Wednesday, February 15, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: TR’s Restaurant, Lake George

Lake George Village tends to zip itself up from Labor Day to Memorial Day, then shed a layer or two in February for the Lake George Winter Carnival. In its 51st year, the Winter Carnival has had to adjust to this season’s shortage of snow and ice with re-locations and cancellations of events. Still, people braved the bitter wind on this crisp winter day, attending the many events still on the schedule. We also found them in the pub at TR’s Restaurant.

We had been referred to TR’s (Teddy Roosevelt’s) Restaurant at the Holiday Inn-Turf in Lake George several times. Devoted explorers that we are, off we went to get a better look. Located at the southerly end of the village, TR’s is on one of the highest spots in Lake George and affords a bird’s-eye view overlooking the lake.

Home to local regulars who gather to catch up with family news and prognosticate about town politics, there exists a camaraderie among fellow residents who freely flow throughout the room or talk across the bar. Bartenders Agnes and Bob greet the vast majority of customers by name.

Newcomers and hotel guests are made to feel equally at home and are frequently introduced to the regular patrons, with whom they always seem to find something in common. Representing all age groups, the majority of the clientele we met were of retirement age or older. We found the place quite full of cheerful, friendly folks who chatted easily and wasted no time finding out where we were from and what we were up to.

General Manager Michael Spilman took a few moments away from his banter with members of the Happy Hour crowd to share some of the history of the hotel and TR’s Restaurant. Though there has been a bar at the Holiday Inn since it was built in 1966, we had to admit that we had never been there. The Holiday Inn has changed hands only once since then, in 1990, and is now owned by Mike Hoffman. Three years ago, the hotel and bar were extensively renovated and remodeled and now boast, and equally deserve, resort status. With obvious pride in the establishment’s success, Michael shared information about honors and awards bestowed on this Holiday Inn, which consistently ranks among the top Holiday Inns in the country. It’s also home to the Lake George Dinner Theatre, entering its 45th season.

The pub is contemporary and sophisticated in design, neither too stark nor too trendy, with warm-toned woodwork and window moldings. A wall of windows brightens the room, bringing out the warm reddish hues of the wood and granite. Framed landscape photographs grace the linen-textured walls while oversized layered drum pendant lamps float overhead, complemented by smaller drum shades over the lustrous granite bar.

The U-shaped bar seats 18 in cider-stained slat-back bar stools with woven leather seats, while four pub tables and several small dining tables provide additional seating. The atmosphere is such that, were we Holiday Inn guests, we wouldn’t hesitate to bring our families in for lunch or dinner, or enjoy a cocktail and appetizers before dinner in the restaurant.

TR’s is open year-round from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. daily and offer Happy Hour drink specials from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. every day. Following a 12-year Happy Hour tradition, complementary hot hors d’oeuvres are provided, with a different item featured every day of the week. Many patrons were enjoying chicken strips with a delicious-looking sauce on the Saturday that we visited. Tacos were served on the Tuesday we returned for more information. Large flat-screen TVs are strategically placed to catch up on the news or a sporting event while dining or relaxing at the bar. Quick Draw is also featured. Just ask for the daily code if you need WiFi, whether a guest at the hotel or just stopping by the bar.

The wine selection includes red, white, sparkling and champagne, with house wines priced at $7 a glass. Coors and Samuel Adams seasonal drafts and 16 bottled beers, as well as the usual liquors are offered. Drink prices were reasonable. Pam’s custom Valentine’s Special, Box of Chocolates, (her own invention) consisting of three different shots, was $8. Beer prices vary by brand.

With an upscale look and a hometown heart, TR’s is a perfect mix of locals and hotel guests. The trick is telling which is which. The bartenders are genial, personable and professional. The patrons are equally friendly and won’t hesitate to start or join a conversation. Happy Hour at TR’s is full of smiles, from both sides of the bar.

Kim and Pam Ladd’s book, Happy Hour in the High Peaks, is currently in the research stage. Together they visit pubs, bars and taverns with the goal of selecting the top 46 bars in the Adirondack Park. They regularly report their findings here at the Almanack and at their own blog, or follow them on Facebook, and ADK46barfly on Twitter.

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In 2013, sisters Kim and Pam Ladd self-published Happy Hour in the High Peaks: An Adirondack Bar Guide and a companion Happy Hour Trail Passport. As they continue to market and distribute their current book, they are back on the trail doing research for their next project – a guide to breweries, wineries and distilleries in and around the Adirondack Park.

In 2014 they created their own drinking event, a bartender competition they call “BARRED!”, which they expect will become an annual event held in the early spring in collaboration with Basil & Wick’s in North Creek.

With the lofty goal of becoming the Adirondack "Drinking Authority," Kim and Pam report on drinking-related topics and events inside the Blue Line here at the Almanack and at their own blog. You can also visit their website, follow them on Facebook, and Twitter.

The pair have spent most of their lives in Warren County. Pam has a degree in Computer Science, but her passion is mixology. She and her family live in Warrensburg. Kim is a freelance photographer with a degree in Advertising Design and lives in Thurman with her husband.





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