Finger Lakes Restaurant Week Spotlight: Charlie's Cafe
Located in historic Elmira,
is a staple for locals and tourists alike, cooking everything from lunch, brunch and dinner to takeout and catered events.
The kitchen uses local inspiration to ramp up their all-American classics menu, with items like Finger Lakes cheese and fresh produce gussying up favorites like club sandwiches, fresh greens and Waldorf chicken salad.
Patterned wallpaper, bright white walls and an easy sort of homey elegance make Charlie’s Café an instant favorite for diners. Its spacious rooms make it perfect for private dinners, and many regulars take advantage of the good food and warm atmosphere when planning events.
The waitstaff makes it a point to ask diners what they’re planning on ordering, so they can find a wine that pairs perfectly with their meal; this attention to detail will surely make for some great wine selections during Restaurant Week.
The comforting ritual of consistently good food doesn’t mean that Charlie’s Café doesn’t have the power to surprise; they’ve got some great ideas for innovative new dishes to be featured on their Restaurant Week menu, and because they’re constantly using local ingredients whenever possible, they’ve got the routine down to a science.
“Our Waldorf salad is one of our most popular items, and luckily we’re able to make it with local ingredients,” says manager Michael Skinkle-Hill. “We have orchards right here for the apples and,” with a nod to the region’s many vineyards, “well, we have a plethora of grapes available too.”
One of the café’s most famous items, a cake made with local Riesling concocted by pastry chef Dorothy Poppleton, has been shipped and enjoyed all over the world. No word on whether that’ll make an appearance on the Restaurant Week menu, but with such a savvy for incorporating local flavors, whatever shows up on the menu is sure to be a “sweet” choice.
Charlies Café - 607.733.0440
Rochelle is a food and wine writer with a focus on seasonal cooking and sustainable agriculture. She’s also a classically-trained chef who spent the last year working on a full-diet, draft-powered farm in Central New York. Visit her at rochellebilow.com, on Twitter at @RochelleBilow or on Instagram at RochelleBilow to learn more.