The Butcher Block Restaurant on Central Avenue is one of the Capital Region’s more popular steak and seafood places and, after a recent visit, I can tell you it’s still going strong after more than a quarter-century.
Butcher Block Restaurant
WHERE: 1632A Central Ave., Colonie. Telephone 456-1653
WHEN: Lunch 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; dinner 3-9 p.m. Sunday, 4-9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 4-10 p.m. Saturday.
HOW MUCH: $90.60
MORE INFO: All major credit cards. Handicapped accessible. Children’s menu available.
That’s no small thing. Even in good economies, a restaurant is a precarious undertaking. But the Butcher Block, which is locally owned and operated by White Management, continues to pack them in with consistently good food and excellent service.
The ambience is warm and inviting, with high ceilings and lots of exposed wood, views of the greenery outside and a canoe in the rafters over the bar to accentuate the Adirondack theme. The menu is not extensive, but clearly tried and true, and the prices are mid-range, with appetizers ranging from $5 to $11 and dinner entrees from $18 (for chicken Teriyaki) to $54 for prime rib and a lobster tail.
Entrees include the Butcher Block’s salad bars. There are two of them — so you shouldn’t find much of a queue. Certainly, we found no wait on the Saturday evening we visited.
The salad bars offer a nice variety of items, including the makings of a bountiful garden salad, as well as potato and pasta salads that look like homemade, and there are chilled plates to heap your selections upon.
There is also slice-your-own bread from Bountiful Breads in Stuyvesant Plaza, which is owned by the same White Management. We tried both the raisin bread and the cheese bread and found each to be good. The cheese bread went particularly well with a bowl of lentil and beefsteak soup that was also featured on the salad bar, lots of lentils and chunks of beef in a savory broth with a spicy kick.
My dinner guest and I shared two appetizers — the crabcakes ($10) and a little rack of barbecued baby back ribs ($9).
The crabcakes were nicely done, sautéed to a golden brown crispiness and full of succulent and sweet lump crabmeat. They came with a chipotle tartar sauce, really more of a remoulade with a zing. They were thoroughly enjoyable.
The ribs were cooked to a tender, almost-off-the-bone state and wrapped in a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce. I thought the portions were perfect for an appetizer, not stinting but not enough to fill you up before the main event.
The Butcher Block is essentially a steak and seafood place with a few chicken and pork dishes, and there are nightly specials. I decided this would be a red meat night and ordered the Butcher Block Top Sirloin, a good-sized steak marinated in Teriyaki sauce and then char-grilled for $22. I wasn’t disappointed. The steak was cooked to a perfect medium rare, charred nicely on the outside and tender, pink and flavorful inside.
The entree came with a little container of the marinade for dipping, which was a great idea. The steak was served over a generous mound of smashed, skins-on red potatoes, which were very good, right down to the bits of intact potatoes to let you know this was the real deal.
My guest chose the crab-stuffed baked haddock ($20). It was a pretty presentation of a baked haddock fillet with skin intact on one side, surmounted by a crispy mound of lump crabmeat stuffing and topped with toasted almond slivers. The fish was moist, flaky and flavorful and was well complemented by the crabmeat.
You can add various à la carte items to your meal for a modest additional price — onion rings or cheese straws, for example, for $4 or a gorgonzola cream or chimichurri sauce for $2.
Other entree possibilities include prime rib, of course, in three sizes and prices ranging from $20 to $29 and shrimp and vodka sauce ($24), described on the menu as Gulf shrimp sauteed in a vodka-infused lobster sauce with fresh scallions, served over mini penne pasta.
We found the service to be particularly good, attentive and friendly but not overly obtrusive. Glasses were refilled and dishes arrived and were later whisked away in a twinkling.
More out of curiosity than hunger, we asked to see a dessert menu. They offer the usual temptations: cheesecake, Tollhouse pie. I almost succumbed to the raspberry bread pudding pie ($5.50), which is made with Bountiful Bread’s raisin bread and served warm with Ben & Jerry’s vanilla ice cream and a raspberry sauce. Regrettably, I was able to resist.
Our tab, for sodas, two appetizers, salad bar and entrees, came to $90.60 including tax and tip.
The Butcher Block Restaurant is a comfortable place for informal dining, and you sense this almost immediately upon being seated. Our table was in a niche near the bar and the first thing I spotted was that the place settings do not include dainty linen napkins but substantial, terry cloth hand towels. That’s a sign that juicy-good times are in store.