Virginia and I were standing next to the coldest booth in the chilliest dining room at the Blue Ribbon Family Restaurant, looking around for help.
With arms wrapped around our bodies, we needed another table, and the host was long gone.
A kid passing by with a bin overflowing with cleared plates noticed. “What do you need?” he asked. He looked up at the air conditioning vent over the table, and led us to a much warmer spot.
When he showed up at our table with menus, he grinned, “I do it all: air conditioning, seating people, et cetera.”
So our pleasant meal at the Blue Ribbon started off on a friendly note. I expect it’s always that way, judging by the number of large parties, with three and four tables pushed together, and several generations of family represented at them.
Blue Ribbon has your typical comprehensive diner menu, with lots of specials, 13 kinds of salad dressing and breakfast all day. Prices are family-friendly, and there’s beer and wine.
It’s not white-tablecloth fine dining, but you’ll eat quite well — and have some pleasant surprises.
The first was the standard basket of rolls and crackers that was anything but.
The fresh-baked yeast rolls were hand-formed, light and just a little sweet — they reminded me of my mother’s sweetbread rolls. So good.
Blue Ribbon is in its third generation of family ownership by the Menagias family, and though it started as a small diner with a limited menu, it has expanded several times.
Owing to the success of its baked goods, especially the award-winning cheesecake, earlier this year the Blue Ribbon opened a separate bakery in the building next door, the Blue Rose Cheesecake and Bake Shop. That’s why those rolls are so good — they have their own bakery.
Virginia ordered the sliced pot roast ($15.59), which comes “with a lot,” according to our server, Chad.
Virginia started with a green salad that looked quite fresh and appealing, a cup of creamy parmesan peppercorn dressing on the side.
The universe conspires to put mayonnaise on my food, even though I say I don’t want it and even when it’s not even supposed to be there. I explained this to Chad when I ordered a turkey club sandwich ($13.99): no mayo, please.
“It won’t happen with me,” he promised.
With the pot roast platter came sides, small bowls overflowing, one with bright green broccoli florets, the other with rice pilaf. The pot roast looked great, six slices neatly laid out, smothered in brown gravy with peas and carrots.
“I don’t even need a knife to cut the meat,” Virginia said. I could smell that the pilaf was just right; she said it was excellent. Most of the meal was wrapped for another day. Virginia was very pleased.
So was I, since my sandwich was mayo-free.
“I don’t know if I can open my mouth that wide,” said Virginia, eyeing the oversized toasted triangles, stuffed with turkey, bacon, tomato and lettuce. I couldn’t, and began deconstructing the pieces into more manageable sizes, examining each component.
The homemade Italian bread tasted exceptionally good and the bacon was very flavorful, too.
I wish they’d used a larger plate, because the French fries had to go on top of the sandwich. They were fresh, salty and hot, and I shouldn’t have, but I ate them all.
There was a giant delicious pickle spear and a cup of fresh, slightly sweet coleslaw. I barely made it through two triangles.
Husband Eric was late at the office, so I had the rest of the sandwich wrapped to bring him at work.
“Can I have some mayo?” I asked Chad, who said, “Now you want mayo?” He delivered two packets of Hellman’s.
You really should have dessert. Chad recommended the Bavarian cheesecake ($6.95), which is a remarkable event, and much too much for even two people.
They take a whole perfect cheesecake, creamy and smooth and delicious, really extra-good, and make a cake around it, with chocolate layers, chocolate mousse and chocolate ganache. It was gorgeous and it was epic, and we ate it all.
The tab for our food came to $39.35; with decaf, tax and tip, $48.88.
There are refrigerated cases with some desserts in the restaurant, but be sure to check out the beautiful bakery and gorgeous baked goods at the Blue Rose Bakery next door when you visit.
It’s even more reason to go to the Blue Ribbon.
Blue Ribbon Family Restaurant
WHERE: 1801 State St.,
Schenectady, 518-393-2600, www.blueribbonrestaurant.com
WHEN: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
HOW MUCH: $39.95 for food
MORE INFO: Children’s menu. Credit cards: Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover. Parking. Reservations for
parties of six or more. ADA compliant.