29 Main Street
Lake Luzerne, NY 12846
Phone: 518 696 3667
Restaurant Facebook Page
Open Seasonally | Late April – October
11 AM – 9 PM | Closed Tuesday & Wednesday
If you have been coming to the Adirondacks long enough, you have been to this place, or one just like it. Before the Northway, there was Route 9, running from Westchester to the Canadian border. Route 9 weaved its way through every town on the map, and every town had a roadside restaurant, maybe two, that looked just like UpRiver Cafe. The food was probably not nearly as good, but there were outdoor tables covered with checked plastic table covers, and a view of some water, or the neighbor’s cows, or at least the other vacationers driving by on Route 9. They served “family style” fare – burgers and spaghetti and grilled franks and lemonade and if you were really lucky – orange creamsicles – which you took back to the car and tried to finish before your siblings stole it from you or it melted on the floor of your dad’s 1960 Ford Fairlane.
If you are old enough, all of those lovely memories will come flying back when you walk through the entrance of Lake Luzerne’s newest summer destination – The UpRiver Cafe. Actually, the town itself will transport you back to days of yore, its buildings and businesses just off of Route 9N are stuck in a delightful time warp, before wi-fi and cell service coverage became important components of a weekend getaway.
The cafe is the creation of the husband-wife team of Andrew Van Bourgondien and Betsy Brandt, who rescued the former Papa’s Ice Cream Parlor and repurposed it as a vessel for Andrew’s culinary inspirations. It would be hard to find a prettier location, perched on the banks of the Hudson, just where the river pitches over a waterfall and heads south to Glens Falls, or branches off and heads west to the Sacandaga.
The restaurant offers a lunch and dinner menu, accompanied by a beer and wine list. There are five beers on tap, and three dozen wines by the bottle, mostly west coast standards like Greg Norman, Jacob’s Creek and Mark West and Columbia Crest. No Wine Spectator awards here, but a very nice collection of dinner companions at reasonable prices.
The menu complements a roadhouse selection of burgers and sandwiches with some more interesting selections. I tried the fish tacos – two soft taco shells stuffed to the proverbial gills with grilled mahi-mahi, topped with sliced cabbage and chopped tomatoes and salsa, accompanied by a tangy couscous salad. A bowl of little neck clams ($10.95), steamed open with a white wine and garlic broth, arrived with a crostini for dunking. Skillet-grilled crabcakes ($10.95) were very tasty indeed, especially when dipped in the puddle of spicy aioli that accompanied them. Another choice that would not have been on an Adirondack menu in the 60’s was the grilled chicken and avocado sandwich. Avocados didn’t escape from California until more recently.
A half dozen salads are offered, “3 kale”, caesar, and cobb share the menu with an aquaponic arugula salad, tossed with candied walnuts and goat cheese and seasonal fruits. The dinner selections are where diners will find the kitchen spreading its wings a bit. A grilled duck breast ($23.95) is adorned with a local New York maple syrup and strawberry sauce.
Pan seared chicken ($19.95) is finished with a sage infused bleu cheese cream sauce. Garlic grilled shrimp and scallops are served with saffron risotto ($23.50). Red snapper ($23.95) is wrapped in slices of sweet potato before firing. Thankfully, the meatloaf ($18.95) is wrapped in the only thing meatloaf should be wrapped in……bacon, plated with mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy. As it should be. Why tamper with perfection?