When I saw the menu for Downtown City Tavern in Glens Falls NY, I changed my dinner plans and drove there immediately. What got my attention? A Caesar salad made with kale, instead of romaine, and studded with fried cubes of polenta in the place of croutons. A fried artichoke appetizer in which the heart is left on the stem and served up with an intensely garlicky dipping sauce. And wood fired pizza in which the wood is sugar maple.
Not everything worked. Chicken wings were cooked in a tandoori oven instead of fried, and they were too dry. And the hamburger bun was too flimsy for the stack of ingredients I requested. But these guys dare to be different and I’ll eagerly return to sample my way through the menu.
Now here’s the thing. I live in a tourist area where there are probably more restaurants per capita than any other small town in the country. Unfortunately, almost all of them are terrible. And it saps my soul every time a fresh “New American” restaurant opens up with the same assortment of burgers, wraps, salads and pizza. (Not to mention all the new “ethnic” places that always turn out to be Italian.) Often the brickwork and sound system is magnificent, but the menu looks like it was designed in five minutes or simply lifted from the place next door.
People are not all troth feeders. Give them something different and they may make you a star. As proof we have the Hattie’s fried chicken place, a total anomaly which is packed every night. And Max London’s in its original concept, before it turned into a cocktail lounge. Those are my local stories. You doubtless have your own where you live.
We need more menus like the one at Downtown City Tavern. And if we make enough noise, and vote with our American Express cards, maybe we’ll get some.