SARATOGA SPRINGS Beyond the food, which is above average, there is something quite appealing about the Country Corner Cafe on Church Street, a block or so away from busy Broadway.
Part of the charm is the kitschy and nostalgic decor that features old cups, vintage advertising and other ephemera on the walls and the shelves lining them. I found myself spending so much time checking out the bric-a-brac that it took our server at least three tableside visits before we were ready to order.
Among other distractions, the eatery contains a gift shop where we later found ourselves lingering over the confectionary cases filled with slabs of fudge. (I knew when our odometer read “666” upon arrival that something sinister loomed.) Besides the fudge, you’ll find such Saratoga-made products as peanut butter, hot chocolate sauce for sundaes, peppermint pigs and taffy.
We were there for lunch and had a number of other stops to make before our day was done, but the cafe’s cozy atmosphere persuaded us to slow down and enjoy a pleasant interval before returning to the real world.
Country Corner Cafe
WHERE: 256 Church St., Saratoga Springs. 583-7889, www.countrycornercafe.net
WHEN: 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday; 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
OTHER INFO: Kids’ menu available; American Express, MasterCard and Visa accepted; handicapped accessible
The menu, while not extensive, contains creatively enticing dishes that are sure to catch your eye, as they certainly did mine.
Regulars tell me that the cafe’s breakfast is its strong suit, but we found its lunches are worthwhile too.
As for breakfast, you can have that any time the place is open.
On a future visit, I’d like to check out the Fried Oatmeal with Apple Cider Syrup ($4.25) or one of the five versions of Eggs Benedict they offer, including a Sicilian Benedict, which is poached eggs with grilled eggplant, sliced tomato and Hollandaise sauce on an English muffin ($8.75).
If you’re a fan of unapologetic comfort food, there’s The Sampler: two buttermilk pancakes with two eggs any style and a choice of ham, bacon or sausage for $8.25. For $1 extra, you can add real maple syrup.
The Country Corner makes its own soups and has two available daily, like cream of celery and minestrone, which was my choice on the day we visited, a broth brimming with beans, other veggies and d’italini pasta ($2.99).
Beverly wanted to try one of their wraps, and I decided to do the same. She ordered the BLT Salad Wrap ($6.99) and I went for the Crispy Buffalo Chicken Salad Wrap ($7.25).
We swapped halves so we could each offer an opinion. The BLT contained just enough smoky bacon and roasted garlic mayonnaise to offset the healthful elements of mixed salad greens and tomatoes.
My wrap consisted of a generous quantity of fried chicken tender strips that had been tossed in a hot sauce and blue cheese blend with mixed salad greens.
We agreed in both cases we’d order them again if the occasion arose.
Other luncheon fare of note includes an Eggplant, Tomato, Roasted Red Pepper and Provolone panini with balsamic reduction on a crusty foccacia roll ($7.99), a Pulled Pork Cuban featuring both sliced turkey and shredded pork with Swiss cheese, pickle chips and yellow mustard on marbled rye bread (also $7.99).
The breakfast menu offers much to consider, like the build-your-own omelets, potato pancakes and Ida’s Original Oatmeal Pancakes and — one that got my attention — a Bacon, Parmesan and Horseradish Egg Sandwich on a Hard Roll ($4.99).
Toast possibilities besides English muffins and hard rolls include a hearty white, wheatberry, rye or marble toast, and they serve it with their own jams and jellies.
Our lunch — a cup of hearty soup, two wraps, a diet soda and unsweetened iced tea came to $26.97 with tax and tip. Our server was friendly and helpful. Beverly and I agreed before we’d left the place that we’d return again when we’re in the neighborhood.
The Country Corner Cafe has two dining rooms. If you’re facing the building on Church Street and choose the entrance on the left, you’ll find yourself in the smaller one. The larger dining room and the gift shop are accessible by the door on the far right, with the kitchen in between. The bathrooms are in the larger dining room.
So, based on our experience, you might find yourself leaving the smaller dining room and walking a half a block toward Broadway to find the restrooms in the bigger dining room. On the plus side, the gift shop with all those sweets is on the right side and we might have missed it were it not for the restroom quest.