Monday, July 20, 2009

Moon and River Café - Schenectady, NY

To make up for our recent journeys to a chain restaurant (Chipotle), we recently tried a locally-owned café in the historic Stockade neighborhood of Schenectady. I had known about The Moon and River Café for some time, but didn’t consider trying it until I recently came across the menu in some local establishment (the library, perhaps?). The menu was extensive, filled with a variety of mostly vegetarian offerings, but some chicken dishes, too. I placed the menu on our coffee table as a subliminal message, and lo and behold, Nabiscoman suggested we eat there before taking in the latest Harry Potter movie at the cinema in downtown Schenectady.

We arrived sometime between 5 and 5:30 and found the small storefront restaurant to be mostly unoccupied. Actually, there were as many as 6 other patrons there in addition to the proprietor, but the restaurant was so quiet that we felt like we were the only people there. In fact, the silence made conversation uncomfortable, as we felt like we were broadcasting our conversation to the entire restaurant. Ironically, the café is known for its nightly musical offerings. Perhaps the owner was looking for some quite time before the music started or recorded music just doesn’t cut it there. I’m sure I would have appreciated the solitude if I had been there with a book to read, but for dinner a little background noise would have been nice.

Our orders were taken promptly. I chose the African peanut stew, which had caught my eye when I first picked up the menu. NM chose the Mexican Eggs (breakfast is served all day) plus the vegan pea soup. During the ensuing wait we had plenty of time to examine the décor. We both instantly thought this reminded us of an Ithaca, NY – type restaurant (Pre-Walmart days). The décor was eclectic, with a good deal of it seeming to have been cast-offs from my aunt’s 1960s house (think avocado couch). There was also a used book section (presumably for sale?) and local artwork adorned the walls (some for sale). After about half an hour (of mainly silence), I was surprised to see the owner take a cup of dried soup from a shelf, add hot water, and present it to NM as is. I think the menu should have stated it was that brand of soup, since it was served in its paper cup or perhaps he should have but it into a bowl to conceal the fact, I don’t know which I would have preferred. NM took this in stride and finished the soup quickly, but not before our dinners appeared moments later.

My African peanut stew was a tasty vegetarian dish. It was less of a stew and more of steamed vegetable covered in a peanut sauce. There were a variety of fresh vegetables (definitely not frozen) including peppers, eggplant, asparagus, green beans, and squash. The peanut sauce was chunky and not too sweet, just right. As someone who loves peanuts (and Mr. Peanut, but that’s a different blog), I could, and sometimes do, eat them at every meal of the day. This peanut stew certainly fit the bill. NM enjoyed his eggs, which were made with salsa, pepper jack cheese, and surrounded by tortilla chips. The portions were adequate, but not overfilling (which is a good thing). Having to catch our 6:30 movie, we left as soon as we finished – but not before finding out that the owner had indeed lived in Ithaca previously and founded a well-known café there. There were also an array of deserts and coffee-type beverages to try when we have more time the next time we visit. And despite the pea soup and silence there probably will be a next time.


Post a Comment

<< Home