Utica, NY (WIBX) - A friend who understands and appreciates my passion for food, music and new experiences, suggested I pay a visit to a place in Thendara, NY.  The Van Auken Inne is a historical site near Old Forge. Built in 1891, the establishment sits right across from the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, making its beauty even more appealing. It was moved a few feet away from the tracks in 1905 to a more comfortable spot for customers.

If you live in Utica and the surrounding area, the short trip to the Inne is not too bad. It takes about 45 minutes to get there. Because of it's somewhat obscure location, you have to pay close attention when traveling there. Unless you know what the place looks like, you could very well drive right by it. The structure sits across from a large protruding rock off of Route 28, and a bridge that crosses the same route. I recommend that you visit their website to see a picture of the beautiful Victorian style building before driving there to avoid having to turn around in case you drive right passed it. Speaking to the owner, Joan Mark, I learned that town rules prohibit any signage in certain areas of Old Forge or in this case, Thendara.

I also learned that Thendara evolved from being a booming lumber town to a more tourist or vacation destination. Also, according to the groups website, Thendara means "Rim of the forest," which is very fitting because the place is litterally located right at the rim of what many identify as Old Forge. When I suggested we take a 45 minute trip for dinner on Thursday, I was met with a raised eye brow and look that seemed to suggest, 'where are you dragging me to now?' from my boyfriend, but he soon jumped on board when I provided more details to the plan.

Every Thursday evening, the Van Auken Inne hosts a Seafood Special with musical entertainment. What a treat it was walking in and seeing people enjoying local musician John Leibing while having dinner. I was more than ready to be a part of it! We sat on the beautiful large porch, but they also had tables and chairs on the bottom of the wide steps leading to the front door, essentially transforming the area into a lovely atmosphere that anyone, from any walk of life, would enjoy. I also have to admit that I had no idea John Leibing could sing exactly like the Man In Black, Johnny Cash! He was great.  Many will remember John Leibing's visit with us on First Look earlier this year when he came together with other local musicians and Zee, owner of the Electric Company on Varick Street in Utica, to raise money for Apollo, the pit bull who was found frozen to the ground in January.

The place had many locals enjoying themselves but also many out-of-towners. We met and briefly spoke to one person from California who told us about her house burning down two years ago during a major forest fire and how she came to the area to recover. She told us that she owns a lake house on Third Lake, which makes it relatively easy for her to frequent the Van Auken Inne, especially on Thursday when she can enjoy the musical entertainment. There were families with young children as well. There's a full bar inside that's somewhat segregated from the rest of the dining area, which works really well especially if you're only looking to have drinks.

The best part about discovering this fantastic place is knowing that there's another option for dinner on Thursday nights. Their dinner and lunch prices are very reasonable for the experience you get in return. The historical aspect of the place, and live music just feet away from the Adirondack Scenic Railroad is a welcome change from a mundane Thursday evening. Here's a link to the Van Auken Inne where you can get a lot more information on lunch and dinner prices, www.vanaukensinne.com. We shared the seafood dinner for two, calamari, one of my favorite appetizers and steamed mussels. The scallops created an instant party in my mouth! They were absolutely delicious.