1.03.2012

Bathtub Gin and Mother's Day

Down an old dirt road, with a shocking view of Nine Mile Point nuclear power plant, sits a somewhat ramshackle diamond in the rough, whitewashed and wood-beamed. Its spacious bar and lakefront view make it a destination point for summertime dining, but this week, its acclaimed buffet made it our destination for Mother’s Day. Welcome to Rainbow Shores Restaurant in Pulaski, my friends.


My adorable Mom and me, on the front deck at Rainbow Shores

Rainbow Shores Restaurant was a prohibition-era country club, which will make absolute sense once you venture out to this place, which is a hike from the I-81 Pulaski exit and quite a ways off any major roads, period. I can just envision lots of fun-loving flappers and their burly menfolk, receiving illicit boatloads of booze from Canada and carrying those crates right into the bar area here. We decided to hunt it down on account of a great recommendation from a distant relative as well as kudos in the Watertown Daily Times recently. I was dubious about going on Mother’s Day, since I knew a buffet would lie in wait for us, but my fears were for naught. Someone in the kitchen at Rainbow Shores has got his chef hat on and means business.


This olive bread shared a basket with roasted garlic bread and compound butter

My parents and I all chose to go with the buffet this past Sunday, although there was a limited menu from which to choose as well. I would like to return and order off the regular menu, but I have to say that every item we sampled from that buffet was fresh, flavorful and prepared with care. There were no fillers or neglected dishes – each one was made to stand on its own. In addition to this attention to detail, we received stellar service, friendliness from the entire staff (not only our waitress) and were thrilled to be seated in a bright, airy dining room with a full-fledged view of the Lake.


My first, but not my last, plate of goodies

The absolute standouts on the mother’s day buffet (so rhymey!) were the prime rib and the green bean casserole. While every vegetable we sampled, including broccolini and carrots, were crisp and well-seasoned, I actually am contemplating asking Rainbow Shores for this green bean casserole recipe. The cream sauce was rich and earthy, the fresh mushrooms and French fried onions put on a little show of their own, and the haricot verts were thin, crisp and absolutely bright green. I have no idea how this dish hadn’t fallen prey to the evil schemes of the sterno pan, but it was fabulous.

The prime rib being carved at the end of the set-up by a cheery woman who I later found out also lends her artistic skills to the joint, was juicy and bursting with flavor. My piece was perfectly cooked to medium, had a great herb-crusted peppery exterior, and melted in my mouth. It was served with the de rigueur au jus, but also a yummy, potent horseradish sauce. While I found the brown gravy served further down the bar with the mashed potatoes to be a little bit boring, the au jus was fantastic – rich and salty and beefy, like it should be. Serve me a mug full of it any day, and I shall thank you.

The roast turkey was another great offering. Evoking Thanksgiving, this was real deal roast turkey, with savory skin and moist white meat. Even the white and wild rice pilaf was yummy, when that item is so often just filler on a standard buffet.


Dad’s artful plate

We were slightly less enthusiastic about the pork loin, which was stuffed with apricot and figs. The flavor was fruity and sweet, but the meat ended up a bit dry overall. The mashed potatoes didn’t turn me on, but the roasted potatoes were a slam-dunk, with lots of herbs and a really nice, golden brown crust.


Brulee me, baby

Dessert was a blessing we were grateful to receive. Three choices were culled from a lengthy list: crème brulee, opera cake and chocolate soufflé. The crème brulee was killer: served free-form on top of a thin yet dense little brownie disk, this custard was bruleed into toasted-marshmallow heaven. The opera cake was layers of almond sponge cake interspersed with coffee mousse and other delicious things I forgot to write down due to the sugar overload. It was topped with a chocolate ganache layer and white chocolate shavings.


So decadent, it should be ashamed of itself

Mom’s chocolate soufflé was served like a slice of cake instead of in a traditional ramekin, but was as light and airy as you would expect. Its rich chocolate flavor started a war with its fluffy texture, and I’m happy to report: chocolate won.


Chocolate always wins

Overall, we just plain had a good time at our Mother’s Day lunch. Really good music was playing, but not so loud as to interrupt conversation, the sun glinted off the water, our glasses were always full, and the servers were all cheerful. I will note that every single fork at our table was bent or disfigured in some way. Maybe they’re relics of prohibition as well. Mixing up bathtub gin must have been really tough on the flatware.


Bendy fork lady art?

This weekend is supposed to be sunny, right? I’m sure all of you will be outside, working on your gardens or your front walk or staining that damn deck. After a day of hard labor, you’re going to want a relaxing evening. So hop in the car and scoot down to Pulaski for an idyllic dinner at Rainbow Shores. We gave it an 8 on the BHS scale, and I’m sure that rating would be even higher on a gorgeous, warm day out on the deck. Check it out for yourself and let me know what you think, in the comments below! My personality is big; my hunger is bigger!

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