Saturday was the first day of autumn. The leaves are just beginning to change here, but colors in the Adirondacks will be approaching their peak shortly in the Saranac Lake-Lake Placid region.
We did some leaf peeping and casual restaurant scouting for lunches this past week in Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. If your travels take you in that direction, you may want to check out some of these places for yourself.
137 River St.
1 (518) 891-2101
If youre heading for Lake Placid, youll go right by Lakeview Deli in Saranac Lake. Its been around for years and attracts huge crowds at lunchtime for its specialty sandwiches and delicious homemade deli salads.
They make a mean Reuben with hot corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss; a Cuban with hot pork, ham, Swiss, mustard and pickles; and a giant-sized hot pastrami sandwich with spicy mustard and melted Swiss on rye.
Tuna mac and Asian noodle salads are my favorite. Pick up a fresh baguette to go, made especially for the deli by Lake Flour Bakery just down the road.
There are small tables if you care to eat in, or take your eats across the street to the park on the shore of Lake Flower. Theyre open year-round, seven days a week.
1 (518) 891-TACO
Borracho Taco opened in 2010, owned and operated by a graduate of Paul Smiths College with a culinary arts degree. Its on the main drag in downtown Saranac Lake. They specialize in food to stay or go.
Billed as a taqueria y cantina, they offer everything youd expect in Mexican cuisine: burritos, tacos, quesadillas, tostadas and chimichangas. You can get nachos three ways: naked, dressed herbivore and dressed carnivore.
Theyre open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. On Friday and Saturday nights they stay open until 4 a.m.
1 (518) 891-2110
Saranac Lakes newest pizza place opened just two months ago. They boast the only wood-fired pizza oven in the area. Pizza dough is made fresh on the premises daily using special herbs and seasonings.
The inside is quite cozy. Theres also a deck out back overlooking the Saranac River. In addition to pizza, they serve wings, salads, burgers and deep-fried favorites.
Pizzas come in 12-inch and 16-inch sizes, available in a dozen different varieties with toppings that include whole milk mozzarella, prosciutto, Italian sausage, gorgonzola, sautéed onions, fresh basil, spinach, kalamata olives, bacon and, of course, tomato sauce and pepperoni.
Edgewater is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.
Left Bank Café
Across the street from Edgewater is the Left Bank Café, where we recently stopped for lunch.
Its a charming place, a bistro serving authentic French café-style food like crepes and tartines as well as coffee drinks and a nice selection of wine and beer.
The restaurant is lovely, with restored maple floors and wood ceilings, lots of bistro tables scattered about, bookshelves along the walls and a beautiful, shiny black baby grand piano right next to the small eating bar. It has the feel of an old Adirondack dance hall.
Their turkey and mushroom crepe with Gruyere ($10.50) is divine, bite-sized pieces of tender turkey along with sautéed crimini mushrooms in a tasty cheese sauce that only Gruyere can provide. The made-to-order crepe was first rate.
For a tartine (French for buttered bread) we decided on La Tartine Ocean ($10), toasted, open-faced bread topped with a fresh avocado spread, smoked salmon and fresh dill. Yummy.
Both lunch plates were completed with fresh greens tossed with a puckery mustard vinaigrette. The cook told us its made mostly with mustard Dijon and whole grain with equal amounts of oil and balsamic vinegar.
For beverages, an IPA from Lake Placid Brewery hit the spot, along with a nonalcoholic sparkling apple cider. For dessert we got a vanilla gelato to go (we thought it tasted like it had been in the freezer too long) to complete our walk of the village.
Lunch for two at the Left Bank Café cost $35.10 before tip. Most of the staff wore white chef coats, which we thought was a nice touch.
The Left Bank is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Brunch is served from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday with live music at the grand piano.
2166 Saranac Ave. (Route 86)
1 (518) 302-5005
Pan Dolce (Italian for sweet bread) is right next to McDonalds on the way into Lake Placid. It was their lovely outdoor patio that attracted us, colorful gardens, flower boxes and potted trees providing a barrier from the road.
They promise casual gourmet dining, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner. Lunch consists of fresh hand-carved sandwiches, paninis, burgers, homemade soups, quiches and freshly baked breads.
