Head to the Backstage Pub & Grill for a modestly priced, casual dinner before the show at Proctors. You’ll harm your waistline more than your wallet.
Proctors was between productions and the Backstage Pub was quiet when we visited. Either door takes you into the bar/dining room. There’s seating at high-top tables downstairs, and screens showing the lottery or sports; upstairs are regular-height tables. Check out the way-cool signed show posters.
You can do a lot of damage with the Backstage Pub’s menu, with their 8-ounce hand-packed burgers and deep-fried sandwiches. All the appetizers are deep-fried. But you can get a salad, and entrees come in two sizes, so you won’t be stuffed and nod off during the show, as I’ve been known to do.
Our server said the French dip and wings are favorites, but there are wraps and sandwiches as well. Daily specials include a burger and fries for $6 on Tuesdays. We passed on the craft beer menu.
Backstate Pub & Grill
WHERE: 501 Smith St., Schenectady. 209-5831, www.thebackstagepubandgrill.com
WHEN: 4 p.m. to midnight Monday to Wednesday; 11:30 a.m. to midnight Thursday and Friday; 4 p.m. to midnight Saturday. Closed Sunday except for special events; please call ahead. Open extended hours and reservations suggested during Proctors shows.
HOW MUCH: $25 for food before tax and tip
MORE INFO: Wheelchair accessible. Credit cards: Master Card, Visa, American Express, Discover
Recklessly, Lisa and I ordered mac and cheese wedges ($9), which turned out to be round. “We make the mac and cheese in-house, then bread and fry it,” the server explained. They are spheres of deliciousness; I cracked one open and scooped out the pasta and cheesy sauce then ate the collapsed crispy shell. “Really creamy,” Lisa said.
The petite baked ziti ($9) comes with Mastroianni sliced bread, butter and salad. Although the cheese was browned a bit too much, the substantial layer was soft underneath and an abundance of sauce, thick with more cheese, kept the pasta moist. The sauce was a bit salty, but the rigatoni was cooked just right.
The smaller size was more than enough for one, so the large serving must be enormous. I’d get it again, although next time I’d remind the server to bring my salad.
Deep-fried sandwiches include grilled cheese, Philly cheesesteak and French dip, and they are served, of course, with a generous order of french fries.
Lisa took a chance on the grilled cheese ($8), with mixed results. The thick batter was curious looking, and though it smelled sweet, it wasn’t, and it tasted bland. The sizable layer of white American cheese that oozed onto the plate more than made up for it, she said. We both enjoyed the salty hot fries.
Our server was pleasant, answered questions and gave suggestions as she single-handedly carried out the bartending and serving duties with ease. Service was great except for the missing salad.
Backstage Pub gets points for keeping their website up to date, and for offering reservations through Open Table. They take, and recommend, reservations for parties of four or more on show nights. Desserts are available on a regular basis during show weeks.
Lisa has tickets for an upcoming show, and the Backstage Pub & Grill figures in her dinner plans. And even if you’re not going to Proctors, it won’t disappoint as the main event.