SCOTIA — We liked J&T’s Family Cafe on Sacandaga Road in the village of Scotia very much. “It’s got that nice homey feel,” said my niece Ann Marie.
Situated in a strip mall alongside a Family Dollar store, a Chinese takeout restaurant and a laundromat, J&T’s — with its white curtains in the windows and sturdy benches — it is the most approachable storefront.
It’s welcoming within, too. We were greeted as soon as we came through the door and offered our choice of tables, or a seat at the counter. The decor is charming and restful: peach-colored paint over natural wood paneling on the walls, fabric-lined baskets of condiments, carpet instead of linoleum, assorted tables and chairs. There was the white farm table and set of Windsor chairs like I used to have — I loved it, and over there was someone’s much-loved dining room set.
“It doesn’t feel like things have to match,” said Ann Marie.
Prices are friendly, too, and J&T’s is open for breakfast and lunch, the most affordable meals of the day. Start with two eggs and toast ($3) and work your way up, to combinations like the No. 2: steak and eggs, home fries and toast ($9.95); various skillet meals with seasoned home fries; two eggs and toast ($7.95 to $8.95); eggs Benedict with home fries ($8.95); or a Mickey Mouse pancake for the kids ($2.50).
At lunch you can have a taco salad with salsa, sour cream and cheddar cheese in a fresh tortilla bowl ($8.95); a deluxe cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, onion and a side or fries or homemade coleslaw or potato salad and a pickle ($7.50); or a specialty sandwich like the orchard melt, with caramelized apple, ham and American cheese on grilled Texas toast with side and pickle ($7.95). They make homemade chips.
What’s not to like? Much is homemade, prices are friendly. It’s referred to as a diner on an online review site, and despite the physical differences, the menu sure makes it feel like one.
I got a big, warming mug of hot chocolate ($1.85) served up in a polka-dotted Minnie Mouse mug. A spritz of chocolate-drizzles whipped cream floated on top, just the thing for a cold day. I sipped it while we relaxed. We were happy to catch up on news and in no hurry to order. Nobody rushed us.
Eventually, I started with a cup of homemade tomato soup ($2.75 a cup), creamy, rich and flavorful, with chunks of tomato. I shared it, and we both gave it a thumbs-up.
Ann Marie ordered a special, the Philly cheeseburger ($8.50), with peppers and onions, topped with cheese.
“It’s very well-cooked,” she said, showing me the burger’s perfectly pink medium rare interior. The Kaiser roll was toasted, with a crisp exterior. There was a long, elegant pickle spear and a pile of hot, golden French fries ($1 extra).
Ann Marie chose the homemade macaroni salad and liked it very much. “Not too much mayo,” she said, the way she likes it. Bits of diced green pepper brightened it up, and it was seasoned with finely ground black pepper, which shows they’re paying attention to the way things taste.
I love a club sandwich, and J&T’s delivers on it. I got a turkey club ($7.95) with bacon on white toast, with homemade chips, a pickle and coleslaw. My lucky day: The toast was just how I like it, slightly burnt at the edges. The fat triangles were stuffed with a layer of thinly sliced turkey, slices of tasty bacon whose flavor came right through, and slabs of iceberg lettuce and tomato. I could only eat half, but we easily finished the chips.
Not only do their homemade chips look gorgeous, they taste wonderful as well. J&T’s uses thin slices of Russet potato, deep fried until browned and crisp — but not hard — and they’re tasty, with salt and a little chili powder in the seasoning. We both loved them. I savored each one, eating them a small bite at a time to make them last.
Their homemade coleslaw is slightly sweet, and as with the mac salad, J&T’s went easy on the mayo. More fine black pepper here, too. I’m not a big fan of coleslaw, but I liked this.
Our friendly server checked back a few times to make sure we had everything we needed, and did an admirable job.
Too stuffed for dessert, we got the tab. It was a very reasonable $23.22 with tax, for a great meal we both enjoyed very much.
What stayed with us was the experience: good food in a cozy, pleasant setting. Everything tasted good, but the charm, warmth and friendliness of J&T’s really made the meal.
J&T’s Family Cafe
WHERE: 158 Sacandaga Road, Scotia, 12302, 518-344-6440, www.jtfamilycafe.com
WHEN: 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily
HOW MUCH: $23.22 for food, with tax and before tip
MORE INFO: Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover. ADA compliant. Accommodations made for children’s meals.