to Meat You
By B.A. Nilsson
7, Duanesburg, 895-2509. Serving dinner Wed-Fri 5:30-8, Sat
seatings at 5:30 and 8:30. MC, V.
price range: $19 (pork chop) to $35 (chateaubriand)
like being home
The year began with the Tet Offensive and ended with the election
of Richard Nixon to his first term as president. While I doubt
that Walter Cronkite or Chet Huntley got news cameras up to
Duanesburg, in 1968 the Bear’s Steakhouse—then known as Duane
Manor—opened its doors. Without bothering to advertise or
publish a telephone number.
Bob Payne already had put in time cooking at Schenectady’s
Van Dyck Restaurant, but decided that a scaled-down format
highlighting the steaks he enjoyed was preferable. A loyal
following of customers has agreed with him.
I last wrote about the restaurant seven years ago and couldn’t
praise the place highly enough. This time, trying to schedule
a last-minute visit, I ran into a few sold-out nights. So
I knew they were doing well.
When I finally got in, I understood why. They haven’t changed
the formula one bit. It’s still very much a family operation,
although Bob Jr. now has taken over the kitchen. His father
still orders the meat, however, because he’s a man with very
strong beliefs about how a cut should look and how old it
should be and a myriad of other details that set the threshold
of the product. And without an excellent cut of meat to begin
with, you don’t get an excellent steak.
I’d all but forgotten how simple an excellent steak can be.
For what I think may have been the first time in my life,
I ordered a surf-and-turf combo, which in this case paired
a filet mignon with an order of sautéed sea scallops.
Ah, but did I want a Mama Bear or Papa Bear size? They carry
the bear thing to great lengths here, but, after all, it’s
Bob Sr.’s nickname and this was enough to persuade him not
only to name the restaurant thus but also to decorate it with
all manner of bear-related knickknacks and memorabilia.
About a dozen tables fill the single dining room. They’re
nicely white-linen appointed, with accents of blue from the
napkins. What with the ongoing struggle to come up with ever
wackier ways to dress a dining room, this seems old-fashioned.
But old-fashioned, as implemented here, works well.
John, another one of the Payne boys, runs the floor and does
it with unsurpassable elegance. He’ll make whatever you order
seem like the true and only choice, as if you’ve been seized
with some innate menu genius. He’ll talk to you and your party
throughout the meal, with progress reports and any anticipated
My party of three watched with envy as a spectacular looking
platter of appetizers went to a much larger party. “Would
you like one of those?” asked John. “We can do it for three.”
Although his father would later visit our table and complain
about the smallness of the shrimp, we saw no such diminution.
Several well-cleaned jumbo shrimp were accompanied by a nicely
tangy cocktail sauce as well as a sauce melding wasabi and
Nova Scotia-derived smoked salmon was nearby, beside an order
of homemade mozzarella cheese interleaved with juicy tomato
slices. Each of those three appetizers is $10 alone. We also
got a small wheel of baked Danish brie, a former menu item
that the chef had on hand and added to the mix. And there
was subtle, delicious wine-marinated herring. ($4.25 as an
appetizer). The platter also was dressed with fruit and provided
a substantial quantity of leftovers.
With all the food you’re bound to get, you probably don’t
want a cup of soup ($3). But if it’s the beef and vegetable
blend, which uses end cuts from the filet mignon, you’ll miss
an amazing recipe, something that will put all future tastes
of the same-named brew to shame. A beef soup with plenty of
House salads are fresh and chilled and served with respectable
As the regulars know, you not only need a reservation on weekends,
but also have to phone ahead for the chateaubriand, the house
specialty ($35 per person), typically cooked for parties of
four but available to a deuce on weekends. And the prime rib
($29) should be ordered in advance as well.
There are non-steak items available, like the poached salmon
or sautéed scallops ($21 each), as well as a nightly chicken
special. Other non-beef items are a pork chop ($19) and lamb
chops ($25). How many you get of each item depends upon the
size of the cut and the chef’s whim. You won’t be left hungry.
Then there’s the three-in-one mixed grill ($28) that presents
a slice of filet mignon, a couple of lamb chops, and a fat
pork chop slice. A great combo and a study in contrasts, as
my table discovered through many samples.
That classic rib-eye cut, the Delmonico ($24) is a plate-dwarfing
behemoth that also varies in thickness along its body. So
what looked, at the edges, to be a little overcooked proved
to be perfectly medium rare in the middle.
My own filets—I was served two because the chef thought them
too small—also were perfectly finished. No complaints about
the food here, except for the excess, which turns into torment
when the desserts arrive. They’re huge, too, and also homemade,
with a carrot cake that’s simply one of the best.
Sure, it’s not the world’s best diet. But it’s rare to find
a restaurant that understands its clientele this well, and
offers exemplary food and service to anyone who makes the
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
in North Adams, Mass., recently was awarded a
three-diamond rating by AAA, an honor given only
to the highest-caliber restaurants. In addition
to the new AAA rating, the restaurant was rated
4.7 out of 5 at Fodors.com and was given four
stars (out of five) on NYTimes.com in 2004. Gramercy
Bistro is a chef-owned and -operated restaurant
that serves creative American cuisine with a focus
on local, farm-fresh ingredients. The restaurant
is located across from the MASS MoCA campus at
24 Marshall St. Call (413) 663-5300 for more info.
. . . Brush off your palate for a dinner and wine-tasting
event at Parisi’s Steakhouse (11 N. Broadway,
Schenectady) at 7 PM Monday (June 6). Featured
are Wine Merchants’ Picks for the Summer, with
Wine Merchants representative Joe Benny to guide
you through the selections. It’s a six-course
meal with five wines; they include blackened chicken
with parmesan risotto paired with a White Haven
(New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc; grilled summer
vegetables & chorizo with a Frei Brothers
(Russian River Valley, California) Pinot Noir;
and a Frei Brothers Merlot to highlight grilled
swordfish with beef steak tomato and peppered
vinaigrette. The event is $50 plus tax and tip,
and reservations are required. Call 374-0100.
. . . The New York State Department of Agriculture
& Markets’ Pride of New York program kicks
off a series of farm-to-table dinners tomorrow
(Friday) at Howe Caverns Restaurant in
Schoharie County, which will continue every Friday
in June and September. Menus (created by Howe
Caverns executive chef JoAnne Cloughly) will feature
Pride of New York products while members share
recipes and product samples with attendees. For
more info, call 457-3136 or visit www.prideofny.
com. . . . Remember to pass your scraps to Metroland
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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..