Next was a tasting at Hector, where the winemaker/partner for Forge Cellars then met me for a private tasting. Their dry riesling is slated to be released this coming weekend so it was in the bottle, although not labeled. Their 2 pinots are still in barrel, but I was able to taste them that way. Really high quality wines across the board. The riesling was still showing some signs of bottle shock, but the acidity and the long finish on this wine were amazing. I convinced Richard (the winemaker) to slap labels on 3 bottles and sell them to me. They currently make 2 pinots, their "little pinot" which will be bottled and released relatively soon and was a really lovely pinot on the more delicate side, and their big brother, which will take some more time in the barrel. The latter had a strong nose of bloody meat and was definitely big for a pinot, but as it settled in the glass, I really started to appreciate what this wine could become. I look forward to going back next year and seeing how they taste once they've been in the bottle for a while and I highly recommend a stop here.

After that, I made my way over to the west side of Seneca and finished up my day at Billsboro. They were nice enough to let me taste as they cleaned up as I showed up about 10 minutes before they closed. They've got quite a large selection of wine and not everything stood up, but there were some really nice wines in the line up. I was most surprised by a cabernet sauvignon that had rich dark fruit and dark chocolate notes. I don't know how they managed to get those grapes so ripe, but I was impressed enough that I left with a bottle (along with 3 others, including their dry rose).

I also made stops at various other "usual" places - Atwater, Damiani, Standing Stone, Red Tail Ridge, JR Dill (this was my second time there, I probably will not go back) and I left with a bottle here and there, but the new places this year were really the stand outs. It made me kind of excited for what is happening in this region and I look forward to going back next year.

My biggest complaint - it's tough to find good coffee around here, or maybe I just don't know where to look. One place that does serve a nice latte, along with a large selection of homemade pastries that will make you drool as you look at the case is Glen Mountain Market. This is always my last stop before I leave town to pick up a breakfast sandwich (really good thick bacon, egg, and gouda on a homemade croissant thankyouverymuch) and coffee to go.

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east Seneca Lake; Watkins Glen

Got back from my week long vaca on the east side of Seneca lake about a week and a half ago. By the third night my SO was talking about buying a vacation home there.

Wineries

The Best, The Future of the FLX
Hermann J. Wiemer- Across the board well made. Also our best tasting room experience, very professional and talented staff. Their Field Cuvee (red) would make a fantastic house wine.
Ravines- Again, very well rounded producer. Their Chard was 75/25 oak/SS and delicious, SB was NZ style, Pinot was excellent, and the Riesling almost goes without saying. They had a fun cheese and chocolate pairing to go with their wines too.
Silver Thread- Very small and impressive producer. Fun to contrast the wines of the previous owner with those of the current (especially the 2010 vs 2011 PN).
Shalestone- They only make [very good] reds. Use one of their unusual blends in a blind tasting and watch the fur fly. The winemaker was a pleasure to chat with as well.

Very Good but Uneven
Damiani- Their single vineyard PN may have been the best we tried all week but the whites were a little thin and disappointing.
Red Tail Ridge- Should see great things from them in the future, favorite Blaufrankisch (aka Lemberger) I tried.
Anthony Road- Tasting room is way over the top and reds should be avoided but they had the best Riesling lineup from top to bottom.

The Rest
Dr. Frank's- Sorry, I know it's a sacred cow. Sparklers were excellent (they were also one of the only to offer sparkling on their regular tasting lineup), I loved their quirky grapes like Rkatsiteli and Muscat Ottonel, but was underwhelmed by the rest.
Fox Run- Their Riesling ($15) is a great benchmark and example of the almost universal high quality of Rieslings found in the FLX but little else was interesting.
Atwater- Fantastic view of Seneca Lake.
Shaw- All the reds are aged in barriques for 2-4 years. They taste like it.

Had a great dinner at Dano's, some delicious ice cream at Cayuga Lake Creamery, and a surprisingly good lunch at the Village Marina Bar in Watkins Glen. If you like dry hard cider Bellwether Cidery (near Cayuga Lake) is making some incredible stuff. I also enjoyed the Finger Lakes Distillery--thought the gin was solid, the rye tasty and mouth-coating, and the bourbon all-around excellent. I think we went to Two Goats three or four times over the course of the week. I have plenty of hiking information and even went on a sailing trip if anyone is planning a trip.

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Ithaca

Going to a conference in Ithaca in a few weeks. During the conference itself meals will be provided (scary thought) and I won't want to dodge because of the networking (sigh), but I'm planning on going two days early, which gives me time for some hiking, exploring the town, and finding good restaurants. Recommendations? Breakfast is free at the hotel but given which hotel it is, I'm thinking it'll be worth skipping. Besides, I love a good diner breakfast.

Chiantiand Fava, would love to read your hiking info.

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Ithaca

Is your conference at the Statler? If so, the food isn't bad.

