Best of Times, the Wurst of Times
20 and French’s Mill Road, Guilderland, 355-8005. Serving
Mon-Fri 11-1, Sat 3-11. AE, D, MC, V.
German and Continental
price range: $15 (chicken piccata) to $16 (almost everything)
in front of the kitchen door, we saw the chef go by a few
times during the evening. The first time, he greeted us as
he passed, but was indiscreet enough to shout, as he entered
the kitchen, “Guess who’s dining here tonight? Santa Claus!”
On the one hand, it was a reminder to me that this is getting
to be the wrong time of year for a gray-haired fat guy to
sport a beard. I’m now clean-shaven. On the other, it’s a
heads-up for restaurant people to keep the kitchen chatter
Santa resemblance notwithstanding, I can’t promise good things
in this review.
The Bavarian Chalet opened more than 40 years ago, the creation
of Franz Zwicklbauer, who ran Little Bavaria in Albany for
several years before that. The 20-acre Guilderland site is
as much a retreat as a restaurant, with a large, rambling
building set on handsome grounds that include gardens and
a nature preserve.
The Zwicklbauer family also owned a restaurant on Warner’s
Lake, recently sold, now run with a couldn’t-care-less attitude
that seems also to be infecting the Chalet.
We visited twice, first arriving on a Sunday evening a half-hour
before the kitchen closed, which I was assured wasn’t a problem—but
we came just as a bus tour of yappy old women was clearing
out, and it had taken its toll.
With five in our party, there wasn’t a table set up in the
main dining area, so we settled in a room off the bar, where
a buffet was being broken down. That in itself wasn’t a problem,
but the staff sure seemed tired.
The meal was terrific. Although the German specialties have
been remanded to the menu’s back page, we made it a point
to sample a variety of them and happily can report that the
wurst plate (#15) is as good as ever, with a trio of plump
sausages—weisswurst (or bockwurst), the soft, white variety,
and two of the darker bratwurst type, along with the ever-excellent
potato pancake, sauerkraut, and some dipping mustard.
Sauerbraten ($16) is a long-standing trademark: tenderizing
a serving of beef with a long stay in a sweetened wine-based
marinade, and pairing it with its accompanying gravy (as well
as potato pancake and red cabbage) personifies the restaurant’s
tradition. No less appealing is the jaeger (hunter’s)
schnitzel ($17), a breaded veal cutlet served with a
mushroom sauce and including spaetzle, finger-sized
Told that the stuffed pork chop wasn’t available, my friend
Ron opted for the chicken piccata ($15), an Italian-inspired
sautée that features lemon flavor; I ordered a flat-iron steak
($16), a small cut that normally hugs a chunk of gristle but
proves to be tender and flavorful when properly trimmed, and
it was quite delicious, served atop a worthy mound of mashed
potatoes with a side of sautéed squash.
Hardly had our entrées been cleared, however, when we were
slapped with a check by a fly-by server. I later asked if
desserts were available but was too intimidated to order any.
Which was just as well; our second visit ended with a slice
of very bad Black Forest cake. I worked for a German chef
many years ago who searched far and wide for a baker to provide
him with a good example of this multilayer confection. “Dessert
and coffee are the last things you taste in a restaurant,”
he insisted. “They have to be good.”
We hoped this second visit would show the floor staff in a
better light, but there was no floor staff at all. Granted,
it was early on a Thursday evening, but the floor was covered
only by a fellow who spoke little English (and otherwise was,
I think, a busboy) and a bartender reluctantly pressed into
It became something out of Fawlty Towers. My wife’s
order of chicken Damiano ($16), in which spinach and eggplant
are added to the grilled meat, with melted fontinella to finish,
was fine, but my daughter was served a steak sandwich instead
of the spare ribs she requested. While that was being sorted
out, my pork chop arrived.
It turned out, as chef Matthew Juk explained, that while he
no longer was offering the asparagus and brie stuffing, I
could get a breaded or grilled chop (still $16), and on his
recommendation I ordered it grilled.
I didn’t associate the peculiar odor with the meat at first.
I thought it was my sneakers. Then I took a bite and nearly
suffered self-induced whiplash. Juk credited the odor to a
marinade based on Maggi seasoning, a Nestlé product that’s
mostly monosodium glutamate and yeast; I think the meat was
on the brink of going bad.
He offered to replace it with the flat-iron steak, but I wanted
something different and opted for the rainbow trout ($15),
which was nicely sautéed but fairly free of flavor other than
the butter melted on top. And I discovered, long after we
paid, that I was still charged for the more expensive pork
It would be a shame to see this venerable institution collapse
under the weight of tight-fistedness or apathy or whatever
is causing its decline. Few German restaurants persist in
this market, and in its heyday, the Bavarian Chalet showed
us why they’re necessary.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
Hyde Collection is
hosting a “journey of taste” at the second annual
A Taste of Art . . . A Wine Experience
from 6:30 to 9:30 PM on Friday, Oct. 15, at the
Museum (161 Warren St., Glens Falls). Saratoga’s
Black Diamond Caterers is providing the food to
pair with a selection of international wines,
while a number of area restaurants will offer
fare to match a variety of New York wines chosen
by Rich and Margot Cirino of New York Wine Cork.
Tickets are $100 per person and may be reserved
by calling the Hyde Collection at 792-1761. All
proceeds will benefit the Museum’s exhibitions
and programs through the Annual Fund. . . . My
Way Café’s 21st Annual “Autumn in New York”
Sinatra Tribute takes place at 4:30 PM and again
at 7 PM on Sun, Oct. 24. Sounds of Sinatra will
be sung by Brian D., who also will take requests.
Chef-owner John Bove offers Italian-influenced
cooking with an American flair, served in a roadhouse
atmosphere. Reservations are required for the
event; call the restaurant (located at 2257 Route
9, corner of 67E) at 899-4196.
. . . Remember to pass your scraps to Metroland
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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
would travel to Amsterdam to this restaurant
- it's not that far away. People traveled
from all over to eat at Ferrandi's in Amsterdam.
From his background, I'm sure the chef's
sauce is excellent and that is the most
important aspect of an Italian restaurant.
Sometimes your reviewer wastes words on
the negative aspects of a restaurant. I'm
looking forward to trying this restaurant
- I look forward to Metroland every Thursday
especially for the restaurant review. And
by the way Ferrandi's closed its Amsterdam
location and is opening a new bistro on
Saratoga Lake - Should be up and running
in May. It will be called Saratoga Lake
Bistro. It should be great!
comments about the Indian / Pakistani restaurants
being as "standardized as McDonald's"
shows either that you have eaten at only
a few Indian / Pakistani restaurants or
that you have some prejudices to work out.
That the physical appearances are not what
you would consider fancy dancy has no bearing
on the food. And after all, that is what
the main focus of the reviews should be.
Not the physical appearances, which is what
most of your reviews concentrate on.
A restaurant like The Shalimar, down on
Central Avenue, may not look the greatest,
but the food is excellent there. And the
menu has lots of variety - beef, lamb, vegetarian,
chicken, and more..