Sansone’s Restaurant, Malone, New York

Sometimes a place is a good place not because it is surprising, rare or new but because it represents a sort of joint well. For my money, the Lucky Inn in Pembroke was a classic Canadian-Chinese buffet. Similarly, Pizza Rodini of the Truro of my youth was the best greasy circle of za.

This is how Sansones struck me. The food was mild “New York diner Italian with attached bar”, the service was good and the price was fair. The scalloped edged plates and saucers were classic. The inside of the place is a little dark but busy like a antique store filled in large part of Sansone related stuff – but also Adirondacks outdoorsy stuff – which kept the kids occupied as did a number of large fish tanks.

Should you go? Will you be in Malone, NY sometime?





Tobin’s First Prize Hots

I lived a little dream. One stage in my investigation of the NY hot. This may seem odd to those that do not know me but I like this sort of stuff. I find it very interesting to have a very basic food item which in Canada would not be the focus of a restaurant and would really be considered a kids food here but in the states is more like getting a pizza slice. It’s a hold over perhaps.

The street Tobin’s sits on is a poorer street in a poorer part of town. Down the way there are a few very small bars each probably sustained by a side street or two. I mentioned this street to portland once and he, too, had noted it as being an American classic of a sort: run-down sure but also a neighbourhood which had likely seen far better days yet which still acted like a neighbourhood, if a hard one. In Tobin’s itself there were five or six people plus two pleasant staff sharing five or six counter stools and maybe three table. There was still wainscotting walls, narrow tongue and groove lathe ceiling with one small grill at the back with the burgers (each a “Whimpy”) and hots. It likely looked like that in 1949 and 1974.

C’est What, Toronto, Ontario

cest5I was in Toronto for a few days this week and was able to stop by a brewpub called C’est What. I have some notes to add later after I dig through my stuff but wanted to get these pictures up.

cest7The Next Day: I appear to have sprayed my things with notes-be-gone so I’ll do this from memory. I tried two of their own ales with my Porter Beef Ribs and like both a lot. The first was the redundantly named Brown Mild Ale. While it is true there is a style of that is a light coloured mild, it is rare enough that it is an exception to the general principle that mild is brown. At 3.3%, it is the right strength for a session of supping. The beer menu said it was nitro dispensed meaning instead of being pushed by the normal CO2 there is a measure of nitrogen added. This is the same idea behind cask flow ale in a can that leaves a tiny fine head. With this real ale, it works very well giving a creamy head that incorporates many of the flavours of the yeast. The beer was creamy with chocolate and walnut flavours. The hops were subdued giving a bit of structure to the finish. Very nice.








At the heart of the ale there is fresh clean water, exactly right for the style. This beer alone would bring me back to this pub. It is a beer that every brew pub should offer, that and/or ordinary bitter, a low alcohol version of a hopped light ale. My only complaint is that it costs the same as the other stronger ales. As 60% of the ingredients go in, ther should be some accomodation in the final cost I pay. That being said, $5.18 CND for a quality real ale pint is a good price.








The second ale I tried was their hemp ale. This is a favorite of mine whenever I have had it, the hemp replacing or adding to the hop effect. Depending on the amount and selection of hooping, the tastes can be quite different. In this version, it is basically a basic best bitter of 4.5% to 5.0% in terms of mouthfeel which has a layer of sweet green vegetableness added to it. And the green tastes like…fresh broad beans. Should gross but it is not. Quite good with the ribs. cest3The ribs themselves were worth attending again, though the were a smidge underdone for my liking. Meat should fall off ribs and the inner tissue should have essentially melted away. There was a bit too much of a gnaw to the meal but in terms of flavour and texture it was spot on. Served with a spring salad overly drenched in dressing and tastey fine cut herbed french fries. You can order extra ribs and I did, hence the Freddie Flinstone pile on the plate.