We are going up to Ithaca later this week, but I would do one dinner at Maxies (wonderful creole food) and one dinner at Just a Taste (tapas). For lunch, Collegetown Bagels (sandwiches, bagels) is very good and the Cornell dining halls are actually pretty good. If you are going up to Taughnanock Falls to hike, Glenwood Pines is right near it. It is a dive but has a pretty good burger. Other options are Hazelnut Kitchen in Trumansburg which is wonderful farm to table food. Two newer places I havven't tried but heard good things about are The Piggery for sandwiches and Mercato Bar and Kitchen.

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Ithaca

Quick trip up to the Finger Lakes this weekend. Had dinner at Maxies in Ithaca and still superb. Wonderful, flavorful crab and corn chowder.

Also had two nice lunches. One lunch at the Copper Oven at the Cyauga Ridge Estate Winery. It is outdoor seating only and I think next week is the last weekend. Basically they specialize in flatbreads/pizzas all featuring "hyper-local" ingredients. We had a nice flatbread with cheddar, roasted cualiflower and curry sauce. It was fabulous. Also had a very nice charcuterie plate.

The other lunch was at the Piggery, a new butcher and sandwich place in Ithaca. We had a great pastrami ruben. Highly recommend it for a good quality sandwich.

Lastly, we hit up the Ithaca Farmers Market and had some delightful Cambodian food and hard ciders.

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Ithaca


Going to a conference in Ithaca in a few weeks. During the conference itself meals will be provided (scary thought) and I won't want to dodge because of the networking (sigh), but I'm planning on going two days early, which gives me time for some hiking, exploring the town, and finding good restaurants. Recommendations? Breakfast is free at the hotel but given which hotel it is, I'm thinking it'll be worth skipping. Besides, I love a good diner breakfast.

Chiantiand Fava, would love to read your hiking info.

For breakfast, Cafe Dewitt is very good. It's in the same building as Moosewoods.
I also love Collegetown Bagels....I'm pretty sure you can get them at the Ithaca Bakery up near the Ramada (Ithaca Baker bought C-town bagels... gosh it's got to be close to 20 years ago now)?
For pizza (and some nostalgia), I like the Nines in collegtown.
It's been a few years since I've been, but have had very good dinners at The Heights.
If you have the munchies in the middle of the night, Shortstop Deli is open 24 hours a day.....and have Hot Truck sandwiches now.....

for hikes, Watkins Glen State Park is pretty good, relatively easy gorge walk. Robert Treman, just south of Ithaca, and Taughanock Falls State Parks, just noth, also have some good hikes.

There are the gorges themselves in Ithaca that we all kind of learned to get around while we were there, but I have no idea where a trail map of those exist.

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Ithaca; Trumansburg

Thanks for all the recommendations. I didn't get in as much hiking as I needed to, considering all the eating we did, but we had a good time. We had a nice, simple, delicious, unpretentious dinner at Mercato Bar and Kitchen one night (salad of frisee, radicchio, pears, gorgonzola; butternut squash gnocchi), and dinner at Hazelnut Kitchen in Trumansburg the next (house-made duck rillettes with raspberry mostarda; risotto with brussels sprouts and Parmesan). Friday night we took friends to The Heights Cafe, and while the food was delicious it was definitely a lot more formal than the web site led us to believe.

Cafe Dewitt was a good choice for breakfast one day (loved the scrambled egg and tomato jam sandwich); the other days we were too full for anything more than a bagel from CTB.

In Trumansburg there is a tiny convenience-type grocery store with a lunch counter, called Good to Go; a cup of their hot lentil soup was a perfect pick-me-up between hikes.

The Piggery deserves a special mention. They're closed Sunday and Monday - something about that's when they process the pigs for the rest of the week, I think. (The pigs are from their own farm in Trumansburg.) In one part of the building is the butcher shop, with various pork cuts, charcuterie, even lard; in the other is the deli. The Three Little Pigs platter, for those who can't decide what to eat, will make you feel like a not-so-little pig. It consists of a house made hot dog (80% pork, 20% beef, natural casing), a pulled-pork slider that's easily twice the size of any other slider, and a pulled pork taco. The red cabbage coleslaw is excellent.

Saturday I was stuck in the hotel for lunch, but MrP came to the rescue with carryout* from The Piggery. One of my racing buddies came over to our table and asked "are you eating a pastrami sandwich?!" "Yep." "I hate you," she said with a flair while walking away. (After this weekend I think my racing buddies are starting to get the other half of my signature line.)

When it comes to ice cream upstate NYers are amateurs. I didn't care for Purity ice cream. The mocha chip tasted like milk chocolate with a hint of mint (cross-contamination; there was a bit of green in the cup) and no coffee flavor. All the Byrne Dairy shops either had closed their scoop operations for the season or didn't have a scoop shop at all.

