Stone Resort, 5218 Patrick Road, Verona, (800) 771-7711. Serving
lunch Sat-Sun 11-2, dinner Sun-Thu 5-10, Fri-Sat 5-11. AE,
D, DC, MC, V.
price range: $37.50 (full buffet)
this is ostensibly a piece about a single restaurant, it’s
so much a part of the Turning Stone Resort in general that
a larger perspective is necessary. But first, to the restaurant.
It’s a churrascaria, which is the name given to a restaurant
that specializes in churrasco, a tradition in southern
Brazil born of the gauchos who slow-roasted meat over open
fires after a hard day on the pampas.
Those fires are now contained behind glass, in a room you’ll
see as you enter the restaurant. One rotisserie bar after
another spins slowly, the captive beef and pork and lamb sparkling
But your first course is at a salad bar, a buffet unlike any
found in this area. Again, Brazilian cuisine is the theme,
and chef Ruben Lopez offers such staples as feijoada,
a black-bean and sausage stew, a tomato-and-onion salad with
hearts of palm, a compote of jicama, corn and tomatoes,
piquant and tender calamari ceviche, beets, oranges and fennel
tossed in a sweet salad, a slaw of cabbage and roasted red
peppers finished with a chipotle aioli, and one of the most
amazing potato salads I’ve ever sampled, taking its flavor
from apples and much more I couldn’t identify.
Rodizio is part of an ambitious expansion program that the
onetime bingo hall, now massive casino, has been enjoying
during the past several years. Having visited casinos in Las
Vegas, Atlantic City and the Bahamas, I’m impressed by the
context. The casino itself is what you’d expect, except that
it’s fueled not by cash but a kind of ATM-card arrangement
of in-house plastic. Because I don’t gamble, I’m typically
not interested in such places.
But that also allows me to take advantage of the deals offered
to gamblers. The house just doesn’t get anything extra off
of me. At Turning Stone, the resort has grown to offer everything
from luxury accommodations to an RV park, with a dozen different
restaurants and the promise of a full-fledged health spa (in
addition to an existing facility) in the near future.
The Oneida Indian Nation, which owns and operates the facility,
is known as the People of the Standing Stone. The casino was
seen as a significant turning point in their lives, hence
its name. And, as a Rodizio customer, you turn a stone of
your own at your table, at which each place setting sports
a flat, palm-sized rock decorated with red on one side, green
on the other.
Red is uppermost as you’re seated; turn it to green and the
gauchos begin streaming to your tableside. And this is why
you do well not to eat too much at the very tempting salad
Each arrival signals a new taste of meat. There were 11 the
evening I visited, begining with a chunk of filet mignon wrapped
in bacon. Then the top sirloin marinated in ginger and soy.
Then the roasted pork in cumin and oregano. Then the rosemary-scented
leg of lamb. Then the bottom sirloin spicy with garlic.
And that was about all I could . . . wait. Then came the Portuguese
pork sausage, the grilled skin crunchy with flavor. And falling-off-the-bone
beef ribs with a rum and fruit glaze. And spicy pork ribs.
And orange-marinated chicken. Enough, I said, and then caught
sight of the salmon. And on it went.
Family-style dishes of mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli
accompanied the meat; these, too, were perfectly finished,
the broccoli still full of snap. Did I also mention there
was pepper-encrusted rib-eye steak?
Where carving is needed, the meat is carved at tableside.
You have a pair of tongs to assist in securing your slices.
All that’s missing is a hearty red wine, but you’ll have to
bring that yourself because the State Liquor Authority continues,
for its own scurrilous political reasons, to deny the resort
Golf and weddings and business meetings are a few of the resort’s
popular activities; I would add simply hanging out as another.
We spent a night at the Lodge, one of the upscale accommodation
possibilities, and the room, like the building itself, is
a marvel of inventive planning—the place is a modern take
on an Adirondack style—and excellent construction.
Service is second to none. This was as true in the restaurant
as in the Lodge, where you get no sense of employees merely
doing a job. We spoke to many employees, and all were delighted
to share information.
Breakfast in Wildflowers, a fine-dining option with nouveau
takes on continental fare, was equally impressive. Bathed
in the morning sun, the elegant room was charming and the
service excellent. And the food was superb: a serving of prime-rib
hash and fried eggs transfigured the notion of breakfast,
challah-based French toast was maddeningly good (maddening
because I have yet to duplicate it at home) and even the fresh
fruit plate was surprising—the fruit was truly fresh!
Because every casino has a full-blown buffet, you’ll find
Season’s Harvest here, but more of an array of manned stations
that assures consistent quality. Other dining options include
Peach Blossom, for high-end Asian cuisine, including Thai
specialties; Pino Bianco, an Italian restaurant; a straight-ahead
steakhouse called Forest Grill; and the Emerald, a 24-hour
Denny’s-like operation. And there are delis and dessert stops—wait
till you see the made-in-house pastries!—coffee shops and
Given my recreational preferences, there’s no gamble at all
about dining and relaxing at Turning Stone, and I’m looking
forward to a return to Rodizio once my appetite recovers.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
fine-dining restaurant at Saratoga Gaming and
Raceway has been completely rebuilt and is now
open for business. Fortunes, a 500-seat
venue that sits above the harness track and offers
an excellent view from all seats, has been handsomely
reappointed and boasts chef Thomas Gisler, formerly
of Cooperstown’s Otesaga Hotel. Both à la carte
and buffet dining are available; watch this space
for a review. . . . Jack’s Oyster House
(42 State Street, Albany) has been selected by
the Nation’s Restaurant News Editorial
Board as a 2005 Nation’s Restaurant News Fine
Dining Hall of Fame Honoree. Criteria for nomination
include excellence in food, quality, service,
ambience and leadership in staff training and
motivation. Jack’s owner Brad Rosenstein will
attend the induction at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel
in Chicago on May 22, and an upcoming issue of
Nation’s Restaurant News will feature an
in-depth profile of Rosenstein and the restaurant.
. . . This Saturday (April 30) will be the grand
opening of the Battenkill Kitchen, Inc.,
a shared-use kitchen that will be available for
rentals, classes, product launches, etc. It is
located at the Historic Salem Courthouse on 58
E. Broadway in Salem. Saturday’s event will include
a ribbon- cutting ceremony, cooking demonstrations
and tastings. For more information on joining
BKI or renting the facility, call 854-3095. .
. . Remember to pass your scraps to Metroland
(e-mail food@ banilsson.com).
want your feedback
you eaten at any
recently reviewed restaurants?
Agree or disagree with B.A.? Let us know what you think...
address not required to submit your feedback, but required to
be placed in running for a Van Dyck Gift Certificate.
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..