$29 and Under: On The Farm serves tasty food, big ice cream cones

On The Farm is the latest in my series of seasonal casual restaurants, and it’s typical of the ice-c

On The Farm

WHERE: 273 Troy Schenectady Road, Latham. Phone 785-9930.

WHEN: 7 days, Monday 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Sunday noon to 9:30 p.m.

HOW MUCH: $25.05

MORE INFO: Credit cards: Visa and Master Card. No public restroom.

When it’s hot, ice cream helps.

So Virginia and I headed over to where Route 2 meets the horizon on the crest of a hill in Latham to have some. On The Farm is the latest in my series of seasonal casual restaurants, and it’s typical of the ice-cream stand type, although they offer fast food as well.

The sturdy, tidy building is separated from Route 2 by a wide grassy lawn, with an adjacent broad awning on the side that shelters a half-dozen or so metal picnic tables. There’s a large asphalt parking lot, but there is more lawn and a row of trees beyond that makes up for it and a dozen more tables on the grass.

The stand has windows for ordering and pick-up, and menus posted above the windows and on both sides. One menu board lists items such as burgers, fish fries and clam rolls and grilled cheese sandwiches, with all their fried accompaniments. There are several boards for ice cream by brand: Edy’s and Perry’s, and the stand’s own soft-serve. Another sign lists lunch specials; the day we were there, it was a hot dog, with fries and a medium soda for $6.25.

Get your napkins, straws and condiments at the window while you wait. When we visited, the counter was spotless and the condiments tidy.

The large sign for On The Farm, clearly visible from Route 2, reads, in part: “healthy low fat entrees.” This was the place for me.

I ordered a veggie burger ($4.75) and Virginia ordered a grilled chicken sandwich ($4.95). We also got sides of sweet fries ($2.75) and onion rings ($3.15).

Most people order cheeseburgers and fish fries, the nice kid in the hot kitchen told me, so they must be good. We enjoyed our somewhat healthier food very much.

The sandwiches were served on soft, slightly toasted hamburger rolls, with frilly green leaf lettuce and slices of tomato. Virginia said her chicken was moist and hot. The buns were not quite up to the task; mine disintegrated before I finished and the chicken kept sliding out of hers. But the chicken was tasty, and Virginia said she would get it again. The garden-style veggie burger was satisfactory as well — I thought it was just the thing for such hot weather and it filled me up, but not uncomfortably.

On The Farm has awesome onion rings. It’s a large order, so you can share it, but you might not want to. These rings are coated in thick batter, cooked until dark brown, and have sweet onion inside that comes out in one piece if you’re not careful. They were maybe a tiny bit greasy, but, well, they’re onion rings, they’re going to be.

We also liked the sweet fries — crinkle-cut, bright orange sweet potato fries that were truly sweet. They weren’t droopy or soggy, as they so often are, but crisp on the outside, browned at the edges, and soft within. “They go down very easily,” Virginia said. They are the best sweet potato fries we’ve had.

I ordered the no-fat, no-sugar ice cream out of curiosity. What could be left? Probably skim milk and artificial sweetener and flavor. It was really much better than I expected, pretty darn good, even. I was startled when I saw it, it was almost three whole scoops. I’ll never finish this, I thought as it was handed out the window. I finished it.

WARNING: The small size ice-cream cones ($2.55) at On The Farm are huge. I saw a “small” orange-vanilla twist that could have served two, if they were showing restraint, and not even much.

Manager Ted Huban agreed that the small size is ginormous. He recommends the kiddie size, which they happily serve to adults. “More adults get the kiddie size than the kids.” I recommend that too.

“I’m feeling cooler,” Virginia said to me over her small (also ginormous) serving of coconut-chocolate-almond ice cream. I had to agree. She loved the ice cream, which could only be improved by chocolate sprinkles, which she added.

After lunch we strolled over to the farm stand nearby and admired glossy, deep-red plum tomatoes and fresh berries. It’s hot this summer, more so than previous years, but farm stands and ice cream stands make it so much more bearable. On The Farm is pleasant and friendly, and it will make your summer better. Go have some ice cream, cool off and enjoy the summer.

Categories: Food, Life and Arts

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