Elbridge, N.Y. — Fall in Central New York is a glorious time to be outdoors. We plan to stay there for dining out for the near future, and Elbridge’s Bailiwick is a good place to fulfill those plans.
The business offers casual dining, shopping for locally produced art and foodstuffs, and a spot to breathe in the freshness of fall after a long, hot summer. The big barn-like structure houses a surprising variety of goods as well as an ice cream shop and a drive-through for picking up food.
We began our visit with a quick wander through shelves filled with locally made arts, crafts and some foods, such as maple syrup, free-range eggs, and local greens. But our attention soon turned to the menu. One orders at the counter and picks up the order.
Bailiwick’s regular menu offers mostly sandwiches, soups, and salads ($6.99 to $10.99), with a couple of always-available mains supplemented by several choices that vary from week to week.
On the Tuesday evening we visited, dinner specials ran from a beef on weck ($11.99) to a flat iron steak and a barbecue bowl ($14.99 each). Beer battered fish ($14.99) is also available on Fridays, and prime rib ($19.99) is offered on Saturdays.
A short list of beers ($3.50-$5) and a few wines by the glass ($7) are available as well as coffee drinks, sodas and a few other offerings. Our choices were Shipyard Bayley’s Brown Ale ($5) and Harney and Sons Orange Mango drink ($2.49). The ale had a wonderful depth of flavor, though our orange-mango drink tasted thin.
Three salads are offered. We chose the Seymour Lofft Spinach Salad ($6.69 half/$9.89 whole), with apples, candied walnuts, dried cranberries, New York cheddar, and crumbled bacon, dressed with housemade maple vinaigrette.
The salad was larger than we expected for the price and fresh, the spinach covered in tiny cheese cubes and walnuts. Thin-sliced green apple on one edge added balance and tiny bits of excellent bacon added complexity. The housemade maple vinaigrette was sweet and delicious.
It was clear that the larger size of this salad would make a full meal, with or without the available protein additions.
Soups vary from day to day, but at least one is always available ($4.55 cup/$5.99). We tried a cup of tomato tortellini, thick and rich with cheese tortellini making a substantial starter.
The range of sandwiches offered is impressive, with burgers that vary from week to week, deli sandwiches, and classics like reubens and grilled cheese offered. A few of the bread choices, including a gluten-free option, are made at the restaurant.
The week’s burger choice was a patty melt on grilled rye, with caramelized onions, Swiss cheese and bacon ($12.99), served with fries.
A taco salad ($14.99) was offered the week we went. Described as a freshly fried tortilla, the shell was appealing, with a clean taste and the strength to stand up to a generous serving of seasoned ground beef on romaine and housemade pico de gallo, shredded cheddar, avocado, sour cream and ranch dressing.
Freshness, a clean fryer, and well seasoned meat make an excellent taco salad. All of those standards were well met here, especially the strong, spicy seasoning of the meat. Here again, the serving was generous and every element fresh.
We’d wondered about having ranch dressing as well as pico and sour cream, but the dressing was smartly placed under the toppings to add interest to the plain lettuce in the base.
Our patty melt was also excellent. Ordered medium, the beef came out a medium-rare, which suited us just fine. The sandwich was served hot and the bread was clearly fresh. Whole slices of bacon and melted Swiss cheese enhanced the flavor, and caramelized onions were apparent in each bite.
Our fries were delightfully crisp, with what was likely a cornstarch coating to enhance the texture.
Bailiwick offers an enticing list of housemade ice creams. There are also choices of soft serve and sherbets (including vegan flavors), but the focus for us was on the hard ice cream made at the cafe with locally sourced ingredients and housemade add-ins.
We indulged in sundaes: a turtle sundae ($6.50) made with chocolate chip ice cream and the seasonal berry, at this time, blueberry ($7.50) made with our choice of blueberry ice cream.
The housemade ice creams were great: creamy and strongly flavored. The blueberry was especially intense, enhanced by a housemade blueberry sauce. But the huge semisweet chunks of chocolate made the “spotted cow” flavor terrific as well. We agreed that the sundaes were the best part of our visit.
Bailiwick is configured for allowing both comfortable outdoor dining, with propane heaters for the coming chill, and indoor tables with plenty of space between them. It should be a great place for a relaxed afternoon throughout the coming seasons.
The Restaurant: Bailiwick Market and Cafe, 441 Rte 5, Elbridge. 315-277-5632.
Access to Disabled: easy. There is even a ramp into the covered outdoor seating.
Credit cards? Yes
Parking: Large private lot
Outdoor dining available? Yes
Noise level: Quiet enough to hear the birds.
Special diets catered for? By request, yes.
Children’s menu? Yes
Hours: Daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., kitchen closing at 8 p.m.
Cost: Mains range from $7.79 to $19.99. As usual, we ordered more than two people generally would to sample as much of the menu as was reasonable. Our total, with drinks, starters, mains, and ice cream plus tax and a 20 per cent tip, was $79.70.
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