12.09.2015

Watertown Daily Times Review: Colleen's Cherry Tree Inn

I’m a sucker for a happy ending. What Gen X girl isn’t? Unlike our jaded millennials and our pragmatic boomers, we ’70s and ’80s kids absolutely consumed fairy tales, from a mermaid filled with longing for a life on land to an intergalactic princess rescued by a maverick with a really fast spaceship.
I am no less susceptible to stories like the one at Colleen’s Cherry Tree Inn in Henderson, bought in August by longtime managers Colleen and Michael Bellinger, a married couple who met while working there in high school. Awwww! I just had to try the place out for myself, and see if Colleen’s happy ending also ended with a good breakfast.
The Cherry Tree Inn has been wrapped up in welcoming red siding with a fun sign outside that’s shaped like an Instagram post, perfect for patrons to snap a pic and give the restaurant a bit of free advertising when they share it on social media. Inside, the adorable space is much bigger than it looks from the parking lot.

A bustling crowd of casually dressed families and couples were tucking into big plates under the wood-paneled, vaulted ceiling on the Sunday morning we visited.
Our waitress, Deb, knew her menu well and offered expert advice on the finer points of breakfast potatoes, while providing us with frequent coffee refills. Deb is quick, good-natured and clearly a veteran — we liked her immediately.
A ham, American cheese and onion omelet ($7.26) was cooked through perfectly without the egg getting tough. The ham and onions stuffed inside were plentiful but didn’t overpower the flavor of the eggs. A blanket of gooey, white, mild cheese kept its savory colleagues snug as a bug in a rug.

Oatbread toast had heft and chew with a touch of sweetness, which was nice with all the savory flavors going on in this dish.
Home fries, included with the omelet, were well seasoned and griddled brown, with good onion flavor and wonderful, crunchy/chewy texture.
Colleen’s features two kinds of breakfast spuds, so we also ordered a side of country potatoes (show in pancake photo, below), a frozen food supplier’s diced potato product finished in the deep fryer. The cook at the Cherry Tree took care to season them well and not over-fry them. These are an entirely different creature from the griddled, sliced home fries — more lightly crispy than crunchy, with fluffy potato insides and more flavor from salt than from onions.
French toast was made with thick white bread dredged in an eggy, rather than milky, batter, so that the insides were airy but still luscious. Usually, powdered sugar on French toast is overkill, but this generous, snowy sprinkle added to the overall flavor. The batter wasn’t too sweet to begin with, so the sugary flourish at the end perfectly balanced each bite and worked with the syrup to achieve a harmonious bite.


A side of bacon cooked crispy was more porky than salty or smoky. I know we’re prone to waxing poetic about salted, cured meats in this column, so I’ll leave you with: We liked it.

Pancakes were plate-sized and nearly half an inch thick. These fluffy behemoths were highly absorbent, so real maple syrup would have added tremendously to this dish, but alas, we were served the imitation stuff. Insert sad noises here. The syrup kept absorbing completely into the cakes, leaving me tempted to pile on more butter instead. These hotcakes had a lot of promise and wonderful texture, but the flavor of the fake syrup soaking into the vast surface area of the flapjacks deterred from the overall dish.

A colleague with a fishing camp in Sackets told me the Cherry Tree Inn has long been a favorite with his family and that he loves the breakfast specials on the weekends. To be sure, it was tough for us to ignore the more creative treats available on the specials menu the morning we dined there. One of my editor’s few rules is that I be sure to review dishes that are available when readers stop by, so we avoided the yummy-sounding waffles and omelets — but I may have to drop by off the clock to sample these items.
My favorite thing about breakfast at this busy, efficient eatery was watching diners from one table go over to another to greet and hug friends — the morning we visited, it was clear this was a locals’ choice hangout, and that convivial, hospitable atmosphere permeates even to newbies like us.

Our breakfast totaled $36.70 for generous portions for three diners. I award Colleen’s Cherry Tree Inn a seven on the Big Hungry scale: well above average despite some deductions for food distributor potatoes and fake syrup.
A recent Times article on Colleen’s revealed that a new menu is being unveiled soon, so I’m likely to revisit this cheery locale near Lake Ontario for another taste of this couple’s happy ending. When a fairy tale wraps up with a wonderful meal, it makes for a great story.
Cherry Tree Inn Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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