Giant Among Burgers
Plaza, Albany, 482-3677. Serving Mon-Thu 8 AM-9 PM, Fri-Sat
8 AM-9:30 PM, Sun 8-7. AE, CB, D, DC, MC, V.
classy diner fare
price range: $4.75 (grilled cheese) to $10.95 (turkey club)
bright and bustling
Say what you will about fancy cuisine—and I’ve said plenty
over the years—but nothing beats a great burger. For a long
time I thought it defined American cuisine; now I realize
it’s taken on another all-American characteristic. It’s an
It happened slowly. Like everyone else, I was seduced into
thinking that the Big Mac took the burger concept to new heights,
fooled by its creamy puddles of dressing into thinking the
flavor was good. Fast food greedily consumed the burger concept,
throwing ever-smaller, increasingly tasteless patties our
way, to the point where the meat-packing industry, dodging
regulations since Upton Sinclair fingered it a century ago,
now gets to sell beef that’s so bad you’re hard pressed to
find a chain (or even local) restaurant that will finish your
burger any redder than medium.
A good burger needs good, fresh beef. You’ll taste the difference,
and that’s what made me sit up, two oozing pillows of bread
in my hand, and regard the plump, red-eyed little monster
that had just yielded a surprisingly flavorful morsel. Like
Sasquatch or an honest lobbyist, I beheld the rarest of the
rare—and it was cooked rare, too.
This was the Peaches Café Stuyvesant Burger ($9.50), a half-pound
concoction topped with the pair of items of your choosing
(five types of cheese, five other favorites like sautéed onions
or roasted peppers, and two dressings), lettuce and tomato
a given. I added pepperjack and bacon, and couldn’t have been
And there are other, more-strictly-defined burgers, such as
the $8 All-American (just lettuce and tomato, or add cheese
for a dollar), the Cajun-seasoned and thus oddly-named Mexican
burger ($10; all right, it also has salsa), and more, each
plate served with fries or miniature onion rings.
And you probably thought of Peaches Café as just a dessert
place. Or the home of massive Belgian waffles.
Peaches has been a Stuyvesant Plaza mainstay for almost a
quarter-century, withstanding the glut of eateries that crowd
around it. It has a niche; it has adapted to changing times
and tastes. Once it was known as “Peaches ’n’ Creme”; owners
John and Nancy DiIanni renamed it to remind us that it’s more
than an ice cream parlor.
And even the ice cream has changed. Once exclusively homemade,
now it’s Häagen-Dazs. A dinner menu was offered for a while,
but drew too little a following to continue (the restaurant
does still offer daily dinner specials). The short-lived low-carb
section of the menu has vanished.
What’s left is streamlined, time-tested and impressive. This
is what you wish you’d find in a roadside diner. Hearty breakfasts
and a generous assortment of sandwiches and salads. And then
an amazing array of desserts, plain and fancy. I like the
fact that you can even get an egg cream here.
Pancakes, including a chocolate chip variety, French toast,
blintzes and, of course, waffles dominate the breakfast list,
each around $6; a menu page of egg dishes features omelettes,
eggs Benedict, eggs Florentine, eggs with hash, eggs with
a variety of pork products—an egg lover’s paradise, even with
all those breakfast pastries to compete against.
Quiche is a long-standing offering, and the traditional quiche
Lorraine ($9) is a generous portion of the bacon-and-cheese-filled
pie—good of its kind, when I sampled it recently, and certainly
worthy of inclusion, but nothing to astonish you.
going to have your Mediterranean vegetable sandwich on basil
focaccia bread,” my friend Tom told his server during a recent
visit, “because I hear it mentioned all the time on your radio
have radio ads?” the server replied. There is a bit of this
tentativeness in the service in general, which may leave you
waiting at the entrance for a while before you’re recognized,
and leave you wondering why you can’t get a check when some
of the staff are leaning against the walls, chatting with
one another. When they swing into gear, however, they’re quite
The voluminous sandwich, which packs eggplant, roasted peppers,
tomatoes and mozzarella cheese between slabs of the herb-rich
bread, combines those flavors splendidly and makes a good
meat-free choice. Along those lines, I’m planning to try the
portobello Reuben on a future visit. But there also are panini
and wraps and just plain old deli sandwiches with all the
traditional meats and meat salads, even down to a “pub style”
fish-fry sandwich of cod and American cheese. And these all
are in the $7-$9 range.
The soups are quite good, with a cup of traditional chicken
noodle ($4) as you’d expect. The brief appetizer list features
warm spinach and artichoke dip ($8), by now an old standby,
but here served fondue-like with chunks of sourdough bread
to dredge through it.
Desserts speak for themselves. I watched Tom punish a Candy
Bar Sundae, with its three scoops of ice cream studded with
candy pieces (he chose Reese’s Pieces), hot fudge and whipped
cream, and saw a man transported into a childhood dream of
Go to Peaches for your dessert fix or your big Belgian waffle;
I’m going back for the burgers.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
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 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..