Thanks for the restaurant suggestions as we bounced around the state in search of collegiate clarity. I don’t think Daughter B is “there” yet, but it was fun to visit beautiful campuses and the towns that host them. It is amazing to me how many wonderful colleges and universities call New York home.
We didn’t have a ton of time to do much exploring as we traveled to Alfred, Geneseo, and Geneva, but we were able to take advantage of a good tip from Friend J that led to what we thought was a great meal at the Big Tree Inn in Geneseo.
It was my first visit to Geneseo and its wonderful Main Street, which was added to the National Historic Register in 1977. There is a sense of vitality along the main drag, with nary an empty storefront to be seen. At one end is the main entrance to SUNY Geneseo and its vibrant campus, at the other end is the majestic Livingston County Courthouse.
In the middle is the Big Tree Inn. The building dates back to 1833, and it started operating as a hotel in 1886. The university bought it in 1998 and breathed new life into it, after it had fallen into serious disrepair and was close to being a total loss.
We found the space to be elegant without being overbearing. Lush wallpapers separated by a chair rail filled our dining room, which also featured beautiful window casings and a fireplace at one end. I strolled through a few of the other rooms, including the tavern, which was warm and inviting in its dark rich greens and impressive wood paneling.
The young woman serving us was in training, she told us, but she was prompt and thorough throughout our visit. It wasn’t busy, but we appreciated her checking in on us at appropriate times, and our water glasses were always kept full.
Our meal started with slices of wonderful walnut raisin and sunflower seed bread. A nice touch was the three kinds of butter that came with it: peach, strawberry, and pesto. Mild flavors, but interesting conversation starters.
Our salads were crisp and enjoyable, particularly mine with the homemade strawberry poppy seed dressing. Just the right hint of sweetness.
Daughter B, in the academic mode, gave her chicken parmesan a high grade. A flavorful marinara sauce topped a tender chicken breast, cooked just right, and served with pasta.
The Big Tree Inn makes a big deal on its menu about its beef. It was a big deal. Wife L ordered a 10 ounce rib eye, and she raved about it. Cooked to her rare specifications, the steak had terrific flavor and melted in your mouth. She thought it rivaled her entrée at Gus’ Steakhouse in Norwich, which she had declared her best steak in some time.
I had the chicken saltimbocca, a ni’ce cutlet topped with artichokes, spinach and prosciutto. It was delicious, topped with a white wine mushroom sauce. Both Wife L and I had potato croquettes, which we hadn’t seen on a menu in some time. We both loved it: a crisp coating surrounding a flavorful mashed potato.
Our entrees ranged from $19 to $24. We felt it was well worth it for a solid overall dining experience.