Steaks Are High
Broadway, Albany, 427-7463. Serving lunch 11:30-2 Mon-Fri;
dinner 5-10 Mon-Sat; bar menu 2-10 Mon-Sat. Closed Sun. AE,
CB, D, DC, MC, V.
It’s what’s for dinner
price range: $8/$16 (small/large portion angel-hair
pomodoro) to $65 (butter-poached 2.5-pound lobster)
classy, high-powered steakhouse with a few tacky undertones
Almost as sacred in my childhood pantheon of memories as the
family trips to Fenway Park were the visits to a steakhouse
near the stadium. Often my father would disappear sometime
during the first game of a doubleheader to finagle tickets
to the night game. In between games, we’d trek to this very
old, very solemn steakhouse. The old waiter there took his
job—or, more accurately, took beef—very, very seriously, so
that when my mother or I asked for well done, the curl of
his lip and slant of his eyes barely concealed his contempt.
Never mind his expressions when he saw me reach for the ketchup.
Over the years, my appreciation of—and I’d like to think,
my palate for—steak has increased, though it’s still not a
meat that I’d order at most restaurants, no matter the reputation.
So when Angelo’s Prime 677 opened in downtown Albany, I was
intrigued but, frankly, skeptical.
Over the past six months, during which time I’ve had quite
a few chances to sample Prime’s offerings, I’ve come to a
modest respect for what the restaurant is trying to do. Modest,
because while the food is generally very good, and the service
exceptional, the place still bears traces of what you might
call the unintentionally tacky.
The restaurant itself is attractively appointed, with lots
of cherry wood, plush leather seats and crisp linens highlighting
a welcome attention to detail and cleanliness. That said,
however, the famous wine- storage facilities, which greet
you upon entry, look more like the cubbies you’d fine in your
kids’ day care, with gold plate cards labeling their respective
owners. The bar, while comfortable to sit at, features as
its focal point a way-too-big flat-screen TV that makes it
more like a sports bar than a sophisticated place to meet,
flirt or conduct business. In the evenings, the place is five
deep with women of a certain age who seem to outnumber their
male counterparts three to one. The overflow clogs the path
to the restrooms, a problem that perhaps could be alleviated
by the removal of the player grand piano, another incongruous
touch—more Gaslight Village than, say, Sparks.
During the day, Prime has a quiet buzz about it, with a large
contingent of businesspeople closing deals over sliced steak
sandwiches (served with garlic brown butter, melted mozzarella,
tomatoes, sweet cherry peppers and arugula on semolina bread,
$14) or, for the more diet-inclined, one of a number of bountiful
salads, ranging in price from $8 to $10, with the option of
add-ons like grilled shrimp or chicken or sliced beef ($3
to $5). The loaded 10-ounce black angus burger ($11), is a
luscious slab of iron-requirement-fulfillment topped with
bacon, pepperjack cheese, roasted onions, cherry peppers,
chipotle remoulade and 677 steak spice. I must admit, on the
two occasions when I’ve ordered this, I’ve left the place
feeling deliriously sated for two whole days. For a more refined
lunch, try the grilled marinated flatiron steak ($17), served
with crispy onions, chimichurri and Tabasco jus. One caveat:
You never quite know what you’re going to get from one visit
to the next. The first time I had this, the good- quality,
perfectly cooked meat was served alongside equally delicious
grilled green and red peppers, with the accompanying onions
and sauce, and a side of steak fries that would make even
Dr. Atkins forget his carb phobia. A subsequent visit, however,
found the beef mealy and undercooked, with the aforementioned
sides now pureed into a kind of brownish-greenish relish.
Incidentally, the restaurant has added what it calls the 677
Power Lunch, a prix-fixe offering featuring a choice of appetizer
(goat cheese, raspberry and walnut salad or cream of asparagus
soup), 10-ounce filet mignon or 12-ounce prime New York strip
steak, and, for dessert, tropical-fruit mousse trio or chocolate
polenta cake, all for $32.
At dinner, Prime is filled to capacity, and it is then that
the design reveals its poor acoustics. On a recent night out,
my husband and I could barely hear each other over the utter
cacophony. Nevertheless, our waiter Tim went a long way toward
made the evening memorable, with exquisite service and attention
to detail. My husband started with the littleneck clams ($8),
which were succulent and (thankfully) simply presented. I
began with the rock shrimp fritters ($10), enticingly tender
bites that popped with a dab of spicy garlic aioli. The bread
was appropriately warm, which helped defrost the ice-cold
slab of butter that came with it.
