B. A. Nilsson
Western Ave., Guilderland, 456-3876. Serving 6 AM-midnight
Sun-Thu, 6 AM-1 AM Fri-Sat. AE, D, MC, V.
price range: $3.50 (double egg sandwich) to $30 (twin
chrome and neon
been just over a decade since the Metro 20 Diner put down
stakes, or rather landed from deep space—as it appears at
night, neon ablaze—on Western Avenue, not far from Crossgates
and the Northway. As far as architecture is concerned, it’s
about as handsome a diner as you’re likely to find north of
New Jersey, and the glitter of the exterior is carried into
the inside walls, with art deco poster-style motifs.
I first visited with my family in 1998 when that family included
a 1-year-old. The restaurant was, and remains, a good place
to bring kids. It’s spacious enough to accommodate a range
of customers at a range of stations, although customers tend
to be consolidated in a dining area during the slower stretches.
Food purveyors like Sysco make so many items available in
frozen or Cryovac packaging that it’s possible to offer an
expansive menu without the attendant preparation; thus the
diner offers seemingly limitless choices.
Metro 20’s menu—large, laminated, bordered in pink—welcomes
you with a pagelong listing of wine, beer and cocktails. There’s
a weekday afternoon (2-5) dinner special that gets you soup
or salad and an entrée with dessert and coffee at half price,
and the specials include roasted chicken or turkey, meat loaf,
broiled scrod, fried clams and more, priced from $10-$13.
Appetizers range from a $3 plate of fries to an $11 sampler
of wings, potato skins, mozzarella sticks and chicken fingers;
nachos, fried ravioli, jalapeño poppers, chili and calamari
are among the others.
Then you face the real decision. Sandwich? Burger? Full dinner?
Breakfast? The specialty sandwich list offers chicken souvlaki
on pita ($7.75), Philly cheese steak, tuna melt or French
dip for $8, London broil sandwich for $10 and a NY steak sandwich
for $14, each with a side of fries. Six-ounce hamburgers start
at $4.75; once you’ve piled on cheese and bacon and added
fries or rings, you’re paying $8.35. And there are many more
sandwiches, including wraps ($8), triple-deckers ($8-$9) and
traditional deli combos (around $7).
We ordered a grilled chicken Caesar wrap (served with good
fries, $8), and were served a generously overstuffed sandwich
with a nice flavor, but one that had picked up enough heat
to wilt the accompanying lettuce.
After that there were still three pages of dinner choices!
Our options were narrowed during another recent visit when
we were informed right away that none of the sautéed items
would be available—that station closed at 8:30, a half-hour
before our arrival. So no chicken Sinatra (it’s sautéed with
sliced eggplant, prosciutto, roasted peppers and mozzarella,
$16), no sole Française ($17), no veal pizzaiola ($17), no
fusilli misto (sautéed chicken and sundried tomatoes tossed
with spinach and prosciutto and pasta, $16). A page of options
Ten years ago I reported that no meatloaf was offered. This
has changed. The meatloaf is listed as a “chef special,” served
with potato and vegetable ($10). It bears no resemblance to
any meatloaf I’ve tasted before, and not in a good way. Three
large (I do mean large) patties emerged, bearing grill marks,
covered in a very thick mushroom-studded gravy. The patties
themselves, buoyed by breading, had only a fleeting flavor
of meat. The gravy also topped a side of bland, processed
mashed potatoes. My monkey dish of peas traveled from can
to table with a stop, I’m suspecting, at the steam table to
collect a little heat and shed the last of its color.
Earlier, I flew through an appetizer serving of fried zucchini
sticks, served with a marinara dipping sauce ($5.25), so I
wasn’t going hungry. This was why I realized, only after I
left the diner, that the salad included with my dinner had
never arrived. Nor was the menu-promised bread and butter
Among the Italian specialties are chicken or veal parmigiana
($13 or $17); meat-intensive entrées include pork chops ($14),
lamb chops ($16) and a NY strip ($18), and there is a bounty
of seafood, offered stuffed, broiled or fried ($13-$19). Roasted
turkey ($13) and beef liver ($10) give an old-fashioned feel
to the offerings, but the example of the roasted half spring
chicken ($12) suggested that the bird itself had reached an
autumnal stage, dry and chewy with a stiff, tough stuffing.
The star of the meal was the matzoh ball soup ($2.75 or $3.50),
which could have come straight from the Edison Hotel in Manhattan
and boasted an unusually good broth and a well-textured dumpling.
There’s nothing bashful about dessert here. Although the display
counter showed many empty spaces, those cakes and pies that
remained were tall with frosting or filling and sliced generously
thick. We shared a piece of chocolate layered cheesecake ($4),
which was gooey and sweet and otherwise unremarkable.
You get a secure, comfortable feeling from servers who make
that extra bit of effort to ensure a good dining experience.
Such wasn’t the case here. I had the feeling that the nicest
thing we did for the servers was settle up the tab and depart.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
Village Pizzeria (2727 Route 29, Galway) is
celebrating its 20th anniversary in style with
an award from the Wine Enthusiast magazine, adding
to an already impressive list of such awards.
This neighborhood pizza joint also features quality
Italian entrées and what’s probably the best-chosen,
reasonably priced wine list in the area. Look
for the restaurant’s acclaimed sauces in several
area Price Chopper stores. Call 882-9431 for more
info, or check out villagepizzeria.com. . . .
The Hot Harry’s Fresh Burritos franchise
has a new Schenectady location at 1625 Union St.
It’s a locally owned business, started four years
ago in Pittsfield, Mass., by Samir Abdallah, who
has seen the concept spread through the Berkshires
(and even into Iowa!) before landing in east Greenbush,
and now here. In addition to burritos, the menu
features homemade salsa and soup and a variety
of tacos, quesadillas and salads. Call 374-2812,
or find them on the web at hotharrysburritos.com.
. . . Remember to pass your scraps to Metroland.