I grew up in the Adirondacks albeit a little further south than the more frequently hit tourist area of Lake Placid and the surrounding area, largely because it was once home to two winter Olympics. This fact alone no doubt added to the increased number of restaurants in the area, which isn’t always readily available when you go a bit off the beaten path. When your trip is about nature and the outdoors, chances are that you’ll wind up in a destination where the food is only mediocre and your choices are limited. While that may be the case with the Adirondacks in general, there are plenty of gems in upstate New York, including farm-to-table and chefs who have won awards at four and five star properties and then moved on to more well known restaurants.
Our trip to Lake Placid centered around the outdoors and with kids in tow to boot, so food options had to be kid-friendly and accessible. We dined well in the region and have come up with a round-up of fun and delicious eateries, cafes and restaurants for your “to dine at one day” list when you next head to this stunning region. If you’re not sure why you should go, just read a few of our articles to entice you, from bobsledding, 4×4 expeditions, tubing and skiing, to mere reflection time on the ever so calm Mirror Lake, which is a wonderful place to wake up on a summer morning. There’s even great spa experiences to be found in the area and a host of other great activities to keep you busy.
Whiteface Lodge & Kanu Restaurant
This luxury Lake Placid stay is off the lake, but they have a quick five minute shuttle that brings you to and fro anytime you wish. Our timing was lucky as we were able to take part in one of their weekly barbecues on the lake, which couldn’t have been a more perfect choice with kids. They had barbecue chicken, burgers, hot dogs, watermelon, cupcakes, cookies, corn and more, as well as a bar near the water, with plenty of choices, from wine, margaritas and beer to soft drinks.
Kanu is their main restaurant on the grounds and where you want to go for high end dining.
Since we were staying on the property, we also had an opportunity to experience their daily breakfast — the place is oh so very Adirondack in style. Below, they hang an Adirondack canoe on the wall which hangs over the outdoor patio, a perfect place to sit during the warmer months. This canoe was among my favorites and there was a lot to love in this one-of-a-kind lodge.
Breakfast is extensive, from croissants, cereals, eggs, sausage, bacon, toast, pancakes, oatmeal and more…and it’s beautifully displaced on a couple of buffet tables in the main dining room.
Featuring sophisticated, Adirondack-inspired American cuisine, Kanu offers a la carte options in the evenings as well as three or four-course wine-pairing experiences. An open kitchen showcases the culinary team as they prepare dishes featuring fresh ingredients sourced from local farms.
There are two rooms in the main dining room to choose from — romantic by evening and classic Adirondack warm but bright and refreshing by day. You can sit outside during warmer months, which is a must do in summer, especially for breakfast and lunch as mentioned above.
The dishes were exquisite – the lighting was dim so it was hard to get great food photography that night, but the presentation and preparation were both top notch. Starters range from salads and sweet corn chowder to lamb meatballs with Italian eggplant, mint, garlic and tomato confit and Wild Mushroom Risotto.
They also had a Saranac Sourdough Bruschetta which I passed up because of the carbs, but they served it in a creative way that was hard to say no to — avocado-Asgaard Farm Goat Cheese is coupled with Strawberry-Mascarpone and black pepper! Yum! Oh so delish, and they pair it with a Chateau Ducasse French White Bordeaux. Can you say perfect?
Entrees are fairly traditional but delicious and includes dishes like a Roasted Poussin with artichoke puree, chanterelles, asparagus, poached farm egg and poultry jus, a Sirloin Steak, a Troll Caught Salmon from Washington state with cornbread, northern Beans and Hazelnuts, a Beeler Farms Pork Chop with grilled peach, smoked bacon, swiss chard and potatoes, a Black Angus fillet, a Garganelli Pasta (yum!), and a Handline Caught Bluefish from Montauk New York — they served it with a carrot-yogurt puree, tapenade oil, cucumber and Moroccan couscous.
Next to the dining room is the slightly more casual Kanu Lounge, which serves traditional cuisine and signature cocktails, with live music entertainment. Its wine list features more than 400 regional, domestic and international vintages.
Above three photos, courtesy of Whiteface Lodge.
Of course, Italian food must be an option on any foodie list, so if you’re a fan of pasta and pizza, then this is a great spot. Appetizers include classic crab cakes with tomato remoulade, prosciutto wrapped in mozzarella and arugula, stuffed mushrooms with fennel sausage and red peppers, spicy meatballs with mozzarella, marina sauce and basil, and charcuterie for the meat and cheese lovers among you. They also have plenty of great soup and salad options as well, from pan roasted goat cheese and beet salad with fresh herbs, to a caprese, arugula and heart of palm with avocado salad and a classic Insalata with watermelon, snap peas, pickled red onions, feta and a delicious blueberry champagne vinaigrette.