For dinner, my husband had the prime New York strip ($39),
which comes from the most tender section of beef. Sides come
a la carte ($4 to $8); he chose skillet potatoes, golden cubes
presented in a miniature iron skillet, and sautéed spinach,
which combined the fresh greens with a dressing that was oddly
sweet. The steak, however, was the main event, and it was
well worth the money. It arrived perfectly grilled, with a
slight crust on its outer edges, the medium-rare center mouthwateringly
tender. This was the stuff of famous steakhouses, the red
blood of life, and Prime revels in its ability to deliver
such good product so expertly. That said, I was less impressed
on another visit with the steak au poivre ($36), which on
that occasion featured a grainier cut of beef served with
an inexplicably watery pink sauce. Prime offers other cuts,
notably a 28-ounce prime porterhouse ($49), a 12-ounce flatiron
($24) and the 22-ounce, delightfully named cowboy steak ($39).
I decided to try the house’s hand with seafood, veering away
from the tempting butter-poached 2.5-pound lobster ($65) and
going instead with Tim’s suggestion of the pan-roasted sea
bass ($32), which was served over a lobster risotto with an
accompanying arugula and cherry-tomato salad. The outer edges
of the fish were nicely golden, and tasted sweet and tender,
whereas the inner portions had a vaguely metallic taste. The
risotto was, considering its ingredients, surprisingly bland,
resembling more a lumpy porridge than creamy arborio. My attempts
to enliven things a bit by addition of salt or pepper were
for naught, especially since the shakers for such seem designed
more for somebody’s idea of cute than for practicality.
We were much too full for dessert, the menu for which highlighted
gloriously fattening options with words like chocolate, peanut
butter and whipped cream. Another time, perhaps. Coffee was
exceptionally good, a nice change of pace from the too-familiar
taste of coffee that’s been sitting on the burner since the
evening shift began. In addition to an extensive wine list,
Prime also features a good variety of after-dinner ports and
Upon leaving Prime, you can’t help but feel conflicted. Even
if you’ve enjoyed excellent food and wine, as is probably
the case, those little missteps add up. After our latest dinner
there, which was largely satisfying, my husband and I could
almost forget the snippy attitude of the maitre’d when we
arrived a whopping 10 minutes past our reservation time. You
might leave savoring the memory of a juicy steak and thinking
about what special person you’d like to invite there in the
future, as you pause underneath the large plastic banner reading
“Now booking holiday parties!” that is pinned to the front
of the building. Prime is special, but it needs to work harder
to smooth its rough edges in order to earn its place in the
pantheon of great Northeast steakhouses.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
hip” and “south of the Mason-Dixon line” aren’t
usually overlapping concepts, but the South has
us beat where barbecue is concerned. But there
are signs of hope, the latest being the addition
of barbecue to the menu at the Van Dyck Restaurant
(237 Union St., Schenectady), which you can
enjoy alongside the restaurant’s newly reinstalled
home-brewed beer. Look for slow-smoked beef brisket,
pork ribs and pulled pork, among other barbecue
classics, along with blackened salmon, seafood
gumbo and steaks from aged sirloin. The items
are also available from the restaurant’s to-go
menu. In addition to the barbecue items, many
of the Van Dyck menu favorites remain, with fine-dining
and tavern-fare options. Call the restaurant at
381-1111 for more info. . . . Nicole’s Bistro
(Quackenbush House, Broadway and Clinton,
Albany) celebrates its 21st anniversary with a
special dinner at 6 PM on Thursday, Nov. 10. The
courses will be paired with appropriate wine,
and include tartlet au fruit de mer (a
quiche of lobster, scallops and shrimp); grilled
milk-fed veal chops with butternut squash risotto
cakes; and a dessert of individual Paris-Brest.
Music will be provided by Ed Clifford, and the
price is $100 per person, all inclusive. Reserve
seats by calling the restaurant at 465-1111. .
. . Remember to pass your scraps to Metroland
want your feedback
you eaten at any
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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..