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PHOTO: Shannon DeCelle

Barbecue Bonanza

LT’s Grill

2305 Nott St. (St. James Square), Niskayuna, 372-8610. Serving Mon 11-2, Tue-Sat 11-9. AE, D, MC, V.

Cuisine: barbecue

Entrée price range: $7 (portobello sandwich) to $20 (full rack of ribs)

Ambiance: Niskayuna rustic

 

By B. A. Nilsson

Barbecue is enjoying an efflorescence the like of which I only dreamed of not too many years ago. Dinosaur Bar-B-Q entrenched itself Syracuse, branched into Rochester, then skipped Albany en route to a branch in Manhattan. Meanwhile, we contented ourselves with Northern-style grilled chicken and ribs, which can be excellent if that’s what you’ve got your mouth set for.

But the Southern style, which puts the meat over wood smoke for many, many hours, is the unmistakable, falling-off-the-bone stuff. There’s nothing like pulling it out of the fire and digging right in, but the better restaurants are the next best thing. One of the newest is LT’s Grill, tucked into a corner of St. James Square in Niskayuna, the brainchild of two childhood friends who grew up in that neighborhood.

L.J. Goldstock and Tom Coppola bring not only a 30-year friendship but also a variety of talents to the eatery. Coppola is, among other occupations, a metal fabricator who turns out custom smokers. Goldstock is a chef who restlessly experiments with the recipes he likes, tuning them for his customers.

“I don’t put as much smoke in the meat as they do down South,” he tells me, parrying my only criticism of the place. “What we’ve got now is what people seem to like the best. And let me ask you this: When you got your order of ribs, were they falling off the bone?”

They were.

“Were they good?”

They were undoubtedly good. I ate them dry—they’re seasoned with a tangy dry rub before they go over the heat—and I tried them with the barbecue sauce that Goldstock makes. Either way, they’re delicious, but there’s an extra oomph to the sauce that soon had me sampling it with everybody else’s items.

The pig in me wanted to get a full rack of those ribs, but the choice of a half-rack ($10, half the price), put plenty of meat in front of me. It was served with a slice of sweet homemade cornbread and a choice of two side dishes. I ordered the baked beans (done as I like them, with more of a molasses kick than the canned stuff offers) and coleslaw, which had the sweetness and crunch that naturally complements a barbecued dinner.

The place is easy enough to find—it’s just off Balltown Road—and the inside has been thoroughly done over by its new owners. “People like booths as well as tables, so we put in both,” Goldstock explained. “Some people like to eat at the bar, so we have a big bar with chairs. And we’re putting in a salad bar,” which should be in place by the time you read this.

With two of my dining party of three in place early, we ordered an appetizer to complement our beverages. (Sodas, that is, which shouldn’t be classified as foodstuffs but to which I’m embarrassingly addicted.)

A $9 plate of a dozen wings can be ordered hot or mild, or with a dry rub. Lily and I ordered them hot—we can do this when her mom isn’t around to complain—and marveled at the crunch. (And they’re not all that spicy, at least according to my overheated standards.)

But Goldstock redressed what he thought was a mistake on my part. After my meal, after I introduced myself, he insisted I sample wings seasoned only with a dry rub. It could make a convert of me: I recommend them.

They fry their own crinkle-cut chips and serve them as a starter with horseradish sauce ($6). A quesadilla is $7, chicken nuggets are $8, or you can even start with a $9 half-rack. Salads are also available, and there’s a sandwich menu (sliced sirloin, pulled pork, roasted turkey, fried haddock, burgers and more) for lunch or lighter dining ($8-$9).

That Want-to-Have-Barbecue-But-Don’t-Want-to-Eat-Red-Meat favorite, chicken, is $12. It was my wife’s unsurprising choice, and was moist and tangy. She side-dished it with a baked potato and a dish of sweet butternut squash.

The eight entrée platters also include beef brisket, pork chop, tilapia, salmon ($12-$13), sirloin ($20) and the “snort ’n cluck” combo of chicken and ribs ($19), each of which demands a choice of two side dishes. Other sides include fries, macaroni salad, baked potato, creamed spinach and the vegetable of the day.

Daily specials often include a “garbage plate” ($11), the name alone of which commended it to my daughter. It’s a dinner bargain—if you’re prepared to wade through a multilayered cacophony of pulled pork, barbecued chicken, macaroni salad, baked beans and fries.

We took undue advantage of the free soda refills and even then forced ourselves to finish with homemade apple crisp. All in all, a way-too-filling meal, leftover boxes notwithstanding, but real barbecue can do that to you. Give me a couple of weeks to recover, and I’ll try it again.

 

Click here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.


TABLE SCRAPS

Nicole’s Bistro (Clinton & Broadway, Albany) celebrates its 23rd anniversary with a special dinner at 6 PM on Friday, Nov 16. A champagne reception kicks things off, then enjoy halibut and sole dumplings in a lobster cognac sauce, arugula and endive salad, and a Trio of Veal entrée, each course paired with an appropriate wine. And there’s dessert! Music is performed by Ed Clifford. Tickets to the perception are $80 per person plus tax and gratuity. Call 465-1111. . . . Travel to Italy by way of the Adirondacks when Milano North and the Courtyard by Marriott host a getaway weekend in Lake Placid Nov 9-11. The two-night stay includes a wine reception Friday, two breakfasts, and a five-course Italian wine dinner on Saturday featuring the wines of the Feudi di San Gregorio Estate, a winery in southern Italy’s Campania region. Export manager Robin Shay will to introduce the wines at the dinner. Prices are $550 per couple, $395 per single, taxes and gratuities included; there also are seats available for the wine dinner only ($75 per person). Call 523-2900 for the weekend, 523-3003 for the dinner only. . . . Liz and Jerry Lavalley, owners of Manchester, Vt.’s Reluctant Panther (which includes an excellent restaurant reviewed here a few months back) were recently named Innkeepers of the Year by Governor Douglas. . . . Remember to pass your scraps to Metroland.


We want your feedback

Have you eaten at any recently reviewed restaurants? Agree or disagree with B.A.? Let us know what you think...

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What you're saying...

I 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.

Mary Kurtz
Castleton

First, 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 the reviews.

Pat Russo
East Greenbush

I 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!

Peggy Van Deloo
Schenectady

So happy to see you finally made out!! Our experiences have always been wonderful, the staff is extremely professional, the food subperb, and the atmosphere very warm and comfortable. Let us not forget to mention "Maria" the pianist on Friday and Saturday nights.

Charlie and Marie
Michaels Restaurant

I have been to Michael's several times and each time I have enjoyed it very much. The food is delicious and the staff is great. Also, Maria Riccio Bryce plays piano there every Friday and Saturday evening, a nice touch to add to the already wonderful atmosphere. It is also easy to find, exit 27 off the thruway to 30 north for about 5 miles.

N. Moore
Albany

Wonderful!

Elaine Snowdon
Albany

We loved it and will definitely go back.

Rosemarie Rafferty

Absolutely excellent. The quality and the flavor far surpasses that of other Indian restaurants in the area. I was a die-hard Shalimar fan and Tandoor Palace won my heart. It blows Ghandi out of the water. FInally a decent place in Albany where you can get a good dinner for less than $10 and not have tacos. The outdoor seating is also festive.

Brady G'sell

Indian is my favorite cuisine available in the area--I loved Tandoor Palace. We all agreed that the tandoori chicken was superior to other local restaraunts, and we also tried the ka-chori based on that intriguing description-delicious.

Kizzi Casale
Albany

Your 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..

Barry Uznitsky
Guilderland



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