Few sights can rival a Lake Ontario sunset, but the culinary artistry at Rainbow Shores Restaurant brings some serious competition to the table.
Head chef Rebekah Alford and sous chef Timothy McQuinn — who met in the kitchen at Lake Placid’s Mirror Lake Inn — are making waves with their polished execution and imaginative new menu.
Rainbow Shores is about an hour’s drive from Syracuse, but weary travelers are quickly revived by a breathtaking view. Our recent visit felt like dining on the rocks, thanks to the flower-framed deck that extends from the shoreline to the white clapboard restaurant, built in the 1920s as a country-club centerpiece.
Legend has it that bootleggers came ashore here during Prohibition. We kicked off the evening with a toast to their bravado and a frosty tequila-spiked lemonade ($5) garnished with a sprig of fresh thyme. A basket of just-baked breads, tucked in a white linen napkin included a signature cream cheese spread with still-crisp flecks of scallion and carrot.
We were off to a swell start, and with each course the bar inched higher.
The Gorgonzola fondue ($7), served with toast spears hot from the grill, showcased the sweetheart of the world-class blue cheeses. Gorgonzola blends more seamlessly than Stilton or Roquefort. Its blue veins disappeared into the creamy fondue yet its tangy bite lingered on the tongue.
In contrast to the fondue’s subtle white-on-white presentation, the grilled shrimp appetizer ($7) arrived blazing like a campfire, with six juicy shrimp on a bed of orange and red peppers sauteed until soft and sweet.
Salads, included with entrees, were fresh, cold and composed with an artful eye. A classic Caesar was garnished with shaved Parmesan and a peppery arugula sported blueberries, pea shoots and an orange blossom vinaigrette.
A dramatic seafood platter ($35) illustrated Chef Rebekah’s goal in cooking: to create a feast for the eyes and a party for the mouth.
Its petite grilled lobster tail — rich, sweet and charred at its edges — was first to be devoured followed by a gutsy calamari stuffed with sausage, artichokes, sundried tomatoes and Kalamata olives. Sauteed calamari rings, grilled shrimp and a tuna steak completed the all-star array. A spirited red pepper sauce (with homemade lobster stock) and crisp gremolada (herb dressing) breadcrumbs sent the dish over the moon.
From the turf side of the menu, a prime grilled tenderloin steak ($27) was mouthwatering and more than generous in size, though its wild mushroom cognac sauce added little to the experience.
It was no surprise to learn that desserts were made in-house.
The fallen chocolate souffle ($6) with swirls of raspberry and butterscotch sauces had settled into a rich wedge of dense, high-quality chocolate. A clever variation on key lime pie ($6) featured scoops of tart filling — texture-wise, close to cheesecake — on individual tiles of graham-cracker crust. Homemade coconut ice cream made it a bona fide tropical delight.
Like Lake Ontario on a sunny day, Rainbow Shores sparkles.
Weekend’s Dining Out reviews are based on an unannounced, anonymous visit. Aimee Koval shares reviewing duties with Denise Owen Harrigan. Recent reviews are available at syracuse.com/dining.
THE RESTAURANT: Rainbow Shores Hotel and Restaurant, 186 Rainbow Shores Road, Pulaski; 298-5110.
CREDIT CARDS? Yes.
ACCESS TO DISABLED? Yes.
HOURS: Summer hours: Dinner, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Sunday; lunch, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday to Sunday; breakfast, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. The restaurant is open late April to late October. Hours may vary early and late in season.
COST: Dinner for two including appetizers, entrees, desserts, cocktail and soda: $122.60, including tax and a 20 percent tip.
This article is reprinted from The Post-Standard, July 21, 2011 Weekend Edition