Last Chance Antiques & Cheese Cafe -- March 2010 (dt)
6.10 - 7.2, 6.5, 6.5, 6, 5.5, 5.5, 5.5 (two absent, one guest)

It had been almost five years since we last visited Last Chance, and the casual, almost-fine-dining touches we remembered from then played out again.
              The ambiance at Last Chance is entertaining, with the walls and ceilings festooned with a mishmash of themes. International flags graced one wall, with musical instruments lining the opposite wall. Sports equipment hung from the ceiling, and other antiques fill in the remaining space.
              Instead of traversing the long hallway to the back as we did the first time, we chose the side sunroom (Chay having spotted the infant and child next to our potential table on the upper level). Windows dominated each wall, exuding an air of openness, with the last rays of late March pre-dusk sunlight lighting the room. A dark wainscoting ringed the room.
              The tables are casual diner, single center-column tables – two of them slid together for us. A paper napkin bundled the three pieces of ordinary eating utensils. Paper placemats, which also served as the menu, are the first introduction to a comfortable eating experience. Ken slid his chair to the one end, with the other end against the west wall. Reservations are not taken but a call ahead seemed to indicate that a table would be held open – a welcome gesture.
              We seemed to take longer than usual deciding on food. The menu is seemingly large – a half dozen soups, a half dozen appetizers, a half dozen salads, fifteen or so entrées, twenty or so sandwich/burger/quiche choices, about ten desserts, and then there is the really long beer list and a fair wine list.
              Two baskets of bread sticks and marble pumpernickel bread, accompanied by packets of butter, settled on the table almost as soon as we were seated, and consumed by mid-meal.
              Our drink order strayed from the usual. Chay and Deb K settled on the carafe of house chardonnay; Jen on a glass of pinot grigio (one of Judy’s usuals); Deb T and Kriss on a diet soda; Ken on Sam Adams; and Don on a St Peter’s Porter. This might be the first DP8 event ever without red wine!
              For the appetizer course, Deb K ordered cream of broccoli soup (good but not a typical cream of broccoli) and Don the Country Potato soup special (average, a few chunks, plain but clearly potato-y). Entrées came with an accompanying house salad, and Deb K’s came with the same salad, so all but Don had the salad. A glass, medium-sized plate was filled with mixed greens and topped with a tablespoon of shredded carrots, one diagonally cut cucumber slice, a few half-rings of onion, and a big pinch of red cabbage. The appropriate salad dressing came in an individual plastic, two-ounce container and pleased most.
              There was a bit of a lull, not overly long, before entrées appeared – a full rack of St. Louis ribs (Ken and Chay, both very good; a little bit, or more, of fat but flavorful with a nice BBQ sauce); the chicken pot pie that looked more like a sheet pan pastry big enough to feed at least two (Kriss, good, although it needed sending back to get warmed; the second half was boxed for Don’s take-home); garlic shrimp and scallops (yup, Deb T, who thought every thing on the plate was excellent); pot roast (Jen, with carrots, celery and onions, over mashed potatoes, in a tasty gravy).
              Most entrées included the aforementioned salad, as well as a choice of mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, or pasta salad. Mashed potatoes, deemed average to good, was served on most plates, except for Deb T who especially liked the half-cut sweet potato, flavored with a sculpted piece of maple butter.
              Two orders came from the sandwich list – the spinach quiche (Deb K, mediocre to OK, as if it had been reheated too often, not the greatest value); and the warm French brie on raisin pumpernickel bread, topped with apple slices, strawberries and orange twists (Don, average-good, a light choice worth trying)
              All in all, the main course choices were enjoyed by all.
              A little longer lull and the dessert list beckoned. The shocker (although he claims not) was Ken’s choice of the chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream and a mountain of whipped cream. Jen also consumed one of those, and both were good. Other orders included: chocolate truffle torte – a solid chocolate piece drizzled with chocolate syrup (Don, average to good, too much to eat at this seating so most of it went home to be enjoyed for three more helpings, too cold and solid to be tasted as it should, it was much better with a 10 second microwave warm-up at home; and one shared by Deb and Chay, good but should have been room temperature ); pecan pie (Kriss, one of her favorite desserts, and this was good); peach pie (Deb T, good). In a big change from last time, the group passed on the S’mores fondue!
               Service was adequate to good (we apologize for not learning our waiter’s name!), with prompt attention most of the time. Delivery of plates to the group was uniform, questions were answered helpfully, and a good presence was noted. Ken’s coffee was generally filled although one cup, Ken thought, tasted as if it were flavored. Plates were whisked away promptly, perhaps a little quickly but certainly apropos for a casual restaurant. The checking of wine and water glasses to be filled would have been appreciated.
              The bill came to $76 per couple, including tax, tip and alcohol, a lighter bill than usual.

The evening had started at the Monteverds. A tray of fruit (pineapple, honeydew, cantaloupe, strawberries, grapes) and cheese, along with a basket of crackers, kept the munchers at bay. (Just enough.)  Thanks for hosting, Ken & Kriss.
              Drinks included a beer, white zin, Yellowtail shiraz, and soda.
              One of the big stories was the change of cast. Tim and Judy were in the midst of a month near Tucson and thus missed a rare month (we missed you!). Making up for some of the excitement was daughter Jen, who was persuaded to accompany us to dinner, thus making her the second ever guest (Betty Anne being the first).
              At the Monteverds, a bunch of the discussion centered around Jen’s wedding upcoming in September, details, and more details. Perhaps, Kriss will find a mother’s dress in the desired price range. We talked about the renovated bedroom (and we took the tour), Kriss’ crocks, school, Tom’s truck quitting during the day, the BMW service light being taken care of, Deb’s pocketbooks and table runners, late March events, Deb K’s miserable cold, Deb K’s mom, and so on.
              The forty minute ride to Tannersville allowed for more discussion, and of course two hours at the restaurant allowed for our usual conversation and banter. Notable topics included ... the call from Tim and Judy for the vicarious experience of being with DP8. ...
              After dinner, we wandered about the store, with a few magnets being bought, Don buying some cheese, and the rest of us exploring other merchandise. I need to remember to come back when I need some different beer. Last Chance, in their 39th year, is an anchor and a solid service for Tannersville and the area.
              Thanks, Jen, for the variety, and good luck.