STAR LAKE Twin Lakes Hotel has been around for a long time. The original 1950s-style sign out by Route 3 is the first indication.
Its one of those classic old hotels that dotted the landscape way back when. Like others still in operation today, theyre a shadow of their former selves. Few, if any, offer lodging anymore. Some operate as bar/restaurants; others are just a watering hole for the locals.
Luckily I had been to Twinners before, so I knew to park my pickup truck behind the building with the other pickup trucks and use the rear entrance, the bar entrance the only entrance. We passed a few smokers on the way in who offered a friendly hello.
If the sign out front looked like something from the 50s, the bar inside looked like something out of the 50s as well. The 1850s.
High ceilings. Original wood floors. Vintage wooden bar. It was like that barroom on Gunsmoke that Matt Dillon and Festus used to hang out in.
Two of us bellied up to the bar while we waited for the rest of our reviewing team to show up. We were amazed at the number of collector ceramic liquor bottles on the cluttered back bar hundreds of them. A big rubber spider on a string flopped up and down every time the door to the kitchen opened. A very simple tap system one tap protruded through the back wall, probably connected to a keg in a refrigerator in the next room.
Renada, the owner, was tending bar. I met her awhile ago, but was pretty sure she didnt remember me. Until she brought us our drinks and said, Im not going to read about this in the paper, am I?
The rest of our party arrived and we made our way to the dining room past the dartboard, past the jukebox and around the corner from the pool table. It takes up a large area of the first floor that faces the road.
A large group of grandmotherly types was just finishing dinner. Renada was right behind us, rearranging tables for us so the 5-year-old in our group would get to sit at the table that has the tablecloth with the hearts on it.
Appetizers consist mostly of fried food selections mozzarella sticks, onion rings, chicken fingers, that kind of thing. Predictable pub-food starters. We did order one of my favorites, breaded chicken wings called wing dings ($8.95).
These crispy and crunchy little treats are great all by themselves, but we did take advantage of the hot sauce and blue cheese dressing that came on the side. We thought the dressing could have a used a little more blue cheese snap to it.
Soup of the day was potato, bacon and cheddar. We shared a large bowl ($3.95) of it. Not sure if it was homemade or came from one of their suppliers, but it was really good thick and rich and loaded with flavor. This and a couple of beers would take care of most of your daily nutritional requirements.
Also from the appetizer list, we ordered shrimp cocktail ($6.95), five medium-sized shrimp served with cocktail sauce and garnished with a lemon. They were OK. If we had to be critical, we probably would have liked them cooked slightly less.
There are about a dozen entrée choices priced from $9.95 to $18.95, nothing fancy-schmancy, food that those grandmothers at the next table probably ate when they were young: ham steak, spaghetti and meatballs, chicken Parmesan, rib-eye steak and fish (haddock, shrimp, scallops, frog legs) broiled or fried.
All entrees are served with a bread basket and choice of two sides (fries, baked or mashed potatoes, rice, veggies or tossed salad). We ordered chicken Parmesan ($10.95), rib-eye steak ($18.95) and beer-battered haddock ($12.95). All entrée portions were extremely generous.
The chicken Parm was humongous. There was enough chicken, spaghetti, sauce and cheese on the large oval plate to feed a small Adirondack village. This dish should automatically come with a to-go container.
We chose a salad to go with it. It was not the usual wimpy iceberg lettuce you get at many places, but a nice spring mix with fresh vegetables including tomato, onion and cucumber, salad dressing served on the side.
Having a steak cooked properly to your request of doneness is often challenging. But whoevers doing the cooking at Twinners nailed our rare rib-eye. On the other hand, there was a certain funky off aroma to the fat on the outside of the steak. So we cut the fat off and fortunately, the funk failed to permeate the rest of the steak.
The steak was served with our call of homemade mashed potatoes, which lacked flavor, but hey, at least they were homemade. Salt and pepper helped a little.
The haddock was quite good, with a nice, light beer-batter exterior deep-fried to a lovely golden brown, the fish interior hot and flaky, served with tartar sauce and garnished with a fresh lemon wedge. A baked potato, wrapped in foil, was cooked perfectly and supplied with small plastic containers of butter and sour cream. Coleslaw needed some seasonings. It was heavy on the mayo and light on flavor.
Renada was our server and did a great job. At the end of the meal, when she presented the check, she brought a book basket to the young lady at our table. Her daughters donate their used books to the book basket so that little people dont just leave with full stomachs, they also leave with a book to take home.
How cool is that?
As I pulled out my credit card to pay the $90.67 bill (food $63.60, drinks $21.25), Renada pointed to a sign on the wall behind me that read We Do Not Accept Credit Cards Local Checks Only Thank You.
How cool is THAT?
Luckily I had enough cash with me or I would have taken Renada up on her suggestion to do dishes.
Theres a sense of community and comfort at Twin Lakes. The owner takes lots of pride in the old hotel, and it shows.
If youre headed to the Adirondacks via Route 3, consider a stop at the Twin Lakes Hotel. Its open seven days a week. The dining room is open for lunch and dinner from noon until 8 p.m. The bar stays open until well into the evening.
Be sure to tell Renada you read about it in the paper.
You can contact restaurant reviewer Walter Siebel via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Twin Lake Hotel
4155 Route 3
Star Lake, N.Y.
A classic old hotel serving food and libation seven days a week. No credit cards accepted.
HOURS: Dining room is open from noon to 8 p.m for lunch and dinner.
The bar opens at noon and stays open well into the evening.
Potato, bacon and cheddar soup was loaded with flavor. The chicken Parmesan portion was humongous. Beer-battered haddock was fried to a golden brown.