Butcher Block Grill
Central Ave., Colonie, 456-1653. Serving Mon-Thu 11:30-9:30,
Fri 11:30-10, Sat 4-10, Sun 4-9. AE, D, DC, MC, V.
steaks and seafood
price range: $18 (chicken teriyaki) to $37 (broiled
a heartsick 16-year-old, I complained to my father about the
fickle young woman who continued to spurn my proffered love.
He nodded sagely throughout my recitation, offering nothing
in the way of advice, until I volunteered a piece of information
that he could, so to speak, sink his teeth into.
a vegetarian,” I said.
His normally impassive face grew florid as he worked his jaw
in what either was indignation or phantom chewing. Then he
sadly shook his head, opining, “You’ll come up against a lot
of problems in life. Disappointments, anger, jealousy, despair.
And women will always break your heart. But there’s no problem
on earth that can’t be solved at least temporarily by a big
Thus have I inherited a fondness for the chops-and-salad-bar
establishment, and that hobbledehoy heartsickness has been
supplanted by annoyance: specifically, annoyance at my beef-boycotting
wife, who has prompted the deaths of countless hens.
Our recent visit to the Butcher Block, a stalwart not far
from Central Avenue’s Northway intersection, resulted in a
predictably simple order: chicken, salmon, beef.
And salad bar, of course. I confess to terribly mixed feelings
about the evanescence of those things. It seemed like the
end when Wendy’s packed it in, but at least a couple of other
chains persist with them, and they persevere in steakhouses
like this one.
Grazing along the salad bar seems like a dietarily virtuous
pursuit, but clumps of cheese and shredded bacon and thick,
oily dressings—not to mention mayonnaise-based compotes—can
quickly negate that value. Still, a fat guy like me can feel
at least a little unselfconscious on that second or third
But what an unwieldy passage it can be! The Butcher Block
provides a cooler of oval plates made of chill-holding pewter,
but the outer rim of one of them can act like a racecourse
for cherry tomatoes, one of which launched itself into the
macaroni salad as I went by.
That’s also because I’d heaped the middle of the plate with
lettuce, which forces you to assemble other comestibles in
the margins. I’m learning to go first for that far end of
the bar, where the more complicated salads live, and lay on
the lettuce later.
For 25 years, the Butcher Block has been offering its simple
menu of meat-and- potatoes fare. It’s a restaurant of moments:
generally good, but not consistent. My steak-ordering strategy
has been shaped over the years by places like this. A thick
slab of sirloin should be rare but not actually bloody, but
ordering it rare almost always nets me a medium-rare result.
And that’s fine, though it’s not what I ordered.
Can you blame the chef? Not always. Meat continues to cook
after it leaves the grill, and time under heat lamps also
My latest problem is that I’m eating grass-feed beef at home,
sourcing my meat from local farms. There’s a pronounced (and
better) flavor and texture difference when compared to commercially
sold corn-fed beef—but market forces keep that a philosophical
rather than a culinary problem at this point.
Familiarity is comfort’s most important component, and the
Butcher Block keeps it familiar. The menu takes no bold turns,
offering a long-familiar mix of steaks, chicken and seafood.
The rooms are hunting-lodge rustic, and you’re seated at a
solid wooden table with what amounts to a face towel for your
With so much bounty at the salad bar (including soup and Bountiful
Bread-sourced loaves), you’re probably nuts to get an appetizer;
to ensure leftovers, I ordered a crock of French onion soup
($5), which proved a perfectly acceptable compote, and my
table shared the crab cakes ($10), which gets you two good-sized
towers of the meat-and-bread mixture, with swirls of spicy
tartar sauce alongside.
Other apps include baby back ribs ($9), steamed littlenecks
($9), crab-stuffed mushrooms ($8) and escargot ($8).
There’s a duck breast with orange and lingonberry sauce ($22)
among the non-beef entrées, as well as grilled pork chops
($20) and chicken teriyaki ($18). We sampled the chicken New
Orleans ($18), which gives you four breast strips served over
pasta with a Cajun sauce; it seemed a little bland nevertheless,
so my wife enhanced it by adding some veggies from the salad
Maple Dijon salmon ($22) gives you a good-sized piece of fish
where the flavors of maple syrup and Dijon mustard come through
an apple-pecan crust, and this was the opposite of the chicken
dish, with lots of flavors swirling through.
A fresh catch is offered among the seafood items, along with
shrimp scampi ($23), broiled scallops ($22), crab-stuffed
haddock ($20) and more.
But it’s the steaks that draw people back, and my sirloin
(12-ounce cut, $26) was an impressive chunk of beef despite
the above-noted cavils. (There’s an 8-ounce cut for $21).
Prime rib is carved daily until the day’s supply is exhausted;
filet mignon is available in 8-ounce ($24) and 12-ounce ($30)
cuts. Top sirloin ($22) and porterhouse ($30) also are available.
The Butcher Block has enjoyed its longtime popularity because
of the comfort it offers; with a sharper focus on service,
which could be more responsive, and food consistency, it should
enjoy a continued long run.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
the new year with New World Home Cooking Company’s
10th annual Champagne Dinner, which takes place
at 6:30 PM on Dec. 14. Chef Ric Orlando and Michael
Weiss, wine instructor at the Culinary Institute
of America, join forces to present a seven-course
meal paired with seven wines. Start with a clam
foursome—raw littlenecks with mustard sauce, cherrystone
ceviche with cilantro, razor clam spicy Asian
barbecue, and Manila clam paella with peas and
chorizo—and continue through a meal that includes
a trio of lamb (lamb filet mignon, sweetbreads
with strawberry-chipotle sauce, and crepinettes
with tomato jam) and much more. It’s $79 per person,
plus tax and tip, and you can reserve seats by
calling (845) 246-0900. The restaurant is at 1411
Route 212, Saugerties; check out newworldhomecooking.com
for more info. . . . Remember to pass your scraps
to Metroland (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org).
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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..