By B.A. Nilsson
Scottish Inn, 2788 Hamburg
St., Rotterdam. 355-1111. Serving lunch daily 11:30-3, dinner
Sun-Thu 5-10, Fri-Sat 5-11. MC, V.
Standard Indian fare
Entrée price range: $7 (vegetable biryani) to $20 (mixed
Ambience: Hotel banquet room
Clientele: Enlightened diners
Palace is a bright spot on Schenectady’s otherwise unadventurous
cuisine profile—actually the second Indian restaurant in the
county and the first in the Rotterdam area. It’s part of a
hotel, one that used to be a Best Western and is now the Scottish
Inn and Suites.
Two different dining experiences await. The first (in the
sense of being earlier in the day) is a $9 lunch buffet, served
daily. This is a bit higher priced than some other Indian
buffets you’ll find, but there’s some justification: Each
table is served a basket of hot nan, the popular flatbread,
as well as a platter of sizzling tandoori chicken, fresh from
the hot clay oven.
From there, you’ll find a longer-than-usual buffet line of
chafing-dish-warmed selections, including vegetable items
like pakoras, dal (a seasoned lentil stew), basmati
rice, undistinguished green salad, masala baigan (an
eggplant dish) and vegetable jalfrazie (in this case,
string beans and carrots with Indian cheese), such meatstuffs
as lamb korma (“creamy, creamy, creamy,” extols the
menu, “a mild sweetheart’s special”) and chicken tikka
masala. There’s also fruit salad and Indian rice pudding for
The buffet is commendable for its generosity, but it suffers—especially
over those wimpy flames—in terms of temperature and texture.
Unless they sit in a bath of very hot water, dishes chill
and congeal quickly. Nevertheless, it’s a bargain-priced way
to get familiar with a wide range of Indian items.
At dinner, a plate of papadum is your on-the-house
starter, something that was once the custom at other area
Indian restaurants but by and large has been abandoned. These
are crisp, parchment-thin lentil wafers, often presented,
as here, with sides of tamarind sauce, onion chutney and mint
sauce. The humid, hot weather had played havoc with the wafers,
however, rendering them limp, a condition that wasn’t cured
by the dining room’s chilly blasts of air conditioning.
never had it before,” the menu listing advises in describing
chicken pakoras ($6), an appetizer. Pakoras
are deep-fried treats often sold streetside in India, consisting
of comestible morsels coated with a chickpea-flour-based batter.
At Royal Palace, they’re available with such fillings as cheese
(paneer) and vegetables, and they appear on the Royal
Medley ($8), which also includes samosas (potato-stuffed
turnovers, available separately for $5), sheekh kabab
(ground spiced lamb) and chicken tikka, which are yogurt-sauced
morsels zapped in the tandoor oven.
Fairly standard stuff, but the appetizer listing includes
unusual fare like puri, a puffed wheat bread, stuffed with
shrimp ($7) or chickpeas ($5), and even tandoori scallops
The four soups include mulligatawny or spinach ($3 each);
tandoori chicken salad ($7) and the delicious dahi
bhalla (lentil dumplings in a yogurt sauce, $5) number
among the side dishes.
We found the large dining room not very changed since its
days as the Rib and Seafood House. Indian artwork and artifacts
now hang on the walls, but it’s otherwise banquet-room drab
with a view of the indoor pool to one side.
A large party occupied a series of pushed-together tables,
and a dinner buffet had been set for them; otherwise, most
of the other diners were Indian, and that was very much the
case when I stopped back for a lunch visit a few days later.
Dinner selections don’t stray much from the Indian norm, although
the pricing is a little higher. Tandoori preparations of meat
and seafood range from $11 to $20 (the last being a mixed
grill), chicken dishes are $12 to $16 and the lamb dishes
top out at $19 for the lamb chop muglai, mixing cashew
nuts with a curry sauce.
Duck masala ($17) is a dish from Goa, and carries a heat-level
warning that turned out to be nonsense. It was flavorful,
and the duck meat takes those spices well, but there was less
heat to it than with an order of palak paneer,
a spinach and cheese dish finished in a creamy sauce that’s
a big favorite with my family.
These recipes take familiar items and enhance them with spices,
some of them dry roasted, others added as the dish cooks.
So the vegetable-based entrées have additives like tamarind
and the curry spices, a very mouth-pleasing array to choose
from, priced from $9 to $12.
If you’re feeling expansive, try a combo platter. The $16
royal thali gives a mixture of chicken and lamb dishes
along with sides of vegetables, dal, and rice. Fourteen dollars
gets the vegetarian version, and for $19 you can get the seafood
But take note of the biryani dishes, in which basmati
rice is gently flavored and baked with added components like
chicken or lamb, shrimp or vegetables. These are wonderful
all-in-one entrées that prove very satisfying.
Service is attentive, and I got the feeling on both visits
that the staff and management are eager to please. Based on
the business that this recently opened restaurant already
enjoys, I can see that a niche has been filled. With an eye
toward improving the quality and consistency of the food,
Royal Palace can enjoy a long life at this location.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
Day Nursery’s third annual Lobster & Steak
Fest takes place from 5 until 8 PM on Aug.
14 at the Picnic Pavilion in Schenectady’s Central
Park, Schenectady. Enjoy a 20-ounce lobster or
14-ounce steak along with potatoes, corn, a drink
and dessert for $35 ($30 if you buy your ticket
in advance). There’s even a surf-and-turf option
that gets you both lobster and steak for $60 ($50
in advance). A hotdog meal is $5, and participants
may eat in or take out. Entertainment by fiddlers
Jane Rothfield and Allan Carr will be featured
during dinner. You can buy tickets in advance
at the Niskayuna or Eastern Parkway Price Choppers.
For more info, call 378-3360. . . . Remember to
pass your scraps to Metroland (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org).
fax info to 922-7090)