CAPE VINCENT If I was really, really hungry and thirsty and driving past the Snug Harbor Bar & Restaurant, Id probably keep on driving down the road.
Snug Harbor is located on the shores of Mud Bay. Its a come-as-you-are casual bar and restaurant serving year-round local folks and summer residents of Chaumont Bay and surrounding area.
Its an old building, a little rough-looking from the outside. The metal roof is starting to rust. The sign out front needs a paint job.
Its not much different on the inside: 1950s paneling, tattered plastic tablecloths, a bowling machine and other arcade games in the middle of the dining room.
But the parking lot was full and so was the bar on a weekday night. And it wasnt even wing night or the official start of the summer season.
The only reason we didnt get the hairy eyeball from the regulars at the bar was due its location on the far side of the building; the patrons backs were facing us as we entered.
It was a workingmans bar when we stopped by a week and a half ago. Out-of-towners who own camps and summer homes nearby werent expected until the end of the month.
We decided to hang with the bar crowd before heading to the outdoor screened-in deck overlooking the crude boat slips with their crooked pilings, a small marina owned by the same people who own the restaurant.
We must have been the first that day to order the Sam Adams summer ale on tap. It wasnt that cold and the bartender didnt clear the line before pouring the beer. We ordered a top shelf mixed drink only to find out their shelves dont go that high.
Not a problem. We can adapt.
The big guy on the barstool next to us mumbled something that sounded like fussy or wussy, we werent sure which.
Drinks in hand, we headed to the deck to enjoy a casual, bug-free dinner of assorted foods from the menu of deep-fried appetizers, pizza and wings, burgers and sandwiches, some Italian dishes and a modest selection of dinners.
We were the only ones on the deck and seated ourselves. Before our waitress arrived, we took the liberty of cleaning our plastic tablecloth using a spray bottle of Fantastik we spotted at the hostess station. At the same time we snatched up some menus to look over.
Heather arrived soon after, thanked us for doing her job, got us another round of drinks and took our first food order.
Pizzas come in personal, small or large sizes. We got a small (14 inches, eight slices) supreme ($12.99), topped with pepperoni, sausage, green peppers, onions, mushrooms and mozzarella.
The last thing we expected was a crust made from homemade doughwhat a treat. And the toppings were all fresh and plentiful.
Chicken wings come 10 to an order. Traditional wings cost $6.99, boneless wings $7.99. Theres a separate charge for blue cheese and celery, 75 cents. We splurged.
Our order of traditional wings came in a small bowl, smothered in our choice of sweet heat sauce, a combination of hot sauce and barbecue sauce that had a nice bite without being overly aggressive.
We also tried a Wednesday night special, a cheese quesadilla for only four bucks.
We were elated when Heather offered a loaded quesadilla for the same price onions, peppers and diced tomatoes along with the gooey cheese complete with sides of salsa and sour cream. It was a gigantic quesadilla and a great deal for the price.
An antipasto salad sounded good on a warm night. You can get a small one for $6.99 or a large one for $7.99. Duh lets go for the large one.
It was large, all right, a platter filled with iceberg and romaine lettuce, pepperoni, ham, American cheese, cucumber, wedges of tomato and scads of sliced black olives. It came with two plastic containers with a zippy white wine vinaigrette that also included some white sesame seeds.
It was a nice, fresh salad. Our only criticism was that we thought it was a little light on the meat.
To this point, wed ingested more than enough food to fill four hungry guys. But we were on assignment, and surprised Heather with an order for more.
They offer calzones and strombolis. We got a calzone. Like Snug Harbors pizzas, theyre available in personal, small or large sizes. We ordered a personal calzone ($4.99), but could have sworn we were delivered a large.
A calzone is like a pizza topped with ricotta and mozzarella cheese, folded in half and baked. They cut it into four pieces for us and served it with a very enjoyable marinara sauce on the side.
This was a lot of food for five bucks. The fact that it was made with their fresh dough made it extra good.
How can you beat a fried chicken dinner for $8.99? You get four pieces of crispy, commercially breaded, deep-fried chicken and your choice of fries or mashed potatoes. We went with mashed, mainly because it says right there in print, Theres no faking it, these are real mashed potatoes.
We went one step further and asked for the loaded mashed potatoes adding cheddar cheese and bacon bits to the silky smooth spuds. The cheese was more like that liquid stuff they squeeze onto Philly cheesesteaks, covering three perfect mashed potato mounds formed from an ice cream scoop.
Chicken Parmesan dinner ($10.99) was a commercially breaded and deep-fried chicken breast covered with marinara sauce and melted provolone. The plate was filled out with standard spaghetti splashed with marinara. Nothing out of the ordinary here.
We spotted fried dough on the menu when we first got there, their delicious homemade dough deep-fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon.
Again, this was made to order. It filled an entire pizza pan, and it was fabulous. We couldnt believe they only charged $4.49 for a dessert that served four.
Our evening at Snug Harbor cost $72.38 with tax but before tip and drinks.
The place is dumpy and dated, but has a certain indescribable charm like a huge hunting camp on the water. The food was way above our expectations. Who would make their own pizza dough if you could buy frozen shells directly from the food suppliers truck?
And Heather was the quintessential waitress with a good sense of humor, a seasoned veteran who knew the menu and knew how to handle four boisterous guys enjoying a night on the town.
Snug Harbor is on the outskirts of Cape Vincent. From downtown, travel west on Broadway, take a left on Pleasant Valley Road (County Road 6) and go three miles. Snug Harbor will be on your right.
You can contact restaurant reviewer Walter Siebel via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Snug Harbor Bar & Restaurant
28709 County Road 6
Cape Vincent, N.Y.
Its like a huge hunting camp on the water. Come-as-you-are casual drinking and dining.
HOURS: Food served 2 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday
Bar open later most nights
Portions are plentiful; prices are reasonable.
Try their pizza, made with homemade dough and fresh toppings. Quesadillas are good. Calzones are cheesy and gooey on the inside, crispy on the outside. If youre a fan of fried dough, Snug Harbors is fantastic.
RATING: 3 forks