Friday, August 29, 2014

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.

Sprague's Maple Farms Incorporated on Urbanspoon
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Comments

17 Responses to “Sprague’s Maple Farms”
  1. TT says:

    i hope you got someone to take a picture of you with the ginormous turkey leg in hand!

    hopefully someone else drove home.

    • BeerBoor says:

      Sadly, no and no. I don’t trust those people with my camera!

      I ate a pile of food. And it was good.

    • Dave says:

      I can’t believe the comment about letting someone else drive home! I always have my friend drive us home because I pass out from either eating too much too fast, or too much maple syrup! If it were just closer to me, I could make it home by myself…

  2. chakrateeze says:

    Mmm, drumsticks! I’m with you: forget the white meat. I like flavor and juice in my turkey, which you only get with the dark meat and maybe the wings.

    Too bad I didn’t know you were going, otherwise I would’ve begged you to send me some B grade Maple Syrup. My grandfather was from Rouses Point, NY, which is on the shores of Lake Chaplain, is twenty miles outside of Lake Placid and is a stone’s throw from the Canadian border (I’m a Southern girl who is also part Quebecois), and that’s the only kind he would eat. Snobbery which, I totally agree with because flavor-wise it is the clear winner over Grade A. Too bad it’s impossible to get down here. Hint hint.

    And, yeah, I agree with TT, Beer. Hope you didn’t drive afterwards, ’cause driving in a turkey coma is almost as bad a drinking and driving.

    Hope you had a great 4th!!!

    Tracie

    • BeerBoor says:

      Bah. Other meats have more tryptophan. It’s the whole enormous pile of food that would do me in. Actually, I stopped in at a brewpub a while later and indulged in moderation. So no food coma!

      I’m sure they had some Grade B at Sprague’s (effectively on the southern border of NY), but naturally I didn’t buy a drop of the stuff, which was not a wise move on my part. I did however, buy some Cuba Cheese in Cuba, NY!

    • I’m with you – I cannot find Grade B for the life of me, despite my best efforts. My sister laughs at me for looking. She, like the rest of the world, thinks Grade A = The Stuff.

      But I have to stop you on one point: while I prefer dark meat 9 times out of 10, when it comes to MY roast turkey, the white meat is flavorful AND juicy. I mean it. It’s really good. I don’t really brag about too many things I make, but this would be one of them.

      • chakrateeze says:

        Not to argue with you, but when you don’t know the place or how juicy their white meat is, it’s kinda safer to go with the dark meat.

        btw, what’s your secret, Feisty? ‘Cause my roast turkey is pretty good, but there’s always room for improvement.

        Tracie

        • Not arguing at all – I wouldn’t eat white meat at any ol’ place, so I totally agree with you. Safer to just not order chicken in a restaurant (I’m not often in places that serve roast turkey!), in my opinion, but if I have to, dark meat it is (which I prefer anyway, for chicken).

          I brine it… not really a secret. There’s a recipe here on this site somewhere for the exact concoction I use, but I took Alton Brown’s recipe and then wacked at it to make it my own. Honey, lots of whole garlic cloves, etc. And inside is an apple, cinnamon sticks, and whatever fresh herb stems I’ve got on hand.

          • BeerBoor says:

            And I use Nigella Lawson’s brine recipe and lots of a maple syrup concoction for basting. Truth be told, I love turkey legs and will order them every time they’re offered, but I was willing to get slices of white meat if I really had to. Easier than getting pancakes and lots of other maple delights.

          • Oh yes, I think this last year I used maple syrup in the brine… but as it’s quite expensive and the flavor mutes a lot, I still added more honey than maple syrup.

  3. Jenn says:

    There are times when I read this blog and feel insanely jealous. This is one of them.

    Though the propaganda bear was a nice laugh!

  4. T.C. says:

    MMmMmm Thanksgiving meal. DROOLS.

    Too bad no pancakes, maple pork ribs, or other maple desserts.

  5. Shell says:

    I read your blog all the time but never comment. I just had to on this one. I’m from Olean. I grew up there for 18 years but had to get the hell out! I live in the city now but when I do go to visit my parents we almost always go to Sprague’s. I’ve only had their breakfast because of other mom and pop places I like to go for dinner. But the next time I go home I may have to try Sprague’s for dinner.

    • BeerBoor says:

      Welcome to the comments! It’s a huge menu, as you know, so yeah, there’s a ton of reasons to go for dinner, judging from the looks of my relatives.

      Of course, you need to go for dinner, and I need to go for breakfast. Let’s trade!

  6. Hungry says:

    Man, reminds me of my time at Frontier land eating a turkey drumstick while walking around.

    Btw, what’s the difference b/w Grade A and B maple syrup?

    • Grade A has more of the “impurities” removed and is refined more, but it loses a lot of depth of flavor in the process. It’s really up to a person’s preferences which they like more in terms of taste though. I’ve never tried Grade B though :(

      • chakrateeze says:

        Grade B has a darker, caramel, almost raisin-like flavor. Almost like jaggery (Indian palm sugar), if you’ve ever had that. And B is killer in sweet potatoes!

        A is thinner, has a cleaner flavor and is anemic in comparison. Not that it’s not still delicious, it’s just not as interesting.

        Tracie

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