Olde Shaker Inn
Troy Schenectady Road (Route 7), Latham, 783-6460, www.theoldeshakerinn.com.
Serving lunch Mon-Fri 11:30-3, dinner Mon-Thu 5-9:30, Fri-Sat
5-10, Sun 4-9. Sunday brunch 10-2. AE, D, DC, MC, V.
price range: $15 (sweet potato pork) to $20 (filet mignon)
It wasn’t that I last reviewed the place almost exactly seven
years ago that unnerved me. It was discovering that the time
before that—the first time I reviewed it—was almost exactly
seven years earlier.
The Olde Shaker Inn opened in the summer of 1991, a partnership
between Tom Wallace and chef Jim Westervelt. The menu, unusual
for the time, featured exotic ingredients and bold flavors,
and proved to be just what area cognoscenti were seeking.
When Westervelt died, two years later, Wallace determined
to keep the restaurant going in a style consistent with his
This year, Westervelt’s oldest son, Christopher, has joined
the kitchen, beginning his journey to chefdom with prep work.
“So we get a sense of things coming full circle,” says Wallace,
adding, “even though I tried to talk him out of it.”
Succumbing to our septennial urge, we visited recently and
were pleased (surprised, relieved) to discover that the Olde
Shaker soldiers on, delivering food and service every bit
as good as we remember it. And Wallace has adhered to a from-the-start
policy of keeping the entrée prices under $20, “although I’m
afraid we’re not going to be able to keep that tenderloin
at that price much longer,” he says, citing a host of rising
costs against which he’s been fighting.
The restaurant, a much-renovated old house, offers a number
of dining rooms, including an enclosed porch. We sat in what
might have been the house’s living room and enjoyed the attention
of Reneé, a server who was with the restaurant when it opened,
took time off to raise some kids, and now (with the kids more
self-sufficient) is back.
that’s the case with a lot of the people who work here,” says
Wallace. “We have staff turnover, sure, but at least half
of the employees have been here for 10 years or longer.” Both
staff and regular customers enjoy a sense of being part of
a family, and have a great deal of say in what stays on and
goes from the menu.
With about two dozen entrées to tempt you, the choice is both
simple and difficult. You’ll find something you like; the
challenge is to force yourself to narrow your scope. Seafood
items include pan-seared scallops ($18) and citrus-crusted
salmon filet ($18), as well as several preparations of sole.
My wife uncharacteristically chose sole nori ($19), which
cooks a generous portion of fish in a crinkly dark seaweed
wrapper: what you see on your sushi, but on a grander scale.
With that scale comes a more pronounced flavor, accentuated
by cooking, and it proved intimidating. “Not one of my favorites,
either,” commented Wallace, “and it’s coming off the menu.
The funny thing is that it worked as a special. But I’ve seen
it happen before—it goes on the menu and all of a sudden it’s
not so special.” (Interestingly, it endured more successfully
as a leftover than usually happens with fish. I peeled off
the wrapper and steamed some heat back into it.)
In the beef department, there are cuts of sirloin and tenderloin,
and a nightly offering of prime rib. Although the pastry-wrapped
Wellington preparation is traditionally associated with tenderloin
of beef, here it’s offered with chicken ($17), which also
gets the saltimbocca treatment ($17) if you so desire.
Duck is a favorite poultry item, and we sampled a roasted
duck special ($22) that presented a wonderfully crispy mélange
of leg and breast, served over a not-too-sweet cranberry relish
that highlighted the bird’s flavor.
A few pork and veal items round out the menu, which also includes
an $18 vegetarian platter. The slices of veal roulade ($18)
sported colorful peppers rolled inside the cutlet, tender
and nicely sauced, complemented by cream-rich mashed potatoes.
All of the plate presentations were simple yet handsome, with
crisp, tasty sides of seasonal vegetables to finish them.
And more than half of each entrée came home with us because
of a full complement of appetizers, bread and salad to start
The starters, in the $4-$8 range, are irresistible, with sautéed
chicken livers, Asian-crusted crabcakes and Thai blackened
scallops among them. A martini glass of duck-filled fried
wontons ($11) was spectacular, with a sweet-spicy relish to
complement the pastries. Sweet potato corn fritters are the
top seller, and it’s easy to understand why. With roasted
corn filling out the filling and a dipping sauce that mixes
roasted peppers and honey, you’ve got an all-points embrace
of the palate here. The only drawback is you’ll feel compelled
to share it.
The kitchen is run as a team effort, but one of the chefs
is an old friend—Greg Pomakoy—who worked as a sous chef in
the restaurant’s early days. No doubt he’s helping maintain
the admirable consistency of the place.
There’s no better testament to the Olde Shaker Inn’s enduring
quality than the fact that it fills its tables on midweek
nights. Fourteen years ago it was avant-garde; it has since
settled into a reliable rhythm of good service and food that
keeps it a worthy area favorite.
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..