Lunch at a State Park
Don and I got hungry while exploring Saratoga Spa State Park in New York, last summer. We found lunch in this charming building.
We love visiting parks and eating at them. But that usually means packing our own food. Our closest park back home in Texas, is Brazos Bend State Park. There's no "Spa" in the name, but we love a sandwich at a picnic table, after wandering the trails and spotting alligators.
The Gideon Putman Resort
There were no obvious reptiles at this New York state park, but they had some nice accommodations. The lovely Gideon Putman Resort opened in 1935. Guests came from far away to "take the waters" for good health and relaxation.
We could have eaten lunch at the hotel, but we learned about this smaller cafe that offered a more casual setting. The inside was cozy and quiet. A few golfers were gathering in the nearby bar.
The arches and woodwork were classic, but the screen door was calling to us. "Is the patio open for dining?"
Just down the steps, we had our pick of umbrella shaded tables. The air was perfect. I loved the outside view of the structure better than the inside. I studied the classic brick structure, with ionic columns. The noticed the words Golf Club, written above.
I loved the flowers and the arched windows and colonnades. I saw a photo of some lovely ladies lined up posing, back in the day. I wondered about the famous folks who once visited. Did Fred Astaire or Cary Grant enjoy a summer day, on this patio?
But the best part of our view was the calm pool, surrounded by more brick buildings and towering trees. The Victoria Pool was the very first heated pool in the country! Oddly enough, it is too expensive to heat it now.
Don and I sipped a beer and studied our menus on the original limestone deck. The pool was closed and we enjoyed the quiet. But it would have been entertaining to see what kind of crowd enjoys the pool, during open hours.
I felt like I was dining at my Aunt Marguerite's country club, but we were in a state park! This all felt sort of silly and magical! My Buffalo Wing Salad was not something that would have been on the menu years ago, but it was wonderful. Aunt M. probably would have ordered a chicken salad sandwich, just like Don. All was wonderful!
Bit of History
I love a little dining adventure that includes some history. This was a fun one. We had no spa treatment, but I felt like I'd had a therapeutic lunch. Maybe next time we'll go back and stay at the hotel and join the crowds at the pool! Maybe next time, I'll find out who Catherine was!
Lake Placid, NY
In 2014, Don and I stayed at The Mirror Lake Inn.
I remember eating breakfast on a screened porch, with a lovely view of the lake.
I also remember looking down at the little cottage at the bottom of the hill and wondering about it.
I don't remember exactly what I ate, sitting on that lovely screen porch. My old photo tells me that I didn't eat any flapjacks.
Back then, I didn't know that Mirror Lake Inn was once known for their flapjacks.
The Cookbook and Mirror Lake Inn
Since that time, I've spotted the old hotel in our vintage cookbook. "We'll have to go back and try those pancakes." I told myself after seeing the recipe.
Last July, Don and I were back in upstate New York. This time, I packed the 1950 Ford Treasury Cookbook. We planned to stop for a meal at the inn, while passing through town. I was eager to surprise the staff with page 45, featuring the Inn's Adirondack Flapjacks recipe! Well maybe. Sometimes the cookbook doesn't excite people.
But The Inn's restaurant was not open for lunch. So we headed down the hill to have lunch in The Cottage.
The Cottage is part of Mirror Lake Inn, but this was really going to stretch it a bit, with my cookbook adventure.
It was pretty delightful heading into a restaurant that looked like a little storybook house, with shutters and window boxes.
Coming from Texas, it was a thrill to see open windows!
We entered the old door, which looked at least 100 years old. I hoped we'd have a server who was also aged and could fill us in, with lots of history. I wanted to know how old the cottage was. I wanted to know who once lived here, before it was a restaurant.
I wondered if the cottage residents (or guests) sometimes wandered up the hill, to dine at the Mirror Lake Inn. Maybe The Cottage housed athletes or elite guests, during the Winter Olympics, in 1932 or 1980.
I expected to find a restaurant crowded with tourists on a weekend in July. This was the perfect place for a meal, overlooking the lake!
But the dining area was empty and we were invited to pick any table. We of course chose a spot at the window.
