Regional Culinary Traditions Highlighted at Newly Opened 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel

Contributor
This culinary inspiration spills over into the adjoining 1000 Islands Bar
boat

Steve Mirsky

Board the Muskie, a 1953 wooden cruiser for 3-hour river excursions.

The village of Clayton is situated on the St. Lawrence River, where it begins converging with Lake Ontario in New York's 1000 Islands region.

Seemingly untouched by time, there is not a chain outlet to be found among the local shops and historically preserved storefronts, as well as grand Victorian homes. It's no wonder that an adjacent long-underutilized waterfront lot used as a fuel depot was recently transformed into 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel, a AAA four-diamond full-service resort.

Checking into the 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel occurs in a rustic grand entry with vaulted ceilings leading to hallways lined with vintage photos depicting Clayton's historical ties with the river. Artistic lighting, intricately patterned carpeting, and windows looking out onto the water wherever possible provide a distinctive ambiance to the common areas, while rooms feature hardwood composite flooring, bay windows overlooking the St. Lawrence, and floor-to-ceiling tiled showers. 

Onsite Seaway Grille has grown into a local dining hotspot with just as many outside patrons as on-site guests savoring freshly prepared dishes like curried barley, pork chops, and a tender homemade gnocchi served with sage butter, asparagus, prosciutto, and pumpkin seeds, all topped with feta. Executive chef Patrick Leibacher also regularly schedules culinary experiences like a wild game dinner series and a seven continents dinner with dishes paired with wines from across the globe. This culinary inspiration spills over into the adjoining 1000 Islands Bar with local Wood Boat Brewery beers on tap, which are accompanied by small plates like sunflower seed-dusted scallops and a regionally inspired North Country charcuterie board.

cooking

Steve Mirsky

Next door to the hotel, step down onto the 49-slip municipal floating dock and look clear to the bottom. You'll see why the St. Lawrence River is a fishing and recreational boater's paradise, as well as a key shipping route due to the seaway's connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. Dotted with 1,864 islands, many of the Thousand Islands are private and only large enough to accommodate a small cottage. Others, however, grandly display Gilded Age mansions like Boldt and Singer Castles, which are regularly open for tours.

As part of the hotel's island cruise package, you can board the Muskie, Captain Jeff Garnsey of Classic Island Cruises' 1953 wooden cruiser, for three-hour river excursions. Instead of large double-decker tour boats narrated by an unseen guide over an intercom, Jeff describes what you're seeing right from his wheel on a deck accommodating no more than six passengers. Garnsey customizes his voyages to include local wine and cheese pairings, stops at Boldt Castle, and close-up views of storied homes on Millionaires Row. He also follows a route bootleggers used in the 1930s. Garnsey also incorporates a Shore Dinner Experience into his cruises, featuring traditional ingredients and techniques developed over more than a century ago as St. Lawrence River traditions.

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