WATERVLIET — This is different. The Restaurant at the Pointe is a full-service restaurant within Shaker Pointe at Carondolet, a collection of buildings for seniors offering a variety of independent living and assisted living arrangements. It’s open to the public for lunch and dinner, and some advertising I’d seen made me curious.
Like the rest of the community, the Restaurant is new construction, a handsome round stone structure built “in the Shaker tradition.” The main dining room is in the stone part, with windows all around and an open-kitchen hearth arrangement in the center. Tables lined the windows and comfortable wood chairs had padding on the seats and backs. The black napkins gave it a formal air, although tablecloths might have made the plastic tabletops more welcoming. The music was surprisingly current.
The Restaurant at the Pointe
WHERE: 1 Bell Tower Drive, Watervliet, 250-4525, www.EatAtThePointe.com
WHEN: 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m Tuesday to Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday; 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday
HOW MUCH: $45 for food, before tax and tip
MORE INFO: ADA compliant. Parking lot across the street. Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover.
The food service for the community is run by Executive Chef Steven Campbell, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, and it encompasses the Restaurant, a bistro, also open to the public, and dining rooms for residents.
The majority of the clientele are seniors living at Shaker Pointe, and the Restaurant is a good place for them to bring family and friends. That means the menu isn’t going to be too adventurous, and it isn’t. There are a few entrees, listed as chicken, salmon and beef tenderloin, with brief descriptions beneath. The remainder is hot and cold sandwiches, hearth-baked pizza, and a few appetizers.
They offer prime rib two times a month — four courses for $19.95, a great deal.
Lisa and I were there on a Wednesday, hamburger night, when they usually sell out. One of the attractions of hamburger night is the price: $10 for a burger and fries, and a glass of wine or a beer.
We got a table by a window and had drinks. Lisa opted for the hamburger special and graciously gave me her wine. “It’s Almaden,” the server said, which let us know ahead not to get too excited. The Pinot Grigio was dry, just fine.
Lisa started with a cup of cream of broccoli soup ($2.50), served with a bag of oyster crackers. Not too bad, but not outstanding, either, was her assessment.
I had a side salad ($3.50) of red and green leaf lettuce and mesclun greens, shredded carrot, cucumbers and purple red onion hula hoops. The Restaurant gets points for balsamic vinaigrette that’s sweet but also has an acid note to counterbalance it, and for slicing the small tomatoes in half.
The chicken dinner ($18) comes with vegetable of the day and choice of rice or potato and bread. I chose roasted potatoes and cauliflower, not the best choice in terms of color. They sprinkled chopped parsley over the plate to compensate.
The three sauteed chicken medallions had a light, pleasantly browned batter and were served with a pan sauce enhanced with capers, garlic and a bit of rosemary. Aside from the texture of the chicken, which was more substantial than I liked, it was nicely done.
The seasoned red-skinned potatoes were browned with flecks of paprika and I tasted cumin and black pepper, but they were soft on the outside and firm within. I gave them a few more tries, but they failed to sway me. The cauliflower, cooked to the point of falling apart, was sweet and the cream sauce surprisingly rich and tasty. It was my favorite part of the meal.
Lisa added cheese to her hamburger for a dollar more. “The roll is toasted and buttered,” she said, showing me. They didn’t ask how she wanted it cooked, and it was well-done, but that is standard at some restaurants now. She liked it and finished it, but despite adding a pickle to the lettuce, onion and tomato, it was missing something, she said.
We pounced on the lanky fries, hot from the fryer. The inside was like fluffy mashed potato, the outside browned and crunchy. Delicious.
We both liked the coleslaw — sweet and not too vinegary.
The Restaurant has two desserts, chocolate chip cookies and strawberry shortcake. We opted for the cookies ($10) that came with two cute bottles of milk. The cookies are homemade, according to a recipe from the chef, and the chocolate chips were particularly tasty but they were served in the undercooked style, which was fine with Lisa but not me. I ate the parts around the edges that were fully cooked. “It would have been better if they were hot,” said Lisa, who nonetheless took them home.
The Restaurant does what it sets out to do: provide pleasant meals that aren’t too exciting for their mostly senior clientele. Service is considerate, and the restaurant is comfortable. I think they nailed it.