Table Talk: Café Adirondack
Once in a great while I wish I believed in rating restaurants by stars. You know, one to five stars depending upon your personal experience. I have never believed in that, no more than when readers ask me to name my top ten. You may recall me telling you that in the 70s, my column was removed from a local magazine by the owner, the reason being that I did not include a top advertiser in my top ten.
Oh well. I don’t really know how to explain to someone the difference in a two star restaurant vs. a three. If it’s lousy, I usually don’t bother to write about my visit. If “it’s nothing to write home about,” some things are better left unsaid.
For a couple of years now, acquaintances in the North Country and beyond have mentioned a tiny little place in Pottersville called Café Adirondack. I pictured a diner, bar, bistro, who knows what, because I would travel to Schroon Lake or beyond and never see it. But Constant Companion and I decided to make reservations on a wintry holiday weekend to check it out.
We were running late and called because we heard reservations were absolutely necessary. “No problem,” said the friendly voice on the other end, and sure enough when we pulled up, there was one lone table for four vacant, that we could see through the large picture window.
No wonder I missed seeing Café Adirondack on previous trips north! It looks like a summer camp with a screened-in porch. There’s a tiny sign and roadside parking just north of the hamlet of Pottersville on Route 9. I recall from years ago an old drive-in movie theater being almost next door.
We entered through the porch, which had tables and chairs set aside for warmer weather, and were seated promptly by a friendly hostess with one arm in a sling. Two huge parties were nearby, celebrating birthdays. Cozy, surprisingly wonderful summer camp-style Adirondack decorations adorn the walls. One interesting table for two, in a hallway all by itself, was also occupied.
Our party of four came equipped with a bottle of Wyatt’s Pinot Noir and two tiny flasks of Dewar’s and Stoli Vanilla. Our waitress, Crystal, supplied us with glassware and ice along with menus and a basket of house made Italian bread and creamy parsley butter.
The menu features several authentic South Carolina dishes that brought to mind visits to Pawley’s Island: she crab soup, a Carolina seafood platter, seafood diablo, crab cakes and Georgia peach iced tea.
There are stuffed mushrooms, seared Ahi tuna, savory mussels and Chloe’s fries for starters, the latter described as a generous helping of home-fried potatoes, ranch dressing, melted cheese, bacon, diced tomatoes and scallions. Extremely enticing, but not for us tonight, with Miss Picky Eater and Constant Companion, who had just completed a double session at the gym!
Other entrees include medallions of beef topped with crab cakes and béarnaise, an 8 oz. marinated sirloin and a choice of 4 or 8 oz. filets. Seafood lovers can rejoice with stuffed haddock, mussels with pasta, seafood scampi and a seared Ahi Tuna with ginger soy sauce. Chicken choices run the gamut from Dijon, diablo and parmesan to Chloe’s, just like the home fries.
We ordered appetizers and enjoyed our drinks while we perused the menu further and contemplated that particular night’s special of pasta with lobster sauce. Café Adirondack offers so many unique choices that we appreciated the extra time to make our decisions.
NASCAR Nut had a cup of thick, chunky tomato basil soup with feta cheese that he declared “Wonderful!” I started with the highly recommended bang-bang shrimp, truly a sight to behold: a bowl heaped with maybe two dozen 16–22 count shrimp, ale battered with a creamy, spicy tomato sauce that would knock your socks off. Enough for at least the four of us, only Constant Companion would brave the sauce and the remainder would go home for Sunday’s football game.
Great salads made with fresh greens and slivers of zucchini, carrots, onions and tomato, with nice, tasty dressings followed our starters.
Our entrees arrived, again timed perfectly, to allow for some great conversation and two renditions of “Happy Birthday” at the two, large adjoining tables.
Miss Picky Eater ordered the 8 oz. filet butterflied and well done with a dollop of béarnaise and garlic mashed. “Great,” she exclaimed.
Constant Companion polished off just one of her three crab cakes filled with generous amounts of lump and claw meat, crispy and accompanied by seasoned rice.
NASCAR Nut surprised us all, ordering chicken parmesan over fettuccini. A very generous cutlet topped with provolone cheese; again, enough for two.
I had to go for the Carolina seafood platter that contained a huge seasoned haddock filet and scallops, several large shrimp and a crab cake. Nicely broiled to perfection, not overcooked but every item moist throughout. Some great homemade tartar sauce and seasoned rice were on the side. Put that seafood platter at the top of your list!
All entrees came with a vegetable medley that deserves attention: carrots, zucchini and onions, crispy and seasoned to perfection. Too many restaurants miss this with a mushy, bland mixture that often sets off the entrée in the wrong way. Not so here at Café Adirondack. They got it right!
Every one of us took home part of our dinner except NASCAR Nut. He even managed to split a helping of hot bread pudding dotted with chocolate chips and laced with a liquor sauce.
I’m impressed with Café Adirondack’s overall style. Crystal, our waitress, was worth the trip alone. By the end of the evening she was our friend. The hostess, with only one arm available, made multiple trips to all tables to assist with serving meals and ice water replenishments. Ann and Tony, the owner/chefs, although straight out in the kitchen, still made time to pay a visit to our table. The portions are more than generous, fresh and prepared in a manner that makes you forget you are in the North Country, almost in the middle of nowhere.
Oh, back to my wish that on very special occasions I believe in five stars for the very best restaurants: CAFÉ ADIRONDACK: * * * * * (5 Stars!!)