If you're a coffee lover, don't miss Gimme! Coffee (3 locations in Ithaca, one in Trumansburg). They roast their own beans and the brewed coffee and espresso are as good as any I've had anywhere.

(btw, rbh, I've hiked the Glen gorge several times, including once during a steady light rain in which I had the place to myself except for two other people; it was beautiful in the rain.)

*MrP is an awesome man; during one of the morning meetings he came to the rescue with a large cup of joe from Gimme! Coffee.

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Rochester

When it comes to ice cream upstate NYers are amateurs. I didn't care for Purity ice cream. The mocha chip tasted like milk chocolate with a hint of mint (cross-contamination; there was a bit of green in the cup) and no coffee flavor. All the Byrne Dairy shops either had closed their scoop operations for the season or didn't have a scoop shop at all.


When it comes to frozen desserts, just go right on up to Rochester (preferably during the summer), and go to one of the two original locations of Abbot's Frozen Custard. Do not bother with the franchise locations. Go to the lake or the airport and eat frozen custard.

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When it comes to frozen desserts, just go right on up to Rochester (preferably during the summer), and go to one of the two original locations of Abbot's Frozen Custard. Do not bother with the franchise locations. Go to the lake or the airport and eat frozen custard.

That sounds good, but if they close for the winter they're amateurs. :P

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That sounds good, but if they close for the winter they're amateurs. :P

The airport location stays open year-round. Or at least they used to. I'm a long time gone from Rochester.

I always wondered why the beach location closed in winter, as there is a skating rink there, and the Char-Broil is open all winter.

Then again, I suppose that many people do not want to eat frozen custard at the lake in a Rochester winter.

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Finger Lakes region

This area is one I've been wanting to visit, and I was wondering if anyone an give a perspective on biycle tours in the region? There are several companies that have multi-day tours of riding, eating, and visiting wineries. It sounds like a lovely way to spend a week in the summer.

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This area is one I've been wanting to visit, and I was wondering if anyone an give a perspective on biycle tours in the region? There are several companies that have multi-day tours of riding, eating, and visiting wineries. It sounds like a lovely way to spend a week in the summer.

Double check the drinking aspect of that. In the Willammette Valley you only actually drink at the last winery so people are drunk biking. No idea what the rules are in the Finger Lakes but thought it worth mentioning.

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Waterloo (near Geneva)

We'll be up in the area (Waterloo, which I think is either part of Geneva or right near it) this summer. Looking for restaurant ideas that are not wineries and are preschooler-friendly but have good food. We'll probably have a night or two without the kids too. Not familiar with the area at all, though from a quick look at the map it looks like we're a little bit northwest of Seneca Lake - not sure if it would take too long to go east of the lake where some of you have said the food is better.

Thanks for any recommendations!

Edit: we are not within a reasonable driving distance (with preschoolers) of some places mentioned above: Suzanne's in Lodi, or Stonecat Cafe. Hoping there's some decently tasty food near where we are.

Would also love recommendations of places to stop and eat on the drive between DC and the Finger Lakes.

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Corning

We had some really good bbq in Corning after checking out the glass museum. Thought the restaurant's name was 54 but looks like it's called Holmes Plate. Bar/Roadhouse type setting which could be counted as a plus or minus depending on your preferences.

The museum itself runs the gamut from fine art to kitschy glass collectibles. It seemed like they had a number of kid friendly exhibits when we went (outdoor glassblowing demonstration, etc.) but we don't have kids so take that with a grain of salt.

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Ithaca; Hector; Lodi; Watkins Glen

Another trip to Watkins Glen for the annual a**-kicking (but finally this year I was the kicker, not kickee), another weekend where we ate too much. Didn't realize Cornell had graduation going on, so not a chance we could get into Hazelnut Kitchen. Likewise, Suzanne (pedantic note: it's "Suzanne", not "Suzanne's") had a waiting list 7 deep for Friday and Saturday. We made do with Red Newt, still not my favorite place. Since we were last there they've gone extreme locavore, which is fine given where they're located. Everything was well-executed (except a slightly overcooked piece of pork tenderloin), just not terribly interesting.

Friday the weather was too awful for practice, so we killed time by driving to Ithaca for a cup of Gimme! coffee. Great stuff. Then over to The Piggery for lunch, where we discovered that they were closing the restaurant in order to pursue USDA certification for the butcher operation. Dinner at Dano's on Seneca, which I think will never change. It's exactly the same every time we're there. But it's always really good, so we keep going.

Also had a lunch from Glen Mountain Market and a dinner at Stonecat, which is still (or again) one of my favorite restaurants. I can't explain it. It just works.

The locavore ethic is strong on the east side of Seneca Lake. There were ramps and rhubarb everywhere.

