Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cafe Dewitt

It would be silly for me to say that every restaurant we visit is my favorite, but this really ranks high on my list of local restaurants that you simply must try. The cafe is in the heart of the Dewitt Building that spans the block between Seneca and Buffalo Streets in Ithaca, and was at one time Ithaca High School. If you look closely, you can find the outside entrances marked "Girls" and "Boys".

One of the things I really like about Cafe Dewitt is the fresh ingredients they use. It really is true that you feel better when you eat well, and I always feel good when I've had a meal here.

They are quite well known for their breakfasts, and if you have ever attempted their Sunday brunch you know all too well how popular they are. Saturday is a great day to have brunch there, as it is a tad easier to find a table.

We went on a Saturday morning recently, and it was the first time my older two boys had eaten there. They were thrilled to find Belgian Waffles on the menu, which they ordered plain although generally they are served with seasonal fruit and Chantilly cream. The waffles were bigger than their heads, which of course pleased the boys to no end.
Colin's thoughts: They were extremely large, very filling, the maple syrup was very good.
Ian's thoughts: "The Belgian Waffles there are great, and they taste similar to the ones at the Farmer's Market."

My mom and I had the Eggs Benedict, and really I must say that these 'Eggs Benny' (what I call them simply because I am too lazy to say Benedict) have spoiled me for ordering them anywhere else. Why? Because the hollandaise sauce is made from scratch, whereas many restaurants make their sauce from a powder. Ick. In addition to wonderfully fresh ingredients, the eggs and ham are served over sourdough bread instead of an English Muffin. This makes an enormous difference in terms of flavor.

I, for one, was thrilled six ways from Sunday when Colin ordered a coffee. The waitress graciously brought one which was half-caf, but ultimately he decided that iced coffee is really more his thing. What a proud moment for this coffee drinkin' momma, regardless.

If you go during the week and can't decide between a sandwich or a salad, try the Caesar Salad Sandwich. Quite literally a combination of a Caesar Salad and a sandwich. It's my favorite lunch there!

The waitstaff is remarkable, the desserts are so delicious they should be illegal in 49 states, and the kids are always entertained by the wall of fish tanks. Frankly, for a fresh meal that is made by someone who is clearly passionate about making delicious food, Cafe Dewitt is a fabulous place to eat. And, if you are like me and my mom, you will run into no fewer than five people you know as they make their way through the Dewitt Mall!

For a look at their entire menu, go to: http://www.cafedewitt.com/

Please note that they have different menus for weekdays and weekends, and there are daily specials. I have never tried something that I didn't like, and will likely post again after another visit.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Glenwood Pines

The Pinesburger Challenge, The "Famous Glenwood Bloody Mary", and amazing views of Cayuga Lake in the heart of the Finger Lakes. These are the first things that come to mind when you think of this iconic restaurant.

There are many things we love to eat there. My beau would never forgive me if we were on that side of the lake and didn't stop for a Pinesburger, a six ounce burger served on French bread with lettuce, tomato, and either 1,000 Island dressing or mayo. Sounds simple enough, but this burger really is the best burger in the area, hands down. His favorite side item is an order of corn nuggets, which are just about the most heavenly fried food you can eat, if you can believe that. They are juicy, sweet li'l tidbits of deep fried creamed corn, and they have taken the place of fries or onion rings on his plate.

If you are game, you can order the Pinesburger Challenge. Eat four of their amazing burgers in under an hour, and you get your photo on the Wall of Fame! There are hundreds of photos on the wall, most of them college students, it would seem. I love their burgers, but you will never find my photo on the wall.

They have a variety of lunch specials, and my favorite is the Thursday special, a pulled pork sandwich. Momma loves pork, in any form. But add bbq sauce to that pork, and I am in hog heaven. Unfortunately, we went during dinner time last night, so I had to stray from my favorite. I got the fried shrimp, which was incredibly delicious. Just the perfect crispiness and flavor. Unfortunately, I lost my mind and chose more fried items as my side dishes, fried corn nuggets and fried mushrooms. Not really sure what I was thinking, but I will never do that again. Blecch. The individual items tasted wonderful, but that was definite overkill.

Colin loves the Pinesburger as well, and last night he ordered it with bacon to try something new. The waitress, sadly, also had cheese put on it, forgot the lettuce and added a tomato. Sigh. We generally don't have issues like this here, but it turned out to be serendipitous, as he actually liked the combination of cheese, burger and bacon (he removed the evil tomato).
He ordered the mint chip ice cream with whipped cream and chocolate sauce for dessert, and was one happy boy.

Ian is our resident chicken & fries guru. His job in this blog will be to rate the quality of the chicken strips and french fries at the various restaurants we try.
In Ian's words, "The chicken and fries is very similar to Friendly's chicken and fries, and when I tried a corn nugget and I immediately made a face to match my opinion of it.". The face Ian is referring to is that of someone who has eaten an entire lemon and washed it down with a milkshake. It was not pretty, folks. Ian is definitely NOT a fan of the corn nugget. 'Sokay, more for me!

What makes this a great place to eat, whether you're with the kiddos or not, is the atmosphere and the wonderful staff. The boys always make sure we go prepared with a stack of quarters so that they can play the old wooden bowling game that has been at the Glenwood Pines for as long as I can remember. Bonus: while they're playing games, dinner is on the way, and we don't have any whiny children. This is priceless for any parent. Oh, and for parents of toddlers, they keep a stock of sippy cups on hand for their little visitors. I love this!
Here is a link to their website: http://www.glenwoodpines.com/new/index.htm and they can also be found on Facebook (who isn't on Facebook these days? Sheesh!). Here is the link to their Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ithaca-NY/Glenwood-Pines/169254964428

Thank you for reading our first official post on Pretzels for Dessert! We look forward to the hard work, albeit delicious work, ahead of us!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

"Mom, we're SICK of McDonald's!"

It's every parent's dream, the day your kids decide they are so totally over Happy Meals, 10 packs of tacos, and endless flowing fountains of sugary soda.

I actually have kids who really enjoy veggies (really, almost to a fault). They want to eat in restaurants that offer them real choices. Not the standard chicken fingers or mini pizza that you can get at every restaurant, but real food like their parents are eating. I have kids who are truly experimental foodies. Now. This was not always the case. My nine year old ate nothing but chicken nuggets for two years. Now, when it comes to breakfast, it's frozen waffles every day. Sigh. At least we can get him to be more creative at dinnertime!

My oldest, who I am pretty sure will end up hosting a show on Food Network, is my true foodie kid. At age 9 he asked for a hot-air popcorn popper and a Belgian waffle iron. He recently tried sushi, and despite not liking the roll he tried, is insisting that he try other kinds. He will be my co-author on this blog.

We will be writing about restaurants in Upstate NY (and anywhere else we visit) and our aim is to find places that adults will frequent alone or with their kids, and everyone will be happy.

Why "Pretzels for Dessert"? My kids have interesting tastes. Oh sure, they'll have ice cream occasionally. But more often than not, when I ask them what they want for dessert, the answer is pretzels. Sometimes cucumbers. These boys are so not normal, I gotta tell you.