Of course they do traditional pizzas as well with an unusual twist — from eggplant and goat cheese with garlic, sausage, bacon, pepperoni and oregano to roasted chicken with pesto and how’s this for a teaser? A Bianco Vesuvio pizza with fig jam, prosicutto, chevre, arugula, carmelized onions, olive oil and garlic! Yum! Certainly not a variation I expected to find in upstate New York.
Entrees are beautifully prepared and there’s plenty to choose from if you’re staying away from carbs, like I was during this trip. If you love your carbs, then there are pasta dishes as well as meat combos. They offer Veal Scaloppini, capers, mushrooms, lemon, white wine and cream over linguine for example.
There’s also a traditional Chicken Saltimbocca with sage and prosciutto di parma, a wild mushroom ravioli with organic egg and pancetta and peas, a classic Lasagna, littleneck clams over linguine with garlic and basil and homemade Italian sausage with broccoli rabe, tomatoes, crushed red peppers, garlic and goat cheese. I love how much they use goat cheese over more commonly available cow cheese, which often gives me trouble whereas I seem to be fine with goat and sheep cheese, particularly when imported from Europe where they still thankfully have tighter regulations in place.
Taste Bistro is a casual bistro restaurant which is part of Mirror Lake Inn, where we hung our hat for a few nights. They have three restaurants in total, including the more formal “The View” and The Cottage, both of which are also on this list. While more casual than The View, Taste Bistro still managed to make it on the Conde Nast Traveler Lake Placid’s Finest list. Below are a few snapshots (courtesy of the Inn) to give you an idea of their Adirondack style interior and some of the delicious offerings.
We loved the ambiance and there’s live music on certain nights of the week, which is another reason to give them a try. While it is positioned as The View’s more casual sister restaurant, the menu offers plenty of finer dining options some of which overlap with The View’s menu.
With kids at the table, their Bistro Fries went over well to share, which they serve with white truffle aioli and housemade clove catsup (none of that high fructose corn syrup to fend off). I’m a huge oyster fan and while they didn’t have them raw on the half shell, they did have an exquisite Oysters Rockefeller dish, which they bake and serve with Spinach-Herb cream sauce and Pernod.
Above Toasted Asgaard Chèvre Croutons, photo courtesy off Yelp (it was too dark to get adequate food shots while we were there)
Above, the fabulous ambiance of the bar area of the restaurant, which is a great place to get a drink and absorb the live music even if you don’t have dinner reservations — courtesy of Mirror Lake Inn
Generations Restaurant is the main restaurant connected to the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort, where we also stayed while in Lake Placid this summer. One of the more quirkier and great facts about the place is their commitment to sustainable architecture and living — they even have a green roof which you can reach from the restaurant. Particularly in the summer months, the green roof makes for great views of Mirror Lake and the mountains in the distance — it’s a stunning ecological backdrop that is worth seeing. Whiteface Mountain and the High Peaks are one of the many view “perks” you’ll get from the property.
Photo courtesy of Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort
In keeping with the philosophy of Golden Arrow’s Green Roof, they serve many foods that are grown and raised locally. Their goal is to keep it as fresh and local as possible, an aspect we absolutely loved. In other words, they integrate “green living” into every aspect of the resort, which you can learn more about in our hotel write-up. Below is one of the many delicious entree options served on the Generations menu.
Above photo, courtesy of Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort
We ate at the restaurant on more than one occasion and also dined here for breakfast since we were staying at the resort. In the summer months, they have a lovely deck where you can sit outside and watch the local culture pass by along the main drag of the town – Main Street.
Appetizer options include Blue Crab Cake which is house-made and served with lemon confit and creole rémoulade, Calamari in a light puffed rice breading with a spicy marinara sauce, Chicken Wings with celery, carrots & blue cheese, Shrimp Spring Rolls Crispy shrimp and vegetable spring rolls, served with a sweet red chili-Sriracha cream sauce, a delicious Spinach Artichoke Dip, which is a great one to share for the table, Spinach Salad Baby spinach with Applewood smoked bacon and a beet and goat cheese salad. What is nice is that you can add Grilled Chicken Breast, Crab Cakes, Salmon, or Strip Loin to any of your salads, turning it into a healthy main meal.
You can create your own pasta, which was a godsend choice with kids. (you can choose both your pasta type as well as your sauce and toppings….a great idea. You can even add chicken or Italian meat balls). Mains include New York Strip Steak, Ribeye Steak, Roasted half chicken finished with a Four Roses bourbon glaze, Rainbow Trout with a sweet antebellum cornmeal crust, Atlantic Salmon topped with a cool cucumber and fennel relish, Slow cooked baby back pork ribs with a smoked jalapeno BBQ sauce and of course fabulous sides like Cajun Sweet Potato Fries, Steamed Broccoli, Scalloped Potatoes, Beer Battered Onion Rings and Brussel Sprouts. A couple of our dishes are pictured below.
