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photo:B.A. Nilsson

New Standards
By B.A. Nilsson

Millstone Lodge

654 Saratoga Road, Burnt Hills, 384-3812. Serving lunch and dinner Tue-Thu 11-9:30, Fri-Sat 11-10, Sun 10-8:30. AE, DC, MC, V.

Cuisine: continental with Italian touches

Entrée price range: $13 (chicken and biscuits) to $25 (steak and shrimp scampi)

Ambiance: handsome Adirondack lodge

The story is familiar: Local boy gets bitten by the restaurant bug, travels afield while learning the business, comes home to open his own place. In Cory Masten’s case, he started as a busboy at the Olde Bryan Inn, worked his way to a waiter’s position, then went into the kitchen and worked his way through the stations in there.

Opening his own place shimmered from dream to possibility when Masten learned that the former Kristel’s Inn was for sale, but he was thwarted in his first attempt to buy it. He was on the brink of accepting an executive chef position elsewhere when he learned that a deal had fallen through, and he hustled to secure the place.

It’s a venerable place well back from busy Route 50, with a waterfall on the property that gives the grounds a restful feel. So Cory and his father set out to offer a similar ambiance inside, and chose a lodge theme—birchbark, wainscoting, some snowshoes here and there—that they were able to realize after nearly 10 months of refurbishment.

“The place had been empty for two and a half years,” says Masten, “so there was a lot to do. Fortunately, my dad runs a construction business and knows what he’s doing.”

Enjoy a beer at the bar and you’d swear you were taking a break from a High Peaks hike. The combination of natural wood and well-chosen lighting gives a sense of intimacy that extends even to the large dining room, where you’ll find large, accommodating tables and comfortable chairs. It’s a pleasure to see this quality both of design and construction.

Lunch and dinner aren’t separate entities here: The menu pages list options of varying size and price, so you can choose the price range (and portion size) that makes the most sense. Thus, while my wife and I enjoyed full-fledged dinners, my daughter was able to have a sandwich.

But we started with too many appetizers, thus ensuring a plenitude of take-home containers. And this even though so many of those appetizers are what I think of as bar fare—chicken wings, mozzarella sticks—that have long since lost their appeal.

“Try the Maryland crab cakes,” our server, a cheerful dynamo named Madelyn, suggested. The $10 dish justified its price by the amount of real-thing seafood worked into the diminutive cakes, rendering the accompanying remoulade pleasant but unnecessary (although I continued to sully the seafood purity, as I always do, with dollop after dollop of sauce).

Cream of broccoli soup ($2.50 for a cup), so common an offering, hit all the right notes with me by being not too thick but still redolent of cream with a tasty flavor of stock peeking through.

And when my daughter learned of the combo of chili in a breadbowl ($6.50), she had to have one. I tried to talk her out of it by observing that it wouldn’t be purist’s chili, insofar as it probably would contain beans and tomatoes. “Do you really think everyone cares about these things as much as you do?” she riposted.

Good of its kind, this chili, a standard ground-beef-and-kidney-bean stew that passes for this dish in the Northeast. Adding bread around it and cheese on top approaches excess, but add a mug of ale to the order and you make a meal of it.

The breadbowl—custom baked, as are the wee loaves placed on the table—probably was her undoing, because when the Monte Cristo ($8) arrived, she barely could make it through one of the sandwich halves. It’s a great version of a disappearing classic, with thick slices of a Pullman loaf imprisoning a heap of turkey, then batter dipped and fried as a slab of Swiss cheese melts over the top.

Several more $7 to $9 sandwiches, hot and cold, fill out the page, including a big burger. There’s also a light fare page that includes a couple of dinner salads, chicken and pasta dishes, and even a small New York sirloin ($14), most priced from $8 to $12. Under the “Hearty” heading, there’s a turkey dinner ($14) that my wife would have ordered had Thanksgiving not just passed. A scallops Rockefeller special ($15), served with spinach and a wild rice pilaf, proved to be an unusual and delicious combo with a hint of sweetness that complements the seafood well.

Although I believe that clams are overrated, the ivory clams entrée ($19), in which they’re roasted in a white sauce and finished with cream, was tempting. Not tempting enough to steer me from Madelyn’s recommendation of the chicken Sorrentino ($19), a huge portion of breast pieces stuffed with prosciutto and ricotta, mixed with batter-fried eggplant in a tomato sauce, and served over linguini with a chunk of fresh mozzarella melting in the middle.

“I make everything from scratch,” says Masten, “except for a few of the kids’ menu items. Otherwise, we make our own sauces, bake our own bread, make our desserts, everything. I don’t care how hard it may be to do it this way. It’s the way I cook.”

We packed it in—and packed it up—with enough room to share a plate of homemade apple crisp ($4) topped with ice cream, before reluctantly abandoning what had become an increasingly comfortable spot, a renewed sense of well-being carrying us into the frozen night.

Click here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.


Schenectady recently celebrated the grand opening of Villa Italia Pasticceria in a beautiful new building at 226 Broadway. It signals the rebirth of an institution that served the city for 40 years from its former space in Rotterdam. The Mallozzi family (which also runs their namesake restaurant in Rotterdam) is positioning itself to be part of the rebirth of downtown Schenectady itself, characterized by the expansion of Proctor’s and the expected arrival of several new shops and restaurants. The new Villa Italia totals 7,200 square feet, five-sixths of which is given over to the commercial bakery, producing breads, pastries, fancy cakes and much more; the retail shop also features sandwiches and homemade gelato. And the display cases, true to the family’s roots, were imported from Italy. . . . Remember to pass your scraps to Metroland (e-mail

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Have you eaten at any recently reviewed restaurants? Agree or disagree with B.A.? Let us know what you think...

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What you're saying...

I 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.

Mary Kurtz

First, 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 the reviews.

Pat Russo
East Greenbush

I 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!

Peggy Van Deloo

So happy to see you finally made out!! Our experiences have always been wonderful, the staff is extremely professional, the food subperb, and the atmosphere very warm and comfortable. Let us not forget to mention "Maria" the pianist on Friday and Saturday nights.

Charlie and Marie
Michaels Restaurant

I have been to Michael's several times and each time I have enjoyed it very much. The food is delicious and the staff is great. Also, Maria Riccio Bryce plays piano there every Friday and Saturday evening, a nice touch to add to the already wonderful atmosphere. It is also easy to find, exit 27 off the thruway to 30 north for about 5 miles.

N. Moore


Elaine Snowdon

We loved it and will definitely go back.

Rosemarie Rafferty

Absolutely excellent. The quality and the flavor far surpasses that of other Indian restaurants in the area. I was a die-hard Shalimar fan and Tandoor Palace won my heart. It blows Ghandi out of the water. FInally a decent place in Albany where you can get a good dinner for less than $10 and not have tacos. The outdoor seating is also festive.

Brady G'sell

Indian is my favorite cuisine available in the area--I loved Tandoor Palace. We all agreed that the tandoori chicken was superior to other local restaraunts, and we also tried the ka-chori based on that intriguing description-delicious.

Kizzi Casale

Your 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..

Barry Uznitsky

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