Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lisa's Pane Di Casa (Cortland, NY)

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Light at the end of the tunnel

This might be the best week ever: I am working on local projects; The US Men's National team clinched their spot in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, and I got to eat at the best little bakery in Central New York for lunch yesterday. I can't believe I haven't devoted an entry to this place yet!
This place is such a hidden gem that my crew didn't even believe me that I knew where I was going while I dragged their questioning, soggy, sniffling, incredulous butts through the hallway from the front of the building on Main St to the back where the bakery faces the rear parking lot. I never remember to park back there, since the main street in Cortland is Deathrace 2000.
I can recommend everything they make. No, really. Crispy oatmeal scones (with or without cinnamon glaze), cookies of all types, fresh artisan breads, three daily soups, a few Green Mountain Brews, and even some simple sandwiches. The dining room is small, but inviting, and the atmosphere makes you really think you've found the best new secret place to eat, even if the line is 20 deep, snaking out the door and down the hallway. The best bet is a cup of the tomato soup, which has a brilliant tangy wine finish, and a slice of soft white bread to boot.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Silo Restaurant and Country Store (Queensbury, NY)

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The Silo Restaurant and Country Store
Queensbury, NY

The hungry archaeologist rarely turns her nose up at a free hotel breakfast no matter what the menu. But sometimes the same stale starch gets a little humdrum. Fortunately, for guests of the Quality Inn in Queensbury, The Silo restaurant and country store is steps away.

Hooray for adaptive reuse!
The building looks out of sorts on this strip of common stores and chain restaurants. This structure was created from the framework of two barns and a 19th century silo relocated from Saratoga County. The National Park Service has noted that silos, which only became regular features in the last decades of the 19th century, have become so closely associated with barns that they have lost their separate identities. Looking around the restaurant area, diners will see several hand-hewn timbers. While no specific information surrounding the history of the silo was readily available at this time, the restaurant is currently updating the “history” page of it’s website: http://www.thesiloqueensbury.com/index.php. Here you can find some images of the silo move and restaurant (re)construction – more detail is promised in the near future.

The food was delicious, creative and plentiful. While their menu offers a fairly standard (yet oversized) selection, our waitress revealed that The Silo’s chef goes all out to create inventive daily specials. On this day’s menu I found the Farmer’s Crepe with Chipotle Hollandaise: a perfectly crafted crepe stuffed with fluffy-light scrambled eggs, ham, cheese, peppers and onions accompanied with hand-cut, perfectly seasoned potatoes. Although not having quite the same appetite, we were lured back the following day for a lighter breakfast and we brought friends. And from the bakery case a triple berry apple muffin cried out to be grilled. Yum.

Ten dollars for a full breakfast can seem a bit shocking, but the portions provided a more than adequate breakfast as well as satisfying dinner that evening. Together with the bottomless quality coffee – which included a very large cup to go – The Silo breakfast is a decent value. I was truly enamored with the paper place mats. Printed with over a dozen illustrations of barn varieties and brief descriptions for each, they were effective in both absorbing coffee rings and evoking a sense of time when “the farmer was king and barns were the palaces of America” (as one description states). This, I found to be a quote from An Age of Barns by Eric Sloane.

With three floors of trinkets and treasures in addition to the restaurant, The Silo experience lies somewhere between The Vermont Country Store and Cracker Barrel. Cleverly located between the restaurant and its exit, the candy counter offers a selection of handmade candies and favorites. This reviewer recommends the monstrous cashew caramel turtle (note scale).

As for the spaces beyond the candy counter of the country store, you’ll have to find out for yourself. However, The Silo claims, “Our products are as unique as the history of the Silo itself!” I anticipate the posting of this Saratoga County silo’s elusive history . . .

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Kebab's (Aviation Mall, Queensbury, NY)

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Dr. Besom's Haiku Revu

yummy lamb kebab
with tasty basmati rice
served up with a smile