The Paradox Lodge
2169 Saranac Avenue
Lake Placid, NY 12946
(Phn) 518 534 9078
|Freshly Foraged Wild Mushrooms|
Last Saturday we spent the day searching the north woods near the Paul Smith’s campus for mushrooms. We were part of a larger contingent taking a trek offered by the college, some looking for medicinal mushrooms, some for coloring agents for dyeing wool, and some, like us, searching for supper. A month’s worth of rain worthy of headlines had also produced a bumper crop of fungi, and it was hard to take more than a few steps without coming across our quarry. Beautiful lion’s mane mushrooms clung to the trees, winter oyster mushrooms seemed to be growing from the end of every downed log. A fallen balsam yielded handfuls of rubbery wood ear – the kind you find in your soup in Chinese restaurants. It was a most productive and enjoyable afternoon.
Anticipating a drive through Lake Placid on the way home to Schroon Lake, we had called the day before to try and talk our way into Paradox Lodge, which is one of our favorite dining destinations. As expected we were told that they were booked, but Moses and Nan said to stop in any way and they would figure something out.
We anticipated eating at the two seats at the bar, or perhaps the bathroom. The Paradox dining room is quite small, with only twenty seats. When we arrived we were pleasantly surprised to be offered a deuce in the dining room, the result of a last minute cancellation. When we told the owners of our day’s activities, Moses went back in the kitchen and returned with a large platter of wild mushrooms which Nan had harvested that week. I knew immediately what I was having for an appetizer. That very moment illustrates exactly what makes the Paradox Lodge so special. These people are passionate about what they do, and everything about the experience at Paradox reflects that passion.
Think about it. How much money can you make in a twenty seat restaurant? You are not doing this to get rich. You can do things, however, in a twenty seat restaurant that you could never pull off in a larger place. (Serve freshly harvested mushrooms from the local woods for one.) Twenty seats allow an attention to detail that is all but impossible in larger operations. When we arrived Moses showed off two pans on the stove that held the evening’s specials. One pan held a half dozen roasted chicken halves, stuffed with slices of apples and whole aromatic sprigs of rosemary under the skin. I could smell the apples and the rosemary from across the kitchen. There were six portions. When they were gone, the “chicken special” was “86” – no more. The second pan held a neat row of braised bison osso bucco, which had simmered away for hours in a red wine sauce that had thickened to a luscious velvety blanket covering the marrow filled shanks. Each would be paired with the restaurant’s signature dish – a platter of seasonal vegetables that could easily pass for a main course – roasted carrots and parsnip and florets of cauliflower, a cob of sweet corn and fresh spears of asparagus. I think the veggies are the reason that Mary loves to come here. The kitchen does not treat them as an afterthought – a necessary but secondary “side” – as is the case in most restaurants.
Given the two specials, we knew what our entrees were going to be, and we would share. There would be no reason to look at the regular menu. For an appetizer Mary ordered the wild mushroom soup, and Moses sauteed me up a platter of Nan’s foraged mushrooms. All we needed to complete the picture was a bottle of Bordeaux. It had the makings of a fabulous evening. And it was.
A full review of Paradox Lodge can be found here.
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