Troy Schenectady Road, Latham, 785-9291. Serving Mon-Thu 11:30-10,
Fri-Sat 11-11, Sun noon-9. AE, D, DC, MC, V..
barbecue and pub food
price range: $8 (tuna sandwich) to $20 (full rack of
are becoming a barbecue-savvy corner of the Northeast, with
a growing number of ribs joints offering a toothsome range
of preparation. Still, it’s important to approach any of these
places with the proper expectation. Otis & Oliver’s offers
the Northern variety of barbecued ribs, which is a combination
of grilling and slow-roasting. Smoked ribs, which are what’s
termed barbecue south of the Mason-Dixon line, are another
The principle is the same for both: Season the meat (Otis
& Oliver’s owner Don Wade uses only Danish baby-backs,
which sport a more concentrated flavor as well as an extra
rib), cook for many hours at a low temperature.
Wade scores and grills the ribs to start, then, borrowing
from the smoked-ribs tradition, applies a dry rub before finishing
the meat with more than six hours in a special oven. The finished
product gets served with a tasty house-designed sauce with
a flavor of apple that avoids the too-sweet model too often
offered in lieu of a more complex and vinegary characteristic.
Although he’s been open at this location for 16 months—Wade
and his wife, Erin Cavanaugh, took over what once was Buckshot’s
Bar-B-Q, located in Latham alongside Cocca’s Motel—he introduced
his version of ribs at his other area place, the Cider House
Restaurant at Altamont’s Orchard Creek Golf Club.
And even before that, Wade was a ribs enthusiast. He learned
the fundamental approach while managing a unit in a restaurant
chain, placing him at the time in Atlanta. “I changed the
dry rub and developed my own sauce,” he says, “when I put
ribs on the Cider House menu.”
Wade, who grew up in New Jersey, had a grandfather in the
catering business. “But I went into the military and then
took a job developing missile systems for Raytheon,” he says.
“I hated it. I suppose I was thinking of my grandfather when
I quit and opened a sub shop.”
This he parlayed into the managerial position that eventually
brought him to Albany—along with his wife, who’s an area native
with family nearby. Wade helped design the Albany Pump Station
and worked there during its inaugural year.
What with the changes he planned for Buckshot’s, a new name
was in order, and it was inspired by a trip Cavanaugh and
a friend took to the Central Park Zoo, where they saw a pair
of pettable pigs named Otis and Oliver. The name also inspired
the porcine-centric decor, abetted by piggy gewgaws donated
Anticipating a threat of warmer weather, the owners changed
the menu a couple of weeks ago, adding (by popular demand)
Reuben sandwiches (corned beef or turkey, $9) as a well as
a slew of more seafood items, steamers ($8 per dozen) and
a number of shrimp preparations among them. This also means
that the barbecue combos ($18) can add an array of fried shrimp
and clams to a half-rack of ribs, not forgetting that the
classic ribs and chicken combo re mains available, as well
as ribs and pulled pork.
We sampled the last-named during a recent visit, a portion
too large to finish at one sitting, rich with the expected
flavor. Although I’m easily wooed from smoked ribs to their
grilled cousin when the textures are in place, I do miss the
smoky flavor in pulled pork. Again, it’s a matter of expectation,
and I can’t find legitimate fault in the O&O version.
The platter is decked out with fries, beans and slaw, all
good of their kind, with a choice of soup or salad as well.
I opted for the latter: again, the expected mix of greens,
fresh and not, as befits a casual place like this, not overdressed.
Want a little less? Order the pub ribs ($9.50), which is smaller
and served only with fries and slaw. There’s not a pulled-pork
dinner as such, but it’s offered as a sandwich ($9) with a
jalapeno BBQ sauce, served (in common with all of the sandwiches)
with a pickle and a choice of fries, chips, or deli salad.
Those other sandwiches include grilled chicken breast, Cajun
chicken, chicken salad, roast beef, corned beef and Philly
steak, all in the $8-$9 range; “Thanksgiving Every Day” is
the moniker for, no surprise, a turkey sandwich, which lured
my wife from her usual choice of chicken thanks to its appropriate
accompaniment of apple-cranberry stuffing. And even this was
a large enough portion to send us home with a half-sandwich
for the next day’s lunch.
Chicken pot pie ($9) is listed in the “Traditional Fare” section,
and we found it to be the traditional mix of peas and carrots
along with a good proportion of meat, all waiting with steamy
promise under a puff-pastry cap. The batch we sampled was
unpleasantly salty, however, which we were courageous enough
to point out to the server, who removed it from the bill (we
turned down a proffered substitute only because there was
more than enough food on the table at that point).
Other entrées include steaks (rib eye or NY strip, $19 and
$20), fish & chips ($9.50), seafood scampi ($17) and a
range of $8-or-so burgers, including a veggie version. New
England clam chowder ($3/$4) is a rich, tasty starter, competing
in my affection with the Maryland crab cakes ($9.50 for two)
served with a spicy remoulade.
It’s a friendly place that fills quickly; our busy server
nevertheless kept up with our table and several others. The
deck has just been opened, doubling the accommodations and
giving you the opportunity to enjoy the ribs in their natural
setting—outdoors. Which will be the destination for our next
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
Day Nursery will
hold “A Little Bit of Jazz,” a food-intense benefit
at Schenectady County Community College from 5:30-8
PM tonight (Thursday) with a buffet that includes
a carving station, antipasto table, pasta station,
tapenade, coffee and desert. The event also will
feature vocalist Colleen Pratt and Friends, wine
tastings and a silent auction. John and Karen
Mantas, owners of Mike’s Hot Dogs on Erie Boulevard
in Schenectady, will be honored. Admission is
$50 per person. For an invitation, contact Joanne
DeVoe at 573-0773. . . . Remember to pass your
scraps to Metroland (e-mail food at banilsson.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..