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 ]