Dining Out: Main Street Grill and Bakery is big-time flavor, small-town setting

By Dave Greber

July 16, 2014 Updated Jul 17, 2014 at 6:32 PM EST

Afton, N.Y. (WBNG Binghamton) Though it's called the small village of Afton home for nearly a decade, the Main Street Grill and Bakery is all about big-city flavor, at the hands of a chef and owner who creates dishes as impressive to look at as they are to taste.

Owner Elizabeth Dawson runs a tight ship. And her 35 years of restaurant experience show up in everything from the gorgeous presentation to some of the best farm-to-fork flavors we've come across on our Dining Out journey.

"We try to really stay in the tradition of fresh, my culinary point of view is, you know, perceived plate value and beauty and fresh ingredients," Dawson said. "For me, ingredient is key, and fresh is key. And I'm really a purist in what I do, so anytime I can get something fresh picked right of the vine, to me it always tastes better than canned or frozen products."

We started with two appetizers, obviously popular and with good reason.

Up first was the pan-seared chicken lemongrass pot stickers served with a sweet and spicy plum sauce.

It was the ideal start to a meal where homemade sauces took the forefront. The plum sauce was the perfect marriage of tang and heat. Needless to say, they didn't last long.

Then we dove into one of the more impressive looking dishes: Oriental shrimp noodles, drizzled with a Thai sweet chile glaze and served over a chilled sesame Soba noodle salad with fresh ginger, scallion and red pepper. You can't go wrong with either appetizer. Make a meal out of it and get both.

Then it was off to one of the best salads served during the Dining Out series: The Main Street Grill House Salad, built with organic baby field greens, mandarin oranges, cucumbers, walnuts, dried cranberries and feta cheese.

It's served with Liz's Sassy Salad Sauce, Dawson's own brand that's now sold in 24 local stores and counting. Get some of this stuff the next time you see it on the shelf. It's great with everything!

The soup of the day on that day was a summer chicken soup with local kale and white beans. It was bursting with flavor.

Then we finished with the highlight of the meal, the garlic gadzooks, made with garlic roast beef, roasted garlic, melted cheese, tomato and homemade garlic mayo on focaccia bread...

This sandwich is among the top dishes we've had since in 20 weeks of Dining Out with WBNG. And we'd put it up against just about anything in the Twin Tiers.

But for Dawson, the restaurant experience is more than just about great flavors. It's about community.

"If we can't support one another, who else is going to do a better job of it. 33:50 so it's very important to me that we work together, we network together and we build a community together," Dawson said. "I think the customers love it. I think they're pleased that we're providing income for the local farmers, and that they can get the freshest ingredients provided.

Dawson makes from scratch all their own cakes, creampuffs, canolis, cupcakes and breads.

"Everyday you can come to the case, and it will be filled with just wonderful, delicious items that are baked fresh daily," said.

In February, Main Street Grill and Bakery expanded to provide more room and to give customers another drink option. And all their mixed drinks are made with local ingredients as well.

It's a good thing, too, because the restaurant is so popular, it fills early -- and often.

"It's great because we can come here any day of the week or we can come on a friday night, um, and it really is some place special because today, a lot of my family members, we can meet here.," said Erica Brazee, of Afton. "We have people from Binghamton, from past Oneonta and some lady even comes here from Rochester. And we choose to meet here because it is central, but it's as nice as any restaurant you would find in Binghamton."

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