The London Underground Café is one of those strange and wonderful finds that one occasionally stumbles upon amidst the standard desolation of Central New York. The food is elegant, the servers are wonderful and the atmosphere is charming; simply put, it is the best restaurant I have ever found in the area.
Located on “historic” Market Street in downtown Corning, the café features strange and unusual fare that appeals to a more subtle palette. Tired and abused by all of the over-the-top fat-drenched super-saturated trash thrown about at the majority of the chain restaurants, I was delighted to discover small (yet reasonable) sized portions of things like “Quinoa Stuffed Baby Pumpkin with dried cherries, apples and cranberries on a bed of kasha” for only $10.00. I had a go at the Gratin, a mixture of red potatoes, spinach and a corn puree in a roasted red pepper cream sauce (also for ten dollars) and a side salad dressed in a pear vinaigrette, while my friend tried the raspberry barbecued chicken. We were both delighted.
But that was just the beginning. All of the desserts are prepared on-site (we passed by them on the way in and were entranced) and they are amazing. We needed nearly ten minutes to consult over choices such as a black forest crème brulee, white chocolate cheesecake, crème caramel, flourless chocolate cake with raspberry coulee, and a choice of fresh-baked apple crumb, French apple or pecan pie. We chose to split the flourless chocolate cake, and enjoyed a plate of warm, rich, mushy chocolate goo covered in raspberry sauce and real whipped cream with a hearty sprinkling of cinnamon. I paired this with a cup of some of the smoothest, most flavorful coffee I have ever encountered outside my own kitchen.
Our experience was even further heightened by the ambiance. A three-tiered brick façade, the restaurant was sparsely (well, compared with your average knick-knack laden eatery these days) decorated with London Underground memorabilia, including posters, signs and advertisements. Tables were cast in the warm glow of small oil lamps and a set of subtle overhead lights. All of the servers were attentive and elegantly dressed, and ours in particular had the most lovely voice and impeccable manners I could have imagined. Further, she had clearly sampled everything the place had to offer and was happy to advise us on all of our selections.
All in all: surprise and a joy. If you’re ever in Corning, NY, be sure to end your trip to the glass museum with a stop at the London Underground.