Just East of Binghamton...

People have been telling me to try restaurants in Afton for years. Here's the thing: I live near Owego. By the time I get to Bingamton, I've already traveled what seems like far enough for dinner. Why would I keep driving? But recently, Big Hungry Melinda was up for a food adventure and we both had a free Saturday, so we hopped on 88 and headed East.

The Main Street Grill and Bakery is (duh) on Main St right in the heart of Afton. Right away, I was impressed by obvious effort made inside to create ambiance, with bold bistro colors of red, black, and gold dominating the two dining rooms.

The soup on the day we visited was Italian chicken, which sounded right up my alley. The second fall switches on and the temps heads north, my cravings set to soup mode. This cup was well seasoned and vegetal. Chunks of zucchini, celery, broccoli florets, chicken and fresh spinach packed the broth, which had a subtle tomato flavor but not too much acidity or sweetness. There was also shredded white meat chicken and rice in the mix. Savory and satisfying.

Melinda had the Main St melt - roast beef, bacon, and cheese with lettuce and tomato grilled up on buttered bread. The roast beef had good flavor, and we both appreciated that the bread was generously buttered to give it that crispy, greasy, slightly salty grilled cheesiness. But there wasn't quite enough cheese to make this a true grilled cheese, nor enough roast beef or bacon to make it particularly decadent in the meat category. I don't know if it's five years of food blogging under my belt that have ruined me for a simple sandwich or just plain gluttony, but I found this one a little boring.

The French fries were thin and well-seasoned - like the ideal McDonald's fry. Not hand cut (a demerit), but tasty.

I ordered the sandwich special of the day: loaded turkey. This delicious monstrosity was piled with deli turkey, bacon, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, ranch dressing, and potato chips. Yeah. Crunchalicious! The ridged chips not only added great texture and heft to the works, but a salty edge that was tempered by the sweetness of the onion and the tang of the ranch. It was crafted on really good herbed focaccia bread that was soft and pillowy. Toasted bread would have been a little much with the chips, so I liked the focaccia with this particular combo of ingredients.This sandwich should be on the menu permanently - we both loved it.

The dessert case at Main St Grille and Bakery is a pretty big deal. Throughout our meal, we watched other parties get up to inspect the cakes and pies before they ordered their final courses. And I think every table indulged in dessert.

The coconut cream pie had a fantastic, tender crust studded with finely chopped walnuts and shredded coconut running throughout the vanilla custard. That custard filling was the perfect consistency, if you ask me - not gelatinous nor so thick as to be heavy - just creamy and flavorful.

Carrot cake had a super sweet cream cheese frosting top with an absolutely delicious, robustly spicy cake base, dotted with plump golden raisins and dried cranberries, and a layer of vanilla pastry cream in the center. The frosting was a little overly sweet for me, but the cake was so strong, it kind of balanced everything out.

I can't imagine what business would take you to the tiny town of Afton, but maybe lunch is enough of an excuse on its own? We really liked the Main Street Grill and Bakery, and I give it a seven on BHS scale - above average, but not quite stellar. A few minor upgrades (like hand cut fries) would propel this place, serving high quality food and hand crafted baked goods, into the stratosphere.

I'll be judging and emceeing the Taste of South Jeff event this Saturday night in Adams. Info is on the Facebook page - come on out and see me while you support local restaurants! My personality is big; my hunger is bigger!

Main Street Grill & Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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