We arrived a little before 1 oclock on a bright, sunny day. There was no one seated at the umbrella tables outside. We poked our head inside to find out if it was OK to eat on the patio. There were no customers inside, either. Strange.
But a friendly young waitress told us to choose a table outside and she would be happy to serve us
We just had to get the chefs lobster roll ($13.99), real lobster meat combined with celery, avocado and lemon-dill aioli, served on a soft pretzel roll. A nice salad of field greens filled out the plate, served with our choice of homemade avocado dressing that came in a classy little square ceramic dish.
We also ordered a soup and panini sandwich combination, garden vegetable (soup of the day) and a half panini of smoked salmon Nova Scotia lox cream cheese, capers and red onion ($10.99)
The soup was generally good, perhaps could have used some fresh herbs to kick it up a bit. Halfway through the half panini, we realized it was missing capers and onion AND smoked salmon it was made with grilled salmon.
We called this to our servers attention, and after a few minutes she realized that she had entered the order incorrectly. Not a big deal, the grilled salmon was fine, just not what we were expecting.
A diet Pepsi and a draft beer and the tab came to $32.57 for two before tip.
Its really a nice place, and except for the salmon snafu the food and service were OK. It really hurt to watch so many cars head for the McDonalds drive-thru rather than support an independently owned business offering something a little different.
Pan Dolce is closed Monday and Tuesday and is open from 11 a.m. till 9 p.m. or thereabouts the rest of the week.
2226 Saranac Ave. (Route 86)
1 (518) 837-5069
Just up the road, the Caribbean Cowboy has moved from its location in the back of a building to a very visible street-front spot. Theyve changed their name to simply The Cowboy.
Similar to the original restaurant, the Cowboy offers ethnic dishes from around the world flavorful fusion food to tease and test the palate. The new location is more of a tavern setting than the former island shanty atmosphere.
For lunch, there are things like shrimp and black bean fritters, jerk spring rolls, Vietnamese meatballs or Korean barbecue pork sandwiches and a host of interesting burgers served on challah burger buns. Plenty of salads to choose from, as well.
Breakfast is served from 7 to 10 a.m.; lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; dinner 5 to 10 p.m. daily except Wednesday. On Sunday, brunch is available from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Dancing Bears Restaurant
(in High Peaks Resort)
2384 Saranac Ave.
Formerly the Hilton Hotel, the High Peaks Resort calls its restaurant Dancing Bears, a name borrowed from the Hiltons entertainment room.
Its right on the corner where Saranac Avenue ends and Main Street begins. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer a great opportunity for tourist-watching or a peek at Mirror Lake with the majestic Adirondacks in the distance.
High ceilings allow for several levels in the restaurant. The bar seems to be the focal point.
The menu has all the standard stuff: chicken wings, nachos, fried calamari, baked onion soup, salads, sliders sandwiches and paninis.
Burgers are a little more interesting. Theres the bayou burger (Cajun seasoning, roasted peppers, fried onions, Jack cheese), the Jamaican Me Crazy burger (jerk seasoning, Pickapeppa sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and mozzarella) and the BB&B burger (bacon, barbecue sauce, blue cheese).
The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The Breakfast Club Etc.
2490 Main St.
1 (518) 523-0007
Halfway down Lake Placids Main Street youll find a place that opened last year that has lots of people talking.
Its called the Breakfast Club, Etc. Despite what the name might imply, they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. The breakfast theme seems to pervade each meal of the day.
The BC Burger is topped with bacon, a fried egg and cheese served on a bagel. The BC Salad is made with spinach, walnuts, red onion, bacon, poached eggs, hollandaise and warm balsamic-bacon dressing.
Eggs Benedict, usually a breakfast specialty, is served all day (as are all their breakfast items). There are five to choose from. Id go for the Crab Cake Bene, a homemade crab cake topped with a poached egg and Cajun hollandaise.
Of course, there are a good number of traditional nonbreakfast food items available throughout the day.
The Breakfast Club serves breakfast and lunch daily, dinners Thursday through Sunday. Breakfast begins at 7 a.m.; dinners conclude at 9 p.m.
You can contact restaurant reviewer Walter Siebel via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.