CARTHAGE Location, location, location.
Kirklands King Eagle diner is located on Route 26 directly across from the Carthage Central School District campus. Just down the road theres a huge Ford dealership.
Seems like a logical place for a diner/restaurant to flourish. But for some reason, previous attempts at keeping the facility running failed. There have been several casualties over the years, Dees Roadside Restaurant being the most recent.
We arrived at lunchtime to find a clean and tidy dining area. Sunshine was streaming through the front windows, so we grabbed a small table there. A large chalkboard on the opposite wall contained information about the restaurant and provided a forum to promote soups-of-the-day and other specials.
Our young waitress was quite friendly and quickly provided us with ice water and menus. The restaurant is family-owned and run, she told us. Her mom does much of the cooking in the kitchen along with other relatives.
We asked about the King Eagle part of the restaurants name. One of her family members is an Elvis fan, thus the king part, which also explains some Elvis memorabilia scattered around the room. Another family member spent some time in the military as a Marine, thus the eagle reference.
So lets get to the food.
The lunch menu fits all on one page and its jam-packed with choices. A dozen down-home diner sandwiches. Two dozen hot off the grill choices (tuna melt, smothered steak, sloppy Joe, pork barbecue, meatball hoagie ...) ala carte (soups, fries, skins, salads, fried stuff ...) And a good variety of Specialty Burgers.
There were two soups on the chalkboard, and we tried both of them. A cup of soup costs $2; a bowl $2.95.
A cup of homemade chicken noodle soup (EVERYTHING is homemade, our proud server told us) was more like a bowlful a very generous portion. The broth was as expected, with nicely diced chicken, carrots, celery and onions and plenty of flat noodles providing an enjoyable soup, visually and flavorwise.
Broccoli and cheese also tasted great a good amount of broccoli but the consistency was way too thick, more like pudding than soup. My eating associate said, It looks like you could stand a spoon up in it. And of course, I tried. Not quite ...
An interesting item on the Hot off the Grill section of the menu was the Italian sausage hoagie with onions and peppers ($7.95). It consisted of a long link of sausage, open-faced on a nicely grilled bakery bun, with a little pile of sautéed onions and green peppers on one side of the bun.
The sausage tasted fine, somewhere between sweet and hot, but it was a bit overcooked and dry. And there was a disproportionate amount of roll to sausage/pepper ratio. Maybe if they put a little red sauce on the roll or offered it on the side, it might have helped.
One of the specialty burgers was the King Eagle burger ($9.95). We knew we had to get it: Fresh ground beef with onions and peppers, smothered with mushrooms and cheese.
It came with a nice bakery roll that, again, overpowered the meat. But that was OK, because it too was served open-faced. The bottom of the roll held the loaded burger patty, the melted cheese covering the burger and the veggies. The top half was piled with attractive leaves of what appeared to be bibb lettuce, a thick slice of winter tomato and slices of red onion.
Unfortunately, it wasnt very special. The burger itself had little flavor. We kind of expected a big, juicy medium-rare burger, but it was cooked entirely through. An 8-ounce burger seems to be the norm these days, but this one was considerably less.
An order of pasta salad (homemade, of course) or chips was included with both the dishes, and of course we went for the homemade pasta salad.
It was very good, typical corkscrew noodles with bits of tomato, carrot, roasted red pepper and black and green olives along with a plenty of Italian dressing.
We also placed an order to go for a chicken Caesar wrap ($8.95) which was waiting at the counter for us on the way out. It held up well for being eaten several hours later. The wrap had nicely grilled chicken strips and a good crunch from iceberg lettuce.
It might have been a little heavy on the dressing for a wrap, but all-in-all, not bad.
Also to go, we took home a chocolate éclair cupcake. Someone from the kitchen paraded a tray of these past our table as we were eating. Right then and there we decided one would be a necessity to go with the wrap.
On the day we visited, there were a number of giant cupcakes, in the display case next to the register, all do-dadded up with M&Ms and peanut butter something-or-others and hollering Take me home! At $2 apiece, we were tempted to take more than one along.
Lunch for three cost $33.24 before tip.
Owners recently added dinner on Friday and Saturday nights with a separate menu that offers a number of comfort food and Italian options: shepherds pie, chicken Parmesan, stuffed pork chops, homemade lasagna and the one Id get, mushroom-beef Burgandy tips.
For only being open a few months, the owners seem to know what people want and offer plenty of choices. The dishes look great when they come out of the kitchen. Perhaps the food needs to take precedence over the presentation?
Kirklands has a Facebook page with lots of great photographs of specials they have presented recently.
Our friends John and Roz Dragun, owners of The Windfall just outside Cranberry Lake since 2005, have announced that they will be closing the restaurant for good. The final day of operation will be this Saturday, March 15.
From their Facebook page: We want to thank you all for welcoming us into your community. Being able to put you all around a table with your loved ones, and care for you with a good meal; in good times and in bad, we felt blessed to be a part of your familys lives.
Johns cooking was always first-rate; he introduced accessible fine dining to that part of the Adirondacks and made it work. Roz was the quintessential host; always a smile, always a hello, many accompanied with a first name.
The little restaurant on the Tooley Pond Road will be missed.
You can contact restaurant reviewer Walter Siebel via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kirklands King Eagle Diner
36481 Route 26
A clean and tidy little restaurant serving breakfast and lunch seven days a week, and now dinner on Friday and Saturday.
Breakfast and Lunch: 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday
8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Dinner : 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday
RATING: 2½ Forks