Outside the sprawling metropolis of Old Forge (home of New York’s largest water theme park) lies the town of Eagle Bay, New York. Eagle Bay is tiny. Its population is under 300 and its main road is nearly its only road — route 28. And it’s home to my new favorite restaurant and bar — The Tavern. The Tavern serves two things: beers and burgers. You can have your choice of lager. You can have your burger with or without cheese. But you don’t get to choose how it’s cooked. You can’t specify a type of cheese. You can’t pick from any special toppings other than onions, mustard, ketchup, and pickles. Potato chips are the only side offered. You can’t even read about any of this on a menu — because there aren’t any.
When we went, there was a sign on the door stating that the price of the Larry Burger (the only burger served) had been raised to $3. Comments were to be kept to yourself.
Eagle Bay does have another better-publicized restaurant, The Hard Times Cafe, and it’s across the street (and on Yelp), but The Tavern is where you should stop. Let the tourists and the families have their place. I’ll take the Tavern.
The entire time I was there I couldn’t help but think of Gordon Ramsay’s show Kitchen Nightmares — not because it was bad, but because it was so, so good. And it’d be so, so funny to see Gordon and Larry chat.
Gordon: Larry is it? Gordon. Nice to meet you. Can I see a menu?
Larry: Don’t have menus.
Gordon: Do you serve food?
Larry: Of course.
Gordon: What do you serve?
Gordon: I’ll have a burger then. Lettuce and tomato, please.
Larry: We don’t have lettuce. Don’t have tomatos.
Gordon: Right. I’d better have a beer.
Gordon: This place is absolutely fantastic. How can they charge only $3 for this burger? It’s delicious. It’s just not possible. Larry, how do you make any money?
Larry: Well, we sell a lot of ’em.
It has done everything Gordon chastises people about, but it has done it to the absolute extreme — it’s got the simplest menu imaginable, it’s got wildly reasonable prices, it embraces the locals, it’s comfortable, it’s efficient … it’s awesome. It’s exactly the place I want to eat every dinner, but I’ll need to find a dozen of them to have any variety in my diet at all. Can’t wait to go back.
Here’s where to find it (on the right):
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