|Paradox Lodge Dining Room|
Paradox Lodge Restaurant
2169 Saranac Avenue (Route 86)
Lake Placid, NY
Reservations: 518 523 9078
Last week we had friends staying at the house and I knew that they wanted to spend some time in Lake Placid. I used the opportunity to make a reservation at the Paradox Lodge restaurant, which is one of our favorite dining destinations. Reservations are strongly recommended, as the twenty two seats in the cozy dining room are in very high demand. The first floor of the lodge – more appropriately described as a B&B – is dedicated to the dining room, with a corner carved out for an open kitchen. The chef proprietor, one Moses “Red” LaFountaine, holds court in the kitchen. From this corner overlooking the room, Red also serves as the evening’s entertainment, greeting customers as they arrive, and continuing the banter throughout the evening offering suggestions to regulars and newcomers alike. Sometimes the suggestion is for a wine pairing, sometimes to suggest that your shirt doesn’t go with your jacket, sometimes that you consider a hair transplant. Think Jacques Pepin channeling Don Rickles. There is no cover for the floor show.
We arrived slightly early for our 6 PM reservation and stopped for a glass of wine before sitting down for dinner. You are never hurried at the Paradox, the tables are not turned each night; seats are your’s for the evening. Paradox doesn’t really have a bar, but two high top stools near the kitchen service counter serve as one in a pinch. Those two seats are also available for dining, and offer a bird’s eye view of the kitchen. Keep in mind, though, that the front row of a comedy club is a dangerous place to sit. The seats are nestled up against a row of three gallon glass containers of flavored vodkas, another row of antique seltzer spritzers, and a shelf of after dinner liquors. A crate of fresh veggies sits in the corner waiting for Red’s attention. Joining us at the bar, or rather on the bar, were two glorious looking slabs of porterhouse steak, three inches thick. The steaks were so handsome that I asked the chef to pose with them for a picture. I knew what I was having for an entree. I only had to decide on an appetizer.
Red’s wife Nan has command of the dining room. She seated our party of six at our table and brought over menus, a wine list, and baskets of the sunflower and cracked wheat bread that she had baked earlier. I perused the wine list which is a small but extremely well thought out selection of fairly priced offerings including Grgich ($76) and Heitz ($45) Chardonnay, and a Girardin Chassagne Montrachet ($68). A few good cabs were listed including three Mondavi Reserves, a Dominus Napanook ($85) and Heitz ($73). In addition to my steak, I heard our party ordering venison, wild boar, quail, and a pork loin, so I ordered two bottles of Burgundy – a Latour Aloxe-Corton ($77) to go with dinner. As we settled in the dining room quickly filled up, and as Nan delivered our apps we listened to a serenade from Edith Piaf, and Ella, and Frank. For me it doesn’t get any better than that.
The special board offered an appetizer of bluepoint oysters which tempted me, but I ordered the quail secure in the knowledge that Mary never, ever, passes up fresh oysters and I would of course abscond with a few. I made the right decision as far as the quail – it was great, but Mary pulled a fast one and ordered the wild mushroom soup, which got rave reviews. A bowl of plump fresh Prince Edward Island mussels came in a parsley butter bath. A bowl of lobster bisque was also given the thumbs up. The wild boar sausage is a very hearty appetizer, served grilled with mushrooms and onions and a house made chutney in port wine reduction. Very nice indeed, espcially with a glass of Aloxe-Corton. In addition to the oysters, other seafood appetizer offerings included crab cake or shrimp almondine, each topped with a house made basil mayonnaise and horseradish.
The porterhouse that had greeted us at the bar when we arrived was prepared for two diners. Our plates arrived, each with our own sliced portions of the tenderloin and strip side of the steak, broiled to a perfect medium rare, and topped with a pile of sauteed onions and mushrooms. As meat-centric as the kitchen might appear by my descriptions thus far, the chef’s emphasis, and a noticeable achievement of the kitchen, is the vegetable medley that accompanies each dish. Our entrees were accompanied by a roasted potato, crisp brussel sprout, fresh cuts of carrots and parsnip, a saute of green beans and asparagus, and a puddle of turnips, creamed with butter and maple syrup. Almost made me forget about the steak.
In addition to my porterhouse, I did manage to steal a few bites from my dinner companions. A platter of scallopine of veal was smothered in a cream and cognac sauce, and accented with pieces of morel mushrooms, I assume dried after last spring’s harvest. A similar treatment Normand was given a sliced loin of pork, topped with slices of sauteed apples and finished with Calvados and cream. This was I think my favorite dish. The loin was so tender, luscious and sweet it was still fantastic reheated the following day. A dish of New Zealand red deer, a venison loin, was served rare with the same wonderful vegetable accompaniment. We finished up with coffees and a glass of Sambucca for dessert.
The Paradox Lodge restaurant first opened in 1998 and has been on my list of favorite Adirondack destinations ever since. The complete regular menu including prices can be viewed on line here. The lodge also has eight rooms should you care to make a night of it. Dinner reservations are strongly recommended. Children thirteen and over are welcome in the dining room. The lodge is on the western edge of Lake Placid village on Route 86, across the street from McDonald’s.
I guarantee you will enjoy your dinner, but watch out for the guy in the kitchen with the big red glasses.
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