Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Toll Gate (Slingerlands, NY)

Looking back at almost 4 years of posting I cannot believe that I haven't gotten around to posting about the Toll Gate. The Toll Gate seems as permanent a fixture in my mind as the Hudson River or the Heldebergs. It is an eternal part of the landscape familiar to all those who dwell around these parts. I think I thought that there was no need to do a post because what could I really say about the place that everyone doesn't already know? But heck, as usual some compulsion has led me to jot down some thoughts on the establishment.

I have always admired the green/orange pineapple themed wall paper. You can't beat the wallpaper at ol' timey eateries around here (here is some beautiful blue floral stuff from The Bears in Duanesburg). You see, not much has changed at the Toll Gate since it opened in the 40s. Not much at all.

Where do you see the below pictured setup anymore? This is about as close as you are going to get around here to seeing an original, period soda fountain-counter set up. Just look at those stools. It just doesn't get much better than that. I could poke around the interior of this place for hours. There are just so many delightful details to be taken in.

The Toll Gate even still serves their soda in reasonably sized glasses.

Although ice cream is really the main event at the Toll Gate, they do serve some unabashedly straight forward food. Burgers (including the famous "egg burger," which is scrambled eggs on a hamburger), hot dogs, clubs, etc... I was in a bit of a piggish mood so I ordered the "Toll Gate Burger" which is three thin patties on a bun (cheese is extra). The platter comes with crinkle cut fries (I am a crinkle cut fry fiend), some pickles, and a side salad.

I just happened to be in the mood to over indulge humorously, i.e., I actually don't really tend to like piles of beef on a burger. But I do like the Toll Gates burger patties. When you get a single patty burger the meat is good and thin and combines with the squishy, steamy bun to create a pleasant sort of flatness to the sandwich (almost slider like). All that you need is a slice of melty white American, a squirt of ketchup, and a couple pickle discs and you have the sort of 1950s "diner style" hamburger that McDonald's has since made a parody of. 

My wife had the turkey club (w/chips). Mrs. Dave is a no nonsense individual and this turkey club suited her just fine. White bread, white mayo, and white turkey stacked high. There is comfort to be found in the warm, unctuous blandness of a turkey club. They are the sandwich equivalent of a reassuring hug from an elderly Aunt.

Above the entrance there is hung a painting that depicts ol' timey' times when there actually was a toll gate in the vicinity.

Here is a view from in front of the ice cream counter. My minds eye conjures a jaunty soda jerk in a gleaming white apron and a paper hat, speaking jauntily with his broad Albany County a's, and slinging egg creams to ruddy cheeked young locals while old men in plaid shirts smoke cigarettes at the front tables. Sigh. There will be a day when monuments to our cultural past such as the Toll Gate no longer exist. This makes me sad.

In any event, the Toll Gate is over on New Scotland Road in Slingerlands (on the outskirts of both Albany and Delmar). They make their own ice cream and it is damned good. If you have been reading my blog for long then you know that I have an unholy lust for egg nog and Toll Gate puts out some delicious egg nog ice cream come fall. They are also renowned for a certain peanut butter and jelly ice cream but this is not a flavor that I have sampled. Darling Giblet enjoys a regular dish (not kiddy, she is much too mature at 3 years 8 months for any of that nonsense) of vanilla with extra chocolate sprinkles.

If you live in Albany County and you have never been to the Toll Gate (this does not seem likely to me), my humble advice would be to pack up your family/sweetheart/parents and make the pilgrimage at your first convenience. If you are a transplant to the area then a visit the Toll Gate might just give you some insight into the psyches of your adopted countrymen. This is where many of our Ma's and Da's bounced us on their knees while we dribbled Tutti Frutti onto their pants. Heck, this may very well have been where our grandparents bounced our parents on their knees and spoon fed them rum-raisin or   some other old fashioned flavor.

In short, I like the Toll Gate and I think you should too.


  1. Best ice cream. My husband and I had our third date there!

  2. I remember the bunny burger and going to the Toll Gate with friends after a school concert. Great times.

  3. I just drove by this place on a leisurely drive today! I'll have to stop by soon. Good Stuff!


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