Eat ‘n Meet Grill and larder
139 Broadway (Route 86)
Saranac Lake, NY 12983
Reservations: 518 891 4139
Eat ‘n Meet Website
Open 7 Days
Monday from 5 PM
Tues – Sunday from noon
Chef John Vargo came to Saranac Lake by what can only be described as a circuitous route. His CV includes stints in some of my favorite Hudson Valley venues (The Thymes, Gadaleto’s) and an apprenticeship in France after formal training at the New England Culinary Institute. At the point where many people on that career path would be sitting on Daniel Boulud’s steps angling for a position, Chef Vargo decided to take the path less traveled. Actually not less traveled, he chose the path not traveled at all, unless you know anybody else operating a 3 star kitchen in what appears to be a 1950’s general store (all original parts) with a grand total of twelve (yes, 12) seats.
I would have called it a refurbished general store but I double checked the definition of refurbished and I can’t really go there. My realtor friends would say it has “great potential”. They would also say they had one of the best meals they have had in years, anywhere. Therein lies the story. Don’t be deceived by appearances. What lies behind the ramshackle store front is the reason you are here.
Farm to table is not a marketing slogan at Eat ‘n Meet Grill. The kitchen’s obsession is on quality, fresh – local when possible – ingredients. Everything is cooked to order, so call ahead, even for take out. Chef Vargo reached out to the local growers early on and has cultivated those relationships not just as suppliers, but also to use his kitchen to prepare their produce in offerings for the local farmers markets. “Take-out” seems to be a large part of the trade.
|A take out counter overlooks the kitchen.|
The first item that jumped off the menu last weekend was Wild Alaskan Salmon. I LOVE to see restaurants using the sustainably harvested Alaskan wild fish, instead of the farmed raised product that most places serve. That shows me the chef is paying attention, and they care about what they are serving. The kitchen will prepare the fish to your liking. In addition to the salmon, the menu offered Alaskan pollack, yellow-fin tuna, and porgie. When was the last time you saw porgie on a menu outside of Montauk? How about a braised goat shank from Asgaard Farm in Ausable Forks? Or you can keep it simple with a platter of meat loaf and mashed, or a sandwich of luscious hand sliced corned beef on rye. Wonderful stuff!
The menu, which changes daily, includes an eclectic collection of sides, from home made (of course) mac and cheese, hushpuppies or rice and peas, to plantain dumplings, poutine, and my personal favorite – brussel sprouts pan roasted with garlic butter and salt. It’s worth the trip just for the sprouts.
You can find the complete menu here. Reservations for seating or pick up are strongly recommended. That’s all you need to know. Except this: The restaurant does not serve liquor, but you are welcome to bring a bottle of wine to dinner. The BYOB works here under an exemption for restaurants seating less than 20 patrons. Lucky us!