For visitors from Arizona, the prospects of spending a week on Cayuga Lake enjoying cool, crisp nights and sunny days of boating and relaxation were quite the summertime welcome. However, a truly marvelous dining experience at Heights Cafe & Grill in Ithaca was perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the week; thanks to gracious host/owners James and Heidi Larounis, a service staff second to none and a menu that rivals any fine dining establishemnts on either coast (or anywhere in between).
You want creative and delicious? Start with the Truffled Risotto, and after one bite you'll think Lake Como is down the road instead of Cayuga. A fan of seafood? The beautifully-prepared scallops & shrimp appetizer is a little bit of heaven; the pairing of tapioca and coconut broth making this already-sensational dish exquisite.
And the only two words that should come out of your mouth while ordering your entree (aside from "Thank God" for finding Heights in the first place) is very simple: SKIRT STEAK. I guarantee you have not tasted a finer cut of meat; grilled Brazilian-style with plantains, eggplant, potatoes and onions with a banana ketchup (yes, banana ketchup!) and chimichurri sauce. Words do not do this meal justice...you must visit Heights and experience it yourself. And if that were not enough, I found a little space to try the oven-roasted rack of lamb; yet another elegant, creative (with an Ouzo demi glace) dish that begged for closer attention (but the skirt steak kept calling my name).
No room for dessert, right? Wrong. Do yourself a favor and save some room. I don't know whose "signature" should be on Heights' Signature Chocolate Cake, maybe the ancient Mayan chef who decided that cacao could be used in cooking. It's simply that rich and original.
As someone who does a great deal of traveling all over the United States, I've had the great fortune of dining in some wonderful places -- from simple burger joints to amazing five-star restaurants. Heights Cafe & Grill captures elements from all those wonderful places, making a wonderful family vacation that much more special. Run - don't walk - to Heights to say hello to James, Heidi, their staff and a menu that will leave you longing to get back to Ithaca and the southern shore of Cayuga Lake...
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