WHERE: 471 Albany-Shaker Road, Loudonville, 438-5005, www.laniescafe.com
WHEN: 11 a.m. to midnight, Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Friday and Saturday; and noon to midnight, Sunday
HOW MUCH: $100.25
MORE INFO: Credit cards: Master Card, Visa, American Express, Discover. Children’s menu. Priority seating accepted for parties of 8 or more, otherwise first come, first served. Wheelchair accessible.
Lanie’s offers a wide-ranging, moderately priced menu in a casual, suburban shopping center setting. It’s been owned and operated by Dan and Lanie Lansing since 2001. It has a well-earned reputation for good food.
The main dining room is decorated in warm colors, with bric-a-brac on the wall and a high ceiling. Wooden tables and chairs have ample space between, and there are roomy padded booths along the walls.
In the bar are high tables, and the large patio that overlooks the parking lot is cheerful, with high and low tables and striped umbrellas.
There’s something for everyone on Lanie’s menu, from pizza and burgers and wraps to entrees, and the longest list of meal-sized salads I’ve seen, plus 10 kinds of homemade dressing. The entrees lean to Italian, with chicken and veal prepared in various ways. Chicken Parm is $18.99 including pasta and the salad bar. Steak lovers can get a big filet ($27.99), 16-ounce strip, or ribeye. There’s also prime rib.
Lanie’s salad bar has the best-looking Romaine and small greens salad I’ve seen. There were plenty of fresh-looking toppings, homemade dressings and two large Italian boules wrapped in cloth napkins with a serrated knife so you can cut your own. There’s a garlicky compound butter studded with olive and red pepper bits and a hunk of cheddar cheese as well. You could make a very satisfying meal from the salad bar for $9.99.
We liked the golden Homemade Fried Mozzarella Moons ($8.99), slices of battered cheese cooked until golden. Lisa gave the raspberry sauce high marks, and the pulpy house marinara is pleasantly dark and assertive, with a slight sour aftertaste.
Lisa and I thought the Eggplant Rollatini ($11.99) was the best part of the meal. Two large bundles of thinly sliced breaded eggplant were stuffed with ricotta, Parmesan, and mozzarella, set in a dish of marinara and Alfredo sauce, then topped with more mozzarella and baked.
The mixture of cheese and sauces cooked together, made it even better. We dunked our bread into it. Then the mozzarella slices. Then the croutons. Yum.
The Chicken Picatta ($19.99), was made with sliced chicken, although pounding, while time-consuming, is preferable.
The chicken was swimming in a thickened sauce that clung to the fork. Picatta is beautifully simple, it needs only a pan juice from straightforward deglazing. Lanie’s gets points for using lots of capers.
When I ordered the garlic roasted potatoes and vegetables as my sides, the server nodded her head in approval. They are browned and crispy on the outside, soft inside and salty from Parmesan cheese — hot, fragrant and outstanding. Lisa enjoyed them, too.
I liked the yellow and green thinly sliced squash, which had help from lots of garlic, black pepper and other seasonings, and sliced roasted red pepper.
Lisa though the scallops were perfect in the Shrimp and Scallops a la Vodka over angel hair pasta ($24.99) but that the enormous shrimp were tasteless and smelled a tiny bit fishy, and I had to agree with her.
Everything else, including the prosciutto, onions, and mushrooms, were delicious. The red tomato chunks and variety of textures and colors made it a beautiful dish.
fried ice cream
One of Lanie’s specialty desserts is the impressive deep-fried ice cream ($6.99), a softball-sized scoop that serves two or more. Lisa loved the cinnamon-flavored corn flake coating, but I found it a bit gummy. Despite the frying, it was still solid inside.
Our server made a dash from the patio to the dining room with our plates when an electrical storm popped up. She offered suggestions, refilled drinks automatically, and kindly let us chat long after our meals were packed up and the bill was paid.
The tab for the meal with tax and tip, a iced tea and lemonade came to $100.25.