The evening was still in the 90s on the stifling holiday Saturday — too hot to cook and even too hot to grill outside. A friend at The Gazette had recommended Otis and Oliver’s Restaurant, so Lois and I decided to give it a whirl.
The considerate employee who took my phone reservation for 6 o’clock suggested I make it for 15 minutes earlier or later, since they had two large parties coming in at 6. The recommendation was a good one — we were seated immediately. When we left, there were patrons waiting for a table in the entryway and seated at the bar.
Otis and Oliver’s Restaurant
WHERE: 30 Mill Road (at Mill Road Acres Golf Course) Latham 785-9291, www.otisandolivers.com
WHEN: 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-9 p.m Sunday
HOW MUCH: $56.98 without alcoholic beverages, tax and tip
MORE INFO: Wheelchair accessible (ramp), large parking lot, banquet
accommodations for 60,
all major credit cards
accepted, noise level
The restaurant had previously been in a motel on Route 7 in Latham and was known for its excellent barbecued ribs. Having moved a few miles away to the Mill Road Acres Golf Course four years ago, the establishment gained another attraction — beauty.
Attractive landscaping at the entrance and large windows in the dining room looking out over the course added to its appeal. Although there were no golfers playing in the heat at the dinner hour, the view was idyllic.
We were seated in the high-ceilinged main dining room. Minor complaints included noise bouncing off the baffled ceilings and the glaring sun in my eyes. But neither interfered with the quality of the food or service.
Ice water, and a warm baguette with a tiny dish of herbed butter on a small wooden board were brought to our table. The baguette, crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside was irresistible with a smear of the herbed butter.
We sipped our cocktails as we studied the menu. A restaurant that serves a golf club besides being open to the public must have a menu that includes lunch and dinner for all ages. Otis and Oliver’s succeeds here. The restaurant offers a full range of food from appetizers, soups, sandwiches and salads to dinners and desserts.
Famous barbecued ribs
Lois was pleased that their famous barbecued ribs came in half portions with another dish like chicken, pulled pork, or her choice: fried shrimp and clam strips ($24.99), “designed,” she said, “for people who cannot make up their minds like me.” The meal came with two sides. Lois chose the twice baked potato and a cup of clam chowder.
The chowder was thick, flavorful, and full of potatoes and other vegetables along with the clams. Her half-rack of ribs was bigger than she anticipated. The venue is known for its barbecued ribs with apple-infused sauce, and the fame is well earned. Additional tender butterflied shrimp and clam strips were breaded and fried to a golden brown. Lois’s large twice-baked potato was sinfully rich as if it had been mixed (but not too much — it was still a little lumpy) with butter, sour cream and cheese and replaced in its skin.
I ordered the special Soup of the Moment, chicken and mushroom, plus the special black and blue ribeye with rice ($24.99). The soup was not as thick as Lois’s chowder, though more flavorful with hints of garlic, tarragon and thyme.
The tender ribeye was rubbed with Cajun spices and topped with bleu cheese dressing although I had requested that the bleu cheese be omitted, since I feared the addition would make the meat too rich. (My experience has been that a chef will gladly omit an ingredient, but will hesitate to add one, concerned about possibly ruining the dish.)
The rounds of zucchini and yellow summer squash had been grilled but were barely warm and had little flavor. Cajun spices were sprinkled on the ribeye but added no heat as promised. Nevertheless, the tender meat was perfect with just a touch of salt and pepper. The accompanying mix of white and brown rice was hot but lacked flavor.
Despite the busy night, our courses arrived from the kitchen in a timely manner and used dishes were immediately cleared from the table. Server Kara was always within reach when we had questions or needed something. We were treated with courtesy as if we were her only customers.
Although neither of us had room for dessert, we ordered one piece of flourless chocolate cake ($7) to try. Happily, it was small and drizzled with superfluous chocolate syrup; we completed about half the portion.
With more seating around the bar area, a fireplace, good service, a wide selection of good food and lovely landscaping, Otis and Oliver’s Restaurant offers dining for a range of ages and tastes.