COLONIE — Wolf Road is cluttered with mediocre chain restaurants, but the locally owned Warehouse has them beat, with real barbecue, a refined but friendly atmosphere, good service and prices, and a menu that offers options for when you’ve had enough barbecue. It was opened in June by Mitch and Connie Ware, owners of Mezza Note Ristorante in Guilderland.
Significant renovations morphed the old Wolf Road Diner into the sleek, factory-like Warehouse Grill & BBQ. It’s about half bar, half dining room, with concrete floor, exposed ceiling and industrial touches including roll-up garage doors leading out to a patio in front.
It’s light-filled, gleaming new and spotless, and not nearly as noisy as I expected, thanks to noise-canceling materials added during renovation.
Lisa and I got a pleasant greeting and were led to a booth that was roomy, with thick padding and just the right height for the table. The server brought us drinks and left menus.
It’s casual, mostly American food, with some emphasis on barbecue.
Prices are modest; the Warehouse has wings, salads, sandwiches and barbecue, and a few entrees including a 14-ounce New York strip that comes with potatoes and vegetable attractively priced at $22. The menu is evolving as they settle in.
There’s a lot of comfort food here, like poutine ($11), and shrimp and grits ($20) along with new favorites like fish tacos ($12) and lots of burgers (the Big Classic Cheeseburger with fries and a pickle is $11).
I wish the Lil Piggies, or children’s menu, had healthier options.
There’s an emphasis on local and craft beers, with an ever-changing menu, and a list of real wines to choose from including Prosecco, from $6 to $8 a glass. Thank you.
Barbecue platters come with two sides and corn bread. There’s chicken, brisket, pulled pork and ribs, ranging from $15 for chicken to $25 for a full rack of ribs.
We shared an order of mac and cheese fritters made with their own excellent stuff. I broke apart a crispy fritter and pieces trailed fine strings of real cheese. The aioli was so good Lisa saved it for her fries.
The Southwest salad ($10) impressed me with its even coating of house-made mild tomato and mustard vinaigrette. I liked the glossy black beans and kernels of charred sweet corn, and the fresh pico de gallo with vibrant bits of purple onion. The sliced Romaine was crisp and the smoked chicken, mostly dark meat, measured up well, though I would have preferred bite-sized pieces.
Lisa and I thought the fried tortillas that formed the base of the salad were oily and a bit bland, but it was a salad I’d order again.
Lisa had the Southern cheesesteak sandwich ($12), composed of pork rib meat, caramelized onions and red pepper covered with melted smoked Gouda in a carved-out sub roll. She liked it but said it was a bit dry, which prompted us to look around for sauce. Sure enough, there was a big brown bottle of sauce with the condiments on the table.
We thought the sauce was very sweet but it did make the sandwich better. The Warehouse usually has two or three sauces to choose from, so ask if you don’t find one you like. We both liked the fries.
The service was solid and our server smart and well-informed.
The Warehouse is more refined by miles than other smoked-meat establishments, and while it wasn’t the best barbecue we’ve had it was certainly good. The vibrant atmosphere, reliable service and the balance of the menu, however, put it in a different league. And it’s an oasis in a real-food desert.
Warehouse Grill & BBQ
WHERE: 219 Wolf Road, Colonie, 489-5227, warehousegrillbbq.com
WHEN: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.
HOW MUCH: $33.21 for food with one soda, before tax and tip
MORE INFO: Children’s menu. Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover. Call-ahead seating. ADA compliant.