Excellent | Worth a Detour
Review by: Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle
If it’s spring, it’s milkweed time in Ephratah! Would you like to sample one of the more esoteric regional specialties in the U.S.? Then head to Saltsman’s Hotel in late May or early June to try some milkweed.
A yellow-painted hotel (although boarders are no longer taken), situated at an upstate New York crossroads seemingly in the middle of nowhere, Saltsman’s is said to be the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the state. We have relatives in their 90s who recall dining there as children! Opened in 1813 as Apollo Hall, a coach stop hostelry and ballroom, it became Saltsman’s in 1889 and stayed in the family until 1979, when the Subiks purchased the restaurant.
As you step into Saltsman’s you enter a painted pressed-tin-lined parlor with player-piano, and a guest register opened to a page bearing FDR’s signature. Fascinating items of historical interest are scattered throughout the hotel. We especially enjoyed perusing the invitations to the 19th-century balls that were held here.
Like Ephrata in Pennsylvania, Ephratah in New York is located in an Amish region. Saltsman’s is not, however, an Amish restaurant, and yet the country cooking Saltsman’s is famous for fits in well with the generous, hearty spirit of Amish cooking. There’s a pretty straightforward selection of American fare to choose from, and we especially enjoy the locally favored, lightly breaded, crackle-crusted fried chicken and the sweet sliced ham. But it’s for the extras that we recommend a meal at Saltsman’s (and those extras can be your entire meal if you so choose). Included are slaw, corn fritters with syrup, terrific creamed potatoes (not mashed, but diced potatoes in a creamy sauce), a baked onion casserole, bread, and vegetables. And in season, there’s the famous milkweed, harvested from the fields of nearby farmers (who are only too happy to have it removed) by Tammie Subik.
Milkweed is edible only when harvested young, and the resulting dish resembles a bright green chlorophyll-charged creamed spinach, though in flavor it more closely resembles (to us at least) asparagus and peas. What a unique springtime treat! Late summer, the Subiks serve another locally treasured, and also brief-of-season, specialty: elderberry pie (made from locally picked fruit). We’ve yet to try it, but we’d bet, like the milkweed, it’s worth the trip.
Saltsman’s Hotel opens Easter weekend and closes around Halloween, and is closed Monday and Tuesday. The seasons for milkweed and elderberries are brief and variable so if you’re planning a special trip we suggest calling ahead so as not to be disappointed.
Directions & Hours
|Seasons||Summer, Fall, Spring|
|Meals Served||Lunch, Dinner|
|Credit Cards Accepted||No|
Photos & Videos
What To Eat
Saltsman’s Hotel Recipes
What do you think of Saltsman’s Hotel?
2 Responses to “Saltsman’s Hotel”
September 29th, 2012
Oh my goodness! Since moving from the Boston area to upstate NY five years ago, we have had a very hard time trying to find a restaurant that we like. I have gone to one or two in Utica and in my immediate area. They’ve been very good and we have returned to them on occasion. A while back, a good friend had recommended Saltsman’s to us. So we tried it.
Wow! We were blown away by not only the food but the service, atmosphere, and affordability. The food is absolutely heavenly. They serve family-style and the choices on the menu are local favorites and seasonal fruits and vegetables. Can’t go wrong there. Love the service and the historical feel. I just made reservations for tonight and I can’t wait to see what’s on the menu this week.
March 20th, 2007
Saltsman’s Hotel has always been a favorite stop. Before dinner it is customary to stop in the bar for one of the best manhattans or martinis you will ever have, served by a friendly bartender who always seems to remember you even if you haven’t been there for awhile.
The dining rooms’ ambiance remains the same; the floors aren’t quite level, the chairs might rock a bit, the pictures on the walls, they all invite you to a wonderful dining experience.
The vegetables are all served family style. You may start off your meal with tomato juice or a soup of the day; a relish tray is also provided. My favorite has always been their pork chops, but I have never heard a complaint about any item on their menu. Most of their vegetables are grown in their own garden, and the desserts are homemade.
If you like to enjoy a bit of history as well as a good meal , I highly recommend Saltsman’s Hotel.