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On a roll at the new Flat Rock Cafe in Brasher Falls

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BRASHER FALLS — There’s a new café/diner in Brasher Falls, a small town on Route 11C between Potsdam and Malone.

Flat Rock Café is just down the road from the high school. It occupies the little building that housed the short-lived Ducci’s, an upscale restaurant. Before Ducci’s, the place was the Chat-N-Nibble, a popular local diner and gathering spot.

An ad touting “Joanne’s famous cabbage rolls every Thursday” lured us to the Flat Rock. It’s a neat and clean little place with your typical lunch counter taking up most of the space, a few tables along the windows and a small dining room with additional seating.

It was a Thursday, and we stopped by for lunch. The cabbage rolls are available for lunch or dinner or for takeout. After looking over the lunch menu, we decided to try a few items from that and get the cabbage rolls to go.

It’s not a gigantic menu (it all fits on one page), but certainly enough to choose from: sandwiches (Reuben, western, BLT, tuna), Philly cheesesteak, homemade soups and salads, all your deep-fried favorites (mozzarella sticks, chicken tenders, pizza logs), burgers, fries and hot dogs,

I was debating between a Reuben and a Philly. Our veteran waitress, Sue, sized me up and suggested a Reuben. Guess I didn’t look like a cheesesteak kind of guy. My eating associate ordered his favorite, an egg and olive sandwich. Sue told us that Joanne Lavigne, the cook, had just made it and that it was probably still warm. No problem. Bring it on.

Sue verified that the potato salad and the mac salads were made there, so we knew those were a must.

I ordered my Reuben with the traditional corned beef. It can also be made with turkey, if you wish. It came with the usual sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing and melted Swiss oozing from between two slices of nicely toasted rye bread.

The egg and olive sandwich arrived, warm and fresh as promised, not enough to make a mess of your plate and solid enough to stand firmly between the bread.

Served with our sandwiches were the salads, ample servings plated from an overflowing ice cream scoop. The mac salad was very good, made with lots of mayo, some eggs and perfectly cooked macaroni noodles.

But the potato salad was spectacular. Potatoes, eggs, mayo, a little mustard, some herbs — it was just like mom used to make, maybe even a little better. We gobbled down the salads, leaving our sandwiches for last. By the time we were finished, we were scraping our plates for remnants.

Did we want desserts? After practically licking our plates clean, we were uncomfortably stuffed — a feeling seldom experienced at lunch. Dessert was out of the question.

We had decided early on to each take an order of those famous cabbage rolls home for dinner. They were neatly packaged in separate Styrofoam to-go boxes, two rolls to an order, nestled over a sheet of deli paper and lightly doused with what appeared to be a homemade tomato sauce.

Here’s where my friend, let’s call him Richard, and I differed. I warmed them up in the microwave later in the evening. They really smelled fine and looked fine The red sauce was giving off a great aroma.

But cutting into them, I found the cabbage wrapping to be very flimsy—like cutting into a wet paper towel And while the aroma was appealing, I was having trouble with the meatball-like interior. It appeared to be the right proportion of meat and rice, but really lacked flavor. I tried adding some salt and pepper and even a little garlic powder, but nothing helped.

Then I realized what was missing, for me. The cabbage rolls were made with ground beef. I’m used to rolls made with ground pork, or a combination of beef and pork. And for me, basics like onion and spices (allspice is a must) and maybe even a touch of liquid smoke make the perfect cabbage roll.

Richard’s opinion differed from mine. He thought they were great: “Delightful cabbage wrapped tightly around a great filling of meat, rice and other secret ingredients that made them so special. They were great looking, great smelling and also passed the all-important taste test.”

Guess you’ll have to stop by and let me know what you think!

Lunch for two and dinner for two came to a grand total of $30.75 before tip. The cabbage roll takeouts were $5.99 each.

Flat Rock Café serves breakfast and lunch seven days a week. Dinner is available Thursday through Sunday, with the following specials: Thursday, cabbage rolls or spaghetti and meatballs; Friday, haddock with mac and cheese or prime rib; Saturday, stuffed pork chops; Sunday, sausage gravy over biscuits or hot prime rib sandwich.

You can contact restaurant reviewer Walter Siebel via email: wsiebel@wdt.net.



@Normal:Flat Rock Café

993 State Highway 11C

Brasher Falls, N.Y.

389-4560



A neat and clean little café/diner Flat Rock Café. It occupies the building that housed Ducci’s restaurant. Before Ducci’s, the place was the Chat-N-Nibble, a popular local diner.



HOURS: 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Wednesday

6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday



Be sure to try the homemade macaroni salad and potato salad, especially the potato — it’s excellent.



“Fork” ratings are not awarded for lunch reviews.

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