Jay St., Schenectady, 344-7082. Serving lunch 11-2 Mon-Fri,
9-2 Sat; dinner 5-7:30 Mon-Sat. MC, V.
crêpes and wraps
price range: $5 (salad) to $8 (roast beef sandwich)
the Jay Street pedestrian mall at lunchtime and you get a
taste of what Schenectady could be as an urban destination.
Shops beckon with a variety of offerings; Proctors looms ahead.
Walk the street on your way to a Proctors event and there’s
a similar bustle, heightened by the sense of entertainment
anticipation. But this block of Jay Street empties quickly,
revealing a different, lonelier profile. It’s the profile
we saw early one recent evening. There were no Proctors events
that night, which was too bad, as Chez Daisie has been humming
each time I’ve walked by en route to the theater. Each time
I vowed I’d get back there to sample the crêpes.
I probably picked the wrong night to fulfill this promise.
The walk from the car was promising, if strange. The Clinton
Street parking lot connects to Jay Street via an alleyway
that recently got a decoration of garish neon overhead lights.
You expect to find yourself somewhere a-bustle like Bleecker
Street. Not this evening.
Even the restaurant itself appeared oddly unwelcoming, which
I soon figured out was due to its lack of lights.
It’s a one-man show. Grab a menu on your way in, find yourself
a table in the adjoining room, then order at the front-room
counter. You’ll pick up your meal at a slide-through window
behind which you can watch it assembled. It took a few minutes
for my eyes to adjust enough to the gloom to make out the
menu’s lettering, which mightn’t have been a problem if a
nearby row of wall lights hadn’t been switched off.
A pleasant background of accordion-rich French and French-inspired
music was playing, offering an undertone of exoticism. Too
bad it had to compete with the pop-tune radio playing in the
restaurant’s own kitchen!
My daughter and I watched as a succession of dessert crêpes
was prepared and served to an eager family. Strawberries,
bananas, crème anglaise, Nutella—it was a toothsome
recitation and the finished crêpes looked impressive, even
as I silently lamented seeing whipped cream come out of a
Our dining strategy, then, would be a savory crêpe apiece
and we’d split a sweet one for dessert. Where to start?
Chez Daisie has been open for four years, a unique addition
to the city’s eateries, dreamed up by former Montreal resident
JoAnne Sifo, who wanted to continue to enjoy a flavor she
didn’t wish to leave behind—and to have her own business.
An accomplished guitarist, she’s part of the Dyer Switch Band,
a bluegrass ensemble with a name that evokes Saratoga railway
history. And she’s got this idea that powdered sugar can garnish
a ham-and-cheese crêpe, and I like that. This I discovered
by ordering a Barcelone ($7.25).
The wrapper is a large crêpe, the creation of which you can
observe: Batter is smoothed onto a cylindrical cooktop, flipped,
then filled. It has a spongier texture than I was expecting,
not unlike Ethiopian injera. The baked ham was nothing
more than a sheaf of deli slices, wrapped atop a cold slice
of cream cheese with a few thin avocado slices and a modest
amount of jalapeño-studded jack cheese. Grapes and some apple
slices garnished the dish.
The crêpe itself eased from not-quite-lukewarm into its own
This also characterized the Suisse ($7.25), another
deli-ham crêpe, but this time with Swiss cheese and asparagus
slices, which got no help from the unpleasant-tasting asparagus.
It’s supposed to be topped with Hollandaise, but we really
have no right to expect the real thing on a slow night in
a cold kitchen. So we regarded the sauce that came out of
a squeeze bottle merely as a well-meaning imposter.
This place should be terrific. I’ll bet it is when the customers
are flowing and they can afford to turn all the lights on.
The menu includes promising-sounding egg- and chicken-based
crêpes, as well as many varieties of vegetarian fillings,
some of them letting savory and sweet mingle, as in the three-cheese
crêpe topped with brown-sugar apples.
And the bonne santée ($7), promising cucumber, avocado
and feta with an avocado dressing, sounds perhaps best of
More traditional sandwiches are available in crêpes or as
wraps, each under $8 apiece (and many of the offerings are
available as $5 lunch specials). Chicken with spinach or mushrooms;
ham with peppers or cheddar; portobello mushrooms with artichoke
hearts; even roast beef with bacon.
The salad selection ($5 each) includes an avocado stuffed
with Greek olives, or those olives again tossed with diced
chicken breast, or a salad of apples, cucumbers, pecans and
dates along with other fruit-intensive combos.
But it’s those $5 dessert crêpes that won’t let you go. Assemble
your own from a selection of fruits and fillings, or choose
one of the more exotic designs like Oreo caramel (cookies
crushed in cream cheese and crème anglaise with caramel
in a chocolate crêpe) or the Oreo smash, which adds a peanut
butter topping. We went all-chocolate with a so-flavored crêpe
filled with Nutella, cream cheese and sweetened pecans, and
it made up for the lackluster crêpes that had gone before.
This is very tough time of year for what’s already a tough
business, but I suspect that Chez Daisie needs to rededicate
itself to what I’m sure it can do well, and offer a more consistent
product with a more welcoming feeling. This probably means
fighting against Schenectady more often than not, but I think
that can be worth it.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
honor the Winter Olympics—and their debut in 1924—Maestro’s
in Saratoga (371 Broadway) is offering a prix-fixe
three-course dinner for $19.24 each night from
Feb. 15 to Feb. 28. Appetizers include five-onion
bisque, Caesar salad and spinach gnocchi; among
the entrées are red wine-braised beef brisket,
organic Scottish salmon with roasted beet risotto
and winter squash ravioli with butternut squash.
Wine specials also will be available. If you fear
you’ll be glued to the tube, the menu is also
available for take-out, including bean dip and
flatbreads and chocolate (add $3 for take-out).
Reserve seats by calling 580-0312 or use the online
system at saratogamaestros.com. . . . Remember
to pass your scraps to Metroland.