CHARLTON — It looks like just a gas station if you’re whizzing down Route 67 at 55 miles per hour, but if you slow down you’ll see it’s a small country cafe and specialty goods shop. It’s the Route 67 Country Store and Cafe, and it’s worth a look.
The wooden front porch is the first giveaway that you’re not going to find gas-station cuisine. Inside there’s a small eating area, just a few tables with chairs or benches in the center. On the right there is beer, more than 180 varieties with labels and packaging that cover the spectrum enticing you to take a look, even if you don’t like beer.
Wooden shelves are stocked with specialty snacks and chocolates, sauces and local cheeses, products sourced from small, family-owned businesses. Head to the left to order food.
As I said, it’s small. On the left, toward the back you’ll find someone to take your order for breakfast or lunch. There’s a whiteboard for specials and the menu is posted on the wall, or pick up a menu from a table or near the register.
Route 67 Country Store and Cafe
WHERE: 1985 Amsterdam Road, Charlton. 882-7347, www.rt67cafe.com
WHEN: 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $29.11 with tax, plus a few bucks in the tip jar.
MORE INFO: Credit cards: Master Card, Visa, Discover. Not fully wheelchair accessible.
The menu is simple and straightforward. For breakfast there are egg combinations, including the meat lover’s special with two eggs, sausage, bacon and ham for $7.48. There’s a chef salad, soup of the day and sandwiches, from humble grilled cheese ($5.42) to tuna salad or the Italian mix ($9.49). Route 67 uses Boar’s Head cold cuts. There are some grilled sandwiches, and that’s about it. But what else do you need for breakfast or lunch?
JoAnn and I met for lunch on a chilly day with arctic gusts of wind that called for soup. The day’s specials were Thanksgiving soup, split pea, or butternut squash and apple soup. We asked to share a serving, and the nice cook/server served us each a small bowl with saltines. Another clue that this is no ordinary gas station: stylish white china.
The soup ($5.25) was thick, a bit sweet, and surprisingly, the color of yellow mustard, not orange like I expected. But it was much better than I expected, too. It was creamy, hot and tasty, with some mysterious pleasant seasoning complementing the apple flavor. We agreed, it was amazing — JoAnn liked it so much she took home a pint.
We ogled the hand-dipped chocolates and browsed the drinks while waiting for our food, picking up water (89 cents) and a GuS drink: Grown up Soda, dry lime and cranberry flavor ($1.89). GuS sodas are geared to adult palates: They are less sweet. It tasted somewhere between seltzer and soda to me. Route 67 gets points for offering a wide variety of non-standard drinks.
Our sandwiches arrived at the right time after we’d finished our soup. JoAnn’s Reuben ($9.99) was a handsome sandwich, with a thick layer of thinly sliced corned beef, strands of sauerkraut hanging out the side over the melted Swiss cheese. The hefty slices of rye were soft and not too heavy. There was exactly the right amount of Russian dressing. “Everything is extremely fresh,” was her comment, and “delicious.”
I chose a special: turkey wrap with carrot, cucumber, red onion, and sesame ginger dressing ($8.99), which was just OK. I liked the turkey, which was good quality, but the carrots were dry and the dressing more creamy than gingery. There is always more wrap than you need, so I peeled some away, but made sure to finish the turkey.
At this point I wished I’d grabbed a small bag of chips or snacks from the unusual selection, including pretzel chips, to go with my lunch. Everything is a la carte, so chips are extra.
The cook/server did a good job keeping up while maintaining a friendly demeanor. When we were ready, she told us to report to the register, where everything was rung up. The tab for lunch with the two drinks and tax came to $29.11. I threw a few bucks in the tip jar.
It was a pleasant rendezvous and we enjoyed our meal. So slow down when you’re on Route 67 between Ballston Spa and Amsterdam, have breakfast or lunch, or take something to go. Oh, and they sell gas.