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Soak up local flavor at Ridgeview in Lowville

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LOWVILLE — There’s a beautiful new building off Route 12 just outside of Lowville, home to the new Ridgeview Inn.

Lots of wood and stone inside and out give this large, free-standing restaurant an inviting, rustic look. The restaurant is to the left of the entrance hallway, whose clean, plain lines and tangerine-colored walls are complemented by a light green carpet.

Another hallway to the right leads to an even larger space that houses the bar and lounge. High ceilings and a custom concrete/stone floor make it a little noisier than we would have liked.

A quick drink, and over to the sparkling clean dining room. Lots of windows let in what was left of the light of day. Real tablecloths and real napkins on each table got our attention. Waitresses were sharply dressed in khaki slacks and logo-embroidered golf shirts.

Many of the menu items reflect the use of local products — lots of dishes with Lewis County maple syrup, Kraft cream cheese made in Lowville, and ring baloney from Eddie’s Meat Market just outside Croghan.

Several of the names of dishes are inspired by local events or features: Black River Valley scallop salad, Sugar “Shanny” Sweet Fries, Lewis County Ridge Roller, Wind Tower Pork Chops and Snirt Pie.

Monique was an experienced waitress who, we were to find out, was quite knowledgeable about the foods and their preparation and guided us well throughout the evening.

We began with several appetizers. Sugary “Shanny” Sweet Fries ($6.95) was like starting with dessert. Unusually crisp sweet potato fries were drizzled with maple syrup glaze. Just to make sure you got enough “sweet,” they came with a marshmallow dipping sauce.

Spinach, artichoke and crab dip ($8.95) was a cup of creamy cream cheese goodness. The dip had plenty of spinach and artichoke and some crabmeat. It came with lots of crisp, puffy deep-fried pita triangles.

A cup of homemade clam chowder ($3.95) was smooth and very flavorful, the cream-like texture a result of the pureeing of potatoes and clams with a touch of heavy cream.

Their homemade chili ($3.95) was also a fine product, more meat than beans and not overly spicy-hot, simmered with tomatoes, onions, green peppers and good dose of cumin.

More and more restaurants are eliminating the complimentary salad with entrée as a means of keeping entrée prices affordable. Such is the case here, but a traditional tossed salad is available for $3.95.

Our main courses were all well prepared and nicely presented.

Grilled Atlantic Salmon ($17.95) was excellent. A rather large portion was cooked perfectly to my request of medium-rare. (We’ve had way too many experiences of cooked-to-death salmon recently, so I got bold and called my temp). It came out reddish-pink, moist and flaky, and was further enhanced with a scallion cream sauce.

Same with the Wind Tower Pork Chop ($15.95). We made it clear that we wanted a juicy, not incinerated, piece of meat. No problem for Chef John Robson. A beautiful frenched bone-in center-cut loin chop arrived on the plate, criss-crossed grill marks adding to the visual presentation. A tasty Asian-maple glaze was a perfect complement.

With the first cut into the chop, juices began flowing onto the plate. Inside, there was still a touch of pink toward the center.

This might cause some people to freak out for fear of contracting trichinosis, or whatever your grandmother told you you’d get if you ate pink pork. The Food and Drug Administration recently lowered the temperature guidelines for serving pork. And anyway, how many people do you know who’ve ever had trichinosis?

Both the salmon and the pork chop came with beautifully mandolined zucchini and summer squash, freshly sautéed with a bit of onion and shredded carrot. A side of linguini and marinara sauce with the salmon was very good, as was the seasoned rice with the chop.

Homemade lasagna ($12.95) consisted of egg pasta, ricotta and mozzarella along with a perfectly seasoned meat sauce, served in an individual casserole dish. The texture of the al dente noodles contributed to a winning entree. It was a large portion, served with garlic bread.

Their fish fry platter ($12.95) was a generous 10-ounce portion of haddock, lightly battered and served with fries, cole slaw, tartar and cocktail sauces. The batter — more like a breading — was fried to a golden brown. The fish was moist and delicious. A classic done right.

Food-done-right continued right through dessert.

Fried apple pie ($4.95) consisted of seasoned apple wedges in a sweet syrup on top of a “fried pie,” finished with whipped cream. The fried pie was just like the sugared fried dough that you’d get at a county fair. Tasty, and also very sweet.

“Snirt” pie ($5.95) was next to tempt our palates. It’s a frozen, decadent blend of mousse-like maple and peanut butter — light and airy — in a graham cracker crust. (“Snirt” refers to popular four wheeler races on nearby Tug Hill).

It was a lovely presentation, the top decorated with alternating swirls of white chocolate and milk chocolate. The plate was garnished with bits of crushed chocolate.

Cheesecake ($5.95) was a sizeable portion, served with fresh strawberries. The plate was garnished with dots of vanilla and strawberry puree, a toothpick dragged through them to make little red hearts.

You rarely see bananas Foster ($6.95) on a north country menu. Once again, sugar and cinnamon fried dough provided the base for bananas caramelized with rum and a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Finally, we couldn’t resist a slice of homemade peach pie ($3.95), simply served with a daub of whipped cream. Delicious.

Desserts were all homemade by the Ridgeview’s pastry chef, who doubles as the wife of Chef Robson.

Dinner for four totaled $122.08, not including tip and a round of cocktails in the lounge.

For a restaurant that has been open only a short time, the Ridgeview Inn staff appear to have a good grasp on what needs to be done to please their clientele. The food is well prepared, attractively presented and fairly priced. The servers are well trained and polite (they’ll even sing “Happy Birthday” en masse at your table if you’re celebrating). And the place is very, very attractive.

They’ll be expanding their menu shortly. Be sure to check their website to see what new creations Chef Robson will be preparing.

You can contact restaurant reviewer Walter Siebel via e-mail: wsiebel@wdt.net.

The Ridgeview Inn

6912 Bardo Road (off Route 12)

Lowville, N.Y.

377-4057

www.theridgeviewinn.com

A new restaurant just outside of Lowville, serving well-prepared food in an attractive setting.

HOURS: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday

11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday

The bar/lounge stays open several hours after the restaurant closes.

APPETIZER PICKS: Spinach, artichoke and crab dip; sugar “shanny” sweet fries

ENTRÉE PICKS: Wind Tower Pork Chop; grilled Atlantic salmon; lasagna

DESSERT: “Snirt” pie; bananas Foster; fried apple pie

RATING: 4 FORKS

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