A Focus on Local Products Helps Rogues' Harbor Shine

October 6, 2009

It's important to get together with old friends once in a while, and this week the 14850 Dining Report is visiting an old friend in Lansing, Rogues' Harbor Inn. This 1830s landmark just minutes from the Shops at Ithaca Mall or downtown Ithaca has developed a real flair for using local food and drink over the last couple of years, and they've just introduced a new fall menu that adds several new seasonal items while keeping lots of favorites.

Rogues Harbor Baked BrieRogues Harbor Baked BrieOne dish that's perfect for fall is the baked brie appetizer, a chunk of warm and gooey wonderful cheese adorned with honey and nuts that you can spread over crostini or just eat as is. We're also fond of the Finger Lakes Harvest, an appetizer consisting of summer sausage slices, New York State cheddar cheese, and local apple slices, again with crostini.

An old standby that remains on the appetizer menu is the Ale House Munchies, a mound of beer-battered onion rings, zucchini slices, and mushrooms that reminds us of the days when half the menu at Rogues' Harbor was fried. That's certainly not true any more, but we still love these fried veggies as an occasional treat.

We're glad the Beef & Brie entree is still on the menu, rich cheese, shrimp, and wonderfully tender filet married in a puff pastry. But one of the newcomers is not only seasonal, it also takes advantage of New York's bountiful apple harvest. The Apple Onion Chicken is pan-seared with brandied apples, onions, and carrots for a great cool-weather harvest dinner.

Rogue's Harbor offers weekly specials from night to night, such as wing night on Tuesdays, a reasonable $11.25 for two pounds of wings served up hot, BBQ, or garlicky with a tub of bleu cheese dressing and celery stalks. The "hot" isn't quite hot enough for the serious spice fan, but if you ask nicely, they can make them even spicier.

Rogues Harbor Fisherman's PlatterRogues Harbor Fisherman's PlatterOn a recent visit we took advantage of the new Wednesday night special for the fall, a Rogue's Harbor version of Shepherd's Pie made with ground beef instead of lamb, mashed potato, vegetables, and New York State cheddar. (We're told that when they're available seasonally, the onions and potatoes used in this dish are local, as well.)

Wednesday night now also means a kid's meal is just a dollar. The kid's meals, such as spaghetti with marinara sauce, or a grilled cheese sandwich or chicken tenders with fries, aren't that expensive to begin with, but for a buck a pop, we bet Rogues' will see even more families coming out to eat on Wednesday nights. Another favorite weekly special is Friday night's Fisherman's Platter, a generous pile of fried shrimp and scallops alongside a beautiful piece of fried haddock. Check the chalkboards above the bar, or the specials sheet on your table, to see what other weekly specials are available when you're visiting.

While you're gazing at the chalkboards, don't miss the impressive selection of drinks at the full bar. It features several New York beers including an Ithaca Beer selection or two as well as offerings from Wagner, Rooster Fish, and Saranac, not to mention almost exclusively Finger Lakes wines. The bar area features plenty of barstools along the bar and several high tables, and a few booths, where you can enjoy full menu service in a pub atmosphere, or two dining rooms offer quieter service. We're running out of warm weather for the season, but when it's nice enough out, we enjoy sitting out on the front porch, as well.

Rogues Harbor Aioli BurgerRogues Harbor Aioli BurgerThe menu also still features a variety of steaks, excellent burgers and veggieburgers, seafood, pasta, generous salads like the Big Apple Salad with fresh apple slices and nuts, and of course the famous Chicken Riggies, rigatoni with chunks of chicken, pepperoni, red onion, and olives in a cream sauce. That Rogues' Harbor signature dish is high on our comfort food list.

The focus on local foods, beers, and wines could come across as a gimmick, but it doesn't feel that way at Rogues' Harbor. Without ruining any of the things we already loved about Rogues', owner Eileen Stout has done a fine job adding a factor that's especially important to diners in the Ithaca area: telling them where their food comes from -- in many cases, right here.

Plan on spending $10-35 per person for dinner, any night of the week. Visit roguesharbor.com, call them at 607-533-3535, or just head to the corner of Routes 34 and 34B at the end of East Shore Drive in Lansing and tell them you heard about them here.

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