26 Jan CTO Jonathan Cartu Says – At the Table – Take II: Blessing’s on rebound with classic…
The bad news was that Blessing’s Tavern had been destroyed by a fiery car crash in 2016. The good news was that three years later, the tavern had been rebuilt and was back in business.
On a recent frosty night, Dinner Guest and I stopped in for an early supper. An electric fireplace kept seated customers snuggly warm at one end of the room, while a cheerful bar kept them warm at the other end. In between were about 20 tables beginning to fill with diners ready to enjoy pub food.
Homemade soups, salads, appetizers, wings and burgers combined with deli sandwiches and wraps, hot sandwiches, hot dogs, seafood and desserts for a Blessing’s II classic menu providing something for everyone.
My guest chose to have all his food groups in one meal: Nachos Supreme ($11.95). A mound of tortilla chips were topped with Blessing’s own chili con carne, cheddar cheese sauce, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, black olives, jalapenos and served with sour cream and salsa. He had to search for the carne in the chili and the cheddar cheese sauce was closer to melted Velveeta. The shredded lettuce, which should have been tough enough to withstand heat from the chili (like iceberg or Romaine), was actually tender mesclun, which became limp as soon as the heat hit it.
He also wanted to try a small dish of homemade coleslaw ($2.95). A bit on the sweet side, it was nevertheless quite palatable.
I thought I might order a Greek chicken salad ($12.95) and a Reuben ($11.95), but server Tanya warned me that their salads were huge, holding both her arms out as if to encompass a pizza pan to demonstrate. I opted instead for the Greek salad with shrimp instead of chicken (“I may have to add an upcharge,” Tanya apologized). “No problem,” I laughed. “I am independently wealthy.”
Unfortunately, I assumed the shrimp (for a reasonable $3.95 upcharge) would be grilled. I should have asked. There were 15 small batter-dipped shrimps, and while they were fine, they lacked the grilled flavor I had expected. I had requested the Greek dressing that came with the salad, but none was served with it. When I mentioned it was missing, our server hustled into the kitchen to retrieve a small cupful for me.
The Greek salad itself was composed of feta crumbles, small kalamata olives, mesclun (the menu called it simply “lettuce”), tomatoes and cucumbers. While fresh, the baby lettuce greens still suffered from a malady tender lettuce leaves are prone to: As soon as tissue-paper-thin red lettuce becomes moist (as it does in a plastic bag), it begins to deteriorate, turns black and sticks to other, stronger leaves. Even though there were relatively few of these unwanted blemishes in my salad, I became paranoid and checked every leaf. The result of the small battered shrimp and the over-the-hill lettuce leaves rendered the salad less satisfactory than the one I had expected.
The remedy for disappointments, great and small, is dessert. The list of a half dozen or so sweet treats ranged in price from $4.95 to $6.95. A hot fudge sundae has always been a favorite. Blessing’s version arrived in a shallow bowl, crowned with whipped cream mousse, two cherries and two spoons for sharing.
From the time I was a kid, I could tell real hot fudge from chocolate syrup. Blessing’s II uses the real deal: hot fudge that sticks to the dish and the spoon, and produces a strand as you pull it away from its source. I would have preferred the sundae be piled into a container that was deeper than it was wide, but this one employed real whipped cream, and at the risk of being judgmental, the overall result was more than adequate.
Surprisingly, despite its being a pub with four large-screen televisions, a bar and an open dining room, the area was neither loud nor raucous. Granted, we were there early in the dinner hour, yet reasonable quiet pervaded the venue.
The second iteration of Blessing’s has been open only a little more than a month. According to the news, the chef was injured too severely to return to work. New staff had to be hired. Recovery from that fiery crash three years ago continues. But I’m guessing time and the venue’s loyal following will return Blessing’s to its heyday.
Blessing’s Tavern II
WHERE: 1116 Watervliet-Shaker Road, Colonie 12205; (518) 713-4006; www.Blessingstavern.com
WHEN: Monday-Friday 10 a.m. – 2 a.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-3 a.m., Sunday 12 a.m.-2 a.m.
HOW MUCH: $43.25 for 2 entrees, 1 side dish, 2 sodas, 1 dessert, but without tax and tip
MORE INFO: Large parking lot, accessible, major credit cards accepted, quiet enough for conversation, takeout, catering