FOLLOWING A SPRING-TIME 3,029-mile road trip from Minnesota to Massachusetts and back, I hold a deep appreciation for warm and welcoming hotel employees. Especially those who direct you to local restaurants.
A desk clerk at the Comfort Inn Fairgrounds in Syracuse, New York, handed me a three-page print-out of seven homegrown eateries in neighboring Baldwinsville, complete with addresses, websites, phone numbers and directions, after I inquired about “a good place to eat.” Now that’s what I call outstanding customer service.
When my husband and I landed at the Comfort Inn in central upstate New York, I was exhausted. The second leg of our journey began that morning 516 miles to the southwest in Angola, Indiana. Except for 1 ½ hours lost in Buffalo, New York, while unsuccessfully searching for Niagra Falls, we’d driven strong and steady along the Interstate. We were in need of food and a place to stretch our legs before turning in for the night.
The village of Baldwinsville, population around 7,300, proved the ideal setting to unwind. Located on the Seneca River, it’s a lovely town that reminds me of Northfield, Minnesota, marketed as “A Classic American River Town.” Baldwinsville fits that definition, too, but uses the tag “Lock Into an Experience.” That plays off the Erie Canal’s Lock 24 located in Baldwinsville, I learned after our visit.
Historic buildings fill the downtown. Restaurants border the river. Nature and commerce mesh in an inviting way.
In the waning light of a lovely late May Friday evening, Randy and I followed the river, dodging both geese and their droppings. We crossed a bridge to check out the restaurant options and to simply walk. The area teemed with people. Dining. Walking. Fishing. Baldwinsville has a this-is-the-place-to-be vibe.
In their busyness, though, folks paused when a fire truck rumbled through town, siren piercing the evening ambiance and shaking the bridge upon which I walked.
I admired the aged brick buildings with arched windows, the steepled church half a block away, the murals at Muddy Waters Kitchen and Bar. I wished I had more time to explore Baldwinsville.
Eventually we ended up at B’Ville Diner, an old-fashioned 1950s style diner that’s been around since 1934. Recommended by hotel staff, the eatery, at least for us, proved more about the experience than the food. We needed an affordable meal. B’Ville offered that in a nostalgic diner car setting.
Randy had a little fun with the waitress, asking for a Beef Commercial—beef between two slices of white bread topped with mashed potatoes and gravy—rather than the Beef Pot Roast sandwich listed on the menu. She looked at him with zero recognition. He explained that in Minnesota, we call this a Beef Commercial. He was disappointed in the dish—clearly not homemade gravy or potatoes. My cheesy chicken sandwich laced with green peppers tasted fine.
Refueled and refreshed, we headed back toward the Comfort Inn to settle in for the night before beginning the final five-hour leg of our journey east the next morning.
FYI: Periodically, I will feature more posts from my cross country Minnesota to Boston and back road trip in mid-May. Click here to read my earlier posts from Somerville and Medford, Massachusetts.
© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling