By ELIZABETH SCHAEFER
We both had ridiculously long weeks, frustrating and exhausting for a variety of reasons, so come Friday we both wanted to go somewhere where we could relax but also enjoy a really good dinner.
He had been wanting to try the Stockade Inn in Schenectady for quite some time and we had never been able to coordinate it for one reason or another, so we decided to go there. When we walked in from the street we could hear a band playing which was a pleasant surprise, as I knew they often have music, but didn’t know that night was one of them. The ambiance is quaint. I would classify it as an “old school” lounge setting. We were seated at a small bistro table with wonderful living room style seating. Instantly we knew, this was exactly what we needed.
Our server arrived quickly and I decided on a glass of Prosecco and he switched things up and went with a lemon drop martini. We also placed an order for their warm olive and cheese plate. The lounge menu is small, but in my experience a smaller menu very often means each dish is done really well. I had a super hard time deciding what to order, because there were three things I couldn’t decide between. Eventually I narrowed it down to two, and then put our server to the test. A key to great service, is a staff that can make a recommendation that isn’t just them reading you what is says on the menu. Based on the two selections I asked her about, she told me the panko chicken for sure, so I went with it. He had a much easier time of choosing and went with the lobster salad.
As we waited for our meals, it was wonderful to sit and enjoy the music, in a relaxed but really nice atmosphere. When our cheese plate arrived, we were shocked. It was massive, and delicious looking. Our server went through what cheeses were which, and we dove in. There were five — yes, five — different cheese types, a small dish of warm olives, and plenty of toasted bread. The blue was my favorite, it was soft and salty and not overly strong. The goat came in a strong second, being quite the opposite of the blue, mild and herbed. We were unable to come close to finishing the plate, but our server happily wrapped it for us, and it was wonderful the next day.
When our dinner arrived, I knew right away that our server had been spot on. The dish was a panko encrusted chicken breast, served over polenta with a tomato and fresh mozzarella salad surrounding it. All three things had a perfect amount a balsamic drizzled over it. Chicken is always risky, because it is so easy to overcook, but this was perfectly moist. The panko was done lightly enough that it added flavor, but by no means over took the chicken. The polenta was done just right, adding a lovely texture underneath the chicken. The tomato and mozzarella were a perfect addition, not too much, but not too little either. Plus, the mozzarella actually was fresh mozzarella, and not “other stuff” being passed off as the good stuff.
I truthfully didn’t even taste his lobster salad, because mine was just too good. However, he told me he would have been reluctant to share (and we always share) because he loved his so much. He said the lobster was cooked just right, flavorful, and also plentiful. The greens of the salad were dressed just enough to add a bit of flavor, but not overtake it.
I wasn’t able to finish mine, but like the cheese plate, it was great the next day.
Before tip, our bill came to $62, and with dinners that delicious, and drinks, it was definitely a good price.
The evening turned into a very pleasant surprise, as it surely was one of the nicest evenings we have had in quite a while. The food, the atmosphere, and the jazz band, in total made for a night we won’t soon forget.
Elizabeth Schaefer has lived in the Capital District her entire life and currently resides in Niskayuna. She spends the majority of her time at the gym, as both an instructor and a “gym rat”, but strategically plans on at least one “cheat” meal a week. Please submit suggestions on places to try, for either a health conscious tasty meal, or for that weekly cheat meal. She can be reached at [email protected]