State St., Schenectady, 374-3048. Serving Mon-Thu 11-10:30,
Fri 11-11, Sat noon-11, Sun noon-10. AE, MC, V.
price range: $10 (steamed vegetables with peanut sauce)
to $19 (various seafood dishes)
German beer hall
Let’s face it: We’re a nation of gustatory wimps. Despite
significant inroads made by the world’s more savory cuisines,
we nervously approach each new country—as we did with China
and Mexico and India —saying, “Yeah, that’s great, but is
it going to be very spicy?”
Except in the largest metropolitan areas, restaurateurs fear
the fickle palates of the white-bread set, who are difficult
to lure into any place exotic, let alone to persuade them
to try something unfamiliar.
You and I don’t behave like that, of course, but we still
pay the price for the timidity of others, and even when we
insist that we’ll take the full-blown heat quotient, we rarely
That’s why I’m going to have to cultivate a long-term relationship
with Bangkok Thai Bistro, Schenectady’s latest attempt to
situate fine dining on downtown’s State Street. I want them
to believe me when I say I can take the heat.
Not that I’m really grumbling about what I was served there.
A good Thai curry is worth its weight in gold, whether the
curry itself be green, red or yellow. Coconut milk is a key
ingredient, giving it a sweetness you typically don’t find
in the Indian version.
At Bangkok Thai Bistro, you pay according to the prevailing
component you choose. Chicken, beef, pork or vegetable curry,
whatever the color, is $11; shrimp, scallops or duck is $15.
And, if coconut milk is not for you, try the fresh basil curry,
in a spicy brown sauce.
Green curry for me, because it tends to be the spiciest and
most flavorful (qualities that actually do exist independently
for me, although those who’ve witnessed me wolfing chili peppers
disagree). And I splurged on duck as the accompanying meat,
because it stands up to just about anything you throw at it,
The accompanying rice helps spread that flavor, and makes
it a totally satisfying meal. So I’m happy to see this restaurant
surface in Schenectady, and I wish them well. Given the history
of restaurants on State Street, it may be an uphill struggle.
The hundred-year-old building had a significant history as
a German restaurant before it became a sandwich shop in the
1970s. As Maurice’s, it supplied GE and other downtown workers
with a steady lunch venue for 20 years; now Maurice’s thrives
at other area locations. I applaud the ambition of owner Viroj
Chompupong, whose Bangkok Thai restaurant on Wolf Road opened
in early 1994 and perseveres successfully.
Although there has been some needed refurbishment inside,
the old wood paneling and beer-hall wall paintings wisely
have been preserved, artifacts of a vanished Schenectady era,
an incongruity that enhances the restaurant’s ambiance.
Another shrewd move was to emphasize the bar, both in design—it’s
new to the structure, occupying the space once sporting a
sandwich assembly line—with one of those trendy martini menus
to allow putative grown-ups to lace their booze with candy.
Service was eager and enthusiastic, slowed only slightly by
a waiter who confessed it was his first day. Staffing the
floor, especially in midweek, is an art akin to necromancy;
I only wish more restaurants would err on the side of overstaffing.
Although we didn’t visit for lunch, the menu suggests that
you can whet your appetite for Thai fare quite reasonably,
with curry dishes running $7 (add $2 for the shrimp, scallops
or duck), and an item called Crazy Bowl for $7 as well.
The Crazy Bowl is also a dinner feature. Built around noodles
or fried rice, it’s available with chicken, beef, pork or
shrimp for $11, seafood for $15. This category includes Pad
Thai, a classic compote of noodles, fried egg, peanuts and
Drunken Noodles adds basil curry paste and bamboo shoots for
what’s promised as a sobering influence; pineapple fried rice
sweetens a rice mixture with peas, carrots, onions and the
A favorite with our table was yellow fried rice—thus is it
named—with chicken, a stir-fry seasoned with yellow curry
and also sporting a vegetable variety.
Among the other entrées, a standout was the tofu roll ($11),
in which a cylinder of bean curd mixes with glass noodles
and vegetables, a garlicky sauce finishing the flavor.
Because I was in the mood for spicy dining, I enjoyed a bowl
of tom yum shrimp ($3.50), a clear soup with a sweet chili
boost and plenty of the promised shrimp swirling within.
If you stop by for cocktails only, sample some of the appetizers.
Each is a generous $4 plate, one of the best of which is called
Thai ravioli, as good a name as any to distinguish it from
the usual run of pork-stuffed dump-lings, served with a sweetened
Chicken satay is another classic, long strips of skewered
meat that are grilled and served with a peanut sauce. Thai
dollars are patties of chicken and vegetables, served with
a sweet-and-sour sauce as well as an eensy-weensy bowl of
cucumber salad, and spring rolls come with either shrimp or
vegetables along with vermicelli noodles. The ones we tasted
were greasier than they needed to be, usually a sign of cooking
oil that’s not hot enough.
Tasting your way through an unfamiliar cuisine is a joy when
the standards are as high as this restaurant generally maintains.
The most adventurous of American chefs are borrowing all they
can from other cultures, so it’s a treat to join them in this
culinary globe-trotting. Good for the palate, good for the
spirit, and a sure way to keep boneheaded American imperialism
from consuming you.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
Hudson Valley Council of Girl Scouts will
hold its 17th Annual Trefoil Awards Gala at The
Desmond in Colonie from 7 to midnight Friday,
April 8. The evening includes a champagne reception,
seafood presentation, hors d’oeuvres, an elaborate
stationed buffet and delicious desserts made with
Girl Scout cookies. Also taking place are the
Trefoil Awards presentation, silent and live auctions
and dancing with Jill Hughes and Friends. Tickets
are $100 per person. For more info, call Sharon
Smith at 489-8110, ext.105, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
All proceeds will benefit the programs and services
of the Girl Scouts, Hudson Valley Council. . .
. Chef Yono Purnomo is chairing a celebration
of Asian cuisine at 3 PM on Sunday, April 10,
at Franklin Plaza in Troy. The event benefits
the tsunami relief fund and SUNY Cobleskill’s
Culinary Arts program, and brings together four
prominent chefs to provide a five-course food-and-wine
pairing. Chef Thomas Gisler of Cooperstown and
Saratoga is Swiss-born but worked for years at
resorts in Japan. He will prepare the appetizer
and soup course. TV celebrity Joe Poon of Philadelphia
will prepare a Chinese dish, while Purnomo will
prepare a dish with an Indonesian influence. The
dessert will feature the culinary skills of chef
A. Jayapal (AJ) of the Edison Club in Rexford.
The menu will be paired with wine by sommelier
Dominick Purnomo. Faculty and students of SUNY
Cobleskill will assist in preparation and serving
of the dinner. All involved are donating their
time and talent. The five-course food and wine
pairing has several levels of sponsorship beginning
at $75 per person. Required reservations may be
made by calling 234-5425. . . . Remember to pass
your scraps to Metroland (e-mail: email@example.com).
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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..