8015 Route 9
Pottersville, NY 12860
845 494 5800
Winter: Dinner served Thursday through Saturday 5PM – 9PM
Summer: Open Wednesday through Sunday 5PM – 9 PM
If it’s Thursday, this must be Pottersville. Yes, Pottersville, NY. If you get off the Northway at exit 26, just north of the village on the west side of Route 9 you will find the Café Adirondack. It’s a tiny place, in what looks like an old summer bungalow. The parking lot is filled to overflowing because it is Thursday evening and if you live anywhere near Schroon Lake this is the place that you go to on Thursday evening. You enter through an empty screened in porch that reminds you that it’s really cold out. It is the off season and during the off season the owners offer a “Chef’s Tasting Menu” for $16.00. That is not a misprint. This is what you do in February if you own a restaurant in the Adirondacks. Adirondack winters are tough on restaurants, and restaurant owners.
Up here we have four seasons – tourist season which starts July 4th and ends on Labor Day, winter which ends on the first day of mud season, which ends on the first day of black fly season, which ends on July 4th. Traditionally fireworks commemorate the end of black fly season. If you own a restaurant, you have the eight weeks of tourist season to pay your bills. The rest of the year you accumulate bills. This explains why we see so many smallish restaurant operations up here, typically with hubby in the kitchen and his wife and maybe one more person running the dining room. If you own a restaurant, and you are lucky enough to be near a ski slope or snowmobile destination, you may see some diners during the winter, if we have the right amount of snow. Or you have weather like this winter, where you had no snow, no skiers, and no snowmobilers on most weekends, or weather like last weekend, where we had so much snow you couldn’t get your car out of the garage, and no skiers, and no snowmobilers. Most restaurateurs are looking forward to mud season. The restaurants that do try and stay open through the winter frequently offer spectacular deals to lure the few diners that are still here to eat out in February. This brings me back to why the parking lot at the Café Adirondack is full on Thursday night.
The said aforementioned tasting menu includes your choice of soup or a salad, entrée, dessert, and a coffee or soft drink. For $16.00. I once paid $160 for a Gray Kunz’s lunch tasting menu at Les Pinasse, not including the train fare to New York or the tip. For the record it was not ten times as good as this. (Better, but not ten times better.) But I digress.
Officially, you start with a soup or a salad. Officially, you do not start with a drink or a glass of wine because they do not serve alcohol. You fend for yourself, so to speak, and that is all I am going to say about that, except to report that a (wine and beer) liquor license is in the works, according to our waitress. But back to the soup. Last week’s offering was a she-crab bisque ($4 cup /$5 bowl), also a staple on the regular menu. I can’t remember the last time I have seen this offered outside of the low country waterfront. Pawley’s Island has nothing on this preparation – a velvety creamy texture with just an essence of sherry. The owners honed their kitchen skills in the Carolinas, and it is reflected in many of the menu’s offerings. Last week they offered a delicious carrot and ginger soup, or a cup of three bean chili, covered with fresh cut scallions and grated cheddar cheese. Wonderful stuff.
The house salad of mixed greens and home made croutons is offered as an alternative, and is included with entrees on the regular weekend menu. The tasting menu usually offers four entrée choices. Last night’s offerings included prime rib, with mashed potatoes and a medley of mixed vegetables. Pan seared chicken cutlets ($16 ala carte) , prepared ala marsala also came with a side of potato and vegetable. Last week one of the choices was a filet mignon ($21 ala carte), or Carolina crab cakes with a side of rice ($17 ala carte). The locals rave about the house’s signature dish – Bang Bang Shrimp ($8), offered as an appetizer, spiced as the name suggests after a coating of Japanese panko style bread crumbs. Recent entrée suggestions included sautéed beef tips, with garlic mashed potatoes, or grilled chicken breast layered with black bean cakes. A few samples stolen from my dinner companions’ plates were both quite tasty.
On a recent visit I thoroughly enjoyed a large bowl of scampi style seafood pasta, with healthy portions of chunked salmon, sea scallops and shrimp tossed with penne. Chloe’s chicken combines two sautéed chicken breasts, tomato and scallions with ranch dressing, melted cheese, and bacon. A similar preparation adorns Chloe’s home fried potatoes ($7), earning heart healthy honors for the tomatoes, and rave reviews for the cheese and bacon topping. Last week they offered a blueberry pie for dessert, included in the $16.00 fare, but I could not find the room after my prime rib dinner. We waited until we got home to fire up the espresso machine. On a recent visit the desserts included a cherry and pineapple cobbler served warm and topped with whipped cream, chocolate chip bread pudding with Frangelica, or key lime pie.
I just love the off season. You can actually get into places like Café Adirondack without too much of a problem for another few weeks, and then the snowbirds will start to arrive, demanding the seats back they willingly abandoned in October. Café Adirondack continues their winter menu and the Thursday night specials through March, and then they usually revert to their regular summer hours. Reservations are highly recommended, especially on weekends. The line will be out the door into the parking lot soon enough. Even at full fare, the consistently well prepared dishes at most reasonable prices continue to bring fans to this lovely hideaway throughout the year. We suggest you give it a try.