There's a new barbeque place in Watkins called Nickel's. Mr P got a pulled pork sandwich with mac and cheese and beans on the side. I tried nibbles of all three and didn't care for any. The pork was nicely smokey but had little pork flavor. The "original" sauce was sweet (as it usually is), and the "spicy" sauce was a little spicy but not very (as it usually is). The macaroni was soft without much cheese flavor, the beans sweet and tangy, but engh. Maybe I'm just done with barbecue.

Great milkshakes from Tobe's on our way back home. We expect to be back a second time this year, in July. Think I'll call Hazelnut and Suzanne today for reservations.

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Getting ready for my annual trip to Seneca Lake and am thinking of tacking on an extra day to explore Cayuga/Ithaca a bit, or maybe head over to Keuka Lake to finally visit Dr. Frank's. Either one would have to be on a weekday, which brings me to my question - has anyone been to the Ithaca farmer's market at one of the other weekday locations. I'm wondering how they compare, especially in terms of prepared foods to the Sat/Sun markets at the pavilion?

Any other suggestions for things to do, places to eat, wines to drink in either area (Keuka or Cayuga)? I've limited my numerous trips to Seneca Lake for the most part although I've had the opportunity to taste wines from other regions via the wine festival ages ago. Head and Heart is really high up on my list for visiting though so I think I'm leaning heavily toward getting over to Cayuga and maybe exploring Ithaca a bit. I may or may not have dogs with me.

Porcupine, I'm glad to read your positive review of Stonecat. Last year, I got the same brunch dish that had wowed me a few years before and was really disappointed. The location and the atmosphere still made it worthwhile, but that particular plate of food was just kind of "meh". :(

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Hammondsport

Dr. Frank's--I'm glad I went but it wasn't one of my favorites. Ya know when your favorite artist decides they can afford a fancy producer and their album sounds polished but lacks soul? Yeah that's how I felt about Dr. Frank's. But hey, where else are you going to find rkatsiteli or muscat ottonel?

Keuka Lake Vineyards-- Heard very good things, will definitely be on my list to check out this year.

Ravines--One the best producers in the Finger Lakes (them and Wiemer are in a different class as far as I'm concerned). Their tastings have a cheese/chocolate add-on option that is fun and delicious. Their tasting room staff was the best that I came across also.

For Cayuga I loved Bellwether Cidery. I'd put their ciders up against any Etienne Dupont product. They also started making wines. On the same day I hit up Cayuga Creamery (fantastic ice cream) and Lively Run Goat Farm (best feta I've ever had). Wanted to check out Sheldrake Point Winery but never got around to it.

Pssst--It's Heart and Hands.

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Pssst--It's Heart and Hands.

LOL, I do that all of the time. The Head & the Heart is a band I like. :P

Thanks for the feedback. Honestly, I wasn't a fan of the Dr. Frank's wines when I had them, but that was at a wine festival a long time ago, all of which makes my opinion questionable. I've been to Wiemer and found it so pretentious on that visit that I was really turned off, but I think I will go back this year. It's just orchestrating leaving the dogs behind that makes that one tough, unless it's unseasonably cool for some reason when I go.

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Any other suggestions for things to do, places to eat, wines to drink in either area (Keuka or Cayuga)?

Try to get a res at Hazelnut Kitchen in Trumansburg. Hard to do but worth the effort. If you're a fan of farm-to-foodie table dining, it's hard to do better.

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Try to get a res at Hazelnut Kitchen in Trumansburg. Hard to do but worth the effort. If you're a fan of farm-to-foodie table dining, it's hard to do better.

So I checked and both Suzanne's in Lodi and Hazelnut are only open for dinner Thurs-Sun, which means I may only get to one of them. Which to choose? Leaning toward Suzanne's at the moment based on the menus (seems slightly more paleo-friendly).

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I have not been to Suzanne in years, so I'm not sure. Both emphasize seasonal and local, so I'd say have a look at current menus and decide from there. I don't think either choice would be a bad one.

Heading up there myself today. Have a res at HK and on the waitlist at Suzanne. Will try to report back in a timely fashion.

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I have not been to Suzanne in years, so I'm not sure. Both emphasize seasonal and local, so I'd say have a look at current menus and decide from there. I don't think either choice would be a bad one.

Heading up there myself today. Have a res at HK and on the waitlist at Suzanne. Will try to report back in a timely fashion.

Thanks, I look forward to hearing back!

By the way, from the website it looks as if The Piggery has converted to just the butcher shop like you mentioned. I would be interested if you happen to stop by to hear if there are food options other than just buying charcuterie. I'll stop by either way I think, but would be nice to know if lunch is an option there. The hot dog and slaw sounded so enticing from your earlier post. :(

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Hector; Trumansburg

Choirgirl21, we weren't able to get a table at Suzanne and didn't have a chance to make it to Ithaca. We did get to Stonecat twice. It is once again my favorite restaurant ever. Maybe because Sheila always remembers us and we feel like family, but that would mean nothing if the food wasn't any good. We had some of their classics, falafel salad and pulled pork platter one night, warm brownie with Ciao Bella espresso gelato for dessert, and a special that I can't quite remember the next. Everything was perfect. Even the field greens salad was the tastiest field greens salad I've had in ages, and I had something like that about 5 times in Victoria and Vancouver last month. Also, they had the first poutine I've ever tried that I truly loved, with local cheese curds and local duck gravy.

