at a Snail’s Pace
Real Seafood Company
Wolf Road, Colonie, 458-2068. Serving Mon-Thu 11-10, Fri 11-11,
Sat 3-11, Sun 3-9:30. AE, D, DC, MC, V.
seafood and continental items
price range: $16 (fried shrimp) to $29 (stuffed filet
in 1984, before Wolf Road exploded with chain restaurants,
the Real Seafood Co. established itself as one of the area’s
better restaurants, and certainly the best seafood emporium.
When I first visited, three years after that opening, I was
impressed by the casual decor, the extensive menu, and the
efficient service—efficient almost to the point of being frantic.
Such was not the case during a recent visit, when what should
have been an easygoing dinner dragged on for over two hours,
well beyond the length of time it should have taken. Part
of the problem may have been the number of servers—I didn’t
see many bodies working the floor—but most of it stems from
a handicap I noted in my last review, in 1996. It’s an epidemic
in local (and not-so-local) restaurants. It’s the lack of
cooperative service, remanding you into the hands of one server
only, whose skill—or distractions—will completely color your
When servers work together, customer comfort increases a hundredfold.
When they don’t, you, the customer, will suffer that all-too-common
annoyance of seeing one server after another whisk by with
nary a glance in your direction because “you’re not my table.”
During my recent Real Seafood visit, I sat not far from a
party of 12, and watched as a harried server hauled a tray
with several plastic-lidded entrée plates to a nearby traystand,
then leave it there. For five minutes (I timed it).
My inner waiter was horrified. It’s been 30 years since I
hauled a tray, but I could feel my old maître d’ breathing
fire. He would have lopped off my hands.
Here, there’s no such supervision. And, as I feared, when
my party’s entrées finally arrived, they, too, were lukewarm
(at best). At that point, we were well past the point of complaining.
We just wanted to get out of there.
Just as well, too, because the entrées were a disappointment.
Not only in and of themselves, but in the context of a meal
that began with a magnificent raw-bar assortment. For $10,
I was treated to a platter (heavy on the ice) of two pieces
each of poached shrimp and raw cherrystones and oysters.
Thirteen years ago, reporting on a pleasant visit to this
restaurant, I noted my lack of enthusiasm for oysters. This
has changed. Perhaps, with the vaunted link between oysters
and romance, I’m growing more romantic. In any event, I found
myself first coursing through the shrimp (with a dollop of
horseradish-laced cocktail sauce) and the clams (with a dollop
of nothing), before savoring the two little mollusks. Like
a glass of good wine, they contributed mightily to that elusive
sense of well-being.
Other appetizers were similarly appealing. Fried calamari
($7), a reliable standby, here is presented in a light, tempura-like
batter. Stuffed mushrooms, escargot, coconut shrimp and crab
cakes are among the regular-menu apps, priced from $8 to $11;
specials of the week included roasted-garlic grilled scallop
skewers, salmon quesadilla and a marvelous winter beet salad
($8) that filled out the plate with chunks of gorgonzola,
sunflower seeds and mandarin orange slices on a bed of spinach,
with a warm, spinach-friendly bacon vinaigrette.
We assumed that our appetizers took as long as they did to
arrive because we still were being eased into the service
stream. Not so: The pause between courses grew longer. Salads
arrived at the time when we should have been finishing our
entrées, and we never caught sight of our server when we weren’t
actually being served. Salads, by the way, are $2 extra with
the entrées, which otherwise are served with a less-interesting
side of cole slaw.
And so, as I noted, by the time those entrées arrived we had
grown restive. Had we the forbearance to send back the plates,
we would have asked, first of all, that the items be hot.
And that’s usually just a matter of timely service.
The lemon crumb cod with hotel butter ($16), one of the day’s
specials, had an excellent piece of fish at its core, but
those crumbs go from crisp to soggy the longer it sits. Fresh
seafood doesn’t need much in the way of enhancement, a fact
stressed on the restaurant’s menu and Web site (www.real seafood.com),
but that shouldn’t stop you from having fun with the food.
Thus the Tandoori salmon ($19), a novel approach that gives
the fish a yogurt marinade—but then puts it under a broiler,
which doesn’t replicate a hot Tandoor oven. Still, the leek-curry
cream served on top had a diverting, pleasing flavor. It was
served atop a basmati rice cake laced with almonds and raisins,
but overcooked to the point of crisping the rice.
The worst problem was with what should be a signature entrée:
a shrimp-and-scallops combo ($20) that pairs crumb-coated,
herb-scented baked shrimp with a handful of plump, broiled
scallops. Because they were overcooked, the shrimp were palatable
at best—but the scallops bore an aftertaste of baking soda,
belying the restaurant’s claim that the scallops aren’t chemically
We should have fussed. We should have protested. But we were
exhausted, and we slunk out into the night like the cowards
we’ve learned, thanks to years of mediocre service, to become.
Ten years ago, the Real Seafood Company went through an impressive
physical overhaul. It’s time now to do one of those overhauls
with the servers and kitchen.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
on the Lake (251 Stafford Bridge Road, Saratoga
Springs) is hosting its third annual “Married
with Singles” pre-Valentine’s Day party at 8 PM
on Feb. 9. Married couples are invited to bring
their single friends, and new friendships are,
of course, encouraged. With belly dancers and
a tarot card reader on hand, how can you miss?
Stations of the restaurant’s signature food will
be provided, along with entertainment by the band
Groove Syndicate—all for $30 per person. Reservations
are required, so call 581-3928 or visit www.cha
meleononthelake.com. . . . What better way to
celebrate your special someone than with a wine-tasting
event paired with aphrodisiac foods? That’s the
theme of the Feb. 5 dinner at Parisi’s Steakhouse
(11 N. Broadway, Schenectady), with a five-course
meal and an international selection of wines.
Oysters, of course, with a sparkler, as well as
braised lobster, espresso-cured beef tenderloin
and a finale of a chocolate ménage a trois.
Reservations are required. The dinner starts at
7 PM and costs $55 plus tax and tip; for more
info, call 374-0100. . . . Ready for a trip into
hell? Ric Orlando, chef-owner of the New World
Home Cooking Co. in Saugerties, announces
the first-ever Hell Night at 6:30 PM on Feb. 2.
It’s a hot-luck wine dinner in which each course
is hotter than the last, with added hot sauce
available if your eyeballs aren’t perspiring yet.
And the wines are presented in reverse order,
with the biggest reds to start and sweet whites
to ease the pain at the end of it all. Courses
include smoked duck and sausage gumbo, lamb vindaloo
and Trinidad oxtails from hell with a red hot
habanero mash; to finish, hottest of all, a dessert
of passion fruit-habanero jiggle. Dinner is $49
per person plus tax and tip; reserve seats by
calling (845) 246-0900. . . . Remember to pass
your scraps to Metroland (e-mail food at
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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..