Black Cat Ale House
White St., Cohoes, 235-3199. Serving daily 11:30-10. AE, D,
pub food plus
price range: $9 (meatloaf) to $22 (surf and turf)
It’s a combination of a restaurant in Hyannis (called the
Black Cat) and a bar in Manhattan. It’s just off the main
street of Cohoes, where it has quietly built a following during
its three years. The Black Cat Ale House is the brainchild
of Terry Frederick, who has had a hand in other area hotels
and restaurants but finally, with this place, got to create
the kind of neighborhood pub he enjoys as a customer.
There’s a comfortable ambiance that goes beyond the pleasant
nautical theme of the decor. Neighborhood folk have discovered
the place and made it their own; people also drive in from
towns near and not-so-near. Not surprisingly, there are good
brews on tap and an impressive variety in bottles, but what
knocked us over was the quality of the food, all of it handmade.
Superior pub fare is elusive these days. I’m forever seeking
out-of-the-way joints where there might be magic in the kitchen.
Too often—most often—I find what I found while driving through
the Catskills recently, impressed enough with the facade of
an Irish pub to try it for a solo dinner. The overpriced fish
and chips I was served were a disappointing combo of breaded,
frozen patties and undercooked fries.
Compare that to what’s served at the Black Cat. It was a Friday
night special, for $14, featuring a tremendous strip of whitefish
that was freshly batter-dipped before hitting the hot oil,
surrounded by crisp steak fries. Although it’s not on the
regular menu, you’ll find plenty of other lunch and dinner
items, the latter served nightly after 4 PM and all day on
Sandwiches are the lunch staple, running the classical gamut
from grilled cheese ($3.75) to a $7.50 “Philly style cheese
steak canoe.” Roast beef, corned beef, Reubens, pastrami—and
note that the turkey listing boasts itself as “fresh-roasted
daily in-house. NEVER any ‘pressed stuff.’ ” Those canoes
also come with sausage and peppers, or a parmigiana preparation
of chicken or eggplant. And there’s a list of burgers (a half
pound of Black Angus) culminating in the Black Cat’s Cat’s
Meow, topped with bacon, cheese, mushrooms, peppers and onions
and priced at only $7.
Appetizers are what you’d expect, lots of fried stuff, of
which we sampled an order of chicken wings ($5.50) cooked
Cajun garlic style for some unusual but appropriate flavor
(the celery and blue cheese is included in that price). The
soup of the day was cream of mushroom ($3.50/$4.50), and it
had an unexpectedly good texture and flavor.
Steamed clams are a house special, market priced. Our dozen
cost $7, which was more than reasonable, and won the approval
of our friend Gary, a Rhode Island native and clam aficionado
who insisted that the true steamer has to be an Ipswich, but
who could find no fault with the littlenecks he was served.
Although I’m rarely intimidated by an unfamiliar menu, it’s
always nice to have an escort. Our server, Colleen, proved
to be exceptionally knowledgeable about the food and how to
match it to our various tastes. So it was that Gary, his eye
on the crab cakes ($16) or the meatloaf ($9) was steered to
the $17 Delmonico steak. Not what he planned to order, but
still a satisfying choice because it was a good cut of meat
that sported the distinctive flavor of the charcoal grill.
I don’t know the weight of the cut, but it was formidable
enough to also warrant a take-home container.
I could have gone with the pork chop dinner ($11), but I detected
a note of concern in Colleen’s voice when I asked her about
it. Next thing I knew, she was rhapsodizing about the surf
and turf, never a big favorite with me; divining which, she
eased into the subject of steak alone and persuaded me to
go with another special of the day: a slab of prime rib the
size of a small apartment building, for the amazingly low
price of $16.
really good tonight,” she confided, “and you can get it really
rare, if you like.” I did so. She was right.
The entrées include dinner salads, a better-than-average array,
and the plates are finished with a not-overcooked vegetable
and a potato choice, which prompted a hail of baked potatoes
at our table.
Rounding out our dinner selection was another Colleen-recommended
item: Jamaican chicken ($9.50), a less-intimidating way of
identifying jerk chicken. Although in this case, the meat
doesn’t marinate in the spicy sauce but instead picks up the
flavor from its gravy. While it wouldn’t persuade a Jamaican,
I can see it as a way of introducing the flavor to the timid,
and my wife, who too often numbers among that group, was pleased
to be able to regulate the amount of spice heat that way.
Too stuffed to even consider dessert (one of the listings
of which is the ever-changing “chocolate something,” $4.50),
we nevertheless lingered over coffee and the remains of our
beer and wine because the outdoors were chilly, the company
was good, and the restaurant couldn’t have made us feel more
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
Franklin turned 300 a couple of days ago, and
in celebration of that signal event, Brown’s
Brewing Company (425 River St., Troy) has
made a commemorative brew. Head brewer Peter Martin
joins more than 100 craft brewers across the nation
who are also tapping their versions of “Poor Richard’s
Ale.” It’s sponsored by the Brewers’ Association,
a national nonprofit trade association for craft
brewers that has partnered with one of Franklin’s
descendants to create a recipe for the participants.
According to Martin, the recipe includes molasses
and corn, two items that were abundant during
Colonial times. The brew will be available throughout
the month. For more info, call the brewery at
273-2337. . . . It’s an easy transition from Franklin
to France, although Dr. F may have been too egalitarian
to enjoy La Fête des Rois (The Festival
of Kings). Nevertheless, it will be celebrated
at the Saratoga Lake Inn & Bistro (511
Route 9P, Saratoga Lake) Jan. 27 and 28. The festival
is a French tradition that dates back to 1311;
to celebrate, chef-owner Eric Masson’s menu offers
a choice of appetizer (ham and mushroom crepe,
escargot sautéed with wild mushrooms, or quiche
Lorraine), mixed greens with goat cheese or a
country soup with green cabbage and ham, and an
entrée (chicken and vegetables with a velouté
sauce, sirloin steak Bordelaise, or sole amandine).
Dessert features a cake called Gallette des
Rois with a hidden surprise. Dinner is $29
per person plus tax and gratuity, and parties
of six or more will receive a chef-selected complimentary
bottle of wine. Reserve seats by calling 587-8280.
. . . New World Home Cooking Co. (Route
212, Saugerties) is holding a July in January
weekend Jan. 20 and 21, a tropically themed event
that features summer food, exotic music and a
free island drink for those who dress for the
beach. Among the menu items: Cayman conch chowder,
callaloo soup, sweet plantain pasteles, conch
fritters, curried goat, Haitian griot of pork
and much more. Friday night enjoy the world beat
of Tumbao Blue; Saturday Night gets even hotter
with the Afro-Cuban dance band Los Taino. Make
reservations by calling (845) 246-0900. . . .
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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..