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Sugar Shack and the Duck do lunch right

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There’s a new eatery in Potsdam called the Sugar Shack Bakery & Café. People have been raving about their cinnamon buns. We found out the secret.

In LaFargeville just off the main drag on the road to Clayton, we discovered the Duck Diner. No secrets here — just down-home diner food served in a typical diner atmosphere.

We visited both for lunch recently. Here’s our report.

Sugar Shack Bakery & Café

6585 State Highway 56

Potsdam

265-0500

The Sugar Shack Bakery & Café opened in Potsdam recently on Outer Market Street in the building in front of Price Chopper Plaza.

The location was home to Sears at one point and most recently was a carpet store. Owner Karen Rayburn has transformed the space into a bright and cheery hometown eatery. Gingham tablecloths and country wall decorations give it a quaint, cottagey feel.

Karen is no newcomer to the restaurant business. She spent 30 years working at the now defunct McCarthy’s Restaurant in Canton, responsible for the baked goods there — most notably their famous cinnamon rolls. Cabinets and cubbyholes in her new eatery are stocked with cookies, doughnuts, cupcakes and, of course — the cinnamon rolls.

You could start with desserts and skip everything else, but you’d be missing out on a good lunch.

The Sugar Shack Sundae alone was worth the drive — one of those great cinnamon buns topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup.

Blackberry cobbler was a fresh house-made baking powder biscuit covered with berries and vanilla ice cream. The desserts were less than $3 each.

Chef salad ($5.95) was a large portion of crisp greens with a lot of toppings — ham, turkey, provolone cheese, ripe red tomato wedges, cucumber slices, red onion and hard-boiled egg — all nicely chilled and very fresh.

Homemade ranch dressing, served on the side in its own little single serving pitcher, was exquisite — smooth and buttermilky — very yummy. Gonna be tough going back to Hidden Valley after that.

Chicken bacon ranch wrap ($6.10) consisted of large chunks of chicken, nicely smoked bacon and that great homemade ranch dressing, all wrapped up with lettuce and tomato. It was very good.

We were hesitant to order their grilled Reuben ($6.75). The folks who were with me had it several weeks ago and said it didn’t measure up. So to see if it was just opening-week jitters, I gave it a try.

It was excellent — tasty corned beef, tangy sauerkraut, the right amount of Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing between two slices of rye bread grilled to perfection. (The previous version was made with whole wheat; it’s just not a Reuben without the rye bread).

Most lunches came with crisp, commercial seasoned french fries that I’ve really been enjoying — more so than fresh-cut fries which more often than not are limp and soggy.

We started with the soup of the day ($2.25 a cup), tomato macaroni beef. There was lots of macaroni and hamburger meat, but the broth was a little weak — although still flavorful enough after we added salt and pepper.

The chili ($2.75 a cup), on the other hand, was perfectly seasoned with a lot of meat and kidney beans simmered with onions, tomatoes and green pepper and just enough heat to not offend anyone. The chili was good enough to be a meal in itself on a cold day.

Three of us ate lunch for $29.75 before tip. Our waitress, Nicole, was a delight.

If it’s diner food you’re after, they’ve got it, too: hamburgers, BLTs, grilled cheese, egg salad sandwiches, westerns and hot beef or turkey sandwiches.

The breakfast menu looks great, too: ham and eggs, omelets, buttermilk pancakes, french toast, yogurt, toast, muffins and bagels.

Sugar Shack Bakery & Café is open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday through Saturday; from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. Closed Tuesday.



The Duck Diner

36345 County Route 180

(Clayton Street)

Lafargeville

658-9313

The Duck is definitely a diner.

No crepes or wraps or highfalutin stuff here — just soups and salads, hot and cold sandwiches, burgers, pizza and wings.

The majority of the space in the Duck is taken up by the low-slung lunch counter and stubby stools screwed to the floor — 14 of them, we counted, so we quickly occupied two of them. A beautiful blueberry pie sat in one of those pedestal displays not far from us. The classic avocado-colored Hamilton Beach three-at-a-time milkshake machine behind the counter looked like it hadn’t been used in years.

We were there ahead of the lunch rush so had the compete attention of the all-business counter waitress. She pointed out the specials on the chalkboard (fish sandwich with mac and cheese for $6.95 sounded good) but we had decided to order two favorites that we spotted on the menu.

First, we shared a cup of creamy fish soup ($1.95). It was thick, like a chowder, but without potatoes. You could almost stand a spoon up in it. We couldn’t really identify the fish, but it did smell and taste like fish.

Grilled ham and cheese ($4.75) used real baked ham (rather than processed deli ham) and two slices of cheese (American, we assumed) between two slices of lightly grilled white bread.

Philly cheese steak ($6.25) comes standard with onions and peppers. We watched the young cook prepare the diced onions and red pepper (nice touch on the red pepper, we thought) from scratch on the flattop grill along with warming the roast beef.

It arrived open faced on a short, grilled sub roll with melted mozzarella on top. If I had to be critical, I’d say it wasn’t greasy enough. Did I really say that? But a Philly really needs a certain amount of grease, and this Philly was way too dry.

That blueberry pie needed sampling. It was as good as it looked, with a fresh, flaky crust and a tasty filling.

Chocolate chip pie intrigued us. It resembled a pecan pie but with chocolate chips rather than pecans. The chips were held together with a shoo-fly pie type of filling minus the molasses (sugar, shortening, flour, egg). Yankee shoo-fly pie!

The pies were priced at $3.25 a slice.

Lunch for two in downtown LaFargeville cost $21.25 before tip. Credit cards are accepted.

The Duck is open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily and is open until 8 p.m. on Fridays, when they feature their all-you-can-eat perch dinner.

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