We chose to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary with a family dinner at the Canal Side Inn, which is well-known regionally as the home of the most authentic if unpretentious French-style cuisine in the entire Mohawk Valley. The proprietor, James Aufmuth, who was trained in the culinary arts in both New Orleans and Paris, went out of his way to make the evening memorable and special, helping with such details as the wine selection, and even offering a congratulatory Facebook post the next morning!
What a lovely time we had! Every detail was perfect, from the pre-dinner drinks in the charming bar, to every champagne glass filled and refilled, to water being poured at the first sign of there being room for more in the glass, to the marvelous courses brought in a dance-like sequence, with empty plates disappearing and new delights appearing as though by magic.
The appetizers were excellent, and I still remember with fondness the brie en croute, French baked brie in a pastry puff with raspberry coulis, and the crevettes Provençale, shrimp sautéed with diced tomatoes, green onions, garlic, lemon and herbs. For the main course, several of us enjoyed one of the evening specials, the individual-sized Chateaubriand, while one of my sons had the rack of lamb marinated with the herbs of Provence, and my oldest son and his girlfriend had escalope de saumon. We all loved every bite!
What a night to remember for all of us! And doubly so for Mike and Carly, who later that evening came back to spend the night in one of the efficiency suites upstairs at the Canal Side Inn. Their room was spacious and tastefully but simply decorated, with hard wood floors and a large comfortable bed. The next morning Mike and Carly were able to walk over and enjoy a specular sunrise view of the beautiful Mohawk River.
As you might guess, foodies throughout the Mohawk Valley speak of the Canal Side Inn with loving, rapt tones. But it is worth noting that the Canal Side Inn has also played an important role in the post-industrial development of Little Falls. James founded this establishment in 1982, and his presence has helped to pioneer the repurposing and transformation of the grungy old shoe and garment mills of lower Ann Street into the splendid arts and culture mecca of Canal Place, nestled between the gardens and public sculptures of Sterzinar Park and the historical Benton's Landing on the banks of the Erie Canal. Today, when I spend an hour enjoying a glass of wine and the grill menu in the bar of the Canal Side Inn, I inevitably meet not only friends, but tourists and business people from around the world who have chosen to spend some of their time in Canal Place.
Canal Side Inn. French-American cuisine. 395 Canal Place. (315) 823-1170.