By Richard Rampello
For those closest to me, a packed place to grab a bite is a sign of good food. To me, a busy restaurant means (1) a long wait with potentially cold food, and (2) increases in errors. But there can be a third caveat known as worth the wait. Seneca Farms in Penn Yan seems to fit the last entry.
It is Seneca Farm’s specialties that make the long lines in a cramped area a reason to stay. Their fried chicken and homemade ice cream, not to mention corn fritters (essentially a hush puppy with corn in it) are staples.
My descriptions may be a bit callow, yet the time into perfecting the recipe is not. Per the website, Seneca Farms has been in business over five decades, and they boast of their top eleven fried chicken ranking in America, as well as the aforementioned ice cream.
Recently, they have added a bean bag toss for kids to go with rocks to climb and a hill to run down. There is overflow parking across the street, which is oft-used, and while the drive-thru is designed well to accommodate the smaller space, cars typically are backed up into the streets if you come from the front side. Moreover, the side exit is on a side road, helping to alleviate some backlog in street traffic, albeit not in parking congestion.
You order on the right side (from the head entrance or front side of the building) and receive on the left side, which requires you to drive past the main entrance into the restaurant. It is a very picnic atmosphere with an Americana feel, down to the red and white striped design and literal picnic tables.
Back to those corn fritters – great on their own, beloved in syrup. The fried chicken is moist and not greasy. It needs no dipping sauce, while the mashed potatoes and gravy are served hot with a fine taste, with the potato wedges providing no complaints. Furthermore, their macaroni and cheese is made with spiral noodles and a fresh cheesy taste. There is no processed, refined aftertaste like a lot of boxed mac and cheese.
To finish, you cannot leave without trying a homemade flurry (the last one I tried was a Twix flavor), or luscious specialty sundae (many peanut butter options, especially the Peter Pan Sundae) or a milkshake (my wife and I recently indulged on a cookie dough version). Their custards are homemade and cause a delay in decision-making for many.
Overall, the experience is worth the trip and the experience to Penn Yan. After all, as they say, “if the Colonel knew what [they] knew, he would have been a General.”