SCHENECTADY — Malcolm’s restaurant on Schenectady’s Union Street combines local talent and local food.
Malcolm’s opened in 2018, and after a “bit of a bump” during COVID, chef-owner Nate Germain, born and raised in Schenectady, says his business has continued to grow a following.
Germain attended Syracuse University, then continued his studies at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. After working in Manhattan restaurants for about eight years, he came back home to open his own place at 617 Union.
The chef has always been interested in local foods. In high school, he worked as a farmer, and always enjoyed the food his family grew in its gardens. So, promoting local farms and local farmers was an important goal.
The restaurant has a CSA, which stands for community-supported agriculture. The restaurant gets seven, family-sized shares of food each week throughout the summer. The fresh produce from the CSA is supplemented with product from the local farmers markets. Meat at Malcolm’s is also local, duck coming from Long Island, steak and beef coming from Kilcoyne Farms in Hudson Falls and pork coming from Lovers Leap Farm in Kinderhook.
Malcolm’s is open Wednesday through Sunday for dinner, while offering lunch Wednesday through Friday and brunch Saturday and Sunday.
Wednesday’s dinners have become what Germain compares to a “test kitchen” night. Different cuisines and different cultures are featured each Wednesday night, such as Mediterranean, Latin American and French.
The Daily Gazette recently spoke with Nate Germain about Malcolm’s:
Question: What are some of the most popular dishes that you serve?
Answer: We do really well with our Long Island duck. We’ll do duck breast then we confit the duck legs. We do the duck breast served over vegetables, something like sweet potatoes or beats. Then we do the legs confit, which is we cure them for three days in salt and sugar and then we cook them in duck fat for about three hours, then we fry that and get them crispy.
We get a whole pig, so we use different parts of it indifferent ways. We do the shoulder and we cook it in a similar method. We cook it in fat for a while, pull it apart and then use a really rich sauce to kind of jell it together to press it together. It creates a really, really rich pork shoulder, then we use that in entrees.
Q: As far as reservations go, are they required? Recommended?
A: We recommend them, they aren’t required, but we recommend them. It does help us to staff the restaurant appropriately, so we know to have the right amount of people. Things have been a little inconsistent after COVID, as far as how many people will come on a given day.
Q: What are some of your favorite things about running this place?
A: I’ve always been a kind of hospitable person who wants to make people happy. I was always the guy who had friends over so I could cook for them when I was growing up. It’s almost like when guests have a really good time it makes me happy, that’s kind of the best part of the whole thing. Then cooking, I really do enjoy cooking and making sure everything comes out really good. I like to try making new things. That’s the best part, cooking to make people happy.
Q: What could an average couple expect to spend on dinner?
A: We usually say our check average is around $55-$60 in total for food and drinks per person. Entrees are anywhere from $24 to $32, if you get an appetizer, and entree and a drink it’s around there.
Q: How would you describe the atmosphere at Malcolm’s?
A: We try to do that thing where we invite you into our house. The building used to be a house a very long time ago, then it became an attorneys office, then another restaurant. It’s like you’re walking into a nice, friendly atmosphere. It’s not super uppity. We want to bring you in and let you have a nice meal
Q: Why should someone who hasn’t been here before consider coming?
A: I think you can really taste the flavors of the foods you’re eating. It’s very fresh, and you can really see how we make everything from scratch. As soon as you sit down, you get bread that we make in-house every day. It’s just part of the offering, to show that we handcraft everything. Everything here tastes more like what it is supposed to taste like, not like something that has been processed or changed. Getting the local, organic produce really changes the flavor profile. It’s a very different taste than some restaurants today.
Q: Is there anything else you think people should know?
A: We have had a lot of fun with the Wednesday test kitchen. Our kitchen staff has been very excited about creating new dishes from the produce we are going to get in from the CSA. It’s a very fun night, and what people like the most from that is seen throughout the week.
Contact reporter Natasha Vaughn-Holdridge at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at _natasha_7.
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