Photo by: B.A. Nilsson
on the Bayou
By B.A. Nilsson
Serving Mon-Fri 11 AM-3 AM, Sat 3-3, Sun (during
football season) 1 PM-3 AM. AE, D, MC, V.1536 Crescent Rd.,
Clifton Park, 383-2930
American-Italian-Cajun bar food
Entrée price range: $4.25 (grilled cheese platter)
to $14 (chicken-shrimp-jambalaya combo)
Ambiance: bar with a dance floor
With so many different types of food available, I wanted to
catch the place at a busy time. I kept missing it. “You should
have seen us yesterday,” I was told at each visit, and each
visit gave me the place practically to myself, my only company
being a solitary diner or a couple of barside customers.
Bourbon Street is the latest in a long line of restaurant
tenants at this location, and it’s been here for five years,
an impressive feat on this somewhat neglected stretch of Central
Avenue. Owner Marc DeRusso began with the name, then fashioned
a menu to match. Although it suggests Cajun cookery, he has
shrewdly judged the area and added Italian items like pasta
dishes and American items like pizza.
I’m not sure what degree of scrutiny the food here warrants.
Although the restaurant bills itself as “a unique place to
eat and drink,” I think the emphasis is on the latter. The
place is about sports and sports-based conviviality. Music,
too, with a bandstand available.
But the food, during my couple of visits, had a variable presence.
Jambalaya is a good test of Cajun cookery, but it wasn’t available
during my first stop. Although Louisiana-style bread pudding
is listed as a dessert specialty, there wasn’t any (or any
other dessert) on both visits. (“People don’t really eat dessert
here,” the server confided.)
They don’t seem to drink much soda, either. I complained of
a weak proportion of syrup to carbonated water, an occasional
problem with a soda gun, and discovered that it plagued both
soda flavors I sampled. “I’ll have him fix it,” the server
said, using that antecedent-free “him” so vital to the proletarian
lexicon, but “he” hadn’t successfully done so by the time
But let me end this litany with a report on that jambalaya,
which I was able to enjoy on visit No. 2. The $12 entrée is
a definite winner, handsomely presented, rich with shrimp
and chicken, spiced with an excellent blend of seasonings
that slowly metes out a stays-on-your-palate kick. I can endure
far worse than weak soda in order to enjoy such a dish.
Make your way carefully, though. The Bourbon Street grilled
chicken and shrimp ($12) swim in a dark, salty sauce the consistency
of consommé. Most entrées are accompanied by a salad and starch,
and the fries I chose in the latter category worked better
in the sauce than did the meat.
Chicken parmigiana ($11) is listed under “Mardi Gras Dinner
Favorites,” but it’s a straightforward—and huge—portion of
just what you’d expect. The chicken was tender, the sauce
served its purpose nicely, and the leftovers survived two
trips through the reheating oven.
On the more casual dining side, there are sandwiches aplenty,
hot and cold, with a very good hamburger among the hot ones.
It’s a half-pound of meat, and protrudes out the sides of
the sandwich for that classic flying-saucer profile. And the
unadorned version is a mere five bucks! It’s broiled unless
you specify you’d like it blackened, in which case it gets
a coating of spicy seasonings.
Although we didn’t try a pizza, the calzone we sampled speaks
well for the pizza-making process. The dough was fluffy and
yeasty, the portion quite large—so plan on two meals for the
$7 you’ll pay.
Bourbon Street comes into its own the more it approaches classic
bar food. You can find nachos (a deluxe plate for $7.50),
littleneck clams (Wednesdays only, $5 a dozen) and a good-sized
list of appetizers, most of which travel through the fryolator
en route to your plate.
What is it about such items that make them irresistible? An
$11 sampler platter arrays several such starters, all sharing
two characteristics: They’re crunchy and moist with fat. And
therein is the answer to my question. Crunchiness is a desirable
food characteristic, especially if there isn’t a lot of flavor
involved. Imagine a plate of crisp fries in front of you,
and you anticipate tucking into them with some excitement.
