ALEXANDRIA BAY On a quiet country road just outside Alex Bay, JKs Roadhouse is hard to miss.
Theres a classy sign out by the road. Neon beer signs and illuminated Quickdraw signs in the windows are like a beacon in the night.
On a recent evening, cars and trucks and even a motor home surrounded the building, making parking a bit of a chore on what we thought would be a quiet evening at this rural outpost.
Most everything in the Bay is closed for the season, but family-owned JKs Roadhouse is in full swing. Open year-round, its a local hangout with a friendly vibe. Everyone seemed to know everyone there, which is why we got a dose of the hairy eyeball as we entered.
But that was over in an instant, and the folks on the barstools got back to their Buds, and the people at tables got back to the food in front of them. The entire scene was very casual and informal.
We grabbed a table for four in the corner of the open room. Paper placemats and rolled paper napkins containing silverware were on all the tables. From the time we entered, more and more diners arrived, filling nearly every table. Remarkable for a Thursday night, we thought.
Theres no getting away from the bar, which takes up a quarter of the place. At times it got a little noisy but never offensive, and not totally unexpected, adding a certain allure to the eatery.
The menu offers appetizers, soups and salads, burgers, wings and pizza and about a dozen nicely priced dinner entrees along with appealing nightly specials.
Appetizers are fairly standard, many deep-fried favorites with two exceptions that we ordered: pork pot stickers ($5.95) and a grilled chicken quesadilla ($9.95).
The pot stickers were a commercial product, a Chinese dumpling consisting of a wonton wrapper filled with ground pork, cabbage and celery, then lightly fried. These little two-bite treats, five of them, arrived along with a little plastic container of honey mustard sauce which really wasnt necessary. The pot stickers tasted just fine all by themselves.
The quesadilla was quite good, nicely grilled and filled with ample amounts of tender chicken, Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses, finely chopped onion and a good supply of sweet and jalapeno peppers. Standard sour cream and salsa accompanied, served in plastic containers. The quesadilla was cut into six wedges for convenient sharing. Two pieces went home in a to-go container and warmed up nicely the next day.
The dinners included choice of salad or cup of soup and choice of starches. No bread or rolls were offered or served.
The soup, Italian sausage, was excellent hearty and delicious. A thick tomato base, almost like spaghetti sauce, was full of sweet sausage chunks and loaded with veggies including green beans, spinach, zucchini, onions and more.
Salads, served in little plasticized wooden bowls, were chopped iceberg lettuce with the thoughtful addition of dried cranberries among the crispy greens, grape tomatoes, cucumber and croutons. The Italian dressing had a nice consistency and a welcome sweetness. An ample amount of blue cheese crumbles added 75 cents to the freebee salad.
Eggplant Parmesan ($10.95) looked and tasted mighty fine. An oval plate of thin spaghetti was decorated with three large slices of breaded eggplant, covered with a thick and flavorful spaghetti sauce and finished under the broiler with melted mozzarella. There was plenty to take home for the next day.
Chicken Marsala ($12.95) was a sauté of tender pieces of chicken and lots of canned mushrooms in a subtle Marsala sauce served over a plentiful dish of angel hair pasta. Real mushrooms instead of the rubbery canned ones would have made this dish a little more appealing.
Other chicken options are chicken Parmesan over spaghetti, char-grilled chicken breast with lemon and herbs, and Southwest chicken, a breast covered with salsa and melted cheeses.
There are two steaks available the Roadhouse strip steak and the Jack Daniels strip steak. We went with the Jack Daniels strip for a dollar more ($16.95) and the only difference is the Jack Daniels glaze, which we ordered on the side.
A lovely 10-ounce New York strip steak was simply seasoned with salt and pepper and perfectly char-grilled to our call of medium rare. It had the characteristic juiciness and chewiness of a good strip steak. Great charcoal flavor.
We were glad we requested the molasses-y glaze on the side. It would have overwhelmed the great taste of the steak.
Shrimp scampi is available, but for a dollar less ($13.95) we got chicken and shrimp scampi. Five medium tail-on shrimp were sautéed in garlic butter along with pieces of chicken and placed over a bed of thin spaghetti.
The shrimp were slightly overcooked and a bit on the dry side, for our liking. As well, there was way too much garlic butter pooling in the bottom of the dish.
There were four desserts available, priced at $4.95 each three cheesecakes and a berry cream cake. We tried all of them.
Our kind server told us that they came from one of their restaurant suppliers, and we appreciated her honesty.
Plain cheesecake arrived with an offer of chocolate topping. Rather than take it back to the kitchen, our waitress brought a large squeeze bottle of Hersheys syrup to the table and invited us to help ourselves. The cheesecake was a little on the dry side, as was the slice of pumpkin cheesecake, which could have used more pumpkin spice flavor.
Blueberry white chocolate cheesecake was excellent, a good-sized piece, very moist and tasty, with nice blueberry marbling throughout. Lemon berry cream cake was another winner, a large two-layer slice at least 4 inches tall with a generous amount of cream filling between the layers.
Our food cost $101 before tip. A round of drinks three beers and top shelf mixed drink added $12.25 to the bill.
JKs Roadhouse was a lot of fun, with some decent food to boot. It opened two years ago, serving burgers, wings and pizza until they got their systems in place.
They expanded the menu about a year ago to include the cooked-to-order dinner entrees.
In addition, there are weekly dinner specials: chefs Italian specialties on Wednesday, Yankee pot roast on Thursday, fish fry on Friday, prime rib on Saturday and chicken and biscuits on Sunday.
You can contact restaurant reviewer Walter Siebel via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
24818 Route 26
A locally owned year-round restaurant with a friendly vibe located two miles from the center of Alexandria Bay.
HOURS: Dinner served 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday
OUR PICKS: Italian sausage soup, eggplant Parmesan, Jack Daniels strip steak, blueberry white chocolate cheesecake, lemon berry cream cake