SCHAGHTICOKE — Fun, folksy and family-friendly describes Prospector’s Restaurant aptly. The wood plank barn-like building on Route 40 is loaded up with antique hand tools, venerable advertising signs, including Nipper the dog, and classic auto grills.
WHERE: 1544 Route 40, Schaghticoke, 753-2085, prospectorsny.com.
WHEN: 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.
HOW MUCH: $40.47 for food
MORE INFO: Wheelchair accessible. Credit cards: Master Card, Visa, American Express, Discover. Children’s menu.
Swinging saloon doors and rough-cut pine beams and posts add to the countrified ambiance but compete with the large television screen that is visible from all parts of the open dining room.
Locals Brian and Deanna Rohloff opened Prospector’s last October.
The rustic feel brings to mind the old Wild West. “I was expecting country music,” observed my friend Lisa, who nonetheless liked the oldies from the ’60s.
We took a roomy table and the server found us right away. Their specialty is barbecue, but Prospectors has something for everybody: hand-formed burgers, salads, homemade thin-crust pizza and sandwiches.
If you want to spend a bit more you can get a proper entree, whether it’s a barbecue platter or shrimp scampi, all reasonably priced. There’s mac and cheese, some chicken dishes, and two kinds of steak, just to give you an idea.
We started with an order of hot, puffy pretzel logs ($5.49) served with Dijon mustard and melty cheese sauce. It wasn’t an easy choice — we passed up cheese fries, mozzarella sticks and smoked chicken wings — but worth it.
The soft logs were just out of the oven, flecked with pretzel salt and brushed with butter. Steam rose as we pulled them apart. “These things are so good,” Lisa said, dunking. “Love it with the cheese.” We both liked the sauce, which Lisa called “smooth, very cheesy.”
Lisa enjoyed the barbecue pulled pork platter ($12.99), a mountain of succulent smoky pork the way she likes it, not too sweet — unlike the bottle of sauce on the table. I liked the sweet sauce very much, and the crispy edges of the meat. There was enough fat to keep it moist. Lisa liked the smoky flavor of the meat and said, “If you like it sweet, this would be perfect.”
You can choose two sides from a long list, and we highly recommend the hand-cut, deeply browned french fries with papery skin left on that added some crunch and extra flavor. The pork and beans were the best thing on her plate, Lisa said.
Prospector’s is rightly proud of their homemade meatballs, and give you four to a serving. My order of spaghetti and meatballs ($11.99) was topped with homestyle tangy marinara with beefy pieces of tomato and onion.
The meatballs were soft and delicious and intensely garlicky, which made the flavor of the garlic toast pale in comparison. Prospector’s made the plate look nice, piling the meatballs neatly on the pasta, with bits of dried parsley sprinkled around the broad brim of the white plate.
You can get beer and wine and mixed drinks like the “Schaghti-what?” made with rum, fruit juice, peach schnapps, grenadine and Triple Sec.
I liked the cinnamon flavor of the apple pie ($3.50) filling but found the crust too hard and didn’t finish. Lisa hit a gold mine with the S’mores dessert ($3.50).
This provides entertainment as well, and if you bring kids you must have it. We were surprised when the server bought a paper boat containing a Hershey bar, marshmallows and a packet of graham crackers and a ceramic Sterno-fueled “campfire.” Make your own, and try not to let the marshmallow catch fire, the way Lisa did. Just like real s’mores! We ended the evening with a good laugh.
By the time we got the check, every table was filled. Our total for food came to a modest $40.47, a nice price for a pleasant meal, good service and lots of country ambiance.