Hazelnut Kitchen wasn't quite the awesome experience we remembered, but still very good. They also offered a poutine that night, not nearly as good as Stonecat's, made with a lemon-thyme chicken gravy. The deconstructed pot pie with the same gravy and a biscuit was tasty, and my bowl of house-made fettucine with sugar snap peas, pea tendrils, pork sausage, and creme fraiche with cherries was nicely prepared. Interesting mix of textures and tastes. Service a little wonky but honest. Worth the drive from Watkins Glen, for sure.

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Thank you for the quick report back Porcupine! I am glad to hear you love Stonecat as much as I ever. I just got word that our event planner (I go for the annual greyhound event up there, which is why I am always on Seneca) is working on them to allow us to have our dogs on the deck the whole weekend. In the past, they've only allowed us to sit at tables on the edge where we could have the dogs off the deck in the grass. I've made a point to go for brunch, even alone one year, but if they agree to this, there is a chance of me organizing a larger group for dinner on Saturday, which would THRILL me.

Based on your comments about HK, I think I will stick to trying to get a rez at Suzanne on Thursday night.

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Lodi; Hector; Watkins Glen

 

This year we finally got a res at Suzanne.  While the food was quite good, I left feeling a little meh.  It really does try to be a fine-dining experience.  Not that there's anything wrong with that, but after driving 5 1/2 hours there and needing to be awake at 5am the next day, we were not thrilled with sitting around two hours to eat three courses.  OTOH, I am grateful that they allowed me to choose two courses from the fixed price tasting menu.  And it really is a charming setting.  The kitchen garden in back is extensive and beautiful.  It just isn't quite my cup of tea.

 

Hazelnut Kitchen was closed for summer break.  Nuts.

 

Tobe's is once again out of business.  Nuts.

 

Glen Mountain Market has apparently changed owners.  The only noticeable difference is that they've upped their coffee game and are now offering coffees brewed with beans from local roasters, including Gimme! from Ithaca.  Yay!

 

Dano's needs to refresh itself.  OTOH, it still draws in the crowds and I expect if they made permanent changes the same people who've been dining there for generations would be put out.  But we're getting a little tired of it.

 

And my beloved Stonecat is still going strong.  Sheila didn't see us until we were on the way out, and it's been a year since we were last there, but she hugged me and hugged and kissed Mr. P.  There's no place in the DC area that I love like I love Stonecat.  It's more than the sum of its parts.  It's often flawed but in easily forgivable ways.  The menu is influenced by many different cultures but always based on what's locally/seasonally available; there's even a "where your food is coming from" section on it.

 

Interesting to me that one of my racing buddies - a generation older than me, has traveled just about everywhere around the world for extended periods of time, and a foodie himself - cornered me one day and asked which I thought was better (without defining "better"), Suzanne or Stonecat.  "Stonecat", I replied.  "Me, too", said he.

 

A few weeks ago Mr. P and I drove to Columbus, OH and back in one day.  I think next time we have a free Sunday I'm going to suggest we drive to Stonecat for brunch and back in the same day.  WTFN?

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I realized I forgot to post after my trip last year. I did go to Suzanne based on the above recommendation and we really enjoyed our meal. It is perhaps trying a bit too hard to be a fine dining experience, but our dishes were outstanding and we enjoyed a lovely Heart & Hands pinot while we were there. We also had an outstanding group meal at Stonecat (8 of us in total) keeping it again as my favorite restaurant in the area.

 

Unfortunately this year our dining experiences weren't as rewarding. We went back to Red Newt on Friday evening to learn that since our visit 2 years ago, the chef had left and the owner was now in the kitchen again. The story we were sold was that they had decided to return to their roots and revert to a bistro style menu. Instead of the previous menu that offered many small and large plates of outstanding and beautiful food, we were presented with a small menu containing a few small plates, about 3 large plates (a pasta, a gnocchi, and a pork chop), and grilled cheese with a few options for filling additions. They also offer a tasting of their "favorite" menu items along with small pours of 4 wines for $25. The tasting plate, which one person had, included a square of grilled cheese, a shot glass of tomato soup, a bit of one local cheese, a bit of a pork pate, a small black bean cake with some sort of riesling sauce and a small portion of kale salad. 

