Clinton Ave., Albany, 463-1455, Serving daily 11-11. AE, D,
price range: $8 (burger) to $16 (12 oz. steak)
don’t take advantage of Mc Geary’s enough,” I said. We were
headed to see a show at Capital Rep, and because I’ve become
completely neurotic about parking, I was hoping to dump the
car early for dinner and not have to move it.
Pearl Street’s dining demographic doesn’t really include me,
so far as I can figure. While I’m often able to inure myself
to a bank of TV screens, should there be a phalanx of sports
fans glued to a significant event, their cheers and moans
typically prove too startling. The whole thing zooms me back
to my fat-kid-tormented-in-gym-class days. But my tormentors
hang out in other downtown bars, leaving McGeary’s free for
more gustatory pursuits. Not that you can’t drink there—the
bank of beer taps at the long, wide bar promise all manner
of suds. And the TVs are quiet.
our food business is booming,” says Tess Collins. “Within
a week and a half after reopening here, food has jumped up
to 50 percent of the business.” She’s the new manager, although
factotum may be the better term. As anyone who knows her from
her years at Justin’s and the Lark Tavern can attest, once
she’s put in charge, things happen. Good things.
Except for one very bad thing that was beyond her control.
After investing her money and career in the Lark Tavern and
steering it on a successful course, it fell victim to a fire
in May that effectively destroyed the restaurant. Thanks to
McGeary’s owner Larry Davis, Collins not only was able to
get herself back on a steady payroll, but also bring along
much of the staff she’s been working with for so long. That
means Shy Abbasi is heading the kitchen, and the new McGeary’s
menu reflects some of those Lark Tavern traditions while respecting
McGeary’s own history. At first glance, the place looks the
same, but there has been extensive remodeling in recent weeks.
With the front of the house smartened up, there’s work going
on in the kitchen to modernize a very old setup.
a very old building, with old equipment,” says Collins, “but
we’re making improvements all the time. It’s very rewarding.”
Her loyalty to her staff is matched by a loyalty to her neighborhood—both
here and back on Lark Street—and the attention she pays to
customers, a reminder that a pub is supposed to be a comfortable
place for reliable casual dining.
It’s reflected in the menu, too. You’re not here expecting
a gourmet extravaganza. You want a burger, some poppers, some
wings. You know the offerings: sliders (4 for $8), littlenecks
(12 for $10), nachos (Celtic, using potatoes for chips, $9)
and wings (12 for $7) for starters, alongside unusual items
like mac-and-cheese poppers (yipes, $6.79), chicken Cordon
Bleu balls (ham and Swiss poppers, $6.79), eggplant fries
($7) and Larkarella sticks, a variation on the mozzarella
stick standby (6 for $6.39, 12 for $10.79). We sampled wings
with jerk seasoning, which gave the critters some extra bite,
and went on to dig into a portobello spinach salad ($8.49)
with roasted red peppers and the cheerful tartness of sun-dried
pomegranate bits, finished with tomatoes and onions and crumbled
blue cheese. I prefer a salad like that to be tossed in the
dressing before it’s served, but I fear I’ve been edged out
by dressing control freaks who manipulate such toppings by
Other salads include Caesar, crab cake, chef, cobb and antipasto,
all in the $8-to-$10 range, as well as Asian or Buffalo chicken
varieties. But you can add chicken to any of the salads for
an extra three bucks, and four will get you some shrimp.
Now, here’s my spouse, considering a Reuben ($8.49). And the
menu is generous enough to offer it with turkey, which should
be a crime. But the sandwich also sports sauerkraut. Swiss
cheese. Russian dressing. And it’s grilled. So what’s her
problem? She doesn’t want the damn potato chips on the side.
Here’s a suggestion: Don’t eat them. Like those dressing drippers,
she obviously doesn’t trust herself and needs a legislative
hand in the kitchen. Fine. But she wants a salad as substitute.
Onto which, no doubt, she’ll drizzle dressing by the droplet.
The turkey Reuben was all it promised to be, which, while
tasty, is still a weak imitation of a classic. But I studied
it as one busily polishing off a Big Ass Burger ($10), a hefty
patty actually cooked, as I asked, medium rare, and topped
with a big hunk of cheddar and enough lettuce, tomato and
onion to have made that elusive side salad. I picked the shoestring
fries out of the mix and watched as Ms. I-Don’t-Eat-Potato-Chips
sampled them. But I hoarded the burger, enjoying also the
garlicky mayo that lurked within.
Many burger stylings are available, and other sandwiches include
a deli variety (around $8 each), many chicken sandwiches ($8
to $10), and full-out dinners like fried chicken ($12), shepherd’s
pie ($11.49), fish and chips ($10) and a 12-ounce strip steak
Tess is also a big fan of music, and Jim Gaudet and the Ramblin’
Jug Stompers are among the regularly performing groups, with
Mother Judge hosting open mic nights. And the roster is expected
to build. “I’m trying to find ways to get involved in the
neighborhood,” says Collins. “Capital Rep is across the street,
and it’s important to help them out. There’s a church next
door that has a food bank, and I want to see what I can do
with them.” The restaurant business can be notoriously unkind,
but she maintains an energy and creativity that makes a success
out of her every venture—and it’s happening again here.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
course we·re a co-sponsor·it·s
about local stuff. And so, along with Honest Weight
Food Co-op, we·re pleased to announce the
Second Annual Local Harvest Festival, taking place
from 1 to 6 on Sunday (Sept. 19) at Albany·s
Washington Park Lake House. Enjoy a farmers-market-style
event featuring local vendors, restaurants and
artisans, local bands and more. Among the participants
are the Beancake Company, serving akara, a Nigerian
beancake; nuts from Delmar-based Our Daily Eats;
Elderberry Mary·s home-grown and homemade
jam; cookies from Vegan Creations (a Troy Farmers
Market favorite); milk from Battenkill Valley
Creamery; cheese and probiotic ice cream by Amazing
Real Live Food; Catskill-based Grandpa Pete·s
gourmet pasta sauce; Bettie·s Cup Cakes,
and such local restaurants and businesses as Bros
Tacos, New World Bistro, Casa Visco and Honest
Weight Food Co-op. . . . Carney·s Tavern
& Irish Pub (17 Main St., Ballston Lake) will
hold its annual Halfway to St. Patrick·s
Day party from 11:30 AM through the evening on
Saturday (Sept. 18). The party features Irish
Music by St. James Gate, Carney·s corned
beef and cabbage, Reuben sandwiches, and Irish
potato soup. Wear some green to offset the fall
foliage. More info: 399-9926. . . . Remember to
pass your scraps to Metroland.