The Menus of Madison County: The Fort

There is just something inherently awkward about seeing nighttime spots during the day. Seeing the Jug at noon on a Tuesday (reluctantly going to retrieve your North Face, house keys and ‘Gate Card from behind the ATM) just seems wrong – the place should only appear at midnight and then vanish when the sun rises, like a vampire, morphing into a café or sandwich shop. You could imagine my intrigue, then, when I heard about the Fort (97 E. Main Street, Morrisville, NY): a restaurant (or a bar, depending on who you ask) across the street from the Corral, Morrisville’s version of the Jug and home to certain Colgate formals. Rumor had it that the Fort was also a Morrisville State bar (I’d compare it to the Bacon), so I was especially interested to sample its culinary offerings. I lured one of my friends into accompanying me with the promise of greasy bar food and so our journey began.

Located about 15 minutes from campus in what’s rumored to be a former Morrisville State frat house, the Fort actually looks like a wooden fort accented with flashing beer signs. We entered only to see something more surprising than anything I could have imagined and more shocking than any formal scene: a group of middle-aged men standing in prayer around a circular table. After freezing in the doorway for a few seconds, wondering if we mistakenly walked into the wrong building, we made our way toward the back of the restaurant and discovered the bar and more tables around the corner. As for the scene up front, apparently the local Lion’s Club holds its meetings on Thursday nights, FYI.

We took a window seat and began to drink in the scene around us. The Fort is a place with wooden walls, photos hanging everywhere and a pool table separating the bar and the “dining area.” We noticed a sign advertising beer pong every Tuesday from 7 p.m. until close; Thursdays at the same time aren’t as exciting because the place was still relatively quiet, save an animated toddler leading his mother around the edges of the pool table.

The menus arrived, and they offered a wide selection of standard bar-type fare. The requisite chicken tenders and buffalo wings (with more than five types of sauce) graced the appetizers, along with different types of sandwiches (grilled cheese for only $2.95!), stir-fries, pizza and chicken parmesan to follow.

My companion, not quite as daring as the pool table youngster, ordered chicken tenders with fries (supplemented with a beer) while I decided to try the Buffalo burger topped with medium Buffalo sauce and blue cheese with a side of fries. We sipped our drinks and observed our environment; I was nervous the little boy was going to hit his head on the light dangling above the pool table, while my friend noticed that the table of four men seated after us had already gotten their baskets of chicken wings. I was beginning to regret my order when I saw the glistening wings accompanied by a roll of paper towels: probably one of the better ideas I have ever seen put into action.

After about 40 minutes of waiting, our waitress came over to notify us that our orders would be out shortly (perhaps they had been out slaughtering a cow for my burger?) About five minutes later, our food appeared and our waitress told us to order another beer, on the house, for the long wait. The meal got off to a promising start: red plastic baskets were filled with crunchy golden-brown fries and topped with chicken tenders and my burger, respectively. While my burger contained a generous helping of tasty Buffalo sauce and blue cheese, the patty was a hockey puck, overcooked and lacking flavor. I immediately cursed my decision and began thinking of the perfect burger at Dave’s Fireside Inn. The chicken tenders were so mediocre, there is nothing left to say about them; you’ve all had them before.

We finished our food and left, placated only by the tasty fries and two free beers. In summary, find a designated driver and make the trip to the Fort for a few drinks in an environment where Lion’s Club dinners and adorable children exist together in a fantastically wooden bar, followed by a rowdy night at the Corral. But, much like the Jug and the Corral, the Fort should remain a nighttime attraction.

Contact Jen Lauro at [email protected].