The Menus of Madison County: The Copper Turret



In need of a chem-free Wednesday night pick-me-up, two friends and I decided to head over to Morrisville to have dinner at the Copper Turret (17 West Main Street, Morrisville, NY). We had all previously dined at this particular restaurant (partially run by the Morrisville State culinary school) and anticipated the fall bounty that awaited us: succulent meats, flaky salmon and freshly prepared vegetables were what we hoped for. However, much like a Jug dance partner after one too many Mary’s specials, this particular meal was an unfortunate series of disappointments.

We arrived at 6:30 p.m. and snagged one of two tables left in the tavern; it seemed as if some kind of private party was occupying the main dining room, leaving only the Tavern open. Much like the Colgate Inn, the Copper Turret has two menus: the Tavern menu by the bar is much more casual and much cheaper; the regular menu is a bit more expensive and slightly fancier – both are available at either location. I blame the aforementioned private party for our impending discontent.

We settled into our table though and surveyed the scene: a diverse crowd consisting of a lively combination of students, parents and locals sitting both at the tables and at the bar. Cherry wood beams and exposed brick gave the restaurant a warm, inviting atmosphere, as we began to take stock of the lengthy menus.

Already starving, we ordered hastily. However, while we were ready for the Copper Turret, I don’t think the Copper Turret was ready for us. We waited a stomach-grumbling 45 minutes for our food to arrive. I have a sneaking suspicion the private party was overwhelming the waiters as well as the kitchen. Finally, with the first wave of disappointment making its impression on us, our meals finally arrived.

My first dining partner stuck with the basics and came out the relative winner: she ordered a spinach salad with a side of macaroni and cheese. The salad consisted of baby spinach leaves tossed with red onion and broiled peaches and coated in a tangy warm bacon dressing; a nice update on a classic. It was the star of the show. The mac and cheese was standard, with nothing particularly notable or disappointing distinguishing it.

My other dining companion went for the grilled swordfish off the Tavern menu. Though she said the side of pilaf style mixed grains was “okay,” the fish itself was a huge letdown. Lacking flavor and overcooked, it was also a puny portion that almost looked lonely on her big dinner plate.

I typically don’t order chicken in restaurants because, besides the fact that I usually find it boring, it is often bland and overcooked. I should have listened to my first instinct. However, I was enticed by the pomegranate chicken with its glaze of pomegranate molasses, broccolini and crispy parsnip frites (one of my favorite farmer’s market vegetables). This meal was better on paper than it was in reality. Dry chicken, limp broccolini and parsnip frites that were anything but crispy.

We paid and made our way to the car as it started to rain – how symbolic. Unsatisfied, we accepted this final disappointment and brainstormed what food we had at home to supplement this lackluster dinner.

I am sympathetic to the Copper Turret. I have enjoyed tasty meals there before, and I truly believe that private party overwhelmed their teaching kitchen. It was just unfortunate that the Copper Turret needed a pick-me-up at the same time I did.