I’ll also point out that the bartender makes a mean Jalapeno Margarita which had a kick to it. It was so delicious that I ordered one two days in a row and sipped it leisurely while paddle boating around Mirror Lake — what a great relaxing way to spend an afternoon.
The View Restaurant @ Mirror Lake Inn
The View is Mirror Lake Inn’s signature restaurant in its main building, which is located directly across from the beautiful and serene Mirror Lake. Below is a horse made in chocolate which is on display near the entry way to the restaurant in the Mirror Lake Inn lobby. How creative is that?
Chocolate is far from all — there are many creative and fun aspects to Mirror Lake Inn and it’s 3 restaurants. The View offers an extensive breakfast every morning as well, which includes an omelette station, crispy bacon, pancakes, French toast, an assortment of cereals, eggs, a fruit table and more.
For dinner, it gets even better. Just a bite for your palette of course and a starter salad before we dive into the entrees, both so beautifully displayed and unexpected for a small town in the middle of the Adirondack Mountains.
For appetizers, they had Crab Cake with saffron pickled fennel and shaved radish on the app list, as well as house smoked trout with creme fraiche and trout caviar, Hudson Valley Foie Gras with grilled figs, buttered brioche and fig vincotto (delish!!) and traditional starter salads as well as a chilled Cucumber and Watermelon Gazpacho which we tried. (it was served with Greek yogurt which made all the difference)
For entrees, they had a number of great options to choose from, including Atlantic Cod with roasted sweet corn chowder, house-made Gnocchi with veggies and oyster mushrooms, Free Range Chicken Breast with foie gras and black truffle farce and King Trumpet mushrooms, Prime Beef Filet with Tarragon butter, Lyonnaise potatoes, Zinfandel glazed cipollini onion and a Zinfandel glace, Grilled Sea Scallops with rosemary and olive oil, as well as the more unusually prepared Braised Pork Cheeks, which they prepared with an orange, sweet pepper and verjus sauce, creamy spring onion Polenta, Rapini and Pickled Jariniere. Notice the French influence in this round-up!
Below are a few examples of dishes we tried over the course of our stay.
Delta Blue is a unique bar on Main Street, the primary drag of Lake Placid. Chances are if you’re staying in one of the more central hotels, you can even walk to it. They have a pool table and late night crowd ambiance even during the day time, however that’s largely because they are open late, play blues music regularly and have “pub fare,” such as their popular Buffalo Wings with a choice of unique sauces (Carolina Mustard BBQ, Maple Chipotle, Honey Cajun, Bourbon Molasses (my favorite although it’s a tad on the sweet side), Minnie P’s Original BBQ and Dirty, which is nothing other than “Cajun rubbed.”
Of course if you want to keep it healthy, they offer a varied selection of salads, from cobb (as a salad or wrap) and Caesar to Zydeco Shrimp salad with roasted corn and black beans to the more atypical house salad they offer, which is served with roasted pumpkin seeds, sliced apples, raisins, Asiago cheese and balsamic! Delish to say the least.
They have a host of Southern Specialties, which frankly is a rarity in the Adirondacks given how close you are to the Canadian border. From smoked chicken and sausage gumbo and Crawfish Etoufee to Classic Carolina BBQ sandwiches, Shrimp n’Grits, Crawfish Mc N’Cheese (yes really) to St. Louis Ribs, and Smothered Chicken Fried Steak with pepper onion gravy, corn and fries, they’ve got you covered! Whoah Nelly!
Of course, it’s great for kids during the day since you can get a variety of burger choices, a foot long Delta Dawg (translation: hot dog) with chili, kraut or plain and subs with everything on them from blackened catfish and Buffalo chicken to Pastrami Reuben, Pulled pork and Fried Oysters. Again, not your standard upstate New York menu.
The influence of course came from the south, hence the authenticity of the menu and the food. While the food has its draw especially in this neck of the woods, the real draw is the Blues Music, but then again I’m a huge blues fan. Be sure to read our write-up on our trip through the Mississippi Delta Blues earlier this year.
They have theme days and nights, such as Bloody Mary and Mimosa specials on Sunday afternoons, Why Not Wednesdays which are open mic Delta Blues Jam nights, and live music every weekend. Who knew that I could find authentic blues even further north than where I grew up? Apparently Lake Placid also has a Blues and Heritage Festival every year and it should be no surprise that Delta Blue participates and sponsors.