 

Grilled cheese got ordered by quite a few people and reports were that they and the tomato soup were good, if basic. The gnocchi, which I ordered was another popular item. Both the gnocchi and the cream sauce it was served in were surprisingly light and I really enjoyed it. The ground sausage promised in the menu description was sparse, but there was also kale that had been added at the end and was just wilted that was nice. Carrots and sliced fennel were a nice addition, but chunks were often too large and too raw so some of those got pushed aside. 

 

The other disappointment was that their by the glass wine list now includes only their own wines. I was able to find a dry riesling (the 2012 reserve at $11/glass) that I enjoyed once the server and I got it straightened out that she had poured me and my friend the wrong wine (she started to tell me how riesling had a fruity component that makes it taste sweet when I asked her how they could call what she had poured a dry riesling, but when I pushed her on whether the wine contained residual sugar she realized she had made a mistake and poured us one of the barely semi-dry rieslings accidentally). The cabernet franc wasn't as enjoyable, with an odd effervescence when first poured.

 

On our previous visit we also sat on the deck, enjoying the beautiful view and weather. This year we were unfortunately seated inside (I don't recall if they just moved tables outside for us last time, but this time we only saw round 4 tops so we didn't ask to be put outside like we would have liked as we were a party of 8). The inside is in need of a total redo. There is old dark carpeting, plain tables with no tablecloths, no decorations to be seen, and it's dark. It's a real disappointment when you can see what you could be enjoying if you were outside. Service was also much less attentive than I would have liked, but I can hardly blame our server as some in our party weren't exactly quiet about their disappointment when they saw the menu changes.

 

Overall, some of us were more disappointed than others, partially because we had quite different expectations. I would probably go back there for a snack or light meal only if I knew I would be able to sit outside, but I think they have some work to do before becoming a destination restaurant again.

 

Stonecat held its own disappointments for us as well this year. The biggest was that after we had been left to peruse our menu for quite some time and had already had a cheese plate delivered we were told that they were out of 3 entree items, including one of the 3 specials, as well as a dessert ice cream. With such a small menu already, those 3 menu items, which many of us had already decided to order were really missed. To the kitchen's credit, when they heard that 2 of the vegetarians had been planning to order the mushroom risotto again this year, they created an impromptu alternative, a thai dish with lots of fresh vegetables and tofu that at least smelled amazing, but by then, I think the damage was already done. I had been planning to order the duck confit and sausage dish, but that was also one of the dishes that was gone. There wasn't much that appealed on the remaining list and not wanting to spend $30 on a ribeye that I could potentially cook at home, I went for the scallop special despite my hesitation about the mixed berry sauce. I was pleasantly surprised that the sauce was more savory than sweet, but the berry flavor was very strong and not my style. The accompanying barley/spelt/pecan mixture and grilled squash were frankly boring accompaniments. Having seen the ribeyes that a few friends ordered come out cooked perfectly I wish I had just ordered one.  The field greens salad with added chevre I had beforehand however was delicious. I think there's a ceiling on how good a salad can be, but Stonecat pushes the limits with theirs. The ricotta pie served with a berry sauce that I had for dessert was also delicious. Their wine by the glass list still has a nice selection and they continue to have interesting cocktails, some that deliver on taste better than others, but I recommend avoiding the Hector late harvest chardonnay if they happen to have it when you go.  ;)

 

We also had some slight services issues and of course were told we couldn't sit on the deck because we were a large party (8 again) who would "ruin the flow" outside. It's understandable I guess, but it was torture to sit inside for the second night in a row seeing the fine weather and sunset view we could be enjoying. I've been to Stonecat enough times to know I will go back again, but unfortunately some in my party were turned off enough this time that they've decided they won't. It's a shame, especially since last year we were the party buying the kitchen a 6-pack because we were enjoying ourselves so much. 

 

Other meals included Seneca Harbor Station (after 2 meals here, it's just really not worth it, even for the dog-friendly deck or views), lunch at 2 Goats (the roast beef sandwich is still worth a trip, but this year I found the meat drier and a little less generous than usual), and lunch at a new spot, FLX Wienery. If you are in the area, GO! It's not too far up on the west side of Seneca, offering smoked hot dogs and white hots, housemade sausages, and burgers with various fun toppings. If you're having trouble deciding, there are also recommended topping combos that you can order with one or 2 meats. I went with one of those, "The Kraut" with the smoked hot dog and a housemade brat. When I placed my order and the girl asked me if it was going to be a problem that my order would take a few extra minutes because the chef was making the brats fresh at the moment I knew I was in the right place. We finished placing our order and sat to watch him stuffed the brats. The hot dog and brat arrived, both topped with stone ground mustard, fresh kraut, fried onions, and fresh herbs. The fried onions alone were outstanding and deserving of being ordered as their own side and the combination was nice with the brat. The smoked dog was so good that I mostly ate it alone with a bit of mustard and ketchup and did indeed eat those onions as a side.

