Any restaurant that cooks its own turkey, corned beef, pastrami and roast beef for sandwiches gets a thumbs-up from me.
The Kettle, slinging delicious hash since 1987, cooks and smokes all their own meat. I had lunch there, and now I give it two thumbs-up.
The Kettle is tidy, charming, family-owned and unpretentious. There’s a row of counter stools, formica-topped tables with padded stacking banquet chairs and one of those white menu boards with movable plastic black letters. The linoleum is worn, but they’re more worried about the taste of the food than the condition of the floor, which is how I like it.
The Kettle is open seven days for breakfast and lunch. I met my sister JoAnn there as lunch was winding down. The server brought menus and drink orders over with a smile, even though she’d probably been there since they opened at 7 a.m.
It was Wednesday, which meant all-you-can-eat pancakes for $4.95. There are specials most days of the week.
WHERE: 445 Church St., Saratoga Springs, 584-9734, thekettlerestaurant.com
WHEN: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday; 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
HOW MUCH: $32.12, with tax and tip
MORE INFO: Credit cards: Master Card, Visa. Children’s menu. Not wheelchair accessible. Large parking lot off street.
Two eggs any style with toast and potatoes will set you back $4.25. There’s sausage gravy, steak and eggs, pancakes, waffles, and French toast. At lunch you can get a hand-formed burger on a grilled roll for $4.75, but you can get the messy burger with cheese, bacon, grilled onions, and mushrooms for a bit more.
Then there’s the aforementioned home-cooked meats, hot or cold, and smoked chicken, pork, or brisket in a sandwich or on a platter. Platters come with two items, like salad, coleslaw, baked beans or applesauce. The Kettle is flexible; You can get breakfast all day.
The corned beef hash ($9.95) is one of their most popular items, and JoAnn was glad she ordered it. There are bits of chopped potato mixed with the corned beef, which is juicy and surprisingly crispy. It was loose, like hash browns are, and it came in a big pile topped with two eggs, cooked over easy just right, without a trace of brown, and buttered toast.
The rye stuff
The rye bread had caraway seeds swirled throughout the dense, sour dough. There’s cornmeal on the bottom and the crust is shiny and crackly, like good rye bread should be. I’m impressed that The Kettle goes to the trouble to find such good quality rye. It’s clear they care about how it tastes.
Another popular item is the pulled pork ($9.50 for a platter), which gave me an excuse to order it. The meat is smoky and succulent, tender and savory. It’s a bit charred around the edges and shreds easily. It wasn’t sweet itself, but the barbecue sauce on top was. Once I off-loaded some I was able to pick up the sandwich and take a big bite.
The cornmeal-covered roll soaked up the juice like a sponge but held together and the overstuffed sandwich went down surprisingly easily.
The crackly-coated french fries were just cooked and delicious. They’re extra long and firm, and made a loose, high pile, kind of like pick-up sticks. I salted away, and downed the hot fries with cold ketchup.
The cinnamon-dusted homemade applesauce is smooth and pale, not too sweet. It was good but had too much competition from the sandwich and fries.
Everything we had was absolutely wonderful and we were too full for any homemade pie. I waited until the server finished mopping the linoleum to go up to the counter to pay. With one homemade iced tea and a soda, tax and tip, the tab for lunch came to $32.12.
I’ve been to fancier places where the food is twice as expensive but isn’t half as good as it is at The Kettle. It’s local, and they’re nice. You should go.