MALTA — Why was the hostess carrying a saute pan? I wondered this as she led us to a table overlooking Saratoga Lake at Nostalgia, then I was distracted by a funky old cabinet television, the kind with fabric over the speakers, spindly legs, the tube swapped out with a flat screen showing Netflix.
Over there were manual typewriters, and hey, a really old rotary phone, glamorous art deco ashtrays on stands … and was that a life-sized fiberglass shark?
Was it wearing a top hat? It was. That should give you an idea of what you’re in for when you visit Nostalgia on Saratoga Lake. Oh, and the saute pan has the daily specials written on it.
As you turn to look at the lake, you realize that Nostalgia has a whole other thing going for it. In pleasant weather, you can dine al fresco on a patio under a red umbrella and watch the boats at the marina.
Husband Eric and I were not so stunned that we couldn’t order drinks, and examined the well-thumbed photocopied packet that lists many, many beers and a selection of better-than-usual wines. The server was nice enough to bring me a taste of the Anew semi-dry Riesling. There are three Rieslings, and there are three Pinot Grigios, three Cabernets and so on throughout the list, not one of them from a big bottle or box. Thank you very much, Nostalgia.
“I think this is a dessert dish,” said Eric, looking at his martini. I was totally dumbfounded by the Frankenstein wineglass, until the server explained that a Ball jar had been married to a glass candlestick holder with hot glue. Oh.
You can visit Nostalgia for a light meal, a burger, or dinner. Appetizers are of the high-calorie, delicious variety. There are wings, but they can be rolled in cheese and topped with Ranch dressing ($12). Fries and nachos are loaded, seafood is deep fried; caloric relief can be found in the form of steamers ($8) and a fruit and cheese plate ($10).
A hand-formed burger with fries or homemade chips is $12. They’ve got chicken Parm that’s gone Mexican: the cheese is cheddar and it’s smothered in jalapeños and sautéed onions. Served with salsa, sour cream and tortilla chips, it’s $13. Or you can get it the regular way, with pasta and garlic bread ($14).
There are steaks, seafood and Italian dishes. You’re sure to find something you’ll like. We had no trouble.
“That’s a nice salad for $3,” observed Eric, admiring its symmetry, freshness and color. Nostalgia’s delicious croutons were fried and seasoned, the tomato suitably ripe, the greens fresh. They added neatly sliced cucumber, red onion, shredded cheese and a lot of black olives. Salads are $3 with an entree.
He was enjoying the homemade broccoli cheddar soup ($3 with entree). Did he taste cheese? “Oh, yeah,” he said. Is it good? “Oh, yeah,” he said, now scraping the last out of the bottom of the cup.
At the server’s recommendation, I ordered the Kitchen Sink ($18), a hearty dish of penne pasta in tomato sauce tossed with fresh red pepper and tomato, chunks of ground beef and bulk sausage and link sausage. It has more than its enormous volume to recommend it. It’s also packed with flavor.
The sub roll-garlic toast with paprika was just right for soaking up the sauce, and they could have sprinkled the cup of shredded Parmesan cheese over, but it was more fun to do it myself. The bulk sausage tasted sweet, the link kind was hot and highly seasoned, the red pepper still crunchy. Penne grooves picked up the spicy sauce, then I dragged the pasta through fresh tomato chunks and melted cheese. It was a ridiculously tasty, outrageously big serving; just wonderful. Enough for four. The leftovers tipped my kitchen scale at almost 2 pounds.
It would have been easier to eat if the chunks and slices of meat were a bit smaller, and the sum total of the garlic in the seasoned meat and the sauce resulted in perhaps more than some would like.
Eric was deconstructing his lemon crusted salmon ($16). “There are crunchy crumbs, and the butter sauce is delicious,” he said. I admired the grill marks, and the rosemary-seasoned yellow squash. Eric is not a big fan of them, nor of garlic mashed potatoes, but I thought they were both good. We agreed that the salmon was perfectly prepared.
When asked if the desserts were homemade, the server demurred, then shook her head. “Not tonight,” she said. That was OK — we were stuffed.
The tab for our food, before tax and tip, came to $40.
Patsy Cline was singing “Crazy” while I packed my leftovers into a box. It was time to go, but I wanted to linger and examine the old-timey TVs, the dartboard and pool tables in the knotty pine paneled dining room, the bust of the sea captain in the cozy bar. I’ll be back again, perhaps try a wine flight ($17 for 4 wines, $25 for 6). I really hope they use those Frankenstein glasses.
Nostalgia Ale House & Wine Bar
WHERE: 113 Route 9P, Malta, 518-584-0227, nostalgiasaratoga.com
WHEN: 4 to 10 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Closed Tuesday.
HOW MUCH: $40 for food, before tax and tip.
MORE INFO: Children’s menu. Parking lot. Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover.