Cella Bistro – Schenectady, NY
For a while now, longtime reader, Jonathan, has been telling me that I had to get over and try Cella Bistro. And to create the timeline for you, Jonathan tells me he has been reading since just about the time I wrote my Garden Bistro 24 post, and considering how that’s actually the very first official “derryX Dines” post and was published back in August of 2010, that’s a long time (oddly enough, Jonathan tells me he and his wife were actually there the same night that Cassie, Theresa, and I dined at GB24.).
Jonathan has invited me over to Cella Bistro (2015 Rosa Road in Schenectady) numerous times, and, one Friday evening, he and I were able to meet there.
He warned me that parking can be tight on a given night, so I arrived a few minutes early and actually had no issue finding a park right out front. Being there early, I took some time to get acquainted with the menu (even though I had my heart set on one of the things I was ordering).
The first thing that I will say I was very comfortable inside of Cella Bistro with the menu that was handed to me. The menu embodies everything that a bistro should be, and their focus on fresh and local ingredients was very explicit. The prices were also very reasonable; where else can you find a 16oz rib eye steak with frittes for $27?
Jonathan urged me to sit in the front area where the dining is a little more casual and where you can order off of their tapas style blackboard, which had at least a dozen small plates ranging from things as simple as grilled bread or olives to fancy cheese dishes like raclette.
It was a lot to take in, but I thought I had a pretty good game plan as far as the ordering went. Jonathan arrived, and we had our introductions while he decided on what to order. It turns out Jonathan was a regular there, and the waitstaff seemed to have his rhythm down.
They brought us some bread with olive oil for dipping.
A waitress explained that the bread was a bought in, par-baked product. Such products are designed to result in consistent, fresh breads, and, even though it was sad to hear that they weren’t taking advantage of the great local bakeries in Schenectady, I can totally understand this; furthermore, the bread was very flavorful and was served with a great fruity olive oil.
Jonathan ordered some of the mixed olives from the tapas menu for us to share.
The olives were marinated in a number of fresh herbs and spices. I picked around a bay leaf and also spotted some fresh rosemary and garlic cloves. There were four or so different types of olives, and each had their own character. They were all awesome, but I really like the very small black olives that were brined in red wine.
As a starter, I ordered a grilled asparagus tapas dish that was served with a fried egg and a drizzle of truffle oil.
This dish was impressive. I know I haven’t been big on runny yolks, but dipping the asparagus into the egg yolk is one of life’s true pleasures. The truffle oil tasted a bit synthetic (as it usually does), but, otherwise, everything was seasoned perfectly, and I was sad when this finished, even though I had a monster 1 pound steak coming!
The steak lived up to its description. This thing was enormous. I ordered it medium rare, and it was cooked nicely. The piece of meat was a little tough in the middle, but this can happen with a cut like rib eye. The exterior was perfectly seasoned and grilled. The frittes were a little bland; they weren’t at all seasoned. And there were some fresh green beans hiding underneath everything. They were tender and delicious.
I was pretty full by that point, but the waitstaff somehow talked us into dessert.
The list wasn’t elaborate at all. I settled on the coconut cream pie, and I had an espresso to top it all off.
The pie was delicious. The waitress indicated that it wasn’t made in house, but was purchased from a really good nearby bakery. That made me a bit happy; I love seeing places work together.
The espresso was pretty good. I don’t care much for the lemon rind, so I didn’t mess with it. I just slowly sipped the espresso. Theirs had a decent but fading crema and a nice rich body, just about everything you want in a nice espresso.
Jonathan insisted on paying since he invited me, which means I’ll have to invite him and his wife out some time soon so that I can insist on paying. Nonetheless, the dinner at Cella Bistro was extremely enjoyable, and I’ll definitely be back!
Cella Bistro offers special Sunday dinners paired with different wines or other beverages on a monthly basis that I’ll definitely have to keep my eye open for.