“Smells good,” my friend Sheryl said as we walked through the windy parking lot at Lily’s Cafe. Always a good sign. The aroma presaged a good meal and it was okay.
The white one-story building is across from the Stratton Air National Guard base, and during our meal we were treated to the sight of a C-130, that graceful, propeller-powered hippo, sliding gently towards the sky.
Lily’s is a cute place, and the dining room, freshly renovated in a white and black theme, is immaculate. I can attest to this because I dropped my pen and looked closely at the ground. There’s a counter with stools as you walk in and tables with those padded stackable chairs to the left. New tables are on order. All the cooking is done right behind the counter.
Lily’s opened last October, taking the place of Oliver’s Cafe on Freemans Bridge Road, a favorite breakfast and lunch spot for many years.
It’s updated, but not too different from Oliver’s.
“We made a few improvements to the building, but they did it right for 28 years, so we didn’t want to change too much,” said Scott McGlauflin, one of the owners.
They kept a “fair amount” of the Oliver menu and widened it slightly, moving some of Oliver’s specialties to the permanent menu and putting their own stamp on it by updating the dishes and adding some of theirs.
It’s breakfast and lunch, and very reasonably priced. According to the online menu, two eggs with bacon, ham, or sausage costs $ 7, and a BLT with hand-cut fries and side salad costs $ 6.50. You have a hard time finding anything over $ 10 on the menu.
Lily’s makes homemade soup daily, the variety changing depending on the day of the week. Friday is clam chowder.
Sheryl loved the coffee, which arrived as soon as we made ourselves comfortable. “It’s really smooth,” she said with a sigh. “One part is the cup. “
I accepted while sipping my hot chocolate; the chunky, white old-fashioned coffee mug is a pleasure to hold with both hands on a winter morning.
Sheryl had breakfast, the pan of corned beef ($ 9.75) with scrambled eggs. It was a good choice; Lily’s Cafe makes their own corned beef hash, seasoned with a little nutmeg.
“It’s really, really, good,” said Sheryl, who had ordered her scrambled eggs so she could share any leftovers with her husband. She called the eggs, topped with Hollandaise, “very tasty,” and said each fork of eggs came with a nice string of cheese – Swiss, she thought. The wheat toast was “buttery on top and crispy on the bottom.”
In fact, the “everything” was really good, she said.
“I don’t know if I’m going to bring home any,” Sheryl said. Conclusion: she did not.
My Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwich ($ 10) was delicious. It’s a boneless piece of white meat chicken topped with ham and Swiss cheese, but Lily’s makes the most of every element. The chicken is grilled, the ham is grilled, and the roll is buttered and grilled. Then the Swiss cheese is melted on top. The rolls are soft but strong and taste great. They certainly presented it well, with the cheese all shiny and melted on the meat.
I needed extra towels – unlike many dry chicken sandwiches I’ve had, this sandwich was juicy and drooled a bit.
Lily’s hand-cuts her own fries, leaves the skin on and season them with a wonderful blend that includes black pepper. They were cooked just right. I shouldn’t have but ate them all.
The creamy coleslaw was “really good,” said Sheryl, who usually eats my side salads. “Good,” she added. Lily’s makes all of her own salads.
We shared a cannolo ($ 3), freshly topped with a lightly sweet chocolate chip cheese filling. I tasted cinnamon. “It’s very fresh,” said Sheryl, approvingly.
We had arrived in the middle of the morning, when there were only a few other guests. As he neared lunchtime, the dining room filled up. Not bad for a weekday. McGlauflin said they were “very busy”.
It’s nice to hear. Lily’s is inexpensive, makes an effort to ensure the food is good and treats you well. Plus, they have those old fashioned white coffee mugs.
It sounds like the recipe for success.
Caroline Lee is a freelance writer who lives in Troy. Reach her at [email protected]
W: 181 Freemans Bridge Road, Schenectady; (518) 393-3060
WHEN: 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday; closed Monday and Tuesday
HOW MUCH: $ 30.05 plus taxes and before tip
MORE INFO: Credit cards: Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover. Large parking lot. Wheelchair ramp, but bathrooms not accessible. Accommodation provided for children’s meals.
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Categories: Food, Life and the Arts