Saturday, April 4, 2009

Aperitivo Revisited

Sometimes I have a bad meal at a restaurant and yet I return again, and again the meal isn't stellar, and yet for some reason I return again in hopes to find that a place has gotten through its growing pains. Aperitivo in Schenectady, NY has been one such restaurant.

I have dined there about three or four times and had just about written the restaurant off. I found some of the dishes to be lacking in proper execution, while the portion sizes even for "small plates" were absurd for the price. However, I made another attempt last night as I had heard there were some recent changes to the location.

I never think to check the Proctor's schedule when I go out to eat in Schenectady, as I live a couple miles from the venue, I just don't think of it as a "special event" location, I guess you just get used to things. Last night Aperitivo had a "Proctor's Menu" which meant it was somewhat limited due to the high-volume of guests coming in, not quite sure how I feel about that, but there was still plenty to choose from.

The small plate dominated menu has been beefed up with a pretty big selection of larger plates. After talking to the bartender and some other people, it just seems that many of the guests didn't get the "small plate" concept. I for one love this concept which is very popular everywhere else in the country. It gives one a chance to try a large number of small plates to sample the many flavors that the chef has created.

I proceeded to order a number of items, the Surf and Turf roll which I have had in the past and hated, was so much better, flavorful and had a wonderful texture. Next I moved on to a dish called Mussels Panzanella, good simply cooked muscles, change the name though please, Panzanella is a salad made with day old bread or crusty bread cubes along with tomatoes and other fresh vegetable. Other than a tomato broth and some toasted baguette on top, it had nothing to do with Panzanella. Moved onto the Beef Carpacio, which I complain about every time because of the portion size. The portion itself has not increased but it is now accompanied by what I believe to have been some truffled sheep's milk cheese, a very tasty dish and I love truffles. The Lobster Arancine (balls of day old risotto usually breaded and fried, the name translates to "little oranges" which is what they are meant to look like) were full of flavor, although they were a little over fried. I'd skip the gnocchi, either they were really overworked, or they were prepackaged. If you can't make gnocchi in-house don't offer it as they will always be rubbery, gnocchi should be tender in texture. I asked for a dish off the regular menu and was accommodated, duck confit with risotto. The confit was good, a little heavy on the sun-dried tomatoes which the confit was sauteed with. The risotto had a good saffron flavor to it.

Finished the meal with a 20 year-old Talisker, the bar has a pretty good selection of whiskeys, a good amount of high-end Scotch and Bourbon. Aperitivo is a restaurant that seems to have come into its own, I met the chef, Devon, at the end of the meal whom is a graduate from Schenectady County Community College's culinary arts program. He is doing a wonderful job and I am looking forward to going back in again.

Aperitivo Bistro
426 State Street Schenectady, NY 12305
(518) 579-3371 Fax (518) 579-3372

Restaurant Website

Lunch: Mon–Fri 11:30am-2:00pm
Dinner: Mon-Sat 5:30pm-10:00pm; Sun 4:00pm-9:00pm
Pub Fare: Mon-Fri 2:00pm-Close
*Hours may be extended for Proctors shows, call for info.


Greg said...

I think the small plate concept just doesn't click with a lot of people in the Capital Region. It seems that a few restaurants have tried, but they eventually fall back on the more common entree arrangement.

I wonder if some of it has to do with pricing -- some of the small plate menus I've encountered seem a little pricey. And maybe some of it is just people's expectations of what dinner should be -- that is, a big piece of protein with a few accompaniments.

Christopher Allen Tanner said...

I'm sure it is also a population issue, as you stated "people"s expectations". We have such a huge amount of meat and potato restaurants in this area, while in places like NYC and Boston they have had quite a bit of variety for a long time so the small plate concepts have taken hold.

celinabean said...

Wow, that sounds like quite a meal. I love the small plates, too. It works best with a large group, though. I'm always frustrated when I've spent my whole budget and can only try a few things.

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