Let them (and us) eat French

Think Little Falls, N.Y. Got it?

Then think excellent French cuisine at a quirky restaurant tucked alongside the Erie Canal. Got that?

Can’t quite get those two ideas to mesh? Understandable. I offer some help in the way of the Canal Side Inn on South Ann Street, a great locally owned restaurant worth a trip to this city that is trying hard to make the most of its position along one of the state’s most famous waterways.

The Canal Side was a perfect destination for a dual celebration of wedding anniversaries for my wife and I and for a couple we’ve known for many moons, who hail from Schenectady, N.Y.

The Canal Side Inn in Little Falls, NY.

The Canal Side Inn in Little Falls, NY.

We entered the restaurant through the bar, which looks like it could be in your Uncle Johnny’s basement because of the wood paneling that covers the walls. 

We were brought into the adjoining dining room, which keeps the wood-paneled theme to a (thankfully) lesser extent and also has some finer touches, like linen tablecloths and local artwork.

We started with several appetizers, including smoked trout with a horseradish sour cream sauce that was delicious (my pick, thank you).  A crabcake special had nice flavor, the generous slice of duck pate was terrific, though the soup of the day, a chicken and mushroom veloute, was a bit bland.

My wife and I both had the filet mignon with a flavorful classic wine sauce. The  tournedous sauce bordelaise (I took French in high school) offered mouth-watering after mouth-watering bite. Couple M ordered veal with a rich cream sauce and the chicken Mediterranean special, both declared winning entrees.

A rousing cheer of happy birthday emanated from the bar at one point during our evening, and it turns out it was Chef James’s 60th birthday. Here’s hoping for many more, and many more of them creating top-notch food at Canal Side.

The restaurant is in the Canal Place section of the city. There are two  restored factory buildings across the street that offer antiques, artwork, an ice cream shop, and a small bookshop. You can stroll along the canal and on Moss Island which, for the more adventurous, also offers rock climbing. Lock 17,  one of the highest lift locks in the world, is right there, too.

There are a couple other restaurants/cafes on South Ann Street that deserve a future look, and I also will need to satisfy my inner history buff by visiting the nearby home of Nicholas Herkimer, the Revolutionary War general.

We spent the night about 10 minutes away in Dolgeville, at Ward’s Pond Bed and Breakfast. The  beautiful historic home has a wonderful verandah where we spent time enjoying adult beverages and chatting.

Again, food comes into play in a big way. A three-course breakfast was outstanding: a baked egg dish followed by banana-filled crepes with fresh berries, followed by ginger snaps, tiny pastries, and a speck of ice cream.

A wonderful way to start our day, which included stops at a unique greenhouse — Lyndon Lyon — known for its orchids and African violets, and the Dolgeville Mill, which has new furniture and antiques. A trip to the Adirondack Rawlings bat factory on McKinley was unproductive, as it was closed, which was the only strikeout of our day.

In the on-deck circle is a look at several  restaurants, all locally owned, in Schenectady.


10 thoughts on “Let them (and us) eat French

  1. When visiting the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown we were taken with a polychrome framed wood carving depicting Sullivan’s diner in Horseheads executed by a local artist. After a visit in the wine country we drove home thru Horseheads, searched out the old diner and had a wonderful Polish lunch. It seems that the elderly Mrs. Sullivan had just a few months earlier sold out to a young recent immigrant Polish couple who went out of their way to introduce us to some delicious dishes – borscht, perogies, etc.

    We hope they have made a success of the place – does anyone here know if they are still in business?

    Cheesr, John

  2. if you are ever up in Oswego County one of the nicer “unchained” restaurants is Arena’s Eis House in Mexico NY. Always consistently good food and service! It is more of a “moderate to high end” not diner-like. amazing variety on the menu, and in the summer time the gardens surrounding the restaurant are neat to look at.

    • Thanks… i’ve been to mexico to pick peaches many years ago. we’ll have to return, and now i have a place to go for a bite to eat!

  3. Tim
    Glad to hear from another expat. I moved to Wisconsin about 6 years ago and have a hard time finding a good pizza here! I love going back to CNY, but every time I do, everyone seems to be complaining about it. You are right, people don’t know how good they have it there – beautiful scenery, great food…..the grass is always greener!

    • Sam: What you say is very true. Indianapolis was fine, but we weren’t sure it would ever feel like home. And it’s the little things that you miss, like the pizza and local foods. Now if we can just kick those bums out of Albany, we might have a shot at a true economic recovery.

  4. You should try the Red & White Cafe in DeRuyter. They’ve done an incredible job restoring the building and breakfast was delicious.

    • We also had a delicious breakfast at the Red & White in DeRuyter. We loved the way they decorated and the feel of an old soda fountain (that’s what they need).
      The owners were very nice and made us feel at home.

  5. Hmmm! My quick take on breakfast: You need to be able to sit at the counter (I don’t think there is one at Mom’s) and you need a waitress to take your order. If she greets you in Greek or calls you “honey”, all the better. And if it’s not a waitress, it’s the person wearing a greasy apron who’s going to make your eggs right in front of you. So those would include Stella’s, JR Diner, Mother’s Cupboard, the Redwood Diner in East Syracuse. There are plenty of others, of course. What a great town for breakfast!

    As for Mexican, Alto Cinco is in a great neighborhood (you can walk to it from all that university housing) but *real* Mexican food is being served at Boom Boom Mex Mex way out Howlett Hill Road. The recipes for their food and tremendous authentic salsas are from San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato State, Mexico.

    I agree with you on Empire Brewing. Great beers, much locally-produced food, ideal location, fun crowd. One of the best.

  6. If you haven’t poked around syracuse much, here are a couple of suggestions: Doc’s Little Gem diner, Empire Brewing and Restaurant, Alto Cinco, and Mom’s diner.

  7. Oh, man! Your blog is exactly the sort of thing we love to see! Hubby Dave Chu and I also basically live and travel in order to eat and eat well… which usually means not expensively. We’ll do the blow-out dinner from time to time, but we especially appreciate locally-owned places that are those semi-public places where community is formed and where special treats can be found.

    We have eaten at this restaurant, but it was quite late in the evening and we didn’t do a whole meal. Every other time we’ve been to Little Falls, it’s been at the wrong time of day – either we weren’t hungry or they were closed. Sundays, our day for driving, are pretty bleak in Little Falls. We’d love to try the cafe (coffee type) in town, too, but they’re just *never* open when we’re there. Sad. Not to worry, though. There are so many other great restaurants and cafes in upstate New York, and new ones all the time. Please link to chusonchow.com – we’ll be adding you to our blogroll.

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