PHOTO: B.A. Nilsson
Corner Well Pub
N. Pearl St., Menands, 427-9355. Serving Mon 11:30-3, Tue-Wed
11:30-9, Thu-Sat 11:30-10. AE, D, MC, V.
pub fare and pizza
price range: $6 (BLT) to $16 (12-cut pizza special)
sat in the car in the parking lot, staring numbly at the place.
It looked neglected and sad. A group of chilled smokers huddled,
puffing, by the front door. “I don’t want to go in there,”
my wife said. “Is there someplace else?”
The plan had been to find burgers and wings and the like at
a friendly tavern, where I’d be able to enjoy a beer. We could
see from the car that the venue we now contemplated had a
small throng at the bar and nobody at the tables.
I found a listing in my Metroland Dining Guide that
promised a better alternative, and so we headed to an unlikely
corner of Menands, to the Corner Well Pub, across the street
from the studios of WNYT (Channel 13).
And this is a place that looks like a classic pub, with the
warmth of dark wood paneling, a long mahogany bar (salvaged
from a saloon in Amsterdam), an array of tables and booths,
and a stage at one end of the house where musicians were setting
up as we settled in. There’s also a banquet room and a takeout
area, so the options are well covered.
It’s been a tavern of some kind for over half a century, answering
to a variety of monikers over the years. Byung Chae acquired
the place last September, keeping its most recent name but
improving the menu. Although he graduated from the Fashion
Institute of Technology, he veered into the restaurant business,
operating places in Manhattan and the Bronx. His route to
Menands was impelled by a divorce, among other things, but
he’s pleased to be helming a family-friendly place in a nice
neighborhood. It doesn’t seem to be much of a pub neighborhood,
so, apart from Channel 13-based clientele, the Corner Well
is a destination.
I’d say it’s worth the trip.
Let’s look at the unsurprising menu: soups, chili, wings,
shrimp, skins and lots of fried things, from $3 to $7 or so;
an array of salads ($4, rising to about $7.50 with added meat);
deli sandwiches ($6 to $6.50), hot sandwiches (here you’ll
find the Reuben, Philly cheese steak, meatball torpedo and
the like, averaging $7.50); burgers (half-pound patties with
a choice of toppings, starting at $7), and a number of after-4
PM entrées, including chicken parmigiana ($11), fried chicken
($8.25), roast turkey ($10) and a 12-ounce sirloin ($14).
And if that’s not enough, the separate pizza menu offers an
eight-cut starting at $9, 12-cut at $11, personal pan pizza
beginning at $5, and two sizes ($5 and $7) of calzone. If
you’re looking for something other than the traditional toppings
and combinations, consider one of the 15 specials (eight-cut,
$14; 12-cut, $16). Clams, shrimp, chicken and broccoli, pineapple
and ham, and chicken pesto are among the dominant varieties.
As I started into a most welcome pint of Guinness, we put
together as representative an order as a threesome can summon,
starting with the garlic-parmesan chicken wings (12 for $7),
a very tasty variation on a familiar theme.
Although the Corner Well styles itself as an Irish pub, the
entrées are decidedly American, especially the meatloaf ($9),
a generous serving of a roast that’s lightened with breading
and topped with a rich, thick gravy that extends over the
homemade mashed potatoes. No culinary greatness is explored
here, but it’s very good of its kind.
So my burger emerged far closer to medium than rare. Not worth
a quarrel, I figured, and anyway I order them rare because
I reckon that I’ll at least avoid the chain-restaurant mandated
medium-well-ification of burgers these days. The house salad
served alongside was a tribute to what’s now offered by Sysco
and the like: fresh mixtures of colorful greens.
And I suspect it was good to order a pizza when we did. If
menu pricing is brought in line with material pricing, those
pies will cost as a much as filet mignon before long. Even
as gasoline prices have been climbing, there’s been an incredible
spike in the cost of flour and cheese, turning pizza into
a luxury item. “I printed up menus and flyers in October,”
says Chae, “so I have to honor the prices listed there. But
it’s starting to hurt.”
In any event, the Buffalo chicken pizza sported a lot of blue
cheese in its topping mix, and arrived hot and runny. This
proved helpful to my wife, whose meatloaf plate was accompanied
by cauliflower florets—these she dipped in that topping.
As we enjoyed the fare, we listened to the music of Idette
and the Sunrunners, making their Corner Well debut. Live music
seems to be in shorter supply, so it’s a pleasure to spend
an evening with original songs, a good glass of stout, good
food, friendly service, and (at this point, at least) affordable
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
salubrious and timely events are scheduled this
week at the Honest Weight Food Co-Op’s Community
Room (484 Central Ave., Albany). “Living Gluten
Free” is the subject of a workshop with Amy Pagano
from 1 to 3 PM Saturday (March 8); the store’s
plant buyer, Gayle Anderson, discusses “Starting
Seeds” from noon to 2 PM Sunday (March 9); and
“Eat Good Fats” will be the topic from 6 to 7
PM Wednesday (March 12). For more info, call the
Co-Op at 482-2667. . . . Enjoy a Southern Italian
dinner and wine tasting at Saratoga Rose Inn
and Restaurant (4136 Rockwell St., Hadley)
at 7 PM Saturday, March 15, an event featuring
five courses paired with five wines and commentary
by Janine Stowell of Opici Wine Co. Chef-owner
Richard Ferrugio will be preparing leek and pancetta
frittata, Sicilian pesto with mint and almonds,
braised rabbit agrodolce and much more. Dinner
is $70 per person, plus tax and tip, and seating
is limited. Call 696-2861 for reservations. .
. . Remember to pass your scraps to Metroland
(food at banilsson.com).