I just dined at Price Chopper. The Chef's Grill at the spectacular Market Bistro, to be specific. Everything tasted much better than I expected, although I didn't really know what to expect.
You're probably familiar with the Golubs' new concept store with its Bistro Boulevard featuring more than a dozen custom eateries, and speciality departments like the Italian Market, Smokehouse, Cheese Shop and Growler Station, to name a few.
The open kitchen Chef's Grill is a full-service restaurant serving all three meals, tucked into a smartly designed corner near the front of the store.
Virginia and I presented ourselves at the hostess station and were offered any seat in the house. There are tables with padded chairs, stools along the curved counter to watch the cooking, and some deep and roomy booths. We chose a booth and got menus.
Chef’s Grill at Price Chopper Market Bistro
WHERE: 873 New Loudon Road, Latham, 782-0441, www.pricechopper.com/market-bistro
WHEN: Monday to Thursday 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. for breakfast, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch, 5 to 9 p.m. for dinner; Friday and Saturday 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. for breakfast, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. for dinner.
HOW MUCH: $69.32
MORE INFO: Wheelchair accessible. Accommodations made for children's meals. Credit cards: Master Card, Visa, American Express, Discover. No reservations.
There's a wine list on the table tent; the other side features local beers. You can get carefully selected wine by the bottle or the glass. There are fresh flowers on the table, cloth napkins, and framed artsy black and white photos of food. Chef's Grill shares flooring, lighting, and music with the store; stanchions will soon be replaced by a half-wall for a more separate feel.
There's one menu for all the meals. For dinner, there's beef, chicken, pasta, or fish alone or in combinations. Appetizers include shrimp cocktail and seasonal Caprese salad, and most everything is made right there.
It makes sense to get some things from the store, like the excellent rolls from the bakery, but the Chef's Grill makes its own desserts. Prices aren't bad, but it would be nice if dinners included a salad or soup. The menu will soon reflect seasonal changes.
Virginia started with the bread and three dips ($6.50). The tapenade was made with black and green olives and red pimento, the creamy artichoke dip was delightfully tangy. We liked the fresh chopped and seasoned tomatoes in the bruschetta, and the two kinds of grilled bread. The greens in my salad were pristine and pedigreed, but it was a bit high at $7. This is the month for tomatoes to shine but the grape tomatoes used were ordinary.
Chef's Bistro magically morphs beef sirloin into filet mignon, which involves slow cooking and a fast finish. It's available in two sizes and in combos with shrimp, crab cakes, and others. You get slices, not a whole steak, fanned out over silky mashed potatoes.
I added shrimp to a 6-ounce portion ($15). The shrimp was lightly seasoned and grilled, which gave them some char. The beef was unexpectedly extraordinary, fat-streaked and peppery, flavored through with marinade.
Virginia ordered ribs ($13 for a half-rack), seasoned with rubbed-in spices and topped with sweet barbecue sauce. These excellent ribs are for sale in-store at the Smokehouse. They are remarkably meaty, sublimely tasty. She enjoyed the perfectly cooked and delicious massive baked potato. Our sides of vegetables were absent, though.
My strawberry shortcake ($4) gets points for sweet-tasting berries, real whipped cream, and freshly made cake from scratch. The berries' points poked pertly out around the edges of the cake with a whole berry fanned out on top. Virginia enjoyed tiramisu ($4), a hefty portion made with fresh ladyfingers and shaved chocolate.
Executive Chef Ryan Poole said the restaurant is a work in progress. They're tweaking things, trying to get feedback and make improvements. They're doing a lot of things right, and I'm glad to see the effort that has gone into making the food great.
The staff look smart in all black; our server was delightful but hadn't the slightest concept of proper service. That's part of the work in progress, too. Polished service would shoot the Chef's Grill right up a few notches.
The tab for this comprehensive, delicious meal came to $69.32 with one soda and coffee, tax, and tip. And I got gas points, too.