The Cottage is the third restaurant of Mirror Lake Inn, that lovely romantic and precious luxury lodge we stayed in for a few nights that takes up a gigantic chunk of land and sits proudly across from the shores of Mirror Lake. This bistro is the most casual of the three and a great place to bring children given their variety and the fact that you can sit out on the patio when the weather is nice, which we took full advantage of when we arrived. The patio boasts incredible views of the lake and is a great place to spot birds and other local wildlife.
Casual doesn’t have to mean uninteresting however, and their Apricot Chicken Salad Sandwich with sliced almonds, scallions and sesame ginger mayonnaise is just one example where the chef gets creative at this fun bistro on the lake. Worth noting is their Tomato Caprese Avocado salad, which we loved — they use vine ripe tomatoes, whole basil and of course, the ever so traditional balsamic glaze.
Their tacos have a nice kick to them and also worth ordering – choices include Baja Fish (they use Mahi Mahi) with a tangy cabbage slaw, hoisin BBQ, spicy aioli and fresh cilantro or the Caribbean Smoked Pork Taco, which is served with the same accompaniment. YUM!
Plenty of salad options as well…..while not shown below, they had a cottage house salad which I wished I ordered in hindsight. How’s this for a fabulous combo? Sweet greens, dried cranberries, heirloom cherry tomatoes, roasted butternut squash, sweet and spicy almonds and aged cheddar. For the kids, we went with Artisan Flat Bread Pizzas, which was great because they have a healthy spin on pizza, from the addition of arugula and carmelized onions to wild mushrooms, spinach and fresh tomato sauce.
And then there’s dessert of course which changes regularly. Let’s just say the portions were large enough for us all to share.
If you love diners, then The Breakfast Club is a great choice for breakfast and lunch as it’s also conveniently located along Lake Placid’s Main Street, smack in the middle of the town. Classics on the menu are the breakfast favorites such as BC Benedicts — eggs with your choice of Canadian bacon, Rosemary dijon sausage, cheddar biscuits, smoked salmon, tender sliced filets and crab cakes.
This isn’t the place to visit if you’re on a diet or trying to cut down the carbs. On the griddle, they have classic French Toast, but a Fondue style, so that means that there’s a boast load of butter (cinnamon butter in this case) and maple syrup on the top. You can also order waffles, buttermilk pancakes, or the heftier Black Forest Ham with Cheddar and eggs.
While breakfast is what they’re known for, they also serve lunch and offer a whole lotta more fried options, like mozzarella sticks, crab cakes and cheese fries as well as Burgers. One interesting addition on the menu that’s worth noting since I’ve never seen it elsewhere, is the Coffee Rubbed BBQ Burger, which is a burger rubbed with coffee and spice and then served with an espresso BBQ sauce and cheddar. We were leaning on the healthier side during this trip so didn’t order it but I am still curious what it tastes like, aren’t you?
Lake Placid Pub & Brewery
If beer is your thing, then you should stop by the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery where they have plenty of choices on tap. Handcrafted ales and lagers include Ubu Ale, 46’er Pale Ale (both from Chicago), Lake Placid IPA and Moose Island Ale to name a few. They also offer seasonal rotating brews depending on the season and locals think so highly of this active popular pub that it was voted #1 Brewery and #1 Bar in the Adirondacks by Adirondack Life readers.
Some of their rotating seasonal beers include Leaping Cow ESB, Twice Bitten Barleywine, Ectoberfest Lager, Maibock, High Peaks Hefeweizen, and Dr. Fogg’s Oatmeal Stout although they have brewed more than 80 different styles of beer over 18 years of being in business.
For colder days and nights, they have a stone fireplace and during the summer, they have a tent in their beer garden so you can sit outside. Downstairs you can experience the legendary P.J. O’Neill’s, a true Irish pub with the warm character of aged wood and brick. Their third floor, The Hop Loft, opened in February of 2013, and features another outdoor deck overlooking the lake, another bar and seating area, as well as a kids room featuring activities to keep the kids busy while you enjoy your time at the Pub.
Their menu features pub classics like an assortment of flatbreads, cheeseburgers, delicious BBQ ribs, and Buffalo wings. You can also get a Spicy Black Bean Burger or Mahi Mahi Tacos, both of which are a lot of fun after a day’s summer activities on the lake or on the mountain in the winter. And, if you’re a pizza lover, how’s this for mouthwatering? A sweet sausage and apple OR a BBQ chicken and gouda flatbread pizza? Bring it on baby!
One last mention is the Adirondack Creamery Ice Cream and penny candy by the pound, which is a favorite stop for kids and adults with a sweet tooth.