This and Guinness Too
Everett Road, Albany, 482-2333. Serving Mon-Thu 1-10, Fri
11-11, Sat noon-10, Sun 4-9. AE, MC, V.
enhanced pub fare
price range: $5.50 (personal garlic pizza) to $20 (24
oz. marinated steak tips)
friendly and clamorous
fare, comfort food, the bar menu—those terms denote something
culinarily unchallenging, something familiar. And relatively
inexpensive. You can bet there will be chicken wings, potato
skins, burgers and fries. Preferably with a schooner of good
draft beer to wash it down.
think,” I said, when asked, “I’ll have a Guinness. I feel
oddly compelled to do so.” Our server chuckled, acknowledging
with a head tilt that each wall around us was covered with
Guinness promotional artwork.
BEFF’s was born in 1991 in a space near Everett Road on Watervliet
Avenue, and moved, a few years later, to its current location
to succeed the Shipyard. (There’s also a Delmar BEFF’s, at
367 Delaware Ave.) It’s a nice space for the place, with a
number of different dining areas and a central bar. The decorating
scheme, a favorite with many chain restaurants, festoons the
walls with as much in the way of posters, ads and other artwork
as reasonably can be made to fit and still let some of the
wall’s brick peek through.
Guinness memorabilia dominated my corner; you might end up
surrounded by golf. But it’s not sports or beer giving this
restaurant its identity. Not even food, although the menu
here certainly helps. What’s happened is that BEFF’s won a
clientele that creates an atmosphere as comfortable for the
first-time guests as it is for the regulars. And, as pub-fare
menus go, this one is prodigious, devoting two pages to appetizers,
two to grilled items, two to pizzas and one apiece for entrées,
sandwiches and salads. As you’d expect, it’s rich in familiarity.
Chicken wings are a star of the menu, plump, spicy things
that remain consistently delicious (13 of them are $8), and
you might as well order them hot to give your beer a little
extra work to do. I give BEFF’s credit for gussying up the
salads, for example, to include one with teriyaki chicken
($9.50), one with pesto shrimp ($12) and house versions of
a Caesar, Greek or Mexican-themed array.
Nothing you’ve ever sought in a casual eatery seems to be
lacking here, including many not-so-casual complete dinners.
But a good starting place is pizza. Pizza was a vital element
when the restaurant began (and when we last wrote about the
place, in 1992), and justifiably remains so. A personal (four-slice)
pie starts at $5.50, and you only go up from there. Traditional
variations include any or all of the usual toppings, although
I’d recommend sampling one of the specialty pizzas. That’s
where you’ll find such unusual combos as shrimp scampi, tomato
and basil, chicken cordon bleu, even a pineapple-topped Hawaiian
pizza, each of these running $13 to $14 at the highest.
Nice to see white pizzas featured alongside the traditional
red, and I ordered a personal Greek pizza ($7.50) to enjoy
the added toppings of feta and mozzarella cheeses, as well
as black olives. Ground beef is another addition, but it was
oddly muted in flavor in this context and contributed more
in the way of texture.
But it’s a total success as the basis of a 10-ounce burger.
I’ve long been a fan of the Big Ol’ BEFF Burger ($9.25), which
has grown from a half-pound to its present dimension. It’s
way of celebrating indecision by topping the beast with mushrooms
and onions, bacon and cheese, lettuce and tomato. Sure, it’s
unwieldy, and you do well to strip off some of that stuff
and enjoy it separately.
But with the right balance of ketchup and hard roll (not to
mention a few bites of the crunchy pickle that’s served alongside),
this becomes a triumphant essay in the art of eating. You’re
going to squirt grease somewhere, so mind where you’re pointing
the thing. And there are homemade fries, golden and crisp,
to finish the platter.
Which brings us to the subject of potatoes. There’s no reason
to feel dissatisfied with the traditional style, of course,
but a sheer spirit of adventure ought to persuade you to sample
the Irish fries ($4), or the sweet potato fries ($4.50), or
even the waffle-cut fries ($3.25), the better to use as a
Daily specials rotate through the week, a $9 offering that’s
roast turkey on Mondays, meatloaf the day that follows, fish
and chips, chicken parmesan and even pot roast a few others.
Our Thursday visit opened up the possibility of corned beef
and cabbage, and thus my wife claimed to indulge herself in
one of her favorite meals.
But not in this preparation. Traditionally shimmered in a
stock pot with carrots and peppercorns and other spices, corned
beef and cabbage absorbs (and leaves behind) a rich, complicated
flavor that was surprisingly muted—to the point of blandness,
which described both the corned beef and the cabbage.
We enjoyed the day’s pasta special much better. The $14 dish
was a simple sauté of shrimp and broccoli and sun-dried tomatoes,
tossed in a garlicky oil with rigatoni.
Service is prompt and the servers are cheerful, and this was
one of several visits we’ve paid over the years that has convinced
us of the reliability of the place. Not every dish is always
a winner, but the batting average remains very high.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
couple of closings worth noting include one that’s
temporary, as the Saratoga Rose Inn and Restaurant
in Hadley closes from Jan. 13 to 25 to give
the owners a much-desired vacation. . . . The
final dinners at Park 54 in Clifton Park
will be served Jan. 12, and Mike and Deena Pietrocola
turn over the place to new owners who will install
Zaika, an Indian Restaurant, in a few weeks.
. . . Remember to pass your scraps to Metroland
(e-mail food at banilsson.com)