The Hungry Spot Cafe in the Collamer Building on Broadway is a good place to choose if you’re hungry and in a hurry. On the day we visited, it became quickly apparent that the customers are largely workaday people with little time to spare.
It’s a good place for breakfast or lunch on the run with reliable food, freshly made or assembled and reasonably priced.
One caution: In good weather you’d probably enjoy lunching on the little tables on the front patio or taking your food with you. If you decide to eat inside, you have a choice of three booths arranged along the entry corridor of the office building, and they’re neither private nor particularly comfortable. The big leather booths are also not conducive to lingering, and maybe that’s the point.
Hungry Spot Cafe
WHERE: 480 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. Phone 584-9060
WHEN: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday
HOW MUCH: $22.50
MORE INFO: All major credit cards except Discover. Handicapped accessible entrance, but not restrooms. No kids menu but plenty of kids’ choices
But the food was quite good. You peruse a menu at the counter inside the place and then, if you’re going to eat there, a server brings you your food when it’s ready and, in our experience, that was very soon. We were barely started on our soups when the sandwiches arrived.
The Hungry Spot, according to its menu, is entering its 11th year, and owner Steve Wells prides himself on his made-on-the-premises soup and his “award-winning” sandwiches.
One of its features is a picnic box lunch, which includes any sandwich on the menu, pasta salad, potato chips, homemade cookies and a beverage for $9.50. They also offer delivery service and do catering.
You can also get breakfast there, everything from muffins and bagels with various toppings to a half-pound of fruit salad for $2.75 or a one-pounder for $5, fruit yogurt with granola for $5.95 or egg sandwiches with bacon, sausage, ham or cheese.
Lunchtime fare includes a variety of salads with a choice of dressing on the side and “homemade croutons.” These range from $4 for mixed greens with tomatoes, shredded carrots, cucumbers, red cabbage and sprouts to a Cobb salad with chicken chunks, hard-boiled egg and bacon bits for $6.25.
Vegetarian fare is also offered, including veggie wraps, veggie burger and a roasted marinated eggplant or portabella wrap, each for $5.95.
There was a nip in the air and we wanted something hot to start. We perused the soup menu, and there were four choices being offered, which was a pleasant surprise.
I settled on a cup of hearty beef and barley ($2.75 for a cup; $4 for a bowl) and was pleased with the variety of vegetables, the plentiful barley and nice bits of beef in a seasoned broth.
My lunch partner ordered a corn chowder, and it was good, thick, creamy with a lot of corn flavor, but she was disappointed at its lack of “soul,” and I had to agree after I sampled it. It was perfectly good, but just a touch of Tabasco or a little smokiness would have made it so much better.
My sandwich selection was a turkey club on sourdough with garlic mayo (a BLT with turkey on the menu for $6.25), and it was quite a good choice, with lots of tender turkey, thinly sliced tomatoes, cheddar cheese and smoky bacon. It seemed odd at the time that it was slathered with basil mayo instead of the garlic, though I thought it was a very good substitution, whether unwitting or intentional. Later, when I was reading the menu over I discovered that the sandwich is usually made with basil mayo.
My partner’s choice was the marinated roasted eggplant wrap with fire-roasted red peppers, red onion an feta cheese wrapped in a cheddar jalapeno tortilla with tomato basil mayo ($5.95). It was an enormous wrap, sliced in half, and half was about all you’d want for lunch, we agreed.
Beverage choices include flavored coffees, assorted teas and iced teas, and various sparkling waters and sodas.
Our tab, for soups, sandwiches and sodas, came to a reasonable $22.50.
Seems like everywhere it’s the rage now to offer chicken as an additional element of a salad for an extra $1 or more. One of the most popular is Caesar salad, which is now marketed in some venues as “Chicken Caesar salad.” Please, why are we messing with this wonderful, uniquely American dish? There’s a whole generation we’ve spawned who one day will learn to their amazement that people used to eat Caesar salad without chicken, and they will marvel at how deprived we were. I’m waiting to read a menu item that says “chicken salad . . . add chicken, $1.”