Where should we eat?
What's for dinner?
In my family, that's probably one of the most repeated phrases I hear, running in close competition with: "What's for lunch?" and "Can we eat now?" Really. We love to eat out, try new places and new dishes, and visit old favorites.
When hitting Schroon Lake, it's always a debate on where we'll dine. It honestly depends on who I have in tow, what outdoor activities we have in mind, and if we're staying the night. If it's my little guy, we'll probably hit Main Street; if it's my big guy, we're more apt to hit the Brewery. Sometimes we'll head out for pizza, sometimes seafood, sometimes simply a picnic lunch complete with a locally-made beer pretzel and a tasty sno-ball gathered from the beach food truck.
Right now I'm pretty hungry, and it's a toss-up of where I'd like to go. I probably shouldn't have started browsing these pics from a few of my favorite past blogs - mmm homemade family recipes and delicious pies or inventive wood-fired creations and sassy drinks, where shall I head next? Check out these highlights to get your tastebuds watering!
Home is where the heart is
I love to eat out. Possibly because, contrary to my son's belief that I am the 'world's best baker,' I am a horrible cook. (Oliver is 6, so I figure I can get away with holding my title for just a few more years before he discovers the truth.) However, I am not a solo diner by nature. I like the social aspect of a restaurant experience — I want to chat about life issues, debate hot topics, and sample my companions' meals. If I am alone, I usually opt to grab something quick and snack on the go. So, as I head to Pitkin's Restaurant in downtown Schroon Lake, I am a wee bit out of my element. But I am on an adventure, and my 2016 bucket list includes overcoming my shyness. So today I can, and will, eat alone. Dang it.
Of course, here's the thing about Pitkin's: Every time I walk in the door, I feel welcome. If you adhere to the old saying "home is where the heart is," Pitkin's slogan could easily be "Welcome to Marie's home."
Breakfast of my (childhood) dreams
Honestly, whenever I drive past Pitkin's I am instantly transported back to my youth. Growing up I spent at least six to eight weeks each year at our primitive camp on Hoffman Mountain. As a child, after two or three days without running water or electricity, I was always ecstatic to hear my dad announce we were going into town for breakfast. This meant one thing, and one thing only — Pitkin's. The family-run restaurant was our favorite place, and the fact that we were always greeted with a smile was probably one of the reasons.
After years of doing breakfast here, we had our 'usual' down pat. My dad would order eggs over easy and sausage with a side of wheat toast, and coffee light and sweet. I waffled (not literally) — my choice was either the delicious pancakes with crispy bacon or a bacon and cheese omelet with a side of hash browns. And that last side, my friends, I have never been able to find better anywhere else. Hash browns -— not home fries — shredded, browned delicately and oh, so good. I still randomly order them when I see them on a menu, but never have they lived up to what Pitkin's served up for the formative years of my childhood.
By the time I graduated high school, my father had started building his dream retirement home on our five wild acres, and before I graduated college he had permanently changed his address to Old Sweeney Farm Rd. And, while his camp was no longer primitive in nature (we even had indoor plumbing!), it was still always a treat for us to head into town for a meal when I came to visit. It was a family tradition — one I'm glad to continue today...
Kevin, Marie's grandson, is my waiter, and the delicious smells of lunch are wafting from behind the swinging kitchen door. (I can admit I was a bit sad to have missed breakfast — why, oh why, didn't I start my trip earlier?) I quickly glance at the menu and the specials board, but again, I have spent enough time frequenting the joint to know what my order will be. I choose the turkey club with fries, and just to deviate from my childhood choice of chocolate milk, I go with some strong fresh-brewed coffee.
Within minutes of ordering, folks of all ages are piling in. By 12:15 every booth is full, the place is full of happy chatter.
However, there is no need to be shy; conversation flows easily at this town diner. I am soon happily chatting with my booth-neighbors, Heather and Martha. I mentioned spending many of my days at the town beach in the '70s and '80s, and Heather asked if I knew, "...it only became a public beach by one vote." Well, no, I did not know that, and I'm totally intrigued. I spend the next few minutes talking with the ladies about old family ties and a bit of lake history.
As I look around the restaurant, I can't help but note that it's a great mix of locals and travelers. I think one of the coolest things I witnessed in my hour at Pitkin's was how absolutely friendly everyone was. I even watched diners juggle their seating so other groups could be better accommodated. Y'know... it's the little things that really make an impression and keep folks coming back!
Everyone had an opinion on their favorite go-to meal, and they were more than willing to share (their opinion — not their meals. Those were disappearing too quickly for me to grab a taste!).
My lunch arrives, and I'm not going to lie it's simply delicious. My only regret? Not ordering the homemade split pea and ham soup. As I glanced around at my neighbor's tables, there was at least one or two cups of soup on most of them. It is obviously a favorite. Hmm, maybe I should have asked before I ordered.
Lesson learned, I ask Kevin about dessert. And yes, he assures me, "they're all made in-house by my grandmother every day!" (Did you happen to get a look at the Special's board - if not, take a moment to scroll back up & really read the writing on the board!) I also hear from the locals that her secret recipes are locked up tight - you can try to pry it out of her but thus far no bribes have worked!
I can't decide and they're so affordable, heck, I order the top two recommendations. Sometimes a girl just has to be a bit crazy.
No regrets: I don't care if you are eating breakfast or dinner — order dessert. Eat it there, bring it home, whatever. Just do it. You will thank me, even if your waist doesn't. Oh, my. Yum.
So, now that I've had my cake and eaten it, too, I'd say it's time to go for a walk by the lake. Today just solidified my love for this Adirondack village — it's nice to know some things just get better with age!
Fire, Pharoah & Fries...
So, it's a random Saturday and Greg and I find ourselves near Schroon Lake. It’s early evening and we are child-free with no solid plan, so when we spy a roaring fire and a packed parking lot it's obvious we should stop for dinner. Tonight all signs point toward Sticks & Stones Wood Fired Bistro & Bar.
We entered the restaurant and I have to admit I was thoroughly impressed with the friendly staff and cozy decor. We took a quick look around and while there were tables available in the quieter dining room, we chose to sit in a booth near the bar. There was a serious mix of customers. The bar was lined with young couples laughing, 40-50 year old men watching the game, and a group of ladies celebrating a birthday. Seated on one side of us was a family with 2 small children, and on the other was an older couple that reminded me of my grandparents as they shared their cheesecake. And, while I talked with the locals, Greg was happy to relax and catch up on sporting news - best of both worlds.
Our waitress was super-friendly and very attentive, and we soon had our orders placed and drinks delivered. I tried one of their specialty cocktails - the Pharaoh Mountain; totally refreshing, I will be trying to replicate that at home! Greg loves eggplant, and we both enjoy a good wing, and we were not disappointed when our appetizers came out. The eggplant was delicious - seriously, order it. Seriously.
For dinner, we went with the recommendation of our waitress: Greg order the Blackened Chicken, and I went with the Pretzel Burger and sweet potato fries. I will say this - I am a french fry snob. I love fries. Love them. Really, I can’t turn down a good fry. These were hands-down the best sweet potato fries - actually, wedges - that I have ever had. And, paired with the honey mustard that was delivered with Greg’s chicken, it was the perfect combination.
Of course, Sticks & Stones is known for their wood-fired oven. And, while we didn’t order their renowned pizza or salmon for dinner, I would have felt remiss ordering anything but the wood-fired Apple Crisp (topped with vanilla ice cream and a caramel sauce) for dessert. And, since I hate feeling remiss… yum.