Winter is not the best time to tour the historic Stockade neighborhood on foot. The narrow streets are made more so, and lax landlords, like their brethren everywhere, neglect to clear their sidewalks. Kathy and I walked in the sun-filled streets to get to Arthur’s Market on a cold day.
We’d parked several blocks away, which afforded me the opportunity for my first up-close look at the charming and venerable buildings on Union and Ferry Streets. As New York’s very first Historic District, the Stockade earned a listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. The National Park Service has said it has “the highest concentration of historic period homes in the country,” because 40 of them are more than two centuries old.
Arthur’s Market is arguably the heart of the Stockade. Built in the late 1700s it has housed a store in one form or other, since. Its landmark status was established by Arthur Polachek, who with his son ran it from 1952 until 2003. Besides groceries, they offered a space for meetings and a living-room atmosphere that made it the nexus of the neighborhood.
Haley Priebe purchased the building in 2018 with the intention of creating a similar atmosphere: a place to sit and eat or drink, inside or out. Her new market is coming up on its first anniversary.
There’s a selection of groceries, mostly locally sourced, and prepared foods to take away, and displays a modest but well-curated array of merchandise.
You can purchase their meals to take and bake, or bring home some soup. Arthur’s has meat products for sale, some processed at the lab at SUNY Cobleskill. There’s milk from Battenkill Valley Creamery, charcuterie and cheeses from local businesses.
Arthur’s isn’t for your weekly shopping, though they have most of what you’d need in a jam; it’ll save a trip in the car to pick up milk or something for dinner.
Kathy and I went for lunch. I was intrigued by the small but sensible menu on their website. It has character, with a few sandwiches, salads, soups that change seasonally, and baked goods, all made in-house.
“It smells good,” said Kathy, as she pushed open the door. “I wish we had something like this in our neighborhood.”
We got the perfect corner table, with sunny windows all around and a view of Lawrence the Indian, surrounded by ice mounds and pink flamingos.
Priebe put in new windows with opening transoms, and one opens to the sidewalk for to-go orders. Brick walls are exposed, showing the join of two buildings, and there’s a back door opening to a garden patio. An antique wood counter and worn tables add charm, modern chillers and refrigerators are neatly stocked. It’s half restaurant, half store, and all superbly Instagrammable.
Order at the counter. If you’re lucky, someone will stop at the window to visit with their canine companion. We took our drinks to the table and waited for our sandwiches.
Kathy had a cup of chorizo, white bean and kale soup ($7.50) that she called “well-seasoned.” She was pleased with the chunks of sausage and said it was hearty and very good. “Though perhaps saltier than I should have,” she added.
We’d picked out sandwiches from the cooler, and had them heated up. Kathy had brie and arugula with balsamic fig jam ($8.50) she said was “so delicious.” The supple, warmed brie flowed to the edges of the sourdough baguette, mixing with the sweet fig jam in the most pleasant way.
“It’s a little hard to eat,” said Kathy, “but I’ll manage.” She would prefer thin slices of bread, she added.
I was happy with my turkey sandwich ($9.75), and though the baguette’s thickness presented a challenge it was wonderfully tasty and crunchy from heating. Bread Alone supplies the excellent sourdough baguette. The thick roasted turkey slices were tender and herb-seasoned and the white cheddar was mostly melted. The genius of the sandwich is in their caramelized onion jam, with its sticky sweetness. I could smell and taste rosemary.
Both sandwiches balanced sweet and salty ingredients brilliantly. Arthur’s only offers three sandwiches: vegetarian, turkey, ham. But when they are this good what more do you need?
“I thought I wasn’t going to finish my sandwich but I did,” said Kathy, ruefully. Me, as well. We really enjoyed them.
We had big cookies for dessert, molasses for me ($2.95) and chocolate chip ($2.50) for Kathy. “It’s flat, like the old Freihofer fruit cookies,” she said. “It’s crunchy on the edges and soft inside.” And, “chocolatey.”
Arthur’s gets points for excellent, sugar-coated and nutmeg-forward crinkly molasses cookies, crunchy but tender within.
Everything we had for our lunch was delicious-tasting, fresh and made in-house. The tab for both of us, with tax and tip and two beverages, came to $42.90. We each brought home most of the cookies.
We enjoyed our lunch and shopping, for after our meal we wandered around the store, examining carefully selected gifts and groceries.
Arthur made it his living room, it’s now Haley’s kitchen, with the accompanying good smells and cozy, welcoming atmosphere. You’ll love it, we did.
Caroline Lee is a freelance writer who lives in Troy. Reach her at [email protected]
WHERE: 35 N. Ferry Street, Schenectady, (518) 709-0019, arthurs1795.com.
WHEN: 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday. 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday. Closed Tuesday.
HOW MUCH: $42.90 for two, with tax and tip.
MORE INFO: Credit cards: Master Card, Visa, American Express, Discover, mobile payments. On street parking.