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photo credit: Alicia Solsman

Friendly and Fancy-Free
By B.A. Nilsson

Teagan’s Steak and Seafood Restaurant
360 Columbia Turnpike (Route 20), East Greenbush, 477-9909. Serving Mon-Fri 11-4, dinner Mon-Sat 4-10, Sun 2-9. AE, MC, V.

Cuisine: down-home continental

Entrée price range: $12 (chicken parmigiana) to $25 (stuffed lobster tails)

Ambiance: friendly roadhouse

Clientele: friends and neighbors

This time of year reminds me of boyhood trips to my father’s mother’s apartment in Queens, where each step along the narrow entrance hall rewarded me with more of the toothsome aroma of her holiday-season feast. A tiny Norwegian immigrant, she produced a traditional American meal that endlessly seemed to emerge from her equally tiny oven. Not gourmet fare, but something that seemed more rooted to who we were and how we celebrated the holidays.

I got that same feeling entering Teagan’s Steak and Seafood Restaurant, where grandma turns out to be chef-owner Al Pollock, who has created a place that he wants to be as comfortable for you as possible.

Tucked among a series of retail and service shops on a stretch of Route 20 between Rensselaer and East Greenbush, Teagan’s identifies itself with a green sign and an unassuming exterior. Inside is equally unassuming, divided between the dining room and a bar area, the latter in full swing during both of my recent visits.

Every night at least three specials are offered, and I took advantage of a recent scampi extravaganza to order the Ultimate Scampi, which turned out to be a huge plate of garlic-intensive pasta with the items of my choice worked in (I selected sirloin tips and scallops). I assumed shrimp also would be a part of it: The word “scampi” is an Italian term, according to one source, for a type of crayfish that has come to also mean shrimp.

But my dish turned out to be a most generous portion of linguine topped with the requested meats along with much else in the way of flavor components—olives, capers, a good mix of herbs—in a sauce far less oil- (or butter-) heavy than I expected.

This clearly was a dish created not as an assembly-line item but rather to be placed with pride in front of a hungry customer, and I was not surprised to be greeted, a short time later, by Pollock, who emerged from the kitchen to make sure my table was satisfied.

How could we not be? While we’re not talking rarefied fare, this is food crafted with feeling. Lily, my dining companion, was working on her own plate of veal and artichoke hearts over angel hair pasta, and found the caper-rich sauce an added bonus. (But it was the veal and the artichoke hearts she really wanted. I was awarded the leftover pasta for dinner the following day.)

Pollock has been running his restaurant for more than 10 years, and has gained a loyal following over that time. “I have regulars who eat here three, four times a week,” he told me. He was chef at a number of area restaurants, including Chaucer’s, but “having my own restaurant was always my dream.”

He named it after his daughter, and the family feeling extends into the dining room where the servers, who are well versed in the menu’s offerings, are happy to help you choose your meal. And if you’re completely stumped, the menu has an unusual extra: “If you don’t see it, ask. We will make it if possible.”

“People do make requests,” says Pollock. “I get a lot of them, because people like that personal touch.”

There’s an Italian feel to the veal, chicken and pasta items, but that’s just part of the continental style of the menu as a whole. Seafood starts the entrée list, with broiled or fried items like shrimp, sole and scallops along with combo platters, lobster tails and even pan-seared trout, all but the lobster priced no higher than $17. The lobster or a choose-it-yourself surf-and-turf dinner are $25 apiece.

Then there are the steaks. I can attest to the excellent flavor—and cut of beef—in the steak au poivre ($20), a 12-ounce sirloin dressed with cracked pepper and a brandy-cream sauce. Look for unpeppered sirloin in 12-, 16- and 20-ounce sizes ($16-$25), or try what I’m heading back to taste: sliced garlic sirloin ($16). Filet mignon is served with herbed butter ($19) or au poivre ($22).

