FINE FOOD • FUN FOOD
The Blue Mingo never disappoints. This was my first time there this season; now that the rain has stopped, I hope to get there a few more times before Columbus Day.
Just walking in is a delight. Smart thinking on their part – you walk through a tasteful gift shop where it seems you just need one of everything! Then starts a delightful lunch sitting outside on the covered deck overlooking Otsego Lake.
If you have nothing else, start with the onion chips. Not rings, but chips! Fried to perfection, these tender little onion chips get dipped in a tasty combination of Sriracha and mayo with a hint of lemon. Not sure exactly what that sauce is but it’s really GOOD!
I went on to the coconut shrimp. If you’re a coconut lover like me, don’t miss these. Six large shrimp coated in batter and toasty coconut, then I dip them in this sweet chili sauce. The combination of flavors is a taste sensation!
My husband had his usual — Caesar salad with lobster salad. Although this time there was so much lobster I’m not sure I’d call it lobster salad! Fresh greens with a lime Caesar dressing and shaved parm, then topped with lobster salad. You can get a crab cake on top too, if you want.
If you’re in the mood for drinks, try Mingo Margarita, Otsego Lake Aloha, Cooperstown Cosmo. All refreshing and appropriate for the lake setting. (Blue Mingo, 6098 St. Highway 80, Cooperstown)
I stopped by Bear Pond’s Winery for the first time on Route 28 between Portlandville and Oneonta. I decided to do the “Wine Flight” menu, which allows you to select three appetizers and six wines – all New York State ones – to taste. For appetizers, I ordered the Stuffed Grape Leaves, Mozzarella and Tomatoes, and Brie Crostini.
All three appetizers were tasty. I liked the pesto and balsamic reduction drizzled on the fresh Mozzarella and Tomatoes. The Brie Crostini was two pieces of French bread with Brie cheese topped by strawberry preserves. Of the six wines I tasted, I liked all three white wines – the Oak Bear Chardonnay and two Rieslings.
But of the remaining three – the Cabernet-Merlot Milford Melange, the dry Drought Rose, and the light, sweet Red Cat. I only liked the Red Cat of the red and Rose wines. (Bear Pond Winery, 2515 NY-28, Oneonta)
I’m not usually one to get a heavy steak for lunch, but whenever I go to the Autumn Café, I have to get the Steak Frites, a small chargrilled sirloin that is so perfectly seasoned – just salt and pepper! – that it doesn’t need anything more than a knife and fork to enjoy!
The fries on the side are thin and crispy, they just melt in your mouth, and there’s a lovely pile of greens to offset the indulgence. Why wait until dinner? (The Autumn Café, 244 Main St, Oneonta)
If pulled pork, smoked brisket, BBQ chicken and ribs get your attention, then just skip to the end of this article for the address, because you’re in for the best BBQ Oneonta has to offer.
The first time I ate at Andre’s Blue Ribbon BBQ was close to a religious experience I didn’t think brisket could taste that good! The smoked beef brisket was tender, smoky and packed with layers of flavor. I wanted to hug the cooks, and they would have probably let me.
Do not let the simple exterior of this hidden gem fool you. Husband-and-wife team, Patrick and Theresa, put their heart and soul into their food and you’ll taste it. Their meats are dry rubbed and cooked at low temperatures in their custom smoker for up to 20 hours. This combination of low temp and long cooking time allows the meat to relax, allowing it to draw the flavor of the applewood deep inside while also making it very tender. Their sides and sauces are made in house and perfectly compliment their dinner selections, and Patrick will tell you what goes best with each, but why it does. Smoked Portobello options are available so the vegetarians aren’t left out.
Whether you are a foodie, a BBQ lover, or a budding smoker looking to talk shop, you will find a home here. Dinners with several meat options allow you to sample several of their meats at a time so you don’t feel you are missing out. But if you have to try one thing, try the brisket. (Andre’s Blue Ribbon BBQ 6047 State Hwy 7, Oneonta)
Looking for delicious Northern Italian fare. Head down to Toscana’s on Main Street for their Classic Bolognese meat sauce on your choice of pasta. The flavor is extremely rich and delicious and the penne pasta was the perfect kind of chewy. I found myself chewing slowly simply to savor the taste and texture of this pasta dish. (Toscana’s, 64 Main St, Cooperstown)