 

The poutine was also phenomenal. Thin cut fries that were perfectly crispy topped iwth an outstanding creamy gravy, cheese curds that appeared to have been grated to give them a finer texture, and fresh herbs that brightened an otherwise heavy dish. Even though the focus here is on the meat, I think it's worth going to have the poutine alone. If you are there, you MUST, and I do mean, MUST indulge in a milkshake as well. They often have a special or two featuring local berries (we had a taste of the blueberry as they were already out of the black raspberries when we arrived), but my friend opted for the bacon brown sugar and despite being ready to bust, we couldn't stop drinking it. The girl who took our order also mentioned her favorite, the salted caramel pretzel and I still remain a little sad that I didn't just go ahead and order it. 

 

When you're done, head up the road just a bit to Starkey's Lookout and take in the gorgeous view from their deck while trying a sample of their beers. I really enjoyed their belgian amber, the IPA, and surprisingly the pilsner, which had a hoppy quality and a citrusy brightness that I really enjoyed (prior to this I had never had a pilsner I enjoyed). The scotch ale and porter were also nice options. Avoid the tangerine wit unless alcoholic tang is your thing.  :P

 

I can also second Porcupine's comment about the coffee program at Glen Mtn Market. It's been my go to place for years because the coffee served with breakfast at the Seneca Lodge is basically water, but this year I noticed an improvement, even without knowing why. The biggest perk for me (pun intended, heh) was a macchiato on the menu that is actually a real macchiatto. They also make a delicious Americano with the proper ratio of water. While I didn't partake this year, if pastry is your thing, they always have a large selection of pastries as big as your head, including some vegan and gluten free options. 

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Ithaca

 

Le Café Cent-Dix, from the owners of Mercato, opened last September on the east side of Ithaca commons.  We arrived around 5:30 on a Friday to find a line already forming, and by the time we finished our appetizers, I knew why.  The place offers very well-executed French bistro fare.  Not that French bistro fare is hard to find, but very well-executed is.  If I lived in Ithaca I'd be a regular there.  Steak tartare was served with a small mound of lentils le puy and frisee, with just a touch of smoked-paprika oil on the plate; it was enough to give the dish a little extra interest without overwhelming it.  I had a salade frisée aux lardons for my main course.  A standard dish, nothing unusual about it, put perfectly done.  Mr. P ordered the Parisian gnocchi (preparation changes seasonally, it seems), and devoured it, something he rarely does since he was spoiled for gnocchi years ago by Frank Ruta.  These were about as good as any Ruta ever served.  Mr. P's chocolate cake with ganache icing was exactly what we'd already come to expect, meaning it was exactly what it should be.  (Which gets me to thinking that it isn't often restaurants can do that anymore.)  My lemon chiffon pie was actually a medium-size tart with a so-so pastry crust (but I'm a pastry nut, it takes a lot to impress me) and a perfect (again) lemon chiffon filling, something I haven't had in about 30 years.  Who does lemon chiffon anymore?

 

We don't get to Ithaca often, but if Cent-Dix is still around next time we're there, we'll be there at opening again.

 

Also, the Ithaca Farmers Market is incredible.  A bit of an event, really.  We picked up the best blueberries and black raspberries ever, and managed to keep them cool and fresh enough on the trip home to make for some great breakfasts and pie over the next few days.  If all blueberries were that good the world would be a much better place.

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Ithaca

 

Le Café Cent-Dix, from the owners of Mercato, opened last September on the east side of Ithaca commons.  We arrived around 5:30 on a Friday to find a line already forming, and by the time we finished our appetizers, I knew why.  The place offers very well-executed French bistro fare.  Not that French bistro fare is hard to find, but very well-executed is.  If I lived in Ithaca I'd be a regular there.  Steak tartare was served with a small mound of lentils le puy and frisee, with just a touch of smoked-paprika oil on the plate; it was enough to give the dish a little extra interest without overwhelming it.  I had a salade frisée aux lardons for my main course.  A standard dish, nothing unusual about it, put perfectly done.  Mr. P ordered the Parisian gnocchi (preparation changes seasonally, it seems), and devoured it, something he rarely does since he was spoiled for gnocchi years ago by Frank Ruta.  These were about as good as any Ruta ever served.  Mr. P's chocolate cake with ganache icing was exactly what we'd already come to expect, meaning it was exactly what it should be.  (Which gets me to thinking that it isn't often restaurants can do that anymore.)  My lemon chiffon pie was actually a medium-size tart with a so-so pastry crust (but I'm a pastry nut, it takes a lot to impress me) and a perfect (again) lemon chiffon filling, something I haven't had in about 30 years.  Who does lemon chiffon anymore?

 

We don't get to Ithaca often, but if Cent-Dix is still around next time we're there, we'll be there at opening again.

 

Also, the Ithaca Farmers Market is incredible.  A bit of an event, really.  We picked up the best blueberries and black raspberries ever, and managed to keep them cool and fresh enough on the trip home to make for some great breakfasts and pie over the next few days.  If all blueberries were that good the world would be a much better place.

