Road Park, 6 Metro Park Road, Colonie, 689-0938. Serving 11-10
Mon-Thu, 11-11 Fri-Sat, noon-9:30 Sun. AE, D, MC, V.
price range: $7 (lo mein) to $22.50 (Chilean sea bass)
good of its kind
gets on my nerves about P.F. Changís, that teeming chain,
is the combination of hype and bustle. It preys on our deep-seated
sense of being lonely and frightened, and thrusts its diners
into a realm of nonstop sensory assault. This, of course,
is perfect for mall shoppers, whose ears are dimmed by the
constant noise and senses dulled by the visual explosions.
At some point, you cry ďEnough!Ē Youíre looking for a meal,
for sustenance, an experience that ought to be a pleasure.
You donít care what your serverís name is, and you donít need
a menu with pictures. Escape. Take a P.F. flyer.
Shrink the livestock in front of that restaurant, turn down
the noise, put some room between the tablesóin fact, put in
the Japanese concept of minimal design accentsóand youíre
only a scant mile up Wolf Road at a three-month-old eatery
called Buffalo Wagon. Yes, the name connotes cowboys or chicken
wings, but itís a salute to the water buffalo, a bulwark of
ancient China. The name also suggests a chain restaurant,
and the facade and Web site both display that slickness, but
itís a singular entity.
The restaurant occupies a location that has been home (if
Iím remembering correctly) to a Chinese buffet and a short-lived
Mongolian grill, but it looks as if it were made for the space.
My family stopped in on a recent Friday evening and liked
the feel of the place immediately. Perhaps itís a tiresome
observation at this point, but we noted that we were among
the few Occidentals dining in a fairly busy room.
We passed the sushi bar en route to our table, and I looked
with longing at the row of empty seats facing the three busy
sushi chefs. But I am wedded to one to whom raw fish is anathema,
and obediently trudged to a more conventional seat.
Service here didnít have the handing-you-off quality I expect
in such places. Our hostess fussed over us for a bit as she
welcomed us and determined our beverage order. And while most
of the meal was under the purview of a single server, dishes
emerged from the kitchen on the arms of others. They arrived
at a good pacing, too, and items were cleared and wrapped
with wonderful efficiency.
Menu diversity seems to be the order of the day with Asian
eateries. Amid a capacious array of the expected, ranging
from Peking duck ($38 for two) to Cantonese lo mein ($7),
lurk dishes from Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, along with
a lengthier list of Japanese items, including tempura and
teriyaki preparations. And keep in mind the $6 lunch specials
(11-3 Mon-Sun), which give a brief, best-of accounting of
the regular menu.
My daughter and I kicked off with sushi and makisushi. The
former consisted of brilliant little slabs of tuna ($5) and
salmon ($4) over vinegared rice, the latter a spicy, creamy
salmon roll ($5.25) with cucumber and scallions. The orders
were combined on an attractive platter and boasted a breezy
freshness. And thereís much, much more on the list, in addition
to daily sushi specials.
One of my cook-at-home specialties is cold sesame noodles
in spicy peanut sauce, so I gave the competition a chance
and ordered the $5 appetizer. While the sauce didnít taste
like out-of-the-jar peanut butter, as sometimes is the case,
it was too thick to easily combine with the noodles, which
is more work than I usually care to inflict on a starter.
Order a chefís specialty, as I did, and it comes with soup,
so I can report that the hot-and-sour brew is superior to
most in the area. My wife ordered the chicken and creamy corn
soup, which is served for a minimum of two ($5.50) and could
easily portion out to one or two more. It has the consistency
of egg drop soup, yet hits the flavor areas of corn chowder.
An odd combo, but an endearing one.
The menu of Cantonese dishes divides them by main component;
thus, beef, pork, poultry and the like each gets about a dozen
preparations. Seafood, too, with the bonus that thereís a
tank at the rear of the dining room where you can watch your
soon-to-be dinner swim.
Pork chop in Peking sauce ($9) is open to interpretation.
Here, itís deep-fried cutlet pieces tossed in a dark, sweet
sauce with accompanying vegetables and enough depth of flavor
to keep from the candy-counter characteristic of, say, General
Youíll find your eggplant and tofu dishes (including, heaven
help us, General Tsoís tofu) in the vegetables list, all priced
around $8. From the adjacent noodle-dishes list, my wife chose
a preparation that combined pan-fried noodles with shrimp,
chicken and beef for $9, and professed herself quite
pleased. But that was when she wasnít spearing sneaky tastes
of my crispy shredded beef ($14), in which the meat is battered
and fried, unexpectedly but deliciously crunchy and probably,
what with its sweet sauce, bad for you as hell.
The dinner yielded a sizeable shopping bag of weekend lunches
and a few menus tucked into our pockets. Another good, non-chain
restaurant on Wolf Road is excellent news indeed.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
best dinners provoke a sense of total well-being.
I am wired such that my own sense is strongest
when Iím enjoying an excellent post-prandial cigar.
If itís an occasion to stretch out and sneak in
some puffs between courses, thatís all the better.
And what better menu than a hearty Italian meal,
an event meant to go on and on by tradition. Village
Pizzeria in Galway (2727 Route 29, at the
junction of Route 147) is hosting just such an
event at 6:30 PM Tuesday, May 19, where youíll
feast on a six-course meal including pork osso
buco, grilled broccoli rabe and cheese sausages,
Tuscan kale with white beans and rabbit ragout,
served alongside a variety of Super Tuscans, Barolos,
Brunellos and Port. And youíll get three fine
cigars, courtesy of Habana Premium Cigar Shoppe.
The price is $100 per person, which includes access
to the restaurantís bocce courts and putting green
as well. Info: 882-9431. . . . Remember to pass
your scraps to Metroland.