Inn Turf, 205 Wolf Road, Colonie, 458-7250. Serving
lunch Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30, dinner daily 5-10, brunch Sun 10-2
(except holidays, which have dinner menus). AE, D, MC, V
Entrée Price Range: $16 (stuffed chicken) to $29 (beef
and crab cake Napoleon)
Ambiance: unthreateningly pleasant
By necessity, hotel restaurants are a breed apart. Intended
to please the captive traveler, they experiment with themes
and cuisines, too aware that a world of chain restaurants
competes right outside. This is exemplified by Wolf Road’s
stretch of many eateries, most of them stamped from the same
masters that offer refreshment on any airport-neighborhood
A profile of the traveler is thus revealed as one who is unadventurous
of palate and thus frightened of a never-before-seen menu,
unsocial unless cocktail-primed. You and I aren’t like that,
of course, and are challenged, when traveling, to penetrate
beyond the safety net. But what’s going on in our own backyard?
The Holiday Inn Turf is a Wolf Road mainstay that predates
most of the chain eateries that line the street, and its restaurant
has evolved in an attempt to hold its own in a crowded market.
It aims at a more upscale clientele, much of which, I suspect,
comprises travelers with expense accounts who don’t mind paying
a little extra in order to remain in the facility at mealtime.
The Turf House Grille is a pleasant, slightly bland room crisscrossed
with waist-high dividers; tables are scattered among them
and also line the walls. Low-level but plentiful lighting
and colorful artwork help liven the room. Menus decorate the
entrance, so there should be no surprises. You’re greeted
nicely at the door and the process begins.
During my visits, business was slow enough that only a couple
of servers worked the floor; the few of us having dinner were
spaced for a sense of privacy but close enough to give a feeling
This has drawbacks, of course. One of my neighbors punctuated
her dinner with loud cell phone conversations; another taught
me more about real estate than I was expecting to learn.
But those were minor irritations. The Turf House Grille staff
is so friendly, and the atmosphere was so easygoing that I
enjoyed journeying through the menu.
There are two of them, actually, but you’ll have to ask for
the menu of lighter fare. That’s where you’ll find the chicken
wings and mozzarella sticks, but you’ll pay $7 to $8 for them.
A chicken Caesar salad ($9) is just as you’d expect, although
the one we checked out arrived, mysteriously, without dressing—a
problem solved when one of the managers immediately followed
it to our table to explain that it was a room-service request.
The situation was quickly righted.
Burgers, a Reuben and a fish fry are in the $8 range, with
fries or rings included; the smoked turkey wrap ($7.50) was
as good as you can expect without getting into fancy or unexpected
ingredients. Salad greens are fresh and seasonings are applied
with more vigor than I expect from a hotel restaurant, which
is an excellent thing.
The main menu, a single page, features a baker’s-dozen entrées
along with a trio of low-carb options. From the latter, the
pan-seared salmon ($18) boasted a good flavor despite having
been cooked longer than I prefer—but that’s not a preference
most diners share, I know. Served atop a warm compote of eggplant
and tomatoes, with a side of Caesar salad, it was a satisfying
I watched one of the beef tenderloin-crab cake Napoleons go
by; it’s a $29 dish that presents a Béarnaise-capped mountain
of meat and seafood layers and it looked damn good. Based
on the comments I overheard, the flavor lived up to the looks.
Also in the beef realm, the flatiron steak, a cut recently
developed at the University of Nebraska, becomes a tender
partner to a tangy chimichurri sauce ($19). I chose mashed
potatoes as a side, which also was enhanced by the sauce.
A side of squash-rich sautéed vegetables demonstrated the
kitchen’s care with what’s served: It was crisp and flavorful
without big butter enhancement.
Both the mushroom appetizer ($6) and the pork loin entrée
($17) are stuffed with sausage—sweet sausage in the former,
andouille in the pork—and the enhancement is compelling. By
the time my table’s pork order arrived we’d reached the end
of the loin, but within the odd shape was a broader-than-expected
The $17 combo of gnocchi and crab meat was tied together with
a cream sauce that seemed to go on forever, coupled with the
sweetness of fontina cheese.
By coffee-and-dessert time, the restaurant was in prepare-for-breakfast
mode, rearranging table settings, and it wasn’t as easy to
catch a server’s eye. And the tables are spritzed with my
old bane, the spray bottle of chemical solvent, something
that never should appear in a dining room while customers
A buffet is offered for lunch in addition to the regular lunch
menu; Sundays there’s a $16 brunch buffet. And the best deal
of all is the $20 Saturday prime rib buffet (kids 6 to 10
are $7), for which reservations are helpful. Travelers may
think of this merely as the restaurant that comes with their
hotel, but in the larger context of a chain-joint-infested
boulevard, it’s something of an oasis.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
is edging its way back, with one tangible sign
being the return of cooking classes at Aubergine
Fine Food & Lodging in Hillsdale. These
Thursday-morning classes are taught by renowned
chef David Lawson. The new schedule emphasizes
hearty cooking with European roots, and begins
March 31 with “French Regional: Franche-Comte
and the Alps,” exploring the cold weather cooking
of the European Alps, with dishes such as bacon
and onion tart and zuppa Valdosta. Aubergine cooking
classes begin at 10:30 AM and finish at the conclusion
of lunch, around 2 PM. Classes cost $75 per person,
and include demonstration and instruction, materials
and recipes, and a sit-down lunch with wine. Gratuity
and tax are included. For more info and a complete
class schedule, check out www.auber gine.com.
You can reserve spaces by phoning the restaurant
at 325-3412. . . . Remember to pass your scraps
to Metroland (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.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..