As our train car chugged along the renovated tracks between Saratoga Springs and North Creek, a bald eagle played tag with us, soaring and streaking above the mighty Hudson River that was just a couple hundred yards away.
The bald eagle was a free perk for my group and the other passengers in the elegantly appointed dining car of the Saratoga & North Creek Railway. Wife L and I, along with Couple M, were riding the rails a couple of weekends ago as part of our annual summer getaway.
We caught the train at the Spa City station and were immediately impressed by our seats in the dining car. White linen tablecloths, jazz softly playing, and the large windows that brought the world up close and personal for the two-hour ride to North Creek, home of Gore Mountain.
We each ordered adult beverages on board, it was after noon, after all, and I chose a corn chowder and shrimp soup while Friend F selected a turkey club sandwich. The menu options were reasonably priced and our sandwich and soup were just what we wanted. There was more food to come once we arrived in North Creek.
The train station at North Creek is the one where Vice President Theodore Roosevelt was alerted to the shooting death of President William McKinley in Buffalo in 1901. The station has informative kiosks and a small museum detailing TR’s travels.
For us, it was much more sedate travel experience, and the $50 roundtrip fare for the domed car was worth every penny.
Once we arrived at the station, we wheeled our luggage the short distance to The Alpine Lodge, on Main Street. The lodge has a variety of room styles, and ours was nicely decorated if not a little narrow. The huge king bed was awesome, and the decor was modern-Adirondack. No funky moose heads or stuffed raccoons in the corner. Rustic charm, with beautiful warm woods, and a gas wood stove for all the skiers come wintertime.
The lodge, though, was only our jumping-off point. We immediately took to Main Street again, and found ourselves at Trappers, the more casual restaurant at the beautiful Copperfield Inn. We sampled a few appetizers, which were outstanding. We had pulled-pork nachos, with the pork doused in a wonderfully tangy barbecue sauce. Duck quesadillas were served, and were delicious. The duck was enveloped in the gently warmed tortilla shells, making for a wonderful combination.
The resort also houses Lorenzo’s restaurant, which has received rave reviews and looked very interesting in its own right. In fact, the entire resort looked like a worthwhile destination for a return trip to North Creek.
Not to be slowed down, however, the four of us stopped at the Barking Spider for a couple beverages before moving on to Andies Restaurant at Smiths, where we sat outside and watched the world slowly go by on Main Street. Andies has an interesting history that we learned from a woman whose brother used to be the chef at the eatery, which dates back to 1924.
They both live above the restaurant, and our storyteller spoke about the garnet mines just north of the hamlet, and how the restaurant served everyone from miners to Adirondack day-trippers. She told us that everyone in North Creek thinks the hamlet is the true center of the universe, and she might be on to something. Everyone there, from the barmaids to the waitresses to the train conductor to the shopkeepers to the tour guide at the wonderful Tannery Pond Community Center were incredibly friendly. We were made to feel very welcome, indeed.
We encountered more of that hospitality at barvino, an outstanding tapas restaurant just a few storefronts away from Andies. This place was hopping, with a lively crowd at the bar and every table filled with happy diners. We enjoyed some of the interesting wines, at least a couple of us did. I thoroughly enjoyed an Old Speckled Hen English Ale from the extensive beer list.
This is what fine tapas is all about. We ordered a range of dishes, none topping $12. There was the heaping plate of Prince Edward Isle mussels, cooked in a green curry, lime, and cilantro sauce that provided the perfect complement. Frites cooked to perfection and topped with sea salt were brilliant, as were the gnocchi with the brandy cream sauce and the mozzarella cheese bathed in a creamy buttery concoction.
It was all delicious.
I walked off some of my food intake the next day on a walking path in North Creek that brings you a newly developed section of Gore Mountain and past the former beach run by the town. You can explore much further, too, on some state hiking paths. It turns out the same day, much to our surprise, was an annual event called Race the Train that involves hundreds of runners who board the train in North Creek, take a ride with family members, disembark, and run like mad for 8.4 miles in an attempt to beat the train back to the depot.
We cheered the runners on as we browsed the shops along Main Street. I had done my walking and some wading in the Hudson River by then, so I didn’t feel too guilty watching the dedicated runners run as we strolled. Soon we would hop back on the train for a nice ride back to Saratoga Springs and a relaxing end to a very nice upstate New York adventure.