My friend Penny is a down-to-earth diner who doesn’t care for anything that smacks of fancy-schmancy. The mere mention of molecular gastronomy sends her eyes rolling. She does like good food, though, and she’s recently been raving about her favorite panini at The Last Bite in High Falls, our hometown.
The Last Bite has been dispensing soups and sandwiches for several years now, but lately it’s been under new management. Scott Albright, a young contractor and stonemason, bought the business in February and did a lightning renovation to reconfigure the place. “It was like one of those TV shows,” he says of his week-and-a-half makeover marathon. Now that a space-hogging counter has gone, there’s enough room for six mismatched tables, which, along with the old barn beams that Albright added, give the room that small-town, country cafe feel. Just the thing, considering that it’s a small-town, country cafe.
This is Albright’s first venture into the world of food, so he enlisted the help of a pro to add a little flair to the menu, but still trots out the favorites. “It’s the only place around for a proper egg sandwich,” he notes. If you wake up ravenous, you can get the Hungry Hipster — a hard roll with three eggs, hash browns, cheese, bacon and ham or sausage. There are specialty sandwiches, or you can build your own from a combo of 10 breads, 10 meats, nine cheeses and 13 toppings, which comes to a zillion possible variations, if my math is accurate. Toppings run from everyday lettuce and tomato to somewhat fancier olive tapenade and siracha mayo. There are daily homemade soups, salads, juices, smoothies, coffees (of course) and baked goodies, like rugelach.
The sandwich that has my friend Penny making repeat visits is the ham, cheddar and Granny Smith apple panini, grilled with pomegranate walnut butter on sourdough bread. I tried the Widow Maker — roast beef, Swiss cheese, horseradish mayo, onion and tomato on marble rye. It was really good, and I don’t even like marble rye. Also, it was more elegantly restrained (and therefore less likely to kill you) than the usual fat-laden sandwiches of that name.
Recently, Albright started serving tapas at dinner on Fridays and Saturdays, offering nibbles like chicken meatballs with saffron cream sauce, vegetable and mushroom pate, and bacon-wrapped dates with goat cheese and walnuts. Prices range from $4.50 (for mini mac and cheese) to $9 (salmon sliders on brioche) and portions are generous enough that two or three should do the trick unless you’re famished, in which case you should probably go for the Hungry Hipster mentioned above.
No beer or wine yet, but you can BYO.