Lane’s Wayside Inn - February 2014 (dt)
6.57 – 7, 7, 7, 7, 6, 6, 6

February’s group-pick was a trip back to casual home-comfort, the former Wayside Inn, now Lane’s Wayside Inn. We, separately, had dined there several dozen times when it was Wayside (1991-2010ish), and it appears the newest incarnation is as good and, on this Saturday evening, as wildly popular as the former’s heyday.
          The parking lots were full (Hurricane Irene gobbled half the big lot across the street, shooting the material probably as far as the Hudson River, some twenty miles downstream). At our arrival, a full-sized Hogtown bus occupied half of that diminished lot, with the bus’s Saloon shirt-wearers occupying the west room. If we had not made reservations (something usually unnecessary at Wayside), we would have waited a long time.
          The Wayside was an old turnpike tavern which evolved into a 1950s-1970s local bar/roadhouse which was then upgraded and expanded about 2000. The upgrade found shiny new wood boxing in the beams and lining the corners and chair railings, new floors replacing worn out wide boards, the front dining space expanding by a table width, and new windows spiffying the look outward. It is still that look—old feeling, cleaned-up look, and, depending on the owner/leasers’ energy, a comfortable, value-laden menu.
          And the menu, although not to be mistaken for the fine dining restaurants in the area (is there more than one within fifteen miles?) is a varied one. Awaiting are almost ten appetizers, a few quesadillas, fifteen sandwiches, five salads, at least two soups, six sides, almost ten burgers, a dozen listed pizzas plus the make-your-own, fifteen entrées, several specials of the day, several really specials of a particular day, almost ten desserts (including homemade pies), wine by the glass, a few bottles/carafes of wine, a half-dozen beers on tap, a bunch of bottled beers, and a regular bar.

Our entrees:
==> Chicken parmesan - breaded chicken & deep fried chicken breast served over linguine with tomato basil sauce & melted mozzarella (Chay: excellent)
==> Home style pot roast - slow cooked bottom round, topped with savory gravy & vegetables (Julie: a portion so large that she took home twice as much as she ate, and excellent)
==> Chicken piccata – unbreaded breast cutlets sautéed with lemon, wine and capers served with rice pilaf (Deb T, Joyce: both very good)
==> Roast pork loin - herb roasted served with our savory gravy, and a dense stuffing (Don: ok to good)
==> Baked salmon special, with asparagus (Mark: good, wondered if a salad did not accompany the entrée)
==> Pizza – Den’s broccoli-garlic-onion make your own large sesame-seed edge pie (Den: as good as it was in the past, which is saying a bunch)
==> A choice of potato/rice/fries came with most meals, as did a serving of long green string beans. And accompanying most meals was a faux-wood bowlful of a basic greens salad, fitting Wayside’s nature.

We sat and conversed a while, with salads arriving at the 40 minute mark, and the bowl of rolls and individual plastic containers of butter at the hour mark. We were forgiving as we watched two or three waitstaff do the work of four or five. And our server Katie was waiting as fast and under control as possible, keeping an eye out for us. Katie was friendly and attentive and all that a casual restaurant should offer. Thanks, Katie.
          Two tables were slid together, with a setting of casual fork, spoon, knife wrapped in a napkin wrapped in a paper band. Two pitchers of water, with lemon slices, came with seven large plastic glasses. Seated next to the end of the bar and the door to the kitchen, we saw our share of action, something we are so familiar with over the years that we mostly looked forward to the action. And coffee…? (hey, Ken was absent!)

Desserts snared only three of us.
==> Oreo cookie mousse cake (Don: eh, ok; ...)
==> Homemade blueberry pie, with a spiff of whipped cream (Deb: comforting)
==> Homemade cherry pie (Julie: good, ...)

The drink list was atypically abridged, with four drinkers of water or soda, and the other three partaking in beer, a highly unusual configuration for us, perhaps a first. And not an ounce of red wine was consumed the entire night. ...
          We left at about the two hour mark, probably a half-hour more than Wayside’s usual but it felt comfortable enough. The final bill—food, drink, tax, tip—came to the whopping total of fifty dollars per couple, tying our second lightest fare for a DP8 meal.
          I hoped you noticed by now a major absence—that of Deb K, who had suffered most of the week with the flu and was taking precautions this evening, preserving energy for tomorrow’s Super Bowl party. We missed ya, Deb! You would have had plenty of men-supplied ammunition.
          Well, yes, of course, we missed the Monteverds who are far away, in a warmer clime, and the Adamses, who are even further away. You missed a warm, inexpensive evening

had gathered earlier at the Teators’ house, where plates of vegetables, cheese, crackers, corn meal scoops, hummus, and taboule joined a round of water, diet soda, a medley of Sam Adams beer, and a white wine from Macedonia. And Den and Julie were officially promoted to Almost DP8, the honor of which has not yet sunk in!
          Topics at the house, or at the restaurant, covered a wide range as usual: Deb K and flu, effect on her work week, everyone’s health, school stuff for Mark & Chay now that only one semester remains until “R”, the Notar trip to Napa and Sonoma wine country and the cost of wine tastings, the cold winter, the lack of a need for the space heater four feet away at Wayside, Julie’s work, the locked car and Den, Catskill Country Club possible sale, Herkimer diamonds, unusual uses for the crystals, the selling (or not) of Den’s and Julie’s crystals, dieting, the whereabouts of the Quinn offspring, the re-opening of Wayside, news of the winter non-NYers, and the usual number of topics that have slipped beyond the haze of memory.