May 2004 - American Hotel  (Thank you guest editor, Don Teator)
7.75 - 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 7.5, 7.5, 7 

    Following our customary pre-dinner get-together, this month at the Teator house, off we went, for sixty (ok, maybe a couple more) minutes to the American Hotel in Sharon Springs . While dark clouds, a few rain showers, and a few peaks of sun loomed ahead of us most of the way, visions of that sneak preview of the menu were piquing our hunger.
    The up side - The setting for starters. The finely refurbished hotel, replete with welcoming desk area, side sitting area, balcony porch, as well as, an eclectically decorated dining room with primitive art, advertisements, mellow lighting and Caribbean music, made us comfortable. Table linens and frequently replaced silverware were a nice touch.
     From the not overly lengthy but varied menu, we eight sampled the filet mignon, rack of lamb, ciopping, pork tenderloin, stuffed catfish, and strip steak. The sampler appetizer and salads, in addition to the bread, suited our expectations.
     Dessert was sampled by all, except for the two liqueur drinkers: maple cream cake, oatmeal coconut cake, chocolate layer cake, chocolate bread pudding, crème brule, and strawberry sorbet.
    The wait staff was very competent, especially our main waiter, “Harry Connick Jr.” “Harry” was personable, efficient, and did the small things that show good training and expertise. (Even though towels don’t make wine taste better, somehow the house red seemed a bit more elegant with a towel.) The politely deliberate pace of serving, along with a fashionably noisy room but not so much to have to raise the voice, allowed easily heard discussions across the table (a factor for us sub-, near- and mid-50ish diners). (The three on the side, with two heads, is a desirable seating arrangement for us.)
    The drive to Sharon Springs allowed for the early summer scenery of the Catskill Creek and the Schoharie Creek valleys, along with the Rt. 20 stretch (despite the up and down of the old turnpike) to provide interesting vistas.
    The down side - Again, very little could disturb a very pleasant experience when with friends.... And, to top the night, Tom very thoughtfully purloined four lovely tulips for the women.