Everything's Up to Date in Summery Clayton

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I hate it when I'm busy doing laundry and blogging, and miss whatever they just made on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, which looks like fabulous, crispy, fatty carnitas mixed with sticky rice and teriyaki sauce. Guy! Gimme that, whatever it is! ...Sorry. The pork dazzled me. I'm supposed to be here this week to talk about Clayton, the bezel-set diamond of the St. Lawrence, quietly glittering on the coastline, letting Alex Bay get the oohs and aahs while it gets the job done.

There are some new joints in town finally getting their land legs under them now that we're heading into summer's last month, and some old friends pulling out all the stops to breathe new life into this cool little town. So let's take a gander, shall we? It's summertime, and the eating is easy, after all.

On Mary St., across from the Antique Boat Museum, in a building that's been many an eatery in my lifetime alone is the new Wood Boat Brewery. I haven't had a bite to eat there yet, but that porch is money, with good tunes not turned up too loud, great beers (Dogfish Head Festina Peche is above), and a simple menu of sandwiches and pizza. As ever, I'd like to see seafood do some more heavy lifting when I have a water view like this, but hey, if pulled pork sandwiches sell, so be it. Had lobster rolls been on the menu, they would have had a dinner party of three, but instead we rolled on down the road.

Bella's Bistro, over on Riverside Dr., AKA WATERFRONT, has welcomed back former sous chef Andy Wehrle as its executive chef this summer. "Where have I heard that name?" you might ask? Andy was heading up the kitchen at Skewed Brewing in the Salmon Run Mall until recently, but decided a riverside gig suited his disposition, and returned to Bella's kitchen. Since we last visited this little gem, the owners, Missy and Matthew, have added an absolutely gorgeous waterfront patio and deck. It's glorious enough for a proposal or rehearsal dinner, and suited us just fine for mom and dad's 30th Anniversary dinner.

My moscato strawberry lemonade also liked its view:

And here, for me, Andy brought the seafood. I enjoyed this special immensely, a sort of deconstructed sushi platter, with the nutty, toothsome, inky black forbidden rice, and tangy, citrusy seaweed salad anchoring a gorgeous fan of tuna barely kissed by the heat of a grill. This fish was handled with finesse, and the tiny pops of tobiko (caviar) in the spicy ginger sauce were like fireworks for the mouth. This was the taste of summer I was looking for, and though decidedly not a lobster roll, quite yummy.

Just up Riverside and across the street sits the grande dame - the historic Thousand Islands Inn, birthplace of thousand islands dressing. New owners Jamie and Brad are in the middle of a complete redo of the interior of this landmark, and had hoped to open the kitchen this summer with BHS darling Chef Gabe Aubertine at the helm. Unfortunately, extensively renovating a building of this age is no easy feat, and construction is at a bit of a stall just now as they submit grants and finalize the new layout. But Gabe has a passion for feeding we Hungries, and has found a stop-gap measure for the starving St Lawrence masses: Gabe's Kitchen, a pop-up, window-service taco stand is set to open at the end of this week. I asked Gabe about the stand, and learned that he and his brother have talked for years about starting an authentic Mexican taco truck; the stand is an extension of that dream for him. 

Yes, I swiped this photo from the Inn's Facebook page. Full credit and disclosure!

I'm especially excited to share that Gabe is debuting a Big Hungry taco at the stand - a combo of herb crusted pork loin, sweet potato fries, shaved Brussels sprouts, bacon jam, Creme fraiche and bacon sprinkles. OMG. I'm not heading to Gabe's Kitchen until August 9, but he better have one of those on standby for me. I'll also try the fish taco, and I was intrigued to learn that a rif on the classic thousand island dressing and a top secret dessert are in the works. Man, I love a chef who really loves food! Gabe does, and he wants to feed you, so hop in the car and get some happy in your mouth!

So, in a couple weeks, I'll be back with a full review of the taco stand and more breathtaking views of The River. Our Miss Thousand Islands Pageant is in Clayton in three weeks, and I always enjoy breakfast at Koffee Kove and pizza at Attilio's while we're there, so I can't wait to add great tacos to that list, and to recommend Wood Boat and Bella's to everyone coming on down for some pageanty sparkle! Hit the road this summer (before the good weather leaves us), and try something new! My personality is big; my hunger is bigger!

1 comment:

  1. We will be in Clayton for 3 days end of Aug. and will try all of the above. BHS taco sounds KILLER!