A friend recommended I check out the 110 Grill just south of the Latham Circle in the Fresh Market complex. She is restaurant-savvy, and even though the venue is a New England chain (recently arriving in New York), I trusted her judgment.
I should have been mildly suspicious when I could only find the Crossgate Mall website online. So I was not surprised when we spied the large banner in front of the building still in construction: “Coming Soon.”
I knew 110 had a sister Grill a few miles away, so plugging the new address into Faithfull GPS, we recalculated.
The roads in and around Crossgates Mall crisscross like so many strands of spaghetti, but as we were about to lose our patience, there it was. The 110 Grill was conveniently located on the outside of the complex near a mall entrance while also having a door of its own. Its contemporary façade boasted a copper-colored horizontal “ribbon” beneath a large, shimmering copper sign announcing the home of 110 Grill.
Favorite Nurse and I were immediately seated in a smaller room off the main area with a 30-seat, horseshoe-shaped bar and a view to the kitchen. I noticed that the room could be separated from the rest of the restaurant by sliding glass doors.
Server Brent delivered menus and took drink orders. To stave off impending hunger, I ordered the chef’s plate ($15) for us, to be delivered immediately. The plate is the Grill’s take on an antipasto: red pepper hummus, walnut-encrusted goat cheese, bleu cheese, grapes, fig jam, pepperoni, pickle and cucumber slices, artichoke hearts, tiny tomatoes, and ciabatta and naan for scooping and dipping. Had I been dining alone, the Chef’s Plate, accompanied by a glass of dry white wine, would have made a superb meal any time of day. But it also made an unusual appetizer for sharing. While the components were not unusual, the combination was.
Favorite RN opted for the chicken cordon bleu (the menu used the correct spelling of “bleu”) sandwich ($14) from the cutesy category “Between the Bread.” Offered fried or grilled, health-conscious friend chose grilled. The chicken was topped with Swiss cheese, shaved ham, honey mustard, leaf lettuce and tomato. She wasn’t sure she would appreciate the pretzel bun it was served on, but reported afterward that it was quite acceptable. All the flavors blended, balancing each other, and nothing dominated.
Her choice of coleslaw provided a nice foil for the richer meat and cheese.
When I dine out, I tend toward ordering one extreme or another. If I am reviewing a restaurant, I want to know what it does that distinguishes it from the rest of the crowd, or how it treats the common dish. I chose the humble hamburger to evaluate.
The 110 Classic cheeseburger ($13.50) arrived at the table perfectly cooked to a medium rare with a coleslaw chaser. The menu had promised an 8-ounce, all-natural certified Angus beef burger, and while I had no way of verifying the description, I would be surprised if it were anything else. The menu suggested I had my choice of cheese, and while American is my least favorite, I had not been asked by the server. The American was fine. Lettuce, red onion and tomato were included, and served on a brioche bun so soft my thumb made a small sinkhole in it. Dabbed with a bit of ketchup, the overall result was one that I would come back for.
I never need dessert, but almost always want it. All six desserts were uniformly $8 and enticing. To celebrate Nurses Week, Medical Guest chose the outrageous peanut butter cascade: layers of fudge brownie, peanut butter cup ice cream, house-made hot fudge and Reese’s chunks. Guest pronounced the dessert “sinful.” I judged it over-the-top sweet.
My apple cinnamon donut was featured as a warm cinnamon-and-sugar donut smothered with apple chutney, topped with vanilla ice cream, drizzled with cinnamon caramel bourbon sauce and finished with powdered sugar. The donut was old and cold, and the apple chutney appeared to be sliced apples out of the can. It was the only part of the meal I would not write home about. My espresso was sent back to the kitchen to be warmed, but got lost. Upon reminding our server, a hot double was brought out. Nice save.
The restaurant is large and partly open to the mall, but that did not interfere with the dining ambiance. The sparkly copper bar had room for 30 customers, and there were close to 40 high- and low-topped tables. Outside was a small patio with a fire pit well-shielded from the huge parking lot of the mall.
I’m looking forward to enjoying a burger and the chef’s plate at the new 110 Grill when it opens in August in Latham.
WHERE: 1 Crossgates Mall Road, Albany, NY 12203; 518-313-7977; www.110grill.com
WHEN: Monday-Tuesday 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Wednesday-Thursday 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.,
Friday-Saturday 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Sunday 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
HOW MUCH: $64.50 (for one appetizer, two entrees, two desserts, one nonalcoholic
beverage, one espresso) without tax and tip
MORE INFO: Huge parking lot, major credit cards accepted, noise level permits conversation, accessible, private parties, takeout, full bar, gluten-free and vegetarian items available, outdoor patio, online orders, gift cards, private dining.