$29 & Under: Lakeside Farms serves hearty fare in rustic surroundings

if you factor in the friendly staff, the charming and engaging surroundings, the terrific food, the

Lakeside Farms Country Market and Restaurant

WHERE: 366 Schauber Road, Ballston Lake. 339-8359, www.lakesidefarmscidermill.com

WHEN: Open 7 days April through October 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p. m., November and December 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Breakfast served until noon, lunch until 4:30 p.m.

HOW MUCH: $24.07

MORE INFO: Children’s menu available. Wheelchair accessible. Additional parking off Lake Road.

JoAnn and I met at Lakeside Farms Country Market and Restaurant, in front of the store at lunchtime, by the chrysanthemums. “Tell the readers to make a turn on Lake Road, by the Apple Barn, and park in the back,” she said after I told her about losing my parking space in the front to the lady in the minivan. Next time I’ll go to the large parking lot around back, where there’s a well-tended perennial garden to admire on the short walk to the store.

Inside, there’s attractively displayed produce, coolers full of local milk, cheese and meats, and a counter at the left that runs the length of the building, with a register near the door. That’s where you pay for the stuff like candy by the pound, milk and lanky bunches of pungent basil like JoAnn bought.

how to order

Ordering food is more complicated. Continue past the Boar’s Head provisions and look for the hanging sign that tells where you place your order. Hopefully, there will be a wait so you have time to read through the folded paper menu and the specials on the wall before it’s your turn to order.

Someone takes your order, which is written on a slip, and you pay right there. You get two slips back. Take the big slip past the baked goods to the kitchen window, and hand it over. Keep the small slip with the number. When your number is called, the food is ready. It seemed very complicated for me. Luckily, JoAnn has done this before.

When I gave the big slip over at the kitchen window, I informed the sandwich maker politely but firmly that I didn’t want dressing on my sandwich. I didn’t know what kind of place this was and I wasn’t taking chances. The nice woman, who has probably made thousands of sandwiches in her career, all of them correctly, looked at me carefully over her glasses. “It says that on the slip,” she said. Then she smiled in a friendly way.

Knowledgable staff

When our number was called I retrieved the tray, noting that my sandwich was free of salad dressing and gave the sandwich maker a smile back. It’s clear these people know what they’re doing.

We both ordered sandwiches, which come with chips and a pickle. Lakeside gives you a bag of excellent ruffly Snyder’s potato chips that have lots of salt. Two thumbs up on those. I ordered the Lakesider ($7.49), which was terrific. Homemade dark, and I mean dark, soft rye bread was filled with an inch of roast beef, slices of bacon, and Meunster cheese. It was run under a broiler or something, which melted the cheese and made the bread just a little toasty around the edges.

JoAnn ordered the reuben sandwich ($7.49), which came open-faced on light rye bread. I kept asking JoAnn how it was, and she kept saying it was good, but I didn’t get details, except that she liked the homemade sauerkraut. However, she finished it off, which gave it her seal of approval. “I’ve never had a bad sandwich here,” she said.

Sweet strategy

I’m a little embarrassed about what we did next. For dessert, we chose a cupcake ($1.79), a chocolate whoopie pie ($1.59), and an apple fritter ($1.69) to “taste”. This time we took our tray to the screened porch beyond the dining room, which was not as busy and a whole lot quieter, even with an active toddler at the next table.

We quartered the cupcake. We quartered the whoopie pie. We cut small pieces off the lumpy, browned apple fritter, which looked more like a baseball glove than a pastry, but in a good way.

The cupcake frosting, JoAnn assured me, was as good as Mom’s, and was piled high, just like on her cupcakes. The vanilla cake part was just OK, but the white frosting was genuine Mom, with sprinkles on top, even. I liked the whoopie pie’s frosted chocolate sandwiches cakes, but the filling was creamy, not sugary like we expected. The gigantic apple fritter disappeared; I don’t know how. An enormous apple fritter, raised fried yeasty dough with veins of cinnamon, which has been covered in glaze, is exactly the last thing I should eat. Yet it was gone. I’ll pay for that.

But if you factor in the friendly staff, the charming and engaging surroundings, the terrific food, the proximity to apples and fresh cider doughnuts, and the cozy conversation, it was well worth it. We had a great time and lingered long after the meal was done. Our sandwiches and sodas came to $19, even, the pastries were another $5.07.

So go to Lakeside Farms while it’s open. They open in April, and are staying open until Christmas this year. Get some fresh corn and have a sandwich, bring home apples, Oscar’s Smokehouse meats and Battenkill milk and dairy products. And get an apple fritter — it’s big enough to last you for days. Well, maybe you. Not us.

Categories: Food, Life and Arts

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