Ithaca, New York is without a doubt one of the greatest small cities in the country. That is all. Drop the mic. 

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Foiled again. Was hoping this would be the year I went to Hazelnut Kitchen. I'm going a week later than normal and their brief summer hiatus is...a week later this year!

 

Porcupine, thanks for the new review. I may try to convince people to go there. Do you think they would be able to accommodate a larger group (probably 8) including a vegetarian? Obviously I could call, just curious of your impression based on size and the menu. 

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Foiled again. Was hoping this would be the year I went to Hazelnut Kitchen. I'm going a week later than normal and their brief summer hiatus is...a week later this year!

 

Porcupine, thanks for the new review. I may try to convince people to go there. Do you think they would be able to accommodate a larger group (probably 8) including a vegetarian? Obviously I could call, just curious of your impression based on size and the menu. 

 

Yeah, Hazlenut was closed last weekend, as well.  Curses!  Call Cent-Dix; we sat in the very front of the restaurant and didn't get a look in the back, so I really can't say.  It seemed quite small but I'm not sure.  I believe Mr. P's gnocchi were vegetarian but if you're calling anyway ask.  Do let us know how it was if you go!

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Seneca Lake

 

Back from another annual trip. Hit mostly my old favorites.

 

Dinner Saturday night was at Dano's Heuriger. I started with the mushroom & red pepper soup, which according to my server had mushrooms he had foraged for earlier in the day. The soup was indeed delicious. For my entree I was debating between the "ghoulash", which consisted of the aforementioned chanterelles, veal medallions and a cream sauce served alongside their spaetzle or the Bento box, which includes sausage, pork shank, and tastings of the spaetzle, red cabbage, cucumber salad, cold cabbage salad, a 3rd salad I am forgetting, and the liptauer spread. I asked my server if he had a recommendation and his response was, I kid you not, "meh". So I ordered the bento box and then was very very sad when a friend ordered the ghoulash and let me taste it. Let me just say, if that is on the menu when you go, get it. Dessert was an apricot strudel, which I enjoyed for it's "apricotyness" and the fact that it wasn't overly sweet. My overall feeling about Dano's stays the same - mainly that the food is good to very good, they offer nice wine options and they have a fantastic view from their patio so if the weather is good, it's worth going and eating outside, but plan to be there a long time as the service is always slow slow slow.

 

The following night we had dinner at Stonecat. The appetizer salad with goat cheese was delicious as always. For my entree I had a special, which was a grilled duck breast with sweet potato puree, green beans and a blueberry demi-glace. Unless anyone particularly wants them, I'll spare you the details of the mess that was our service here this evening, except to say that this dish was really good, but unfortunately the cook/texture on my duck breast was disappointing because of a service issue (short version: served while we were still eating our appetizers, I sent the food runner away, manager appeared moments later to tell me that was the last duck breast so I ended up eating it). The sauce was particularly good (they do fruit sauces very nicely, always savory whether served with seafood or meat) and the green beans were actually a highlight as they were cooked to perfection. Dessert was an olive oil cake that was quite generous if a bit dry, a delicious housemade apricot & almond ice cream and a quenelle of whipped cream. I enjoyed the cocktail there as I usually do and a nice glass of Damiani reserve pinot that was supposed to be complimentary because of the service issues, but ended up on the check anyway. Ah well. Next year I may just do brunch at Stonecat. I love what they do, I love their deck, but I don't love the way the service and to a lesser extent the food seems to be going downhill.

 

Maybe I just had bad luck this year. Having said that, FLX Wienery did not disappoint with it's delicious hot dogs and housemade brats, all things pickled, and their spiced onion rings (so good!).

 

Also worth checking out, Lively Run goat farm in Interlaken allows you to wander around the property meeting their goats and horses, cheese tastings are held in their small shop for $3 for bites of a large selection of their cheeses, they do a farm tour each day at 2 pm (at least on weekends) and they have a very tasty goat cheese cheesecake for sale in their shop. Plus they are dog friendly.

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After graduating from law school in 2007, my wife and I did a wine tour of the Finger Lakes (in addition to going to about 4 weddings!).  We stayed at a bed and breakfast called Los Gatos in Penn Yan (sorry if this place has been mentioned before).  The family that runs it is very nice and the breakfast was really good (including their own homemade jams).  We stayed in a cabin which was pretty nice.

 

Two wineries stood out for us:  Hermann J. Weimer and Heron Hill.  Weimer had an amazing dry reserve Riesling.  At Heron Hill in addition to a standard sampling we did a flight of Ice Wine.  At the direction of the person at Heron Hill we tried the three in a specific order.  The third was a standout.  I clearly remember my wife's eyes widening and a twinkle forming--this wine was amazing.  She said we had to get a bottle until I showed her the price!

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