The dining area was empty, but the nearby bar wasn't. The drinking crowd didn't seem to care about the gorgeous view, they were missing.
They were too busy socializing and enjoying the music, which didn't match the peaceful view from the window.
Danko, from Serbia
Our waiter wasn't a bit "aged", but he was polite and friendly. We chatted a bit and learned that he was from Serbia. I didn't bother asking all the questions about the restaurant history, but I did pull out the old cookbook. I knew well, that there was a mighty good chance Danko would not "get it" at all. Most young servers don't fully enjoy the odd nostalgia of old recipes from restaurants and hotels that are mostly long gone. If you add a little added language twist, things get trickier.
But Danko seemed curious when I showed him the illustration of the inn, up the hill. He studied the recipe for a minute. He didn't laugh or gasp, like some do when I hand over the cookbook. But he seemed politely interested and best of all he offered to pose with the book. Yay for that! I believe Danko is about the 30th cookbook poser we've had!
I was ready to eat after our cookbook encounter. I took one peek at the menu and knew I had to have the Beer Soup.
It was July, but the skies were overcast and the air felt damp and chilly. (To this Texan) I practically drank down that soup. The tangy flavor had me smacking my lips after each spoonful!
Apricot Chicken Salad
Don's sandwich with pieces of white meat, dried apricots, sliced almonds and sesame ginger was yummy. The
greens & tomato salad was an extra treat. Our light lunch was just what was needed.
Even with gray skies, the view was ideal.
We watched a few kayaks go by and we thought about the very same lake, when we visited in 1980, during the winter Olympics. We were a lot colder then and the lake was frozen!
Cozy Dining Adventure in Lake Placid
Our dining adventure wasn't a huge feast, but it gave us a few memories. We dined in a cozy cottage with a sweet view.
We had some tasty food, served by a friendly server. We got to add to our list of cookbook adventures, even if the cookbook wasn't a huge hit. Best of all, we ate our meal and reminisced, about visiting Lake Placid as newlyweds, almost 40 years ago!
Roadside Dining in the Adirondacks!
More than a Fun Sign!
Driving by, there are so many fine little buildings, nestled underneath the pines. The white and red dining room is the most obvious.
The cabins are pretty adorable and still 75 dollars!
Making a Stop in July
In July we finally made a stop! Don and I were traveling in 3 cars, with my sibs and spouses. It wasn't exactly meal time, but we couldn't pass up a Tail O' the Pup adventure!
Where to Dine?
I was giddy over the retro red decor in the dining room. The 90-year-old roadside business recently got a makeover, with new ownership. I'm glad they kept the old charm.
Under the Tent
I do love a tent, so I was happy with the group's decision to enjoy a little outdoor dining. A few others were also celebrating the fact the rain had ended!
Our Gang (minus one)
I am in this photo, because my brother was playing photographer. Chris was taking photos of restaurants and food, long before the social media world made it a thing. I remember him snapping photos of our A&W server, placing a tray of root beers onto our car window, in the 1970's!
Before we placed our food order, a few of us made a quick trip to the Tap Room to get some beer. I was pretty much in love with the pup on the beer "jar".
Jess, the manager took our order. She admitted she was a little stressed, since they were expecting a group of 150, very soon. Yikes! I'm really glad we missed that. Although, I sort of wish we had been there to see the crowd arriving. Motorcycles, maybe?
Here we are with food (and Chris) looking pretty happy about our food. I had hoped to get a bite of Jennifer's "Michigan" dog, but it was gone too fast. I'm not sure why it's called a "Michigan" chili dog, in Upstate New York?
Eat and Wander!
Since I'm a fan of both dining and overnight adventures, I had to look around at the cabins. I even peeked in a window and I am totally game for staying over, on a future trip.
If only I'd had this on my radar earlier. Our family road trip could have given up one of our nights at Hotel Saranac and stayed here, instead. There were just enough chairs around the fire pit for our traveling group of 6!
Lobster and Oysters?
I'm sure Captain Mel's Raw Bar and Barnacle Phil's Lobster Shanty would have been pretty darn fun at night.
If we'd gotten a craving for ice cream, we could have stepped out of our cabin door and walked about 20 steps for ice cream!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.