TROY — Like Schenectady, Troy’s downtown is experiencing a resurgence of new residents and businesses. Restaurants continue to pop up in Troy, but none quite like Troy Kitchen, which is really several independent, small businesses combined in one space along with a comfortable upscale bar.
The demise of the Pioneer Market, a cooperative downtown grocery, meant that a large space with an industrial-sized kitchen was available, and Corey Nelson, a Brooklyn transplant and optimist, saw the possibilities. It’s located within walking distance of the area’s best farmers’ market, shopping and downtown apartments.
Community markets are popping up throughout the region; there’s Galleria 7 in Niskayuna and a large market planned for the first floor of the Albany’s Nipper building. Its central city location means Troy Kitchen will prove to be the best of them.
WHERE: 77 Congress St., Troy, 268-0068
WHEN: Noon to 10 p.m. Monday
to Thursday, noon to 11 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, noon
to 4 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $32, for food for three.
MORE INFO: Parking on street, nights and weekends city lots
are free. Credit cards: MasterCard, American Express, Discover. No steps into the restaurant and ADA accessible bathroom.
What you’ll find at Troy Kitchen is a large open space with communal tables and an eclectic assortment of vendors. There’s comfortable seating near the bar, which takes up about half the capacity, with performance space and a small stage that offer a whole other reason to visit, like music, comedy and poetry.
Troy Kitchen is open late, and is the kind of place you can drop into and out of. I dropped in for lunch, and Patrice and Kate and I sampled food from three vendors: K-Plate Korean BBQ, Troy Lobster and Magdelena’s. We all loved our food, and the experience.
Troy Lobster’s roll is served Maine-style, the meat tossed with just enough mayo to hold it together, lightly seasoned and served cold on a buttered, perfectly grilled split-top roll with a wedge of lemon.
Patrice’s lobster roll ($18) was not only gorgeous, with a hunk of claw meat poking out one end, it was delicious, she said. The roll was substantial and buttery, and the lobster especially fresh.
A lobster roll is an expensive treat, and you want it to be great. Troy Lobster’s exceeded all expectations.
The K-Plate sells its namesake specialty for six bucks and, hands down, it’s the best food value in Troy. Thinly sliced beef is served over heaps of rice with your choice of mild or spicy sauce, along with chopped green salad, and kimchee.
The beef was a bit chewy, and cooked through, but otherwise very good and the sweet and sticky spicy seasoning drizzled over it took it to a higher level.
K-Plate shows that you can take an OK cut of beef, cook it fast and make it really good, too. I plucked out sauce-covered chunks of sticky white rice and finished the sliced Romaine salad. Their spicy sauce was tingly, but not too hot, just as the vendor promised.
K-Plate’s kimchee is fluorescent yellow chunks of fermented veggies that tasted astringent, vinegary and slightly sweet; complicated but appealing. I think that’s the definition of kimchee.
Patrice and I helped Kate with her Chipotle Chicken nachos ($8) from Magdalena’s, with homemade crunchy tortilla chips that Patrice said, “Would ruin you for other chips.” Kate said they were “Insane.” In a good way.
She ordered almost everything on them: guacamole, chopped fire-engine-red fresh tomatoes, grated cheeses and shredded tender seasoned chicken.
We all loved them. “There’s a lot going on in there,” said Patrice.
Kate recommends the Oreo truffles from Butter and Sugar Co., a purveyor of anything sweet you’d like to top off your meal.
Troy Kitchen gives food vendors a place to start, and we only visited four of them, without the outlay of money needed for a full-service restaurant.
No doubt it builds basic business skills for fledgling chefs, and the cooperative nature of the merchants means there’s a pool of advice to draw from.
So all around, a win-win. For Corey, the vendors learning to run a business, the folks who enjoy the performance space, for Troy, and for us. Drop in, check it out and have a nice walk around the city after to see all the changes that are turning Troy into a destination.