I attended a retirement party years ago at Kristal’s on Route 50 in Burnt Hills. It changed hands and became the Millstone Speakeasy. But in 2012, it morphed again, this time into The Pig 'N Whistle At The Grove.
We were curious about the sign for the Pig 'N Whistle as we drove past it recently and decided it was time to stop. Hidden from the road, the restaurant is situated on 4 ½ acres, flanked on three sides by woods with the Alplaus Creek running by the property.
Parking adjacent to the building, we walked a long ramp to the door leading into the building. At the left was a lively bar area with tables and a welcoming gas fireplace. Ahead and slightly to the right was the main dining area with 14 tables surrounded by identical chairs.
“I’ve never visited a restaurant where all the chairs are made of saplings, and they are even comfortable,” commented now-seasoned Dinner Guest. The same architectural design was carried out in the placement of four large tree trunks serving as support posts. A partial wall separated the bar area from the dining room, allowing enough quiet for conversation. Good ol’ country music filled in the gaps.
Hostess/server/bartender Jessica asked us if we wanted something to drink as she walked us to one of the tables, handing us each a menu. Once we were seated, I requested hot tea to warm my icy innards.
Clam chowder is one of my “Measuring Sticks.” At $4.75 for a large cup, it was a winner — slightly smoky (from bacon?) and thick, it was loaded with potatoes, clams and carrots, and lightly seasoned with thyme.
We also ordered a Tavern Sampler ($10.95) to share: mac 'n' cheese bites, onion rings and boneless wings, all deep-fried. Carrots, celery, and bleu cheese dip plus house barbecue sauce were also attractively arranged on a small metal tray, in quantities adequate for sharing or enough for an individual entree.
The standard pub menu was elevated by the addition of Irish favorites like Hot Pots (“Irish calzones”) ($10.95-$12.95) with names like Schmoke, stuffed with sliced bangers and Galway, stuffed with chicken. Irish Stew ($12.95), Shepherd’s Pie ($11.95), Bangers and Mash ($12.95), and Corned Beef and Cabbage ($13.95) are also on the menu.
Dinner entrees of primarily steak and seafood ranging in price from $16.95 (Rigatoni) to $22.95 (Delmonico Steak) are offered with a side salad after 4 p.m.
Super Senior John often seeks comfort food and settled on Papa Pork Mac 'N' Cheese ($15.95), described on the menu as “An Old English cheddar cheese blend with Guinness BBQ Pulled Pork topped with house bread crumbs and shoestring onions.” Although he wiped his plate clean, he commented that the smoky slightly sweet BBQ sauce overpowered the flavor of the cheddar cheese, and vowed to sample Dad’s Signature Baked ($11.95), mac 'n' cheese without BBQ pork, next time. I found the dish incredibly rich, and was able to enjoy only a spoonful or two. The mac 'n' cheese arrived steaming in a small cast iron frying pan with a protective pot holder slipped over the hot handle.
Ordered medium rare, my Inferno Burger arrived more medium than rare. Ordinarily, I would have returned it to the kitchen. But the meat, ground from sirloin, chuck and short rib, was flavorful and juicy, and I enjoyed it as it was served. The eggy roll had been toasted crispy on the cut side but was soft on the inside. The thick patty was enhanced with pepper jack cheese, jalapenos, shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, and onion and chipotle aioli — a messy four-napkin creation. Ordinarily, I prefer leaves of lettuce on a burger, but the unruly shredded Romaine was so fresh, its form became unimportant.
John described Jessica’s service as warm, friendly and professional. She left us alone with our private conversation, but never abandoned us. Commenting on the kitchen, she explained that The Pig 'N Whistle did not own a microwave. Kristin was their respected chef, having worked previously at the Edison Club. The restaurant was owned and operated by uncle/nephew team Todd and Adam Bush.
When we inquired about dessert, Jessica noted that desserts were not made in-house and that all they had left at the time were two slices of ginger cake ($6.95). We ordered one and were unimpressed. While the filling was creamy with a slight maple flavor, the cake itself was dry. Nevertheless, we agreed to return in warm weather when we could enjoy one of the umbrella-shaded tables on the patio, the woods and the Alplaus Creek.
Pig 'N Whistle At The Grove
WHERE: 654 Saratoga Road (Route 50), Burnt Hills, 518-280-5439, www.pignwhistleatthegrove.com
WHEN: Noon to 11:59 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, closed Monday
HOW MUCH: $51.30 for two people with two coffees, but without tax and tip
MORE INFO: Family-owned, accessible (ramp in front), large parking lot, take-out, catering, gluten-free menu upon request, entertainment on weekends, all major credit cards accepted