Husband Eric and I were searching for a place to have breakfast during a visit to Chicago recently and were disheartened to find mostly chain coffee places and fast-food outlets. We finally found a small coffee shop and had a great breakfast, but it wasn’t easy.
Schenectady is a charmed city with many excellent locally owned restaurants that should be supported or will end up like that neighborhood in Chicago.
Broadway Lunch is one of those places, small, quirky, with nice people and good food. I’m delighted to tell you about it.
“I would come back here,” said my friend Sheryl, as we opened our menus at Broadway Lunch. We hadn’t even eaten anything yet.
She was that sure, and she was right, Broadway Lunch is good.
Located at the corner of Broadway and Hegeman Streets in the Bellevue section of the city, the unassuming restaurant looks like it was converted from someone’s house, in a neighborhood of older family homes.
The day’s specials are on a white board right where you come in, nearby was a copy of this excellent paper you can bring to your table and read. There’s a counter and a handful of booths inside, and it’s adorable, neat as a pin, clean and sun-filled. Framed black and white local photos are on the painted walls, and vinyl-upholstered seats are comfy. Tiffany-style lamps add color and charm.
BBC news was on the television, with sound off. Lively pop music wasn’t too loud. We were right near the kitchen area, but it wasn’t noisy.
We got a booth right away, and drinks and menus were promptly delivered. “She’s friendly,” Sheryl remarked of the server, whose apron pocket was stuffed full of paper-covered straws. She was efficient, too.
You won’t wait long; my cup of chicken and rice soup ($2.39) was delivered pronto, and it was piping hot. The server put the soup in front of me, carefully turning the plate so the spoon was at hand. It was excellent homemade chicken soup with sliced carrot and onion and celery, a few droplets of fat on the surface. The chicken pieces were just the right size, and tender, and the flavors were balanced.
As soon as she walked in and read the specials, Sheryl had made up her mind on a gyro sandwich with chicken, lettuce, tomato and onion, Tzatziki sauce on the side ($9.29). “It’s really good,” she said, after a bite.
“I wonder if they make these,” she said, passing a piece of soft pita to me. It tasted delicious, perhaps grilled, browned on one side, and freshly made.
The pita was stuffed with pieces of marinated chicken, sliced iceberg lettuce, chopped tomato and onions. She gave the accompanying sauce high marks.
The chicken in my sandwich ($7.95) looked delicious: pounded thin, grilled and a bit charred, and juicy from marinade, served with lettuce, tomato and onion, a pickle and coleslaw on the side. I took a bite. “Mmm,” I said, and Sheryl looked up, nodding in agreement. This stuff was good.
Not only did the chicken taste delicious, the smell was absolutely tantalizing … and familiar. “Spiedie sauce,” Sheryl said, and sure enough, that’s what it tasted like.
Spiedies, created in the Binghamton area, are submarine sandwiches of grilled meat marinated in a sauce similar to Italian dressing. The hard roll, from Blue Rose Cheesecake & Bake Shop (who also provides desserts), was buttered and toasted and soaked up juice from the chicken. It was one of the best chicken sandwiches I’ve had.
Onion rings are a specialty here, as are chili dogs, and you can buy their chili sauce to take home. We shared a small order of onion rings ($3.95) that were browned, crispy and delicious. “We make them here,” said the server.
The tangle of rings was perfectly fried, the coating light and the onions sweetened from cooking. “I like that they’re thin,” Sheryl said.
We both liked the fries that came on the side with the gyro; they were old-school, thick and just plain potato, cooked right: golden and a bit crispy.
The only thing that didn’t score high marks was the coleslaw, which Sheryl said was “good.”
“I wish this place was closer,” sighed Sheryl, who lives in the wilds of Rensselaer county. She added, “This was a very, very delicious meal.”
The tab for our food and one soda came to $24.97 before tax and tip.
Don’t you even dare go to that chain sub shop nearby. Support Broadway Lunch, you’ll love it. And bring your friends.
WHERE: 2101 Broadway, Schenectady, 518-372-3222, broadwaylunch.com
WHEN: 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Closed Sunday.
HOW MUCH: $24.97 before tax and tip
MORE INFO: Off-street parking on Hegeman Street and also on Broadway. Credit cards: Master Card, Visa, American Express, Discover. Children’s menu. Not fully wheelchair accessible.