A couple of Tuesdays ago, I finally had a chance to check out the Charles F. Lucas Confectionary and Wine Bar in Troy (12 Second Street). It’s been a very popular place, and I wanted to let some of the hype die down before sitting down there for an extended period of time.
So, the night I went, I tried a wide sampling of many different things.
Actually, it was Troyster Tuesday, a weekly event where they bring in fresh oysters from Fin and offer them shucked with various sauces and mignonettes. I ordered oysters but was quoted a frustrating 45-60 minute wait time for less than a handful. I skipped the oysters and focused on their regular offerings.
The menu you are handed is a small clipboard with various pages of easy to read text. Because of the way the clipboard clasps, unless you start juggling the pages around, it gets difficult to read beyond the second page.
They offer many wines in glasses or whole bottles. To make it easy, I selected the very first red wine available in a glass, Aglianico Sannio from Campagna, Italy ($8). I had some marginal familiarity with this wine, so I decided on this to go with the cheese I wanted to try.
The cheese ($5) I ordered was Dunbarton Blue, described as “Cheddar, with a hint of blue. Milky, clean taste that melts in your mouth. Paired with dark chocolate.”
The cheese was served with a plentiful amount of baguette from Placid Baker, which is literally a hop, skip, and jump away from the confectionery. It was also served with a few rich and complex dark chocolate chips. Taking a bite of everything together, the little bit of sugar from the chocolate cut through some of the pungency of the cheese, and the bread gave the whole thing some texture to distribute the flavors around. There was a lot of character to the cheese; it had the texture of aged cheddar and the edge of a mild blue cheese. It was a whole lot of fun eating this and being able to customize the bites. The dryness and slight bitterness of my red wine went very nicely with the cheese and the chocolate.
I also ordered the Smoked Salmon ($9 – Wild Salmon served with capers, tomato, red onion & hard-boiled egg. Served w/ Placid Baker Bread.). It is listed on the menu as a Chef’s Specialty.
Other than the amount of (overcooked) hard boiled egg on the plate and the omission of whole grain mustard, my portion matched what is pictured on their webpage fairly well, and the dish was overall very good.
The smoked salmon was very juicy and flavorful. The little sprinkles of briny capers, fresh tomatoes, and strong, chopped red onion gave me the opportunity to customize every bite. The bread again gave a base to work on.
I’ve heard a lot of people rave about their hummus ($6), so I ordered a portion of that as well.
The hummus was thicker than I enjoy, and I started to get tired of the same bread by this point. The flavors in the hummus were actually quite good; it had all of the tang, spice, and richness you want in hummus. Aside from more in the actual hummus, a splash of good quality extra virgin olive oil to garnish would have really helped to elevate this.
Having sampled various facets of the menu, it’s pretty obvious to me that the menu items are geared toward sharing, and the ambiance is certainly inviting to the point where it’s encouraged to sit around with a couple of friends, passing around some cheese, charcuterie, other small plates, and splitting a bottle of wine or some beers…
…and/or some sweets and coffee!
The Confectionery features various jars of candy scattered around the restaurant and has a case in the front with various baked goods and sweets from different local providers nearby. I believe the three truffles ($1/each) I tried were from Sweet Sue’s in Troy.
The one on the left was filled with salted caramel. The white one was white chocolate. These two were not particularly outstanding. The one on the right, coated in cayenne pepper, was absolutely amazing. The amount of heat was not overpowering, and the cayenne pepper really served to activate the taste buds and accented the high quality chocolate. I highly recommend trying this truffle if you see it there.
But, the real treat of the evening was my coffee.
Simple espresso – $2.50
This wasn’t the first time I tried their espresso. I had some the weekend of my bachelor party.
I’m pretty serious about espresso. When I tell you the espresso at the confectionery is the best you’ll find for miles, I am not joking. They have a great setup and use great coffee, and it all pays off. If there is anything within the diverse walls of the confectionery that you need to try, it’s the espresso. (Trust me on this!)
Checking out was a little out of the ordinary. The servers are equipped with iPads, and they use these to ring in your order. When I was ready to check out, the nice young man brought his iPad over and started keying everything in, reciting each thing and noting when something (such as the wine, oddly enough) was missing from the inventory in the program. Then, he swiped my credit card, had me input my tip, and had me sign on the iPad. The whole process was a tad awkward; I could definitely see this becoming troublesome with a packed house and people splitting checks.
Small idiosyncrasies and minor technical snafus aside, I’d say there are a lot of things to check out at the confectionery. I haven’t even touched the fact that just about everything in the building (including the espresso machine that pumps out amazing espresso) has been recovered and restored from something historic. As you look around, it is certainly remarkable.