I hate to give out the names of my favorite restaurants if they’re already crowded, but the place I had planned to go to fell through at the last minute and I knew the Park Pub would be open and that it would be good.
The Park Pub is at the municipal golf course in Frear Park in Troy. It’s easy to get to, just a few blocks off Hoosick Street (Route 7). Make sure you turn off 15th Street at Massachusetts Avenue, though; you can’t get to the restaurant if you go to the main park entrance beyond that.
There’s a dining room on one side of the building, but the bar area with high and low tables takes up more real estate. When the weather is good, you’ll want to get a table outside and look out over the manicured lawn, which rolls and rises quite a way up the hill to woods, which makes it the best sledding spot in the Capital Region, if not the universe.
The place is comfortable and very casual, as you would expect, and you’ll rub elbows with tanned women in skorts and jovial groups of men hoisting glasses of beer. My friends and I have no interest in golf whatsoever, but you’ll find people like us there, too.
Park Pub Restaurant
WHERE: Frear Park Municipal Golf Course, 2701 Lavin Court, Troy. 274-7275, www.park-pub.com
WHEN: Open daily, year-round. Summer hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Closed major holidays, including July 4 and Labor Day
HOW MUCH: $47.66, with appetizer, coffee, tax and tip.
MORE INFO: Credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, Children’s menu. Wheelchair accessibility limited. Reservations accepted.
You can’t fault the Park Pub for its biggest drawback — the noise. It’s a bar at a municipal golf course, for heaven’s sake. The dining room is all hard surfaces with a high ceiling, and worse, in the summer, just when you want to be outside and sample the raw bar, there’s live entertainment. Even inside with the door closed, it’s hard to carry on a conversation. Lunch is a safe bet for a visit.
It’s all the good things about the Park Pub that keep me and my friends coming back again and again, starting with the menu. There are chicken wings and pizza, of course, and lots of sandwiches and a few entrees, but you can get the wings in pesto, maple chipotle barbecue, or Thai-style peanut sauce and raspberry (for peanut butter and jelly wings).
The aluminum bucket filled with sweet potato fries ($4.95) can feed you and your six very grateful best friends. Husband Eric’s favorite is the lobster roll, which is only available as a special. Mine is the grilled veggie wrap with a side green salad. Everything’s homemade.
On Friday nights in the winter, you can order from the Cattleman’s Menu, which is exactly what you think it is: meat, and lots of it. Park Pub does a great lamb rack and a killer Cajun ribeye and the real draw is the price, which is very, very reasonable, especially since it includes a side and a salad. If they have deep-fried green beans as a side, you’d be a fool to pass them up.
It was league night and we got a table outside before everyone got off the course. We started with pesto wings ($7.25), jumbo beauties that were crispy all over and juicy and tender within. Virginia gave them a thumbs up as well.
She started with a fresh salad made with seasonal fruit in a honey-lime dressing ($1.75). The dressing goes to the bottom, so you have to toss everything around a bit as you eat it, but it was very good.
Husband Eric likes the crab cakes, and now Virginia does, too. They’re a special ($11.95), but appear regularly, along with the lobster roll. The night we visited, specials included pulled pork sandwiches. The crab cakes are breaded and puck-shaped, with a couple of thick squirts of aioli across the top. They’re light and wonderful. They come with a side salad that’s much better than average, with baby greens and other fresh vegetables topped with swirls of narrow carrot and beet shavings.
The grilled chicken sandwich ($8.50) looked like a fairly healthy choice, and so it was, especially since they forgot the roll so it was served on a bed of lettuce and tomato. The Cajun seasoning had a respectable kick to it, the chicken was juicy and the vegetables fresh. I will order it again.
The side of sweet potato fries was a hit with both of us. “They’re crispy,” I said, surprised. And they were a bit sweet, and sprinkled with salt, a winning combination. Virginia has a weakness for them, and said these were among the best she’s had.
The Park Pub has homemade desserts. That night it was chocolate cake or Linzertorte. It was a big slice, with gobs of sweetened whipped cream and sauce on the plate. The lattice crust was light and there was just enough filling to keep it from being too sweet.
By this time, Virginia’s coffee had cooled and golfers swarmed the patio. The tab for a terrific dinner in the open air, with a light breeze and lovely view, came to $47.66 with tax and tip. The tables and chairs are plastic, and the ambiance recalls the sports section of a newspaper, but a good newspaper, like this one. You have to share it with the golfers, but good restaurants should have their praises sung.