is it just me?

What is a mingo? And why is it blue?

It's always easier to discuss a place where you've had a mediocre-to-awful experience. There are just so many more ways of describing failure than success. While this may be a sad commentary on both the state of the English language and the culture, I lack the will to fully unpack What It All Means right now. I am now so hot and so sticky that my brain has vapor lock. Larger questions about life and all that rot will have to wait until fall.

So, my point -- and I did have one -- is that good things suck when you have to talk about them. And the food at Cooperstown's Blue Mingo Grill is very good, especially the lump crab cake appetizer and the filet with tender-but-not-mushy spinach and creamy red-skinned mashers. The Hub's baby back ribs with a fruity, spicy glaze were also hits, as was the Pie Goddess' (whose birthday we were celebrating) lobster, which I can't personally vouch for taste-wise since I am not really a lover of the lob. No matter how much melted butter you smear on it. The desserts -- cappuccino creme brulee, chocolate bread pudding and a key lime custard -- were also very, very good, even if the Hub was a little taken-aback by the bread pudding's texture, which was more crumby than bready. I thought it was delightful, personally. The only loser in the lot was the Lava Cake, which wasn't bad, really, but also wasn't good, if that makes any sense.

Also in the good column is the Blue Mingo's location and ambiance. The restaurant proper is on the edge of Lake Otsego and features a wide, wooden deck and more casual patio that encompass some fairly spectacular views. The lake breeze, fortunately, kept the temperature bearable. And, when the nights start cooling off again, the restaurant provides blankies for those who easily chill. Part of the food cost is also for the view. Which is fine by me, frankly, since both were worth the price tag.

What wasn't worth it, however, was the service. Granted, our waitress seemed to have gotten two larger parties and our four-top at the same time. And most of Cooperstown does have that lake resort vacation-y pace to it. No one seems to hurry there in the summer. I didn't expect to zip in and out -- lingering and chit-chat were also on the menu -- I also didn't expect to be there for over two hours.

And to let my inner food snob out, I also expect a server in a place like the Blue Mingo to be able to describe the food, especially since she felt compelled to describe every dish on the chalkboard menu in great, if inaccurate, detail before we could order. Our server, bless her heart, seemed like she'd never even tasted half of the things she was talking about, like "harissa" and "coulis," much less knew how to pronounce them. I'm not expecting the level of knowledge and service that one can get at a place like, say, Blackberry Farms,(where I once had the privilege to stay overnight for a Cooking Light profile that, sadly, never ran) but it did leave a bit to be desired. It's a picky nit, but when you're plunking down $200 on dinner for four, you expect a little more. I do, at least, and was left wanting.

I also, however, left deliriously full. My tummy was satisfied, even if my desire for a complete dining experience was not.

(An aside: the ever perky Rachael Ray visited Cooperstown and the Blue Mingo Grill for her $40 a Day series. Also on tap was Brooks' BBQ, which does a mean chicken, but hasn't quite got a consistent pork mojo. The episode in question will be reruning soon. Mark your calendars for June 28. If you are the sort who'd care, that is.)


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