BALLSTON SPA Question: Where is a decent place to go if you happen to be hungry at dinner time in downtown Ballston Spa?
The answer? The Factory on Prospect Street — but Wednesday night might be your best bet.
My husband and I decided to check out The Factory for dinner recently, both because we’d been meaning to try the place for ages and because we’d heard that they now have Memorama trivia on Wednesday nights. The trivia game was great fun; our dinner experience, however, was a bit less so.
The Factory Eatery & Spirits
Where: 20 Prospect St., Ballston Spa. 885-0500, www.thefactoryeatery.com
When: Lunch and dinner 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, late-night menu from 9 to 11 p.m.; breakfast buffet 8:30 a.m. to noon Sundays
Cost: $63.83, including appetizers, tax and tip
Other info: Visa, Mastercard and Discover accepted; handicapped accessible
We were seated at a booth in the bar area and started off with a couple of beverages and some appetizers. I was intrigued by the mention of pierogis as a starter, and when our server informed us that they were made in-house, I had to try them. My husband, meanwhile, decided to start off with chicken fingers, one of his yardsticks of a good eatery.
We played the first of six rounds of trivia, and as the second round got under way, our starters arrived. The chicken fingers ($9.99) were good, if unremarkable, and they were served with a sweet barbecue sauce. The pierogis ($8.99) were of the potato variety, a touch bland in the center but encased in a dough with a flavor reminiscent of my mother’s pierogis. The outsides were lightly crisped, and they were topped with sautéed onions that brought a needed flavor element to the overall dish.
We polished off our appetizers without complaint, and a few trivia questions later, our entrées arrived.
Since we were in a pub setting, we had both ordered pub food. My husband chose the Ironworks Burger ($9.99), a bacon cheeseburger, with added grilled onions. The burger was OK, he said, but just OK, not great, and it was overcooked: He ordered it medium, but there was very little pink in this burger. He let me try a bite, and I noticed that the meat seemed like it could use some seasoning; it was a bit bland.
I decided to be adventurous and ordered something called the Triple Play Sandwich ($12.99), described on the menu as “three distinct layers in one huge sandwich”: roast beef with cheddar cheese and horseradish mayo, ham with honey mustard and Swiss cheese and Buffalo chicken breast with blue cheese dressing (which I had them leave off, since I don’t like blue cheese).
When the sandwich arrived, the layers were not, in fact, distinct: I’d expected something more like a club sandwich, but instead, it was all three layers of meats, cheeses and sauces stacked on one large, soft sandwich roll. You might think that this sounds disgusting, but in fact, it worked surprisingly well: The flavor of the Buffalo sauce dominated, but the cheese and other sauces added a nice bit of creaminess, and the flavors of the beef and horseradish especially married well with the spicy chicken. The ham got a little lost in the mix, though, and the chicken breast seemed a little tough, perhaps a tad overcooked.
As for our sides, both sandwiches came with fries, and the fries were very disappointing. They were cooked well enough, nicely hot and crisp, but they were totally lacking in seasoning. We salted them generously, but of course, the salt never sticks as well at the table as it does when the fries are fresh from the fryer.
By this point, it was halftime in the trivia game, time for a break. But apparently, our server was taking a break, too: A few minutes after she brought our sandwiches, she made a perfunctory stop to ask if everything was OK, and after that we didn’t see her again for ages. We finished with our sandwiches, the remains of our meals growing cold on our plates as our glasses sat empty.
It wasn’t until well into the second half of the trivia game that we saw her again, zipping in to see if we wanted drink refills and a box for our leftovers, then zipping off again just as quickly. (It’s worth noting here that neither the bar nor the main restaurant room adjacent looked all that busy.)
When she returned, we asked for a dessert menu, looking for something sweet to end our meal on a bright note. The dessert menu held the usual standbys, flourless chocolate cake, cheesecake and chocolate layer cake among them. There were also some tempting after-dinner drinks on the back, including Irish coffee and an alcoholic peppermint hot chocolate.
But in the end, we decided to keep it simple and split a slice of peanut butter pie, which proved to be a wise choice: while not spectacular, the layers of chocolate cookie crust, dense chocolate mousse and creamy chocolate-chip-studded peanut butter filling were quite tasty.
Soon enough, we had the bill: dinner for two, with appetizers and one dessert, came to $63.83 after tax and tip, which seemed a little steep for the quality of food and service.
Meanwhile, the trivia game had ended, and we ended up finishing far behind the winning team. But the game had been fun enough to make our trip to Ballston Spa worthwhile, even if the food that accompanied it was only so-so.