Case of the Successful Pub
Broadway, Troy, 273-8526. Serving Mon-Sat 11-10. AE, D, DC,
classic pub fare
price range: $11 (fish and chips) to $20 (filet mignon)
easygoing neighborhood bar
beer and burger afficionados
It’s easy enough, with financing no problem, to assign a theme
to a new restaurant and reinforce it with overwrought decor.
Applebee’s, Cracker Barrel and the like are good examples.
But the decor has little to do with the restaurants themselves,
which are market-researched chains turning out a predictable
menu for patrons who must not feel truly comfortable unless
there’s something like a large bobsled hanging on a nearby
Holmes and Watson, which opened in 1978, hung its walls with
Sherlockian memorabilia, the better to reinforce its desired
image as a London pub. I suspect there was little or no market
research behind this; it was more of a quick signal to the
cognoscenti that you’d find real beer here in addition to
the pisswater likes of Bud.
Twenty-seven years and several owners later, the pub remains
a stalwart in downtown Troy. If there was ever anything self-conscious
about the theme and decor, it has easily justified itself.
Unlike the chain restaurants, it has evolved as a successful
melding of what owner and customers enjoy.
Under the present owner, Matthew McKeown, who took over last
June, the menu has been refined, the World Tour of Beer is
more prominent, and the over-the-bar TV is more discreet.
I’ve visited many times during the past few years when working
in Troy, and always enjoy the barside experience of sampling
different brews, an admirable assortment of which is always
on tap and abetted by a goodly array of bottles: 24 draft
selections, and up to 60 otherwise.
try to keep it moving,” says McKeown. “Something from each
coast, something local. I think we give a good variety.” Like
the currently available Magic Hat Heart of Darkness, which
I enjoyed on a recent visit, a winter stout with a nice complexity
to its bitterness—like a Mexican mole sauce turned into beer.
(And check out magichat.net for a fun Web site beer tour.)
A few barroom tables let you dine close to the beer taps,
but there’s a large room in the back that overlooks Broadway
and comfortably accommodates those who are there principally
to eat. The brick walls are decorated with Holmesian posters
and the maroon table cloths carry the color scheme into the
The lunch portion of the menu carries the restaurant theme
into the fancifully named items, and there must be some kind
of prize for the fan who can identify all of the references.
I know that William Gillette (appetizer sampler, $9), Peter
Cushing (fried mozzarella sticks, $5.75), Christopher Plummer
(chicken tenders, $5.75) and Frank Langella (stuffed potato
skins, $5.25) all played Holmes on stage or screen, but who
was Arthur Wontner (a dozen chicken wings, $6.25)? Turns out
he played Holmes in five acclaimed films in the late ’30s,
and is regarded by many as better than Basil Rathbone (who
must have been dropped from the menu).
We dove into a Gillette, and discovered it’s the kind of assortment
you kind of wish you had more people with you to share. The
deep-fried onion chips alone are way too addictive, especially
when dredged through the horseradish mayo. A couple of potato
skins, loaded with bacon, some deep-fried mushrooms and mozzarella
sticks and a couple of unexciting chicken tenders are served
with an array of sauces that also includes barbecue, marinara
Hand-cut steaks are a feature of the dinner menu, so what
better than a 16-ounce strip ($18) to test this feature? Good
meat, nicely seasoned, but overcooked to medium when I asked
for medium rare. It’s a too-common event at restaurants everywhere,
and sometimes I even complain; this time I decided it wasn’t
worth my time and so accepted the consequences as all my own.
But I’ve cooked steaks to order and bungled it myself at first,
so I know the challenge. Err on the side of undercooking.
Chicken teriyaki ($14) is one of a quartet of poultry entrées;
this, too, spent a little too long on the grill and began
to harden at the edges. Flavors were good, however, and the
marinated red pepper topping is a nice idea. Accompanying
baked potatoes were as expected, but a vegetable of baby carrots
was overcooked to mush.
Fish and chips ($11) is solid ground, an excellent entrée
with a nice cornmeal-laced batter and fat cottage fries to
finish the dish.
Lunch is where the kitchen truly excels. I had a toothsome
portion of quiche Lorraine ($6.50) that was both creamy and
crunchy, an excellent combo of filling and crust. The burgers
(starting at $7) are half-pound wonders, served on a hard
roll with those deservedly popular cottage fries.
There’s French onion soup and seasonal seafood chowder, but
let me recommend the chili (Moriarty’s Revenge, $3 for a cup,
$3.50 a bowl) as something that approaches the classic Southwestern
preparation in terms of heat and seasoning blend.
And there’s no mystery about the many other sandwiches. The
Valley of Fear turns out to be a Philly cheese steak ($7),
while the Norwood Builder is a grilled Reuben ($6.25). Salads
include tossed fresh greens for $4, topped with grilled chicken
breast for $7, the same price you’ll pay for a Caesar version
with chicken. To economize, since the portions are generous,
try the $6 half-sandwich-and-soup combination.
Although the dinner entrées need some work, the comfort and
friendliness here are major selling points, and service is
completely transparent. As a pub, the place succeeds quite
well, and it’s even got me rereading the Conan Doyle stories.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
in North Adams, Mass., will hold a benefit dinner
Tuesday (Feb 8) at 6:30 PM for Berkshire Grown
as part of that organization’s first How to
Eat Locally in February dinner series in Berkshire
County. The restaurant will offer a three-course
prix fixe menu including salad, entrée and dessert.
Each course will feature a Berkshire-grown product
including homemade crostini from Berkshire Mountain
Bakery, Berkshire Blue cheese, Cornish game hens
from Otis Poultry Farm, and Stellar Pasta’s handmade
ravioli. Several farmers and food producers will
be present, and family style/community seating
will be based on reservation groups. Berkshire
Grown will offer a short introduction with farmers
and the chef saying a few words before dinner
is served. Tickets are $50 for Berkshire Grown
members and $60 for nonmembers with a cash bar.
Prices include gratuity. For details and reservations,
contact Berkshire Grown at (413) 528-0041
or visit www.berkshiregrown.org.
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very much enjoyed eating dinner at Daniel's
at Ogdens. You review described my dining
experience perfectly. This wasn't the case
with Pancho's. I much prefer Garcia's or
Lake View Tavern for Mexican fare. I agree
that a restaurant can have an off night
so I'll give the second unit on Central
Avenue a try.
yes I miss the star ratings, bring it back.
Second, I haven't had a chance to visit
Poncho's yet, but I especially like reading
would travel to Amsterdam to this restaurant
- it's not that far away. People traveled
from all over to eat at Ferrandi's in Amsterdam.
From his background, I'm sure the chef's
sauce is excellent and that is the most
important aspect of an Italian restaurant.
Sometimes your reviewer wastes words on
the negative aspects of a restaurant. I'm
looking forward to trying this restaurant
- I look forward to Metroland every Thursday
especially for the restaurant review. And
by the way Ferrandi's closed its Amsterdam
location and is opening a new bistro on
Saratoga Lake - Should be up and running
in May. It will be called Saratoga Lake
Bistro. It should be great!
comments about the Indian / Pakistani restaurants
being as "standardized as McDonald's"
shows either that you have eaten at only
a few Indian / Pakistani restaurants or
that you have some prejudices to work out.
That the physical appearances are not what
you would consider fancy dancy has no bearing
on the food. And after all, that is what
the main focus of the reviews should be.
Not the physical appearances, which is what
most of your reviews concentrate on.
A restaurant like The Shalimar, down on
Central Avenue, may not look the greatest,
but the food is excellent there. And the
menu has lots of variety - beef, lamb, vegetarian,
chicken, and more..