Left at the Fork

the road | the food | a new direction

Month: November 2019

Checking in at: Apple Dumpling Cafe, West Chenango NY

Apple farm. Apple season. Apple pancakes on the menu. Guess what we ate? The twist? The apples are raw and shredded, folded into the batter. Not served as a goopy apple pie topping. With local New York State maple syrup, it was good enough to finish, which is saying something. A short stack of pancakes at the cafe consists of two, which may not sound like much but they are thick and broad, hiding the plate below. We’d never before finished a pair.

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Checking in at: Phil’s Chicken House, West Corners NY

Through the decades Phil Card’s version of Upstate NY’s famous Cornell chicken had remained a culinary highlight of the state, but it did seem, at times, that the rest of the eatery needed some attention. Now that Phil has turned over the operation to the next generation of Cards, we’ve noticed a distinct improvement across the board. The salad bar and buffet area is kept much tidier and everything seems to be in tip top shape. There’s clearly more attention to detail. Even the chicken, always superlative, seems to be better than ever. We’re not certain but it seems to us that prices have gone up a little. Not that we care; it’s still a bargain considering the great chicken.

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Craylee’s, Utica NY

REVIEW

Signs of life in downtown Utica! Craylee’s, just down the street from the old Hotel Utica (now a Doubletree) has been open for three years, serving breakfast and lunch till 2PM everyday except Monday. Breakfast at Craylee’s is a Utica highlight, especially on Sundays when the off-the-menu fried dough is offered. We tried to nab a serving but, damn, they’d just run out. Almost every other table had a basket of these sugared, roughly hewn doughnut cognates; we were tempted to beg sweetly from a neighbor but thought better of it.

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Checking in at: Florentine Pastry Shop, Utica NY

We can’t visit Utica without stopping in at the Florentine in the old Italian neighborhood for our pusty fix! For the uninitiated, pusties are what Uticans call pasticciotti, which are small filled tarts. They’re a Utica passion. The fillings are usually some kind of pastry cream or ricotta cheesecake. The crust is gently sweet and the cream fillings are exquisite, especially when fresh.

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Top of the Morning Cafe, Utica NY

REVIEW

Apparently, the New Jersey/metropolitan NY diner tradition of a late-night sandwich or burger with a plate of onion rings doesn’t exist in Utica. Oh, there are diners, alright, plenty of them, in fact, but try finding one that’s open past 7PM. Seems most of them close after lunch, while a few push it to early evening. We searched hard for a diner open past 8PM on a Friday and were led to Top of the Morning Cafe.

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Checking in at: Woodland Farm Brewery, Utica NY

Utica, NY is not a hotbed of microbrewery and brewpub activity, no doubt due to the long-time (since 1888) presence of  Saranac Brewery, formerly known as the F.X. Matt Brewery, originally known as the West End Brewing Company, perhaps most commonly known as the Utica Club brewery. The only other brewer in town is Woodland Farm Brewery, open since 2015. The joint was jumpin’ on a Friday evening, both inside and out on the patio.

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