At The Table: Creative food selections, excellent service help The Shaker & Vine in Schenectady stand out

Ample seating, both inside and outside on the large patio overlooking Mohawk Harbor
Cucumber rolls at The Shaker & Vine in Mohawk Harbor.
Cucumber rolls at The Shaker & Vine in Mohawk Harbor.

The Shaker & Vine in Schenectady’s Mohawk Harbor is akin to an arcade for adults, with a Horn & Hardart-like installation for the dispensing of wine across an entire wall.

Ample seating, both inside and outside on the large patio overlooking Mohawk Harbor, included overstuffed chairs and sofas. Some of the barrel-like, cushy black chairs inside were held by riveted silver armor and looked like squat little knights. 

The menu waxed creative with standards such as pizza, platters and paninis. For example, one of the flatbreads (pizzas) was called Gettin’ Figgy With It ($14), and consisted of roasted figs, arugula, fig jam and ricotta drizzled with house-made honey glaze. The venue also offered a Chocolate Hummus Board (platter, $18) — dark chocolate hummus served with strawberries, green apples, pretzels and graham crackers. There were extraordinary paninis. It was the Blackberry, Bacon and Jalapeno ($14) variety that sent my knickers twisting. Applewood-smoked bacon, melted muenster cheese, blackberry jam and sliced jalapenos were pressed and grilled between slices of ciabatta. That one I’ll return for.

Besides my alliterative list above, one can encounter Salads, Small Plates and Sweet Treats. Sidney’s Spinach Rosé salad was ($12) composed of avocado slices, berries, red onion, goat cheese, walnuts and rosé vinaigrette. For an additional $3, one may add bacon or chicken, or smoked salmon for a $5 upcharge. 

It was the Small Plates section of the menu that caught our attention. Old Friend ordered the Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps ($11). Diced chicken, green apples and grape salad were not so much wrapped in romaine leaves and drizzled with melba (peach-raspberry syrup, I’m guessing), as much as laid on top of the leaves. The result seemed to be more like a flavorful, well-made chicken salad on a plate of fresh lettuce than a wrap. 

He also ordered the Cucumber Roll ($10) consisting of house-made avocado hummus, goat cheese, tomato and olives rolled in a longitudinally thinly sliced cucumber and drizzled with lemon vinaigrette. The rolls were crunchy, flavorful and refreshing on an 80-plus degree day.

Both small plates sported fragile streamers of baby burgundy beet leaves. 

My Fig and Apple Salad ($12) consisted of a huge serving of roasted figs, Granny Smith apples, goat cheese, arugula and prosciutto tossed with a house honey vinaigrette. For an additional $5, I had requested smoked salmon (four good-sized slices) to be added to the already substantial entrée.

The addition amounted to gilding the lily and was completely unnecessary. More is not necessarily better.

Guest’s Spicy Italian Panini ($13) was a classic: capicollo, prosciutto, salami, provolone, fresh peppers, red onion and garlic aioli on focaccia bread striped with parallel grill marks. Served with a generous helping of house-made potato chips and a couple of dill pickle spears, the panini comprised a textured, colorful and filling meal.

We were too full for dessert, although we both noted with interest the three Sweet Treats listed on the menu: the Mini Sweet Sampler ($10) consisting of a chocolate éclair, hazelnut cream puff, chocolate roll and strawberry roll; Cheesecake Samplers ($10) were assorted bite-sized cheesecake rounds; while the Sweet Treat of the Day ($6) promised to be revealed breathlessly by our server. 

Which brings up the topic of service: Every staff person we encountered was a credit to The Shaker & Vine.

Max came outside and gave us a menu earlier in the afternoon when we rode by on our bikes. Kristin made certain our water glasses were periodically filled, while Heather gave me the background on the dozens of wines available from their installation, as well as instructions on how to trade in one’s credit card for a “wine card,” and how to dispense 1, 3 or 5 ounces of the selected wine.

Because this establishment allows one to self-serve wine, it is a 21-and-older venue. Despite the restaurant’s emphasis on wine, it should also be noted that The Gazette’s policy is not to include information about alcoholic beverages in its restaurant reviews.

The Shaker & Vine

WHERE: 221 Harborside Drive, Schenectady (the curved apartment complex nearest the boat docks), 12305; 518-630-6308; www.the shaker& 
WHEN: Monday-Saturday 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday 12:30-8:30 p.m.
HOW MUCH: $60 (for two appetizers, two entrees, one Virgin Mary) without tax and tip
MORE INFO: Large parking lot and parking garage, major credit cards accepted, noise level permits conversation, accessible, full bar, 800-square-foot outdoor patio with sofas and fire pits.

Categories: Food, Life and Arts, Schenectady County

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