Sprague’s Maple Farms
My nephew graduated upstate a few weeks back, so as there was plenty of family around, we… packed up his apartment to bring back home. But after that, it was time to eat! As there’s little in the way of destination dining in Olean, and even less between there and his hometown (mine, too), the decision was made to visit Sprague’s Maple Farms in the burgeoning metropolis of Portville, New York.
The driveway to the restaurant begins with this lovely greeting. Sprague’s is a working farm; as you might expect from the name, the farm produces maple syrup — the full name of the restaurant is Sprague’s Maple Farms Pancake House and Restaurant — and part of the restaurant is a syrup-manufacturing facility that, sadly, wasn’t in use this Saturday. There’s also a rafter (thank you, Yvo) of turkeys, free-range, raised on the farm for consumption.
The restaurant is enormous, but really just looks functional from the outside. There were no good angles, so just think huge two-story house with aluminum siding.
Where the magic happens! I wish we’d have been able to go in the morning; though pancakes are always available, I just felt more like eating lunch by midafternoon.
Our group of sixteen took a little engineering to accommodate, so we killed time talking to the caged parrot at the dining room entrance and perusing the gigantic menu. The free range turkeys — “Premium”, in the literature — are featured prominently, so I knew what direction I was leaning for lunch.
This was one of those big family dinners, and my family doesn’t pause to allow photography, so I concentrated on my plate. Various burgers, sandwiches — including a BLT to my right, piled with thick-cut bacon, and even a plate of pancakes were ordered, though, and surely much enjoyed from what I could tell. But my lunch/supper choice was clearly the most awesome. It was also the most expensive, at a whopping $15.
But first, this little guy adorned my placemat. He’s awesome, unless this is some sort of Canadian Communist Power propaganda (in which case he’s still awesome, but also a little worrisome).
Some of the restaurant’s other guests, behind our table. It took me a few looks before I realized they weren’t really eating.
Adding to the rustic charm, the chandeliers are all made from deer antlers. Maybe elk, too, but definitely not turkeys. They’re all different, so I’m pretty sure local artisans contributed their talents. Also, there are stuffed Canadian geese flying overhead. Of course.
Complimentary basket of bread, with the butteriest little poppyseed-lemon muffins you ever laid lips upon. The bread was decent bread, but I inhaled the mimi-muffins, as no one on my side of the table seemed interested.
Your average side salad, with a maple vinaigrette. How can you not get maple with everything? The dressing was quite good, sweet, of course, but a little tangy also. I’d consider a purchase if I ate more salad at home.
I should mention that even as a table of sixteen, our waitress — with help from some decidedly younger waitresses-in-training, I guess — managed to keep the table’s glasses of tea filled and removed empty plates almost as soon as they were emptied. She really went above and beyond for us, and I appreciated it.
Drum roll please: the Roast Turkey Dinner. It’s about time we started eating Thanksgiving dinner more often, in my book. There you see corn, of course, and the maple sausage stuffing, and a cup of cranberry. (Off to the side are the fried potatoes, but we’ll get to those in a bit.) The family, all of them, had to stare and comment on my choice of meals, but I know deep down they were all wishing they’d have been smart enough to also get this.
Now, the menu lists sliced turkey as the main component of this beautiful dish, and almost offhandedly mentions “a turkey drumstick may be substituted for sliced turkey when available.” Substituted? SUBSTITUTED? This meal should START with a drumstick — in my lucky case, drumsticks — and apologize for being too popular and having to dole out mere slices of turkey! Sorry, I’m emotional when it comes to my roast turkey.
One bite and it was clear drumsticks are the right thing to do. Succulent, moist, rich with turkey flavor, very light on the salt and spices but otherwise just incredibly tasty turkey. There’s something to this fresh, raised-right-here fowl.
Remember that little dish of potatoes? I noticed you could add sausage gravy to potatoes for a buck. So of course I asked for that. This dish is the same size as the dish of potatoes, only deeper. There was more sausage gravy than potatoes. Although it got cold and unpleasant too quickly for my tastes, it was worth every penny, especially to see the faces of those around me.
Yes, turkey dipped in sausage gravy is as good as it sounds. And yes, that’s a gravy boat.
The stuffing, incidentally, was very, very good. The maple even came through a little in the sausage, making a simple dish I’ve eaten plenty of times just that much better. Gravy, as always, only added to my enjoyment.
A lone shot down the table as the family enjoyed their meals, too. I wouldn’t have skipped my nephew’s graduation for the world, and eating with virtually my entire nuclear family and their families was the perfect capper.
Sprague’s isn’t near everyone, but it’s almost certainly for everyone. If you’re driving in Western New York along I-86/NY-17 (maybe you always wanted to visit Jamestown?), a short detour to Portville, only a few miles from Olean, should be in the cards.