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Within reach Last week, I was disappointed that the Crystal Lake Café at Americana Vineyards was closed, so with tears in our eyes, we motored up the lake to Knapp Winery's Vineyard Restaurant.

No more tears.

We were greeted by the largest calico cat I've ever seen. Maybe 'greeted' isn't the best word, for the cat was basking in the sun. When I gave her a pet, she stretched and smiled. Yes, cats do smile. Otherwise, she was stationary. Ok, it's a laid back place.

Knapp winery is maybe 30 miles up Cayuga Lake on Rt 89. I tell people to go up 89 until you're sure you've gone too far. The turn on to Ernsberger Rd. will be ahead on the left. Knapp and the Vineyard Restaurant are about a half mile up the road.

monroe Vineyard Restaurant 1

We had already tasted our limit at Americana and were on the motorcycle, so we headed straight to the restaurant with the calico cat decoration on the steps.

Although there were cars filling the lot, there was not a soul to be found inside. They were all on the patio, lined with grape vines on all sides. Huge trunks follow the roof supports to the top where the vines have been trained to make a cool shaded spot for a meal. Absolutely comfortable even on a hot day. The grounds around the property are carefully tended and trimmed with flowers everywhere. I can see why Knapp is a favorite venue for weddings and special events.

The staff is friendly, but I got the idea that they could have used another server or two. Our server was working her butt off, but the smile never left her face. She brought our water – cucumber flavored – and took our order; said she'd be right back with some bread. Just when I was about to ask, she brought our entrees. I didn't have the heart to remind her of the bread.

monroe Vineyard Restaurant 2

Janet ordered the Caprese Burger – very tasty and fresh with cheese still melted. I ordered a Philly style Pulled Pork platter. The pork is slow cooked in a delightful sauce, served over a bed of red shredded cabbage, topped with fries. The combination of the pulled pork and the crunch of the cabbage was unexpected and quite exciting to the pallet.

The restaurant is very affordable. Our bill was about $30 before the tip. The most expensive entrée on their menu is the Crab & Shrimp Cake at $17.

Next time, we'll go to Knapp for tasting and back to the Crystal Lake Café for lunch. In any case, it's a reasonable drive and well within reach. You might consider making a day of it by making the circuit of Cayuga Lake. North from Lansing are Long Point Winery, Treleaven, Bet the Farm in Aurora and up Rt 5 is Montezuma.

monroe Vineyard Restaurant Greeter

monroe Vineyard Restaurant Grounds

If you have out of town friends visiting, even better. Treat them to the Finger Lakes wine and hospitality. The Vineyard Restaurant it open 11AM to 5PM daily through the summer. Go! Enjoy!

'Within Reach' highlights the food, wine and fun of places 'within Reach' of Lansing NY.  Of course, your reach extends exactly as far as you want it to. I am Monroe Payne, Uncle Monte to some. Come with me as I visit, taste and play in our own back yard, the beautiful Finger Lakes of Central New York.

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