This is the second time I have been to C’est What and each time I think there is something less manic about brewing that I would think normal. Less brewiana-esque than most and a little cool or, better, laid back. But I suppose that is the market they are playing to. Odd to see errors like the menu saying Black Sheep Ale is from Scotland when it is from Yorkshire. Nerds usually do not get that wrong. That being said, the quality of the beers – especially in terms of the yeast selection – is as good as I have every tried.

Red’s Dairy Freeze, South Portland, Maine

Illustrated is the “Chocolate Boston”, which is a chocolate milkshake with chocolate soft serve ice cream topped with chocolate sauce. The “Boston” can be had with other flavours but it is always milkshake plus soft serve plus sauce. Eaten with a spoon and a straw, it is apparently known only to Red’s of South Portland and their customers but we stand to be corrected.

I do not love chocolate but this actually inched me a little towards that affliction. I ate it so fast I got an ice cream chest ache.

Garbage Plate Law

Linda has the details over the treats of law suits over these two meals. Can you tell which is the authentic garbage plate and which is the tony phony?

Lew Bryson has a great description of the garbage plate in his seminal text New York Breweries at page 156:

Hot dogs are one of the “meat” possibilities for a classic Rochester “garbage plate (or “rubbish plate,” to use the upstate cant). The garbage plate is a late-night apres-bar favorite in Rocehster and originated at Nick Tahou Hots (320 West Main, 315-436-0184). The original Nick’s is no longer open late, but there’s another Nick’s that is, at 2260 Lyell Avenue (315-429-6388). To build a garbage plate, first take a paper plate. Layer home fries, macaroni sald, and a meat (chicken, burger, or hot dogs) on it and then cover everything with Greek sauce and chopped onions: you can add baked beans to it as well. Most people then slather the whole mess with about half a bottle of ketchup and plenty of hot sauce. You can see how it got its name.

My only quibble with my guide to all things US north-eastern and snacky (and ale-ish) is that the idea of one meat appears to have be thrown out from the above photos.

Sunday At The NYS Fair

Here are some pictures from the New York State Fair. The first is actually a diner we passed half lost but near the fairgrounds. You’ll see crawdads, spiedies and dinosaur ribs. Maybe I have not gone to many fairs, but the amazing thing to me about the place was how there were more food booths than carnies. The butter sculpture was amazing…well…interesting enough…I guess. Clean, civilized, packed and stinkin’ hot when the weather was calling for cloudy with rainy spells. Excellent.

Here are two short short movies, the first of a crowd scene [1.5 MB] and the second of the two-seater ride I will never take [2.1 MB].



One thing about growing up Canadian, you have a sneaking suspicion that you have missed out big time on the whole BBQ ribs thing. You can brag about Canadian beer, about how its a dry cold so you should suck it up or how watching hockey is sooooo much better than any other team sport but then you remember how all those things would be improved by a pile o ‘ribs and you know something is missing. In this morning’s New York Times there is a description of New Yorkers lining up at a ribs-fest:

In New York, demand for great barbecue tends to outstrip supply. A few weekends ago, thousands of ‘cue-seekers descended on Madison Square Park for the Second Annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party, hoping for a shot at Mike Mills’s Memphis baby backs and Ed Mitchell’s North Carolina ribs. The lines were epic. Some waited it out. Many fled to nearby Blue Smoke, figuring that New York barbecue is better than no barbecue at all. And quite a few — present company included — hopped on the subway to Chinatown and sated the craving with a huge pile of Cantonese spareribs.

I know that fever, BBQ rib fever.   Apparently, I live 2 and a half hours north of a very legitimate ribs joint, the Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse but it  looks too bikerish for the kiddie set.  Regardless, we are not going that far south this weekend, heading for Oswego checking out the canal, Fort Ontario and Rudy’s, more of a fish joint on the beach, an inland Bill’s. The Kingston Brewpub does a very nice smoked ribs but they are not cheap and not plenty. My ideals would be like the lobster feeds of youth, picnic table covered with newspapers and piled with red sea spiders. Does such a ribs place exist in Canada?