Stockade Inn - April 2010 (dt)
7.35 - 7.8, 7.75, 7.5, 7.5, 7.5, 7, 7, 6.75
The historic Stockade Inn, in the historic Stockade, of
Schenectady found Dinner Party of Eight anticipating repeat visit #7 of the eight planned.
It had been nearly three years since we last dined in a rare Schenectady County visit.
Where to start? All the elements were top notch but service was one of best we have seen on our DP8 encounters.
We recognized Stacey who served us three years ago, an auspicious beginning. Attentive, observant, efficient, checking without being cloying, a serious attitude about all the details, timely, a witty & playful attitude, adept, quick without fumbling, mindful of details, replacing plates and silverware without reminder – it was a delight to observe and to be served so well. Thanks, Stacey, for an outstanding performance (including filling Ken’s coffee cup regularly – no mean feat) and for representing Stockade so well.
Gabby filled our water glasses constantly, even when a few ounces were consumed (which is one of our quality-measuring quirks). Delivery of courses meant up to three people bringing food to the folding tables for Stacey’s presentation. Service throughout is attentive and measured.
And, ambiance. The Inn is such a visual treat. A large brick building’s entry ushers guests to the foyer and then to the bar area which, this Friday evening (a rare Friday for us) held a jazz trio with the aficionados enraptured on the couches and chairs.
The dining area has been redecorated in a grand way. The 40 x 30 (excuse the lack of precise measurement) rectangular room is such a bouquet of surfaces. Four columns, acting like arching ribs, climb the long walls and continue on the ceiling. Set beside each column on the street wall, a tall window is masked with gauzy curtains topped with a slate-blue/gray, three-piece window treatment. Two wide windows front the end wall facing the main street, again with the same treatments.
The first gush of ambiance is color, with a rich chocolate brown on the walls, rising to a metallic pea-lime-green on the corner curves, and the spanking white of the ceiling. The next gush is the lighting with a center two-tiered, 18-light chandelier, each light covered by a small table lamp shade. Four smaller chandeliers, two tiers of six similarly shaded lights radiate to the corners of the ceiling. Double light sconces line the walls, five or six on the sides, two on the end.
Seating is ample, with five or six four-person tables on the long sides, two on the end behind us, two round tables in the center ends. Making a bold statement is the center of the room, with back-to-back horseshoe shaped tall-backed banquettes, able to seat four comfortably, with an entwining plant, blue-and-green theme to the upholstery. It is all done so easily that it would be forgivable to overlook the plethora of touches. Perched atop the center of the banquettes was a vase holding a green plant that visually was dazzled by a quince-ish set of branches, with blossoms, that reached out and up, nearly touching the center chandelier. Meanwhile, the hum, or louder, of the jazz trio exuded from the anteroom.
Our six foot diameter table was clothed in white linen, circled by sturdy, comfortably cushioned chairs. A single candle capped by a lamp shade was the centerpiece, as it was for all the tables (mirroring the theme of the lighting above). A four-piece silverware setting supplemented a single white bread plate, and within minutes a linen-covered basket of sourdough rye bread arrived – foot long slices, almost cut all the way through, toasty warm, accompanied by two plates of herbed whipped butter.
The drink order was taken with the six red drinkers (Deb T again) with Tim selecting two bottles of the Kenwood 2007 pinot noir, a pleasant and versatile wine for the evening, to be joined with a glass of Prosecco and a diet soda. (Another sign of service was the extra glass for the second bottle.)
The appetizers and salads list looked tempting and are priced separately. Four (Deb T, Chay, Ken, Judy) ordered the Wedge – a large wedge of iceberg lettuce, chunks of beefsteak tomato, rings of red onion, a drizzle of bleu cheese with chunks, all topped with several pieces of smoked bacon. All thought the presentation was excellent, as was the taste, especially the bleu cheese. Meanwhile, Don had the stuffed potato soup – a creamy and thick soup with bits of savory bacon (excellent, especially on a cool night, and cool room). And, Deb K enjoyed the lobster bisque, with chunks of poached lobster (also, excellent).
About ninety minutes into the evening, entrées arrived: parmesan encrusted sea bass, setting atop cous cous, broccolini, all in a garlic & pesto cream sauce (Deb K took Stacey’s recommendation, outstanding, but after soup and bread found it too much to consume this evening; debate about broccolini’s taste – this was more moderate than past memories); the sesame crusted sea scallops, with shrimp fried rice, baby bok choy, and orange ginger butter sauce (Deb T, of course; the best she has ever had, she exclaimed; great mix of flavors); cedar planked salmon, with butternut squash, risotto, pancetta vinaigrette (Don, very good, tasty sauce, good risotto; saved half for take-home); and twin 6-ounce lobster tails, wild rice pilaf, and sauteed asparagus (Judy, very good).
The meat-eaters comprised the other half of the table. The choices ranged from: the 10 ounce filet mignon (Kriss, ordered well done, came perfect, and some went home with Krypton’s doggie bag; and Tim, ordered medium-rare, came medium, good, potatoes and asparagus were not warm); the 10 ounce prime sirloin (Chay, good enough to think it was filet mignon); and the 14 ounce strip steak (Ken, very good). An extra serving of horseradish dressing pleased a couple of this group.
For those ordering from the “grill” section, The Inn includes two sides per order from the Grill menu: mashed potatoes, rice pilaf, steak fries, sweet potato, creamed spinach, asparagus, broccolini, sautéed mushrooms, and more. The individual combinations were not recorded. However, with a couple of exceptions, most seemed pleased with the sides.
The array of plate shapes and sizes, again, added to the attention to fine dining that Stockade delivers.
Stacey questioned our desire for desserts and, again, no doubt should have been raised. Desserts included: chocolate-syruped, warm chocolate lava cake (Kriss, excellent); the chocolate brownie sundae (Don, very good, but paled compared to the lava cake); the pistachio gelato (Deb T, excellent); the chocolate gelato (Deb K, very good); the strawberry shortcake (Judy, very good, would have liked ice cream with it). The sippers enjoyed Sambuca (Chay, Ken) or Frangelica (Tim).
And, it was over. The bill, with drink, tax and tip came to $127 per couple. We thanked Stacey for her service, appreciated the experience that Stockade embodies, and then strolled through the jazz music that the Stockade regularly schedules. If the Stockade Inn were closer, it would be enjoyable just for the music, light food and a drink. An urbane existence, for sure.
The evening had started at the Teators, on a rushed Friday
evening, a rare night for us to venture forth but it was the only night that all
of us could make this month! And, with the “real world” workers working, we
had only a fifteen minute preliminary, with a bowl of mixed fruit, as well as a
chunk of cheddar with crackers and flatbread. Drinks included a chardonnay, a
Valpolicella, a white zin, and a lone beer.
This evening’s trip meant an hour’s drive, with the Teators leading the trip out across the winding map leading to Altamont and beyond. The way back in the dark took us to I-90 and Rt 32, with plenty of time to talk in the cars, with our usual custom of changing back seat passengers.
Talk included: grandkids and plenty of photos, the Adamses’ March journey to Tucson, banter of their replacement, wedding plans & details & minor fretting, dress buying, the school baseball team, our kids and their relationships, Ken’s job, Stiefel’s being saved, unusually nice weather this spring break, Nathan’s house, spring break going way too quickly, “adventurous” places to visit in western NY, and more.