Pricing is significantly lower than similar west-of-the-Hudson restaurants—veal parmigiana for $14, for instance—so I’m suspecting that Rensselaer County regulars simply don’t tell us that Teagan’s exists so they won’t have to share. I’m looking at items like the Chicken Tuscany ($15), a vast dish of seared breast meat with spinach, prosciuto and mushrooms tossed in a cream sauce, another leftovers-yielding portion. Keep in mind that dinners come with soup or salad, so you’ve got meal enough right there.

But even if you’re looking for less, the appetizers can be daunting. Eggplant roulade ($7), for instance, is a dinner portion of eggplant slices rolled around prosciuto and cheese, in a garlicky wine sauce. You could even make a light dinner out of the onion soup au gratin ($3.50), which has a good flavor and an amazing amount of cheese on top.

You’ll find nothing very fancy about the restaurant and its food, but there’s nothing fancy about the prices, either—a satisfying experience we’re looking forward to repeating.

Click here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.


TABLE SCRAPS

Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp, authors of The Book Club Cookbook, will be at the Schenectady County Public Library (Clinton and Liberty Streets, Schenectady) from noon-5 PM Sunday, Oct. 17, to discuss and sign their book. The event is a fund-raiser for the Capital Campaign to expand the downtown library to include a new children’s center, gallery and performance space. Samples of food made by area restaurants from The Book Club Cookbook recipes will be offered for sale. Gelman and Krupp interviewed book-club members all over the country to see what they were reading and eating; the result is a collection of 100 entries, each focusing on a literary masterpiece. . . . The Hudson Valley Council of Girl Scouts will hold its third annual Cookie Cuisine event from 6-9 PM Tue, Oct. 26 at the Italian-American Community Center (Washington Ave. Ext., Albany). Honorary Chair Carmine Sprio, Ric Orlando and a host of talented culinary teams take on the challenge of preparing gourmet entrées and desserts using Girl Scout cookies. This year’s participants include the Arlington House, Aromi D’Italia, Capital District EOC, Carmine’s, Crowne Plaza, Magnolia’s, New World Home Cooking, Real Seafood, SUNY Cobleskill and 333 Café. Tickets are $35; pony up $75 and you’ll be part of the honorary committee. For reservations, call Sharon Smith 489-8110, ext. 105. . . . Remember to pass your scraps to Metroland (e-mail food@banilsson.com)


We want your feedback

Have you eaten at any recently reviewed restaurants? Agree or disagree with B.A.? Let us know what you think...

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What you're saying...

I 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.

Mary Kurtz
Castleton

First, 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 the reviews.

Pat Russo
East Greenbush

I 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!

Peggy Van Deloo
Schenectady

So happy to see you finally made out!! Our experiences have always been wonderful, the staff is extremely professional, the food subperb, and the atmosphere very warm and comfortable. Let us not forget to mention "Maria" the pianist on Friday and Saturday nights.

Charlie and Marie
Michaels Restaurant

I have been to Michael's several times and each time I have enjoyed it very much. The food is delicious and the staff is great. Also, Maria Riccio Bryce plays piano there every Friday and Saturday evening, a nice touch to add to the already wonderful atmosphere. It is also easy to find, exit 27 off the thruway to 30 north for about 5 miles.

N. Moore
Albany

Wonderful!

Elaine Snowdon
Albany

We loved it and will definitely go back.

Rosemarie Rafferty

Absolutely excellent. The quality and the flavor far surpasses that of other Indian restaurants in the area. I was a die-hard Shalimar fan and Tandoor Palace won my heart. It blows Ghandi out of the water. FInally a decent place in Albany where you can get a good dinner for less than $10 and not have tacos. The outdoor seating is also festive.

Brady G'sell

Indian is my favorite cuisine available in the area--I loved Tandoor Palace. We all agreed that the tandoori chicken was superior to other local restaraunts, and we also tried the ka-chori based on that intriguing description-delicious.

Kizzi Casale
Albany

Your 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..

Barry Uznitsky
Guilderland



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