While cleaning out an old closet this past weekend, I uncovered an artifact to a simpler time. Flushed up tight against the corner of the entryway was a wall switch that used to operate the now-defunct GE heating unit that at one point inefficiently warmed my home. On one side it read: winter, on the other: summer.
Just flip the switch and the seasons magically change.
But it did get me in a summertime frame of mind (doesn’t take much). Around the Mohawk Valley, long sultry nights usually mean a trip to one of the many area ice cream joints. One of our faves: Dave’s Diner in “downtown” Schuyler.
Dave’s, run by the Paratore family, has been in business for 23 years, and summer is their time to shine. On Tuesdays, they host a car cruise, which fills the adjacent 10-acre property with a sea of classic old-time autos. On Wednesday, there is a bike night. Each evening comes complete with live music, ice cream and good old-school fun.
Once we arrived, all of this proved to be a distant memory. It was a brisk 31 degrees on a chilly Saturday morning when we got out of the car and headed towards the door past a landscape of epic snow banks. A taste of that “goliath”-sized ice cream cone they’re so famous for would have to wait; as would regaining the feeling in my fingers. I had heard from multiple readers that Dave’s does a fine job with breakfast, so we decided to get in our winter warmer the more caffeinated way.
Dave’s interior mimics the gargantuan ice cream treats for which they’re known: oversized utensils, a giant whisk and other larger-than-life objects hang from the walls of the spacious dining room, which features two full rooms worth of seating.
We headed to the rear, which was basically deserted, and filed into a large booth. The menu at Dave’s is like any other diner: breakfast is served all day, lunch highlights the usual sandwich-soup-salad trifecta and dinner is an assortment of blue-plate specials. On Friday nights, the fresh “catch” is the fish fry (served with two sides) and on Saturday, the prime rib is the special draw.
The portions are nicely sized at Dave’s, so we got away with ordering three breakfast plates to satisfy four people.
Since we were traveling with two finicky kids, two of the plates were variations on Dave’s breakfast “specials.” They both ($6.99 each) arrived with eggs (scrambled), bacon, home fries, coffee and juice. The only difference, one egg was substituted for four pancakes.
I opted for the Giambrotte ($6), which is basically an egg, greens and home fries scramble (with four slices of buttered toast on the side). For an extra 75 cents you can add whatever meat you like to the mix. I chose the corned beef hash. All mixed up the dish was a flavorful and robust concoction of egg, salty meat and carbs. Like much about Dave’s, the oversized scramble was simply too big to finish.
My philosophy behind diner breakfasts is simple: It’s an easy meal to do adequately, but a difficult one to do very well. All of the pieces need to be done right: The eggs cooked to order, the toast not-so overdone, bacon as you like (crispy for us) and coffee that doesn’t mimic dishwater. At Dave’s, the parts made for quite the delicious sum, equaling one of the better diner breakfasts I’ve had around here in quite a while.
Breakfast for four (two adults and two children) came to $24.23 (without tax and tip).
Much like that switch on my wall, Dave’s pays homage to a simpler time. Now if only dealing with the weather were that easy.
By: Dan Sher
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