Moon and River Cafe in Schenectady

By Jessica Pasko

Moon and River.jpgSo earlier in the week I dropped into the Moon and River Cafe in Schenectady to checkout the Electric City Ukulele Club and I thought, "Wow, I should write about this place."

It was my first visit to this fun, quirky little cafe but it certainly won't be my last.

Moon and River is earthy-crunchy in the truest sense of the term - that is, it's hippie-ish in a way that existed long before tie dye shirts were sold in malls and granola and soy milk could be found in regular grocery stores. It's a cozy little place that's kind of the anti-Starbucks. It's laid-back and the service, while friendly, isn't exactly quick. There's no venti or grande nonsense, just coffee or tea in a regular ol' mug. With its hodge podge decor, this is not a place to obsess over your Blackberry. It's low-key and pleasant, the type of place where time seems to serve little purpose.

Moon and River is run by Richard Genest, the former proprietor of the much-beloved and now sadly defunct Mother Earth's Cafe, which once occupied the corner of Western and Quail (where Pepper Jack's is now). And years before that, he was co-owner of a cooperative cafe on lower Madison called the Halfmoon which featured the subversive-for-its-time series Readings Against the End of the World.

The food at Moon and River is healthy and fresh without being frou frou. Yes, there are plenty of tempeh and soy burger dishes, but there's also fish and poultry -- although not red meat. The menu consists mainly of simple food done well - plentiful salads, simple veggie enchiladas and a large list of sandwiches, many available in either vegan, vegetarian or omnivorous options. I tried the vegan antipasto, which was just a green salad topped with plenty of veggies, roasted red peppers and baked marinated tofu and served with a slice of whole wheat bread. There are also fresh juices, cane juice-sweetened sodas and vegan smoothies along with plenty of coffee and teas.

A word of advice: despite itss ever-so-intriguing name, I'd skip the Swedish coffee unless you're not averse to picking particles of cardamom from your teeth for the rest of the evening. I wasn't a fan. I opted for the regular joe on my next cup.

As Arielle pointed out, you can also buy animal crackers at "a handful for 50 cents." The counter is playfully lined with other such ala carte snacks, like 10-cent ginger snaps, chocolate graham crackers (two squares for a quarter) and pudding cups for 75 cents.

In a lot of ways, Moon and River feels like you're in someone's kitchen and living room, except that living room is run by a kindly older peacenik offering you chamomile tea or non-alcoholic beer.

No, there's no palpable aroma of patchouli. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Moon and River is open seven days a week and there's free live music or poetry open mics every night. But leave the plastic at home, because M&R is a cash-only joint.

Find It

Moon and River Cafe
115 S. Ferry St.
Schenectady, NY 12305

(518) 382-1938


Yeah, this place definitely has its charm. I was there one evening with some friends in late December and we were treated to some surprisingly decent Avett Brothers covers by some random young guy playing his guitar seemingly just for himself and the proprietor. Lots of great food options for the vegetarian/vegan crowd too.

Nice review! Just want to add..there's also a small collection of random nic nacks you can purchase (much of it used, like a mini tag sale). Where else can you pick up a cup of coffee, a CD from a local artist as well as a used top hat? Man, I wish this place was closer. It's like a fun house for grown ups.

I believe I've heard rumor that the Moon and River Cafe makes an exceptional spicy hot chocolate. Can anyone confirm that?

My boyfriend and I went the this cafe and it was awful. The descriptions of the meals sounded delicious, but when our plates came it was worse than anything we could have cooked at home.

My recommendation: Go to the co-op, buy groceries and make your own food. If you like the idea of people playing instruments while you eat, invite your musically talented friends over for dinner.

I would never return to this place.

The moon and the river is also great for its live music which Richard puts on almost every single night of the calendar year. Sgt Dunbar played a good handful of our early shows at the moon and river cafe and will always be grateful to Richard for the support he showed our project from the very beginning. And although I haven't been to it in quite some time, it used to sport one of the best open mics in the area, and probably still does.

I'm still stuck on the Ukes.

We went there before a movie across the street and it was great. Simple food, simple everything really, but in the good way.

The Moon and River is the most f*ck upped place ever. I love it!!
Nothing else like it around....bizzarre and lovely. Go and experience

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