A bit of history served with breakfast in Waterville


History lurks in all corners of CNY, sometimes hidden by a reluctance to look back at the what-used-to-be’s because of a  fear of the past looking better than the present. But a proud history can add flavor and character to a community, and hopefully inspiration for what can still be.

Not sure why I started thinking that way on Saturday because all I did was go out for breakfast. But we all need inspiration, and sometimes mine comes in the form of pancakes. 

Wife L, In-laws C, and I ventured out to Waterville to eat at the Village Diner. It’s a small place tucked at the intersection of Main Street and Buell Avenue, or Route 315. It’s a bright cheery place inside, though when the door opens a gust of chilled air can swirl around your feet. 

Stools line a counter with the daily paper spread out on top, and about eight tables fill the space.  It’s a solid breakfast menu, if not spectacular. A bit of a mishap with our lukewarm tea water did not deter us, as we ordered pancakes and sausage, eggs and hash, french toast, and eggs, home fries and greens.


Now the greens were what I would call the poor-man’s version, with pepperoni instead of prosciutto and kale instead of escarole, providing a tad too much bitterness for our taste. But everything else was good and plentiful, and the service was friendly and attentive.

We had considered going to Emma’s in Cazenovia but a phone call to inquire about the hours resulted in a confusing conversation in which the woman who answered would only say that they serve breakfast until they close, which is at 11 a.m., or earlier, if they want to close earlier. A bit vague and unhelpful, and not worth a ride to see a Closed sign on the door.

Waterville is home to a couple other eateries worth noting:  La Petite Maison, a terrific French restaurant in a typical-looking house just down the street on Main.  I visited this place a few years back, and it was a wonderful experience. Another trip and a blog post is required.

Another restaurant, called The Huddle on Main, also puts Waterville on the culinary radar. It is fairly new, having replaced the reputable Michael’s, which moved down Route 12 to a beautifully restored home on Route 20. 

It turns out Waterville used to be called The Huddle (there is that  history thing), and the restaurant on Main evokes that history in its name.  Wife L had a birthday dinner there recently with some friends and said the menu was interesting and the meals well-executed. Prices are a bit on the higher end, but the quality is there.
I need to visit myself and report back.

In reading about The Huddle, I learned that Waterville was also once known as the “Hops Capital of the World.” It is where several inventions furthered the important Madison County industry, and when a rail line came to Waterville in 1875, the village prospered through shipments of hops to brewers around the world.

There is a revival of sorts happening with hops in the county as small growers re-establish the crop. Sometimes history can serve as inspiration, indeed.

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