Now imagine them limp—we’ve all been served a plate of fries
gone wrong—and the excitement vanishes. Fat alone can’t do
its magic, which is to prolong flavor by making the palate
sticky. But add some crunch and a piquant dipping sauce, and
you have the culinary triumph of style over substance.
This is especially true of such things as fried mushrooms,
which, based on the mushrooms alone, haven’t much flavor to
savor, and fried potato skins, which really are only canoe-shaped
fries. Add some horseradish sauce to the mushroom, however,
and you’re in business; likewise, bacon and cheese and sour
cream adorn the potato canoe nicely.
And don’t think I’m hurling brickbats from some snobbish height.
I’m usually first in line to wolf down such things, and made
my way through too many of the aforementioned items, as well
as the deep-fried shrimp and mozzarella sticks also in the
aggregation. Chicken wings were the standout in an otherwise
run-of-the-mill bunch. Here, of course, you do get a glimpse
of flavor, with just enough meat to peek from behind the crunch
and the spicy sauce, available in several degrees of heat.
Indian cookery enjoyed a couple of runs at this site, and
there were noble appearances by Korean and Russian restaurants.
But it looks like the mixed American menu currently in residence
is faring the best. Don’t think Cajun dining here: Think about
relaxing with a beer while checking out sports scores, with
visions of a burger or some wings as your meal. Then order
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want your feedback
you eaten at Bourbon
Street, or other
recently reviewed restaurants?
Agree or disagree with B.A.? Let us know what you think...
address not required to submit your feedback, but required to
be placed in running for Nicole's Bistro Gift Certificate.
one of the things I usually like about B.A.'s
reviews, that was missing here, is that
he often brings his family, specially his
child to these meals and includes their
dining experiences in his columns. As a
parent who is always looking fo kid-friendly
places that also serve good food that I'd
want to eat, so I especially enjoy "his
take" on what his daughter orders and
how she likes it too, as well as the entire
me again B.A. The Chain Restaurant loving
fat guy who loves big, heaping helpings
of prepared, marketed fried things. Even
could care less about Daniel's at Ogdens
to be perfectly honest. I read the review
mostly because my office stares right at
it's front door and we all watched as the
refurbishing was done. My problem here today
is with your first two paragraphs.
kind of news article that bugs you is what
percentage of Americans spend 30 minutes
or less preparing food!?!? You know what
kind of news article bothers me? "Remains
of a woman found stuffed in a barrel......"
or "....Albany Police Lt. dies from
injuries sustained in shootout with suspect."
I realize food and it's service and preparation
may be the all consuming obsession in your
life, but please tell me you have a bigger
heart than that.
the reason "44 percent of weekday meals
in the U.S. are prepared in 30 minutes or
less.." is that some people work 2
or 3 jobs. Some people may be a single parent
with young children, who may only have less
than 30 minutes to spare.
I promise you this, the next time I get
35 minutes or so.........I'll order some
Kobe Beef, puff pastry, shitake mushrooms
and the ingredients to make a proper buerre
blanc....dim the lights, put on a bowtie,
apron and plenty of snotty attitude and
invite you over for dinner.
Chicken Fingers ok for an appetizer?
really love this guys knack for picking
"the best kept secrets" in the
Capital District. Way to go B.A.! Keep up
the good work!
Leon's review was wonderful. Her descriptions
of the various selections made me hungry.
I am saving the review and putting it on
my refrigerator to remind me to take a busman's
holiday to Great Barrington for melitzana.
eaten here twice- I agree with all said
by Nillson- HOWEVER- No authentic Mexican
place should be totally rated without mention
of their Margarita quality -which is superior-very
limey with just the right ingredients- and
their selection of Mexican Beers-Tecata-Negro
Modello and Dos Equis Dark and Amber. Excellent
Selection. Another mark of good Mexican
cuisine is the freshness of their pico di
gallo-the true MEXICAN salsa- again excellent.
If it were not for the diner atmosphere
I would have rated it 4 stars- and yes-
please bring back the star rating system
which I relied on heavily.
surprisingly nice effort for a city which
seems to only allow Italian restaurants
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.
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