Farewell to a favorite

Alex & Ika in Cooperstown, which reopened as a new restaurant today.

Alex & Ika in Cooperstown, which reopened as a new restaurant today.

Put a gun to my head and ask me to name my favorite upstate New York restaurant and I’ll eventually blurt out Alex & Ika.

I love how I always feel at home at Union Hall Inn. I love the crispiness of the chicken thighs at Hattie’s and the nostalgic feeling I get when I walk into Jack’s Oyster House. And I would be perfectly happy eating every meal for the rest of my life at the Northampton Diner.

But with Alex & Ika in downtown Cooperstown, it was love at first sight. And now it’s gone.

Its owners closed it on Saturday and reopened it today as Cantina de Salsa, an encore to their Cherry Valley restaurant of the same name. I haven’t been. I should. I hear it’s excellent.

My first time at Alex & Ika, I fell in love with how hard owner Alex Webster worked to put a punch into dishes. A sesame noodle salad may have been the best dish I ate that year, because of little flourishes like ginger oil and noodles cooked in soy sauce. You could drop a reasonable $30 on a steak but also find yourself in heaven with one of several grilled cheese sandwiches.

It was all things to Cooperstown, which, like Saratoga Springs, is one of those towns where the upper crust mingles with the commoners like me. We were all happy at Alex & Ika. The downtown storefront was quirky and chic, and the service was always gracious and efficient. Prices were fair, as they are at many places in Cooperstown.

And now it’s time to find a new favorite. I’m taking nominations …

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