Dining around at Troy Kitchen

Troy Kitchen MKIslandHut GrandmaG HalalPalace composite

By Deanna Fox

Call it happenstance, or call it good planning: I ate at Troy Kitchen with friends two days in a row recently. That's probably not a big deal for most people, but schlepping from my rural Schenectady County home (with two kids in tow) over to Troy during the evening commute hours isn't always an easy feat.

The reward was worth it, though, especially since the inaugural vendors have moved out and new vendors have taken over booth space as part of the wonderfully conceived rental limits that are part of the Troy Kitchen concept.

It was the perfect opportunity to do a dine-around and sample what the new menus have to offer.

Troy Kitchen has come a long way since its opening last year. The space is more polished, with a varied mix of seating from booths to communal tables and window-facing counters to a lounge area with just enough room to dance when a band or DJ is on stage.

The food options reflect that progress. In the first year, the menu darling that was the biggest draw was the beef bulgogi from K-Plate. It's since rotated out of the Troy Kitchen repertoire, but Bespoki Bowl -- a poke/seasoned raw fish vendor -- continues to serve the "K-Plate" beef dish. Magdalena's Menu is another holdover from the first class of Troy Kitchen vendors, but three others have come forth to occupy booth space and are starting off their tenure with a bang.

Halal Palace

TroyKitchen Halal Palace

Street food is finally getting its due credit, and NYC-style halal carts are top among them. Kebab (seasoned meat -- here, chicken or lamb -- on a stick) and falafel (the chickpea and/or fava bean puree that is formed into a ball and deep-fried) are the building blocks of the Halal Palace menu. A gyro sandwich ($5) wraps the kebab or falafel in a warmed pita with fresh lettuce and red onion before a drizzle of "white sauce," which blends mayonnaise or yogurt and lemon juice with warm Middle Eastern spices like caraway, sumac, cardamom and a dash of turmeric.

I'd suggest you try the lamb and chicken platter ($6), served with seasoned rice and both white and "hot" sauce, which uses the pungent toasted flavors of harissa pepper paste as its base. If you're new to Middle Eastern or halal cart dishes, the platter is a great primer on the flavors of the cuisine.

Grandma G's Soul Food

TroyKitchen Grandma Gs wings

Whenever I hear "soul food" or "grandma" when it comes to a restaurant, I cringe a little. More often than not, those terms are gimmicks designed to draw people in, but rarely deliver.

Not the case at Grandma G's. Southern-style fried chicken wings (that is, the actual wing with tip included. No drumsticks here) ($6) are punctuated with seasoned salt and paprika, double-dredged before a trip into the fryer. Mac and cheese is a buttercup yellow color, with real butter, cheddar and American cheese, and creamy milk. Collard greens are perfectly tender, and never stringy, with a briny pop from a last-minute kiss of vinegar. Wedge fries come in a generous portion and are seemingly blanched, then fried, for a creamy mashed-potato-like interior and a crispy exterior. I can't wait to try the candied yams. The waffles were a bit undercooked to my liking, but all sins are forgiving with a taste of the umber-colored hot sauce, a spicy variation on honey mustard married with Carolina-style BBQ sauce.

M&K Island Hut

TroyKitchen MK Island Hut

Caribbean food is booming in the region, and M&K Island Hut is a good example of why. Rough cuts of curry chicken ($6) and small, skinless white potatoes are slow-cooked and tinged with the spices of maritime trade routes. Allspice -- a hallmark of Jamaican food -- is abundant and paired with coriander, cumin, anise, and mustard seeds so vibrantly, it tastes as though the spices were ground fresh to order. Pigeon peas and rice offer subtle hints of coconut. Cabbage and carrot are stewed together to bring out the carrot's sweetness, foiled by garlic and paprika. Fried sweet plantains ($2) are cooked at peak ripeness, seasoned with little more than citrus and salt, melting on the tongue with every bite.
____

There's much to love at Troy Kitchen, but perhaps the fact that it even exists is reason enough to appreciate it. The chance to try a new cuisine for a very reasonable price is a treat, and if you don't like what you ordered, simply walk up to another booth.

There are a few vacant spots yet to be filled (the bakery portion left behind by Butter and Sugar company begs for an ice cream or confectioner to step in) and a chopped cheese vendor is slated for the fifth booth. But whatever arrives in the next phase of Troy Kitchen, no doubt it will expose our palates to new and exciting flavors.

Deanna Fox writes about many things, mostly about food. More can be found on her website, Twitter, or Instagram.

More Eat This
+ Sopes at Viva Cinco de Mayo
+ Massaman curry at Emmanuel Thai
+ Buffet dinner at Salsa Latina

Find It

Troy Kitchen
77 Congress Street
Troy, NY 12180

Comments

I wish Troy Kitchen would create a website with the menus of all the vendors. This would be helpful for everyone, but especially for vegetarians, vegans, and people with other dietary needs, who need to know whether there are options for them there.

All that styrofoam...and plastic...for eat-in...why? Makes everything look a lot less appetizing, as well as leaches plastics into the food. I wish Troy Kitchen would invest in re-usables.

If you need some ice cream or even better, a Dominican icey after Troy Kitchen, you only need to cross Congress Street over to Cory's uncle's spot...CoCo Mango.

@Diner and @jo -- I agree with you on both counts. I know TK is basically a landlord situation, and each vendor is a renter, but it would be nice to have some consistency. You can't really find what's actually being served on the TK Facebook page, save for a few photos. And maybe the owner could have some sort of condition as part of the lease of the booth space that vendors must use compostable/made from recycled materials/environmentally friendly products for service. All in all, it would lead to a better customer experience, I think.

@OCtG -- agreed! We covered that last year. http://alloveralbany.com/archive/2016/11/01/dominican-icey-at-coco-mangos

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

Recently on All Over Albany

Stuff to do this weekend

It's Memorial Day weekend. Time to fire up the barbecue grill and kick off the unofficial start of summer by doing fun stuff. This week... (more)

A few bits about that big, new mural going up on the side of the Quackenbush Garage in Albany

Maybe you've noticed the new mural going up on the south face of the Quackenbush Garage in downtown Albany. Here's what's up with that, along... (more)

A restaurant for regular group meetings?

Anne emails: I am a member of a service group that meets 2 evenings a month, during the week. We are looking for a restaurant/food... (more)

New York State city and town populations 2016

The Capital Region has some of the state's fastest growing towns in terms of population percentage change. That's one of the bits from new population... (more)

Music Haven 2017 lineup

The lineup for this summer's Music Haven series in Schenectady's Central Park is out. One of the things that distinguishes Music Haven among the free... (more)

Recent Comments

I've found that anecdotes from neighbors, friends, or internet "strangers" can only take you so far. If you haven't already, I strongly recommend you get out there and visit these schools during the school year, during the school day to get a feel for things. In the last few months, my wife and I have made a series of visits to our local elementary, middle + high-school. During those visits, we had the chance to talk to multiple teachers and see the kids "in action". It was very VERY telling in a lot of ways - both good and bad.

Where to get an Apple laptop fixed?

...has 8 comments, most recently from Greg

Fields Sculpture Park at Omi 2017

...has 2 comments, most recently from Greg

A few bits about that big, new mural going up on the side of the Quackenbush Garage in Albany

...has 3 comments, most recently from BS

Stuff to do this weekend

...has 1 comment, most recently from mg

A restaurant for regular group meetings?

...has 3 comments, most recently from SGK