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The Ruck (Troy, NY)

As I mentioned back in the review of Manory’s, while I’m often traveling through Troy for both work and pleasure, I almost always seem to drive through town in either mid-morning or mid-afternoon, neither of which is ideal for mealtimes. And, being only about 2 hours from our house, if we’re heading home, it’s usually easier for us to continue on home. But our driving schedule on our last day of vacation actually had us arriving in Troy slightly later than usual, around 3:45 pm, and after a short hike checking out one of the waterfalls in town, it was 4pm, which was pretty reasonable for dropping by another perennial entry on Offbeat Eat’s “should visit” list: The Ruck, in downtown Troy.

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The Poked Yolk (West Seneca, NY)

After almost three weeks of traveling through the Midwest, mostly exploring NE Minnesota and northern Michigan, it was time for us to head home. While in normal years we’d debate the merits of the Canadian and domestic route options, pandemic restrictions resulted in us having to take domestic routes home due to border closings. When it comes down to it, there’s basically two efficient ways to cross New York, going through Buffalo via the Thruway, or taking the Southern Tier/I-88 route across the southern part of the state. We ended up doing the slightly more efficient Thruway route after overnighting in Erie, PA, which left us looking for breakfast around Buffalo. We here at Offbeat Eats have a lot of favorite spots in and around Buffalo, but since we’re usually hitting Buffalo mid-afternoon instead of morning, we’re still working on the breakfast scene. Looking at the options, I decided to try out a new place a bit off the beaten path: The Poked Yolk.

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Manory’s (Troy, NY)

I actually drive through Troy, NY quite a bit. The “Collar City”, from its history in making collars back when that was a thing, is also home to RPI, and it’s right on the optimal path between our home in NH and either the NY Thruway or I-87 (if I’m looking to get to NJ while avoiding NYC). What I usually find, however, is that I’m not usually driving through around mealtimes, so I usually don’t stop in town. But our June-July vacation had us departing and driving to Ohio leaving early in the morning from NH, which resulted in a rarity for us, passing through Troy right at breakfast time. We used it as an excuse to visit Manory’s, which has been on our hit list for a few years.

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Lone Bull Pancake & Steak House (Lake George, NY)

Our second morning in scenic Lake George, we had a bit of spare time to explore, so went driving a bit north along the western shore of Lake George, seeing some of the nice views, seeing a few of the larger resorts, and finding a place for breakfast. We ended up selecting one of the area’s more venerable establishments, the Lone Bull Pancake & Steak House, now approaching it’s 50th year of operation.

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Biscotti Brothers Cafe (Lake George, NY)

The very end of June had us heading out to scenic Lake George with a bunch of friends for Ohana By The Lake, a three-day celebration of Tiki culture, rum, and basic fun sponsored by the Fraternal Order of Moai (of which I am a member), held at the scenic Tiki Resort, one ofAmerica’s last best existing examples of mid-century American Tiki culture. But it also gave us a chance to explore the Lake George area, with it’s many, many mini-golf courses, scenic vistas, boardwalk, and the like. One little place we found for breakfast was just across from The Tiki: Biscotti Brothers.

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Harlem Shake (Harlem, NY)

Our last stop in NYC was a fairly relaxed burger shop on Lenox Ave called Harlem Shake. Kitty corner from our previous reviews of Sylvia’s and Red Rooster, Harlem Shake seemed like a good place to grab a light lunch on the way out of town. Harlem Shake Interior Basically, Harlem Shake is your classic 1950s-style burger diner: a modest art deco interior including a semi-functional diner counter (while it’s got the row of classic spinning stools, there’s little room at the counter itself for eating), with a little bit of an edgier, modern music selection (indeed, the autographed signatures on the wall include P.Diddy and A$AP Rocky), but one look at the menu board confirms that this is classic diner fare: a selection of burgers, patty melts, fries, milkshakes, fried chicken, and the like. There are also a handful of interesting items on the menu, like jerk chicken, hot honey chicken, and even a few unexpected twists like the Red Velvet or “Double chocolate bacon” milkshakes. But the twist here is that they are trying to really do these diner classics well: the burgers are made from Pat Lafrieda patties (as are fully half of the “craft” burgers in the city), the ice cream is from Blue Marble, and most of the sauces and toppings are made in-house. Despite the invocation of the phrase “craft burger”, these aren’t the typical half-pound-plus $20 deals sold at entirely too many restaurants, either, but the classic retro-style burger with two ~2 oz patties seared to a crisp on the griddle and served up on a toasted bun.

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Red Rooster (Harlem, NY)

Our trip to New York City also gave us a chance to check out a relatively new restaurant just down the block from Sylvia’s: Red Rooster, which has been rather well known as a good place to experience Southern food, comfort food, and a good brunch. As an added bonus, I’ve always liked the recipes of Marcus Samuelsson, the Ethiopian- and Swedish-trained chef from Top Chef several seasons ago. I didn’t realize until after dining at Red Rooster that it was one of his restaurants, so I got to kill two birds with one stone.

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Sylvia’s (New York, NY)

I’ve always had a love of both Southern cooking and the related “Soul Food”, the variant that sprang out of the 1960s as folks in various Northern cities like Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York that had moved north in the Great Migration started to celebrate their Southern cultural tradition in music (Soul Music) and food (Soul Food). I’ve had a lot of periodic visits to Harlem over the decades, and one only has to take a quick look around Harlem to see that it has changed a lot; the demographics of 2018 are distinctly different than those of the Great Migration 1960s, and the socioeconomics different as well (the brand new Whole Foods and rising rent are testaments to that), and unfortunately, many of the institutions that sprang up in the 1960s are starting to disappear, but one of the cornerstones of “Soul Food” in Harlem is still around: Sylvia’s.

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Anchor Bar (Buffalo, New York)

As I mentioned in the previous review, over our various trips driving through Buffalo, we’ve hit most of the major “benchmark” restaurants. We’ve been to multiple places for both beef-on-weck and wings. But there was still one classic Buffalo joint that I haven’t reviewed, and hadn’t visited for several years. And that’s the birthplace of the Buffalo wing: the Anchor Bar.

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Schwabl’s (West Seneca, NY)

One of the things I enjoy about our (somewhat rare) driving trips to the Detroit area is that, whether we are opting for the US or Canada routes, both take us right through the Buffalo area. Buffalo’s a bit of a run-down metro area, but it’s got quite a good set of culinary traditions, so every time we visit I try to hit up one of the classic spots. For this trip, that was Schwabl’s, so we could get some beef-on-weck.

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