Answer Is Yes
State St., Albany, 465-8854. Serving daily 11:30-10. AE, DC,
D, MC, V.
price range: $20 (chopped sirloin) to $28 (filet mignon);
dry-aged NY strip is $40.
homey, if you have a fancy home
home.” This was the greeting we received from Arnold Rosenstein
as we entered Jack’s, and if it seems like sardonic graciousness—well,
then you haven’t been to this restaurant lately. I certainly
hadn’t—it was last reviewed here in 1994—and was eager to
see if the place has been able to maintain its very high standards.
Part of the reason for those standards is Rosenstein’s family.
His father, Jack, founded the restaurant in 1913; his son,
Brad, is the current owner and manager, and more often than
not the person you’ll see as you enter.
just missed me,” Brad explained when we chatted a few days
after my visit, “but my father does a great job filling in
for me.” For Rosenstein, hospitality is everything, and he
carries it to a degree that seems almost absurd. (“At Jack’s,”
the menu proclaims, “the answer is always YES!”) But he’s
serious about it, and the result shows both in the way you’re
treated while dining there and by the fact that this restaurant
has been flourishing here for more than 90 years.
Jack’s scored one of the area’s biggest restaurant coups by
hiring certified master chef Dale Miller to helm the kitchen.
Miller is one of an exclusive fraternity of the country’s
finest chefs—there are fewer than 100 in this group—and made
a name for himself when he owed and ran the Stone Ends.
Taking over the kitchen at Jack’s was a tricky proposition.
With what was then an 80-year heritage, a lot of customer
loyalty had to be supported. And yet Miller had his own following
as well, and he has the talent to liven any dish he tackles.
He and Brad came up with a two-part menu that they ran for
a while, separating Jack’s classic dishes from Dale’s newfangled
stuff. Now they commingle on a single menu again.
call it Jack’s Evolution,” says Brad. “Dale has been constantly
fine-tuning things, and combining the menus this way allowed
us to take off some of the older items—and newer ones—that
haven’t been moving well.”
They kept the calves’ liver ($18), a longtime favorite (“We
go through a lot of it,” says Brad), and it tempted my wife
as she scanned the bill of fare. (She and I took our common
love of liver as good reason to marry; now we have a descendant
who shares this taste. It’s a family thing.) The baked Atlantic
cod ($18) is another old friend, and this one stirred something
sentimental in Susan’s heart. She ordered it.
The fish was lightly breaded, lightly seasoned, cooked until
just firm, and extremely satisfying, with fluffy mashed potatoes
and a crisp vegetable compote alongside.
A well-chosen 18 items comprise the entrées, not counting
the market-priced lobster dishes. Seven of these are beef
dishes, which isn’t surprising. Given the restaurant’s history
as a center of the city’s political machinations, steak would
be the once and future king. Black Angus shoulder is $20;
a 9-ounce filet mignon is $28. If you want to splurge on the
best, $40 gets you a 14-ounce dry-aged strip steak. And there’s
a variety of sauces and other accompaniments for your steak.
I enjoyed the steak Diane ($26), one of Miller’s classic Stone
Ends recipes, which boasts a dark, rich, brandy-enhanced cream
sauce tangy with the flavor of mustard. Two tender filet mignon
medallions accompany the sauce, which really is the star of
One item I’ve never ordered at Jack’s is oysters, so I made
a point of it—a bluepoint of it—during this visit, easily
polishing off a half-dozen ($10). I would have shared them,
but my companions (liver partiality notwithstanding) turned
up their noses. Clams, crabmeat, shrimp and more also can
be ordered from the raw bar.
A non-French onion soup was Susan’s starter ($5), and it was
an unexpectedly light concoction with lots of sweet onions
unsullied by cheese and bread. A more whimsical starter is
the popcorn shrimp ($10) served with what looked like cole
slaw but revealed itself as a lemon-pepper aioli. The shrimp
itself peeks over the top of an old-fashioned movie-theater
popcorn box that’s otherwise filled with, you guessed it,
popcorn. We also shared a tomato-and-mozzarella salad ($7)
with terrific cheese, good (for being out of season) fruit
and a perky pesto accompaniment with a couple of slices of
Sea bass, scallops and salmon are also available as entrées,
along with preparations of veal, chicken and lamb. My daughter
was sold on the semi-boneless half duck ($22) because of its
pineapple-ginger glaze, which drew out the sweetness in this
crispy dish. She ignored the side of wild rice, which left
it as a lunch item for me the following day.
The aged retainers who served you here a decade ago are retired;
the staff is young and a little greener than before. But they
lack no enthusiasm, and you feel sure right away that your
comfort will be seen to.
open every day,” says Brad. “It’s a matter of principle. I
don’t want customers wondering whether we’re closed on Monday,
for example. To close on any day sends the message that you’re
more important than your customers. Every decision that’s
been made at this restaurant was made in order to serve our
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
Damon Baehrel of The Basement Bistro in
Earlton (Greene County) will prepare and host
his restaurant’s final Winter Wine Tasting Luncheon
of the season. He will pair three of his favorite
Hudson Valley wines with courses served in his
popular “Chef’s Tasting Menu” format. The luncheon
takes place at 1:30 PM on Feb. 26, and the cost
is $54 per person plus tax and gratuity. Reservations
are required; call 269-1009. For more info, visit
www.sagecrestcatering.com. . . . Provence (Stuyvesant
Plaza, Albany) presents its Regional Wine Spectacular
2006, during which the restaurant offers a 25-percent
discount on region-specific bottles of wine on
Sundays and Mondays. During February, Old World
Wines are the feature, specifically Italian, French
and Spanish vintages; the March feature is Australian,
New Zealand and South African wine. Call the restaurant
at 689-7777, or visit www.provence-restaurant.net
for more information. . . . Learn the basics of
making pasta from chef Dominic Colose at his Saratoga
pasta emporium, The Yawning Duck (51 Ash
St.) from 7 to 9 PM on Feb. 16. The class covers
making, rolling and cutting pasta dough, as well
as a guide to filled and flavored pasta, and cooking
tips. The class is $45 plus tax per person. Feel
free to bring your own equipment (rolling pins,
pasta machine, etc.). The second class, “The Fundamentals
of Italian Sauce Making,” is scheduled for Thursday,
Feb. 23. Call 584-0929 for information and reservations.
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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..