Happy Jake’s at the Stewart House – June 2016 (dt)
6.44 – 7, 7, 6.75, 6.5, 6.5, 6.25, 6, 5.5

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An unusual alignment of stars must have strayed overhead at noon at Happy Jake’s for Father’s Day, 2016.

Their menu is one of the more idiosyncratic ones: a couple salads and several interesting choices for appetizers; a few sandwiches; several un-Greene-Countyish entrées; and a minimalist dessert offering. And on Sundays, the only day Jake’s is open for lunch, the menu is the same. This could have spelled stress for our group but we all reconnoitered to a satisfactory selection.
==> Baby greens salad, with  maple glazed walnuts, tomatoes, goat cheese and sherry shallot vinaigrette, with chicken (Chay: small salad for price, chicken add-on small for price)
==>Angus burger, with two toppings, and SH chips (Ken: ordered medium! very good)
==>Fried jumbo shrimp with crispy creole fries, greens, cilantro vinaigrette, Asian coleslaw and chipotle remoulade or red sauce (Deb: huge shrimp, very good; Kriss: red sauce switch, very good)
==>Grilled chicken sandwich with guacamole, chili aioli, Asian slaw and SH chips (Tim: chicken a bit thin and overdone, and fries not warm)
==>Shrimp quesadilla, with tzatziki and shreds of pepper jack cheese, avocado and more, and a side of homemade salsa (Judy: very good; Deb K: very good)
==>Smoked salmon flatbread, with baby greens, goat cheese, tzatziki sauce, vine ripe tomato, red onion and cilantro vinaigrette on a pita (Don: a tasty change of pace, with the salmon less smoky than expected but better, expecting more than plain pita)

One appetizer, the grill jumbo shrimp cocktail, with horseradish cream sauce, appeared in front of Chay, shared with Deb, I think I saw, and enjoyed. (Excellent was the verdict.) A photogenic moment – the grilled shrimp, that is.

The truncated dessert list could not compete with the alternative explained later.

The drink order found three tap beer drinkers, a gin & tonic (nice! Kriss), the special – Bloody Mary (Deb T – tons of horse radish), complemented by a soda, an iced tea, and a water. Almost hot weather, outdoor seating, and a couple previous nights of parties shared by we eight were factors.

Service by Kendra was generally good – ascertaining what we wanted, delivering, and clearing. Friendly and helpful, she had a long walk across the street to fetch food, a habit that must be tiring for the wait-staff perhaps, but a curiosity for diners watching the process. Drinks took a looong time coming.
          Water in plastic cups flavored with a lemon slice were promptly delivered, with bottles of water a perpetual supply, and much appreciated on a warm day.

Ambience is suited for classic summer warm weather. Attached to the Stewart House just across Water Street, Happy Jakes is the second year venture of the new owners. Sitting on the edge of the Hudson River, the spot is a sensory feast for pleasant-weather late afternoons and evenings, with reflections of Middle Island, the shimmering view of the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse, pleasure craft racing by, the buildings that belie the existence of Hudson just a half-mile across the river, the toot of Amtrak trains on the east side, a whish of wind through the willow trees, and much more.
          Our visit was influenced by the first-ever lunch for DP8. A forecast of 90 degrees prompted an early visit to find a shady retreat. It was needed as the 1 p.m. temps approached the forecast high. The slightest scent of river water wafted ashore on the slight southerly breeze. And it was the first re-convening of the Original DP8ers in a long time, feeling natural enough that old-times reigned.
          The dining area is about fifty by one-hundred-fifty, with a twenty-foot-square covered bar area that is popular in the warm weather months. Next door is the waterfront park, with its gazebo, and its view inland along the classic old lines of Athens’ Water Street. Good weather, good friends is the recipe for a pleasurable experience.
          Our table spot was the combination of two three-inch thick blocks of wood for table tops, placed end to end. A vase of basil centered one block, and a vase of lavender the other. Small but sturdy white salad plates, topped by a white linen wrapped around a solid fork and knife set, accompanied the plastic salt and pepper shakers.
          The bathroom facility drew special note for those who visited. A singleton, which is fine. Walking on dirt ground before the door, which is ok for this setting. Spare interior, which is quite acceptable. But the flat part of the toilet bowl sitting behind the seat looked like it had not been touched since last fall. For the squeamish, the facilities across the street at the Stewart House were more in line with a fine dining establishment.

The final bill arrived and verdict dictated $55 per couple, a very fair lunch price for the ingredients, reduced by the absence of our usual wine order, reduced further by no dessert order, and considerably less than our usual dinner results.

A previous comment referred to dessert. Charlie’s Angels in Freehold was having a Father’s Day special—a dollar a cone for fathers. Simply put, come on to Freehold for the best value in soft ice cream for a long, long way. Six of us converged once again to share a real local experience. (The other two went golfing.) I expect to pay twice as much anyplace else, even without the special. A separate vote for the ice cream neared a perfect 8.

The usual routine of convening at someone’s house seemed superfluous for a Father’s Day lunch. So, we drove separately along varying routes and converged at Happy Jakes. (I, for one, liked it a bunch – the lunch idea.)
          The eight of us had already spent the previous two nights together (at the Karnes end-of-year party, and Deb’s 100 party) catching up on news and fixing all of society’s ills. Still, the “pickins” for Day Three should have been sparse but layers of conversation always gush when we eight gather.
          So, we gabbed and agreed that the previous two nights’ parties were enjoyably successful and then ventured on to other topics: the paucity of younger adults at the Karneses’ party (schools not hiring as much, we surmised); the different mix of characters at the Teators’ party; reminders of what old friends have been doing; plans for winter in Florida; the very comfortable stretch of weather; parents’ health issues and dealing with them; status of our children and their gettings-on with life; someone with a certain new article of clothing; that same article of clothing being seen for two seconds in the dim light of a full moon light; that same article of clothing kept hidden in Athens; golfing; memories of the Mediterranean cruise; Catskill work; the plans of the Catskill worker; aches and pains and remedies; the Stewart House and movie scenes; route to Athens – short but long, or long but faster; enjoying summertime water; summer plans; photos of grandkids, especially the Monteverdeans; some politics but not much; the RV in the Teator sideyard; Gary and Lori visiting for a couple weeks; and a ton more that probably morphed over from the last couple days.
          Simple culinary adventures with good friends, somewhere scenic—one of life’s pleasure not to be underestimated nor lightly assumed.