Mazzone Management has enough restaurants in the area that they do their own “Restaurant Week.” It’s actually a pretty awesome thing to have a brand that is dedicated to quality and that maintains standards across the spectrum of dining expectations. What the standards are and can be is a different thing altogether, but, regardless, Mazzone Management is really our biggest dining brand.
For this restaurant week pass, we decided to try Aperitivo Bistro, located right next to Proctor’s in downtown Schenectady. They were offering a three course meal that had some decent options for $25/person.
We made our reservation for a Thursday evening via OpenTable.com, which was convenient.
The restaurant was packed! The hostess walked us to the very back of the restaurant. As we were walking through, we passed several really loud areas. I was happy that the area where we were seated was relatively quiet.
We were presented with their standard dinner menu, and, once the server came over, she brought one copy of the restaurant week menu for the two of us to huddle around.
Before I could decide, I had a few questions about the menu. The first one was “what’s a broken Caesar vinaigrette?” I thought it meant deconstructed or something cute, but the young lady explained that broken was just code for normal. Ok…
I also asked a really stupid question, because I didn’t want any surprises. I asked if the potato puree served with the fried chicken had any cauliflower. So many places sneak it in, so I wanted to be clear. They didn’t. Phew.
They brought over some rosemary focaccia and oil and balsamic vinegar to dip.
As my first course, I went with the sweet potato steak fries.
These were absolutely amazing. The fries were coated in a brown sugar “shell” that kept the fries nice and crisp. The bacon aioli was good, and offered a tangy contrast to the fries. I could have eaten these all night.
For dinner, I ordered the fried chicken.
I honestly had no idea what I was looking at when this was served to me. So I rotated the dish and got some different perspectives.
The second picture better illustrates that this was fried chicken thighs served over garlicky greens where were over the mashed potato puree and a hot sauce was spread over the whole thing.
The chicken was cooked well past any reasonable point. But as I looked around the restaurant at these dishes coming out, that’s how they all were. So I cut into it, which required me asking for a steak knife, because the butter knife wasn’t cutting it.
It was really unfortunate that these chicken thighs were cooked so far. The potato puree, greens, and hot sauce were all pretty good. The chicken, which had a honey thyme coating, tasted fine aside from being cooked.
For dessert, I ordered the mixed berry crisp, but only tried a little of it.
The dish was served nice and warm, but the berries had gelled into a unpalatable texture. The streusel was pretty dry too.
As we were eating, we realized that a table in close vicinity was occupied by some family friends. They were there sharing items from the restaurant week menu. My complaints about the chicken were shared by them, but they seemed to love the pizza that they ordered.
This type of experience is why the restaurant week model can be good for a business. In my case, I got to try food that I would have been upset and appalled to pay full price for. I can see the potential in this place, and I suspect it lies mainly with their small plates and pizzas; I don’t think I’ll be ordering any main dishes or dessert if I go back.