Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Glenwood Pines

Restaurant Info
Glenwood Pines
1213 Taughannock Blvd
Ithaca NY

We ate at Glenwood Pines on a Friday night right around 7 PM and the place was busy, but there was no wait. As soon as you walk in to the Pines, you'll notice that the decor is old-world tavern style, complete with wood-paneling and yellow-lighting. There's a bar area in front with a few TVs, some pinball machines, and mini-bowling. Where we were seated, we could look out and get a good view of the Cayuga Lake.

Glenwood Pines is most well known for its burgers and fried food. They also serve steaks, large plate of meatballs, and a variety of sandwiches (Menu). As an appetizer, Tricia and I shared a plate of fried oysters. Since this was technically a dinner plate, we also got to choose two sides to go with that: we picked jalapeno poppers and corn nuggets. The entire thing was brought out as one plate of fried goodness with sour cream, tartar sauce, and cocktail sauce:

After appetizers, both Tricia and I tried the bacon Pinesburger, which is advertised as a 6 oz. black Angus patty on french bread. Somewhat unique to the Pinseburger is that it is traditionally served with 1000-island dressing rather than mayo (you can substitute mayo).

A nice cross-sectional view of the Pinesburger
While Glenwood Pines does have a fairly nice selection of homey desserts, we were full after dinner, and we passed on this option.

See the full reviews of our experience next:

RATING: 7/10

The fried appetizers were good overall. The oysters were of good quality, but the breading was a bit thick. Having made fried oysters myself and sampled them at restaurants throughout Massachusetts, I think the key to these is to leave the breading a little thin so that you can really enjoy the taste of the oyster. The jalapeno poppers were of standard quality, and they had the cheese filling (not cream cheese), which I prefer. The best of the fried stuff were the corn nuggets. I love corn-based foods, and these did not disappoint. They were crispy on the outside and really moist and sweet on the inside. We enjoyed these so much, we order a second side order.

As far as the burger: it was a very good burger overall. The bread was perfect; it was a french roll that was soft throughout, with an exterior that was firm but not crusty. Despite how soft it was, it help up to the dressing and juices from the burger without becoming even slightly soggy. The meat was very good. It was flavorful (I find that many burgers rely on condiments to avoid being bland, but this one did not), and the texture was excellent (it was not overworked or too fatty). The bacon was a unique round piece of bacon that was VERY thin. A thicker slab of bacon would have been nicer, as the bacon taste was completely lost in this burger. The 1000-island was a nice touch, but it really just acted to keep the burger moist rather than imparting a whole bunch of flavor. Overall, I'd say this was a basic burger done right; if you're looking for a fancy burger with unique flavors or more bells and whistles (fancy cheese, sauces, stuffed burgers, etc.), the Pinesburger isn't what you're looking for. Still, I enjoy the pure taste of meat, and this was satisfying.

RATING: 6/10
I have to admit, this isn't the best burger I've ever had. Perhaps my mistake was having the Thousand Island dressing on the side and due to the size of this burger, it was difficult to add the dressing for each bite. What made this burger good was not the bacon (which was very thin and barely added flavor to the hamburger) was the French bread. When I first saw the roll, I quickly imagined its texture as an ordinary French baguette with a tough crust on the outside. To my surprise, the crust was very soft and tasted freshly bake. And since the crust was soft, the middle breading was even softer. The entire roll made the burger taste a lot better. Without it, I would have to say the hamburger was ok. I always eat my burgers with ketchup, lettuce and tomato. The tomato was not fresh at all and it was a very thin slice. The lettuce was shredded. Both vegetables (ok, chill out, a tomato will be a considered as a vegetable right now) were really cold and it was a bit uncomfortable chewing a hot piece of meat with cold vegetables. If the lettuce and tomato were at room temperature, perhaps the chewing experience would not have affected my judgment on the burger's overall taste.

And the appetizers... Corn nuggets are delicious! You can never go wrong ordering these. They are sweet and creamy and about a quarter size for each bite. The jalapeno peppers on the other hand reminded me a lot of the $1 ones you can get at Arby's. The cheese they use to stuff it is your typical Kraft American cheese, nothing special. The fried oysters weren't too bad either. You can still taste that salty seafood seasoning from the oyster liquor and the breading wasn't too thick that it hid the flavor of the actual oyster (see Siddharth's comment). Dipping them in cocktail sauce helped disguise the strong ocean-seasoning.

The first time I went to the Pines, I tried their fried broccoli and fried mushrooms. I love steamed broccoli and frying them made them even better. Think about broccoli tempura except with a thicker batter. Frying vegetables is a good way to make someone eat them for sure.

RATING: 5/10

Let's be honest: I had decided what I was going to order before I got to the Pines. If you're not going for the burgers and fried foods, I'm not sure why you're going. While they do other stuff, (steaks and meatballs), it's very limited choices. That being said, they do have a good number of fried foods to choose from, and their dessert selections were not bad. Menu selection isn't the reason to come here, but for what it is, Glenwood Pines gives you enough options.

RATING: 5/10
I agree, there aren't a lot of choices like you would get at an Applebee's, but the Pines is known for their burgers so don't expect them to change their menu otherwise. I saw other people order their fish fry and fish sandwiches which looked pretty good. But a majority of the patrons ordered burgers. If you want variety, then look for them in their fried appetizer section.

RATING: 5/10
Again, you're not coming here for the ambiance. If you want a burger with a more posh atmosphere, The Ithaca Ale House is a better choice (we'll profile that later!). If you're looking to wow you're date - again, this is not the place. Inside, it looks a little run down. Still, the view overlooking the Cayuga is nice, and for those just looking for a comfortable sit-down place with decent food, Glenwood Pines does the job.

RATING: 5/10
This may sound snobby, but when I first went to the Pines, I felt like I was sitting in someone's basement on their cheap plastic patio furniture. During my most recent visit, however, they upgraded their seating to wooden chairs and small tables. The wood paneling on the walls reminds me of someone's den. I guess that's an upgrade from someone's basement.

Service: 8/10

Service was great. Despite the fact that you walk in through the bar and there's no real place to stand to wait for a table, the host finds you quickly, and we were seated as soon as we walked in. Our waitress was very friendly throughout the evening. The one negative tick was that my burger originally came without bacon. It was a screw up in the kitchen (Tricia's came out fine). Unfortunately it took me about 10 minutes after getting the burger to track down my waitress and actually get the bacon. Once I let her know, she promptly got the bacon and was apologetic and friendly about it. This was probably an isolate incident - you can expect great service at Glenwood Pines.

Rating: 7/10

Value: 7/10
We enjoyed the meal. The 2 burgers, oyster plate, and extra side of corn nuggets led to a bill of $40 - this includes tax and 17% tip. Not a terrible price at all. The only complaint I have is the oyster plate, which for $12.95 was a little scant on oysters (we got around 6 or 7 oysters).

Overall, we'd recommend Glenwood Pines to anyone looking for a basic burger and some fried food.


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