Reviewing a takeout dinner has its limitations.
Gone are the subtle variables that make a meal a feast to remember. No background music or ambient lighting. No server’s smile or gracious service. No chef or owner to thank or schmooze with after a satisfying experience. Such are the days until the “unpause” button is released and life begins under the umbrella of the “new normal.”
Until then, we should continue to cut restaurants — and ourselves — a little slack.
Maria Papa of More Perreca’s has recently established a Facebook page where local restaurant owners and customers can share information. Using the designation “518 Restaurants,” the site allows an owner to provide a menu, phone number and location of his or her establishment. Weekly specials can be posted, and those of us who are stationing in place can learn what is available at their favorite locations or perhaps learn about a new one.
It was the second option that we explored one recent Friday evening. Besides their regular menu, The 19th Hole Café listed a number of specials for that night: Fried Calamari ($7.95), Chicken and Sausage Pizzaiolo (chicken and sausage with peppers and onions in a marinara sauce topped with mozzarella over penne, $16.95), Seafood Alfredo (shrimp and scallops, roasted red peppers in an Alfredo sauce over rigatoni, $19.95), Pork Saltimbocca (boneless pork chops stuffed with prosciutto and Swiss cheese, topped with sage butter, and served with rice pilaf and vegetable, $18.95), and Prime Rib (with choice of pasta or potato/vegetable, $21.95). Dinners were accompanied by a tossed salad and garlic bread.
Other entrees included a 14-ounce NY Strip Steak, 10-ounce Haddock Filet broiled or fried, Chicken Parmesan, and Spaghetti and Meatballs.
Smaller items like pizza, wings, salads, hot and cold sandwiches and burgers could also be ordered.
I called The 19th Hole early on a Friday afternoon for a 5:30 pickup. Christine took my call and was friendly, courteous and accommodating on the phone. Later, my guest informed me that the order was brought outside to him in an efficient manner. He exchanged the check, which I had already filled out for the meals carried in plastic bags. I recognize that as of March 1, carry-out bags were supposed to be something other than plastic, but I think this is one of the areas where we need to be flexible. At least for now.
My guest had been in a New York Strip frame of mind, while I had coveted the prime rib special. When we opened our plastic containers and sampled or entrees, we discovered that both cuts of beef were beautifully seasoned, juicy, flavorful, well-marbled and exceptionally tender. Although the size of the prime rib was not specified, I judge that it was about the size of the steak — easily enough for two meals.
The only mild flaw was that the sirloin had been grilled closer to medium than to the requested medium rare. However, the prominent grill marks and remarkable flavor of the meat more than compensated for its being slightly overcooked. And I’m guessing the steak might have continued cooking slightly as it traveled the 20 minutes from the restaurant to home.
Guest’s salad, like mine, was fresh, ample and colorful with green cucumbers, red tomatoes and purple onions. His red bliss potatoes were lightly seasoned and served with zucchini and yellow summer squash cooked before it reached the mushy stage. He had requested sautéed onions and mushrooms with his steak. Christine explained that the onions are usually served on top of the steak, but they were happy to keep them separate for our order.
My perfectly cooked prime rib came with garlic “bread,” which was actually a small roll cut in half and smeared with herbed butter. The angel hair pasta was cooked al dente and topped with a bland tomato sauce. The lack of seasoning elicited no complaints from me, however. Again, there was enough for two meals.
Both entrees were served in reusable round plastic containers due to the abundance of meat juices in each.
For less than $43, we enjoyed two quality dinners and agreed that we would return to The 19th Hole Café. Apparently, restaurateurs in the 518 area exhibit our governor’s description of New Yorkers: tough, smart, disciplined, united and loving.
Please don’t forget to tip. Our current financial situation has been especially hard on restaurant workers.
19th Hole Café at Briar Creek Golf Course
WHERE: 2347 Pangburn Road, Princetown, 12356; (518) 357-3110, (518) 355-6145; [email protected]; facebook.com/19Th-Hole-Cafe-Briar-Creek-Golf-Course-147236528700265/
WHEN: Daily, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
HOW MUCH: $42.55 for two complete dinners, without tax and tip.
MORE INFO: Ample parking, accessible, cash or check but no credit cards, currently takeout only (last order at 7:30 p.m.), catering, curbside pickup, gift certificates.