The restaurant we were searching for was on the river in a nearby city. But after several dead ends, an hour of driving which should have taken 25 minutes, frustrated, we realized we could not get there from here; the venue was unreachable by vehicle, and the route by foot was impossible for one of us.
What to do?
We were certain we would locate a reviewable eatery as we headed east along the southern side of the river in the direction of home. But alas! It was not until we reached the village of Scotia that we came upon The Tartan.
WHERE: 216 Mohawk Ave., Scotia, (518) 377-2041, no website currently listed, Facebook page available
WHEN: Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sat 4 p.m.-9:00 p.m., Sun Closed
HOW MUCH: $45.04 without alcohol, tax and tip
MORE INFO: accessible, parking on street and in lot on side, all major credit cards accepted, music permits conversation, small patio in front, weather permitting
I knew it as San Souci, a small place with an Italian flair and a long bar. Caleigh (it’s Gaelic, she explained), our server, told us the owner thought a change to a neighborhood “hang out” might be a good one. And indeed, it must have been. The bar was settled with folks, friendly chatter, several large screen TVs and short term lottery video games. A few of the dozen or so tables were graced by young children as well as “mature” diners.
Every town has a Tartan. It’s where your parents went when they were dating in high school. Décor was uncomplicated — framed Scotia-Glenville High School team shirts punctuated with black and white photos.
The menu was also uncomplicated with categories designated with high school athletics themes: Game Starters (appetizers), Super Salads, Awesome Burgers, Grill and Deli Sandwiches, Entrees and Our Pizza. Thirsty from our fruitless car ride, we immediately ordered an iced tea and a lemonade.
What high school kid — or adult— can resist Ultimate Nachos ($9.99) as a starter? In-house fried multicolored corn chips, jack cheese (which had the taste and consistency of a popular semi-liquid cheese food), diced peppers (undiscovered until our server explained the “peppers” listed were roasted red peppers, not raw green peppers) and onions, tomato, jalapenos, black olives, salsa and sour cream (Caleigh brought us extra along with a small container of the missing jalapenos), as well as our choice of ground taco meat or white meat chicken (we chose the beef).
We devoured the appetizer nearly to the last chip, and then discovered what appeared to be a charred one-inch French fry at the bottom of the bowl. Our server brought it to the kitchen and the evaluation was that the burnt piece had been a taco chip. The explanation was accompanied by neither an apology nor a price adjustment.
“How is your tummy?” I inquired of Sir John of the Sensitive Stomach. “Right now, I don’t care,” John replied, “this is me being wild,” he smiled as he dove into his fish and chips ($11.99). Declaring that coleslaw is a good test of a restaurant, Dinner Date reported that The Tartan had passed. The fish was hot and tender inside with a crispy fried coating. John thought the fries had not been previously frozen.
My Kilt Classic, a “traditional corned beef Reuben” ($9.89 plus $2 extra for the coleslaw) was accompanied by very hot onion rings. The meat was dry, sliced uniformly thin and barely covered the inner part of the rye bread, leaving at least a half inch of plain bread around the outside. Neither the sauerkraut nor the cheese filled in the perimeter. In summary, the filling of the sandwich was neither flavorful nor plentiful, and the rye bread was dry and barely grilled.
With still a half sandwich on my plate and my mouth full, Caleigh asked, “Are you still working on it?” I mumbled a smile. To her credit, she filled our iced tea and lemonade glasses without being asked, as well as answered all our questions.
Undiscernible music from a radio station played in the background, softly to allow us to hear Caleigh’s recitation of the evening’s three desserts: lemon cream cake, mango cream cake and tuxedo cake. We chose to share a piece of the lemon cake which arrived with a spritz or two of whipped cream and fashionable drizzles of raspberry syrup, neither of which did much to elevate the status of the cake. We took it home along with much of the rest of our meal.
The Tartan (bagpipe) is the Scotia-Glenville School District mascot. The restaurant’s name is the third of a series: San Souci, The New San Souci and The Tartan.