If you visit the Railyard Restaurant, order the Petite Pasta Bundles.
The delicacies resemble little purses with drawstrings, and they’re stuffed with fontina cheese and prosciutto and served with artichoke hearts and fresh tomatoes in a savory pesto cream sauce. We had all we could do not to devour all of them, but we wanted to save room for the rest of our meal.
The Railyard building dates to 1868, built by C.S. Hillabrant, whose family manufactured and sold assorted leather products through 1895. That year the building was sold and reopened as a tavern alongside the tracks of the FJ and G Railroad. The current owner, Don Blanchard, opened the Railyard 20 years ago.
Besides the dining areas and bar inside, there are two patios outside, one leading to the other. The second of these is surrounded by attractive landscaping that includes a water feature, rocks and an abundance of what we later learned are dwarf trees, including crab apples and pears. Blanchard designed the landscaping himself and was happy to give a guest a quick tour.
WHERE: 97 W. Fulton St., Gloversville; 725-0122; therailyardrestaurant.com
WHEN: Open 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
OTHER INFO: All major credit cards accepted; handicapped accessible
Inside, the railroad theme is evident in the decor, which includes expanses of lacquered wood and frosted glass etched with train pictures, wood banquettes with leather cushion backs and amber-shaded lights.
The service was efficient and friendly, and we found the prices to be very reasonable. (One of the September features was dinner for two for $27.99. The choices were Steak for Two, a char-grilled sirloin steak, twice-baked potatoes, vegetable of the day, house salad and bread, or a Seafood Platter featuring broiled haddock, shrimp, scallops, rice pilaf, vegetable, house salad and bread.)
Besides the pasta bundles, we shared a cup of the soup du jour — a delicious, cream-based concoction featuring baked potatoes with skins on and cheddar cheese. It was a bargain for $2.25 and arrived at our table about the same time as a basket of warm rolls with butter.
For our main dishes, we both — I and bride Beverly — ordered from the evening’s specials. I chose seafood with clam sauce over linguine and she the breaded veal with cheese and spinach.
The seafood dish ($24.99) was a bountiful brodetto — think the Italian version of bouilliabase — with a generous number of plump shrimp and scallops and lots of clams, fresh tomatoes and spinach over al dente pasta. It was a treat but far too much for one person to eat, at least for this one person.
Similarly, the veal dish ($19.99) was a generous cutlet of veal breaded with panko and baked to a golden brown and surmounted with melted cheese and spinach. Beverly chose a rice pilaf to accompany it and pronounced it adequate but not remarkable. The veal, on the other hand, was done to a turn — and the contrasting textures of crunchy exterior and tender and moist interior were delightful.
Half of each entrée was wrapped up and carted home with us, along with the pasta bundles. We were so loaded down when we left that we looked like we’d been grocery shopping.
There is a full bar and a wine list; with our dinners, we drank pinot grigio and pinot noir reasonably priced at about $6 per glass.
Our main courses were preceded by house salads that were a pleasure not only because they were vibrant with fresh veggies but also because of the house-made dressings, a creamy Parmesan peppercorn for me and an equally delicious balsamic vinaigrette for Beverly.
The Railyard’s menu is very much middle-of-the-road cuisine but I’d be surprised if you didn’t find something on it to tempt your palate. There is also the monthly lineup of features, which in September includes the Railyard Chicken Schnitzel ($17.99), which is a panko-breaded chicken breast, pan-fried and topped with spinach, tomatoes and artichokes hearts and served in a lemon butter sauce; and Seafood St. Stephen ($19.99), shrimp and scallops sautéed with mushrooms, tomatoes and spinach served over pasta with a lobster sauce.
You can also order Steak au Poivre, Filet Mignon, Ahi Tuna or a Mediterranean Haddock ($18.99), which is described as fresh Atlantic haddock topped with spinach, tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts and feta cheese.
The Railyard is open for lunch as well as dinner, and you can find burgers and a variety of sandwiches, as well as standard appetizers like onion rings, wings and nachos and soups and salads.
We concluded our evening at the Railyard with coffees and a shared crème brûlée cheesecake, which was served on a plate drizzled with mango sauce ($5.25).
Our tab for everything except the wine came to $96 with tax and tip.
The pasta bundles that we found to be so memorable don’t appear on the regular Railyard menu, but we found them on the “September Features” sheet that was included with our menu. It was listed as an entrée for $18.99, but we asked our server if we could have it in an appetizer portion and she happily obliged (for $12.99). It was generous by appetizer standards, and we took at least half of it home for a future snack.