The Standard Restaurant & Lounge
Super swanky appeal for the whole family
Overall rating on a scale of 1-10
Service 10 • Food 8 • Ambiance 8 • Price – $$
You may wonder what kind of dining experience can be expected at a mall restaurant. Well, better than you might imagine. The first thing that struck me upon entering The Standard Restaurant & Lounge in Crossgates Mall was that I couldn’t tell I was in the mall. This was a good thing.
The next thing I noticed was the décor – it was stunning. From the impressive bar adorned with blue neon fixtures to the inviting old-school leather booths in the dining room and the oversized posters of golden age movie stars peering down from above. Apparently, The Standard, which opened in December of 2008, is run by a company called Serving You Restaurants that operates several dining venues in the Hudson Valley, all of which incorporate 20th century time period themes.
The Standard makes every effort to transport you back to a more carefree era, offering well-made cocktails and straightforward, non-pretentious food. Even the service seemed to be a throwback to a time when attentiveness was the norm and not the exception. My dining companion, Peter, and I noticed this immediately upon being greeted by our server, Kim, who was conscientious and helpful all night long without hovering or rushing us.
After being led through the large dining room of mostly mall shoppers who stopped in for a bite, we were seated in one of the booths, with a view of the partially-open kitchen. I began my meal with a glass of very tasty medium-bodied Meridian Central Coast Pinot Noir ($7) and Peter tried the nightly cocktail special, the Mistral Martini, made with Hendricks Cucumber Infused Gin, fennel and tarragon-infused syrup and fresh lemon juice ($10). It was unexpected, both sweet and refreshing. Other cocktails on the menu ranged from the whimsical Buzz Aldrin Martini, made with Tang, Peach Vodka and Cointreau, to the more classic Tom Collins.
After reviewing the extensive menu, we finally agreed on sharing the brie with roasted vegetables and garlic appetizer ($9.95). Although it was difficult, given the many appetizers offered – spring rolls, bruschetta, spinach dip, even fried mac and cheese – all of which sounded appealing to me and probably would to most diners.
The appetizer arrived at the table in a cast iron casserole dish still warm from the oven. It featured red peppers, eggplant, roasted garlic and a large hunk of brie, garnished with fresh basil and served alongside grilled crostinis. This large portion could have easily been a meal in itself. The vegetables were sweet and smoky and thoroughly comforting, and the warm mild brie and crusty crostinis were perfect accompaniments. Truth be told, I would have been happy having only this for dinner. But, work is work, and so next I had to turn my attention to choosing an entrée.
This turned out to be no simple feat, as the menu featured over 35 items, never mind the specials. Finally Peter decided on the Hanger Steak Special, served with blue cheese crumbles and bordelaise sauce alongside steamed broccoli and parmesan peppercorn mashed potatoes ($17.95). Being a risotto fanatic, I selected the Seared "Dry-Packed" Sea Scallops with mushroom risotto, sautéed spinach and truffle leek essence ($19.95).
The steak was a good quality cut, nice and tender, the blue cheese and the bordelaise sauce enhanced the flavorful dish. The sides were a little less impressive – the mashed potatoes a bit on the dry side and the broccoli only lukewarm, although on the upside not over-cooked and mushy. Though my scallops were large and seared well, the highlight of this dish was the risotto. It was savory and creamy and a true enjoyment, as was the sautéed spinach – the bitterness played off the rich risotto nicely. Both portions were made for those with endless appetites; needless to say we had the leftovers wrapped to go.
Dessert is always a must in my book, even when you’re full. Consequently, we shared the Chocolate Cream Tartlette ($5.95), thinking that "tartlette" inferred small and dainty. We couldn’t have been more wrong. The massive confection that arrived at the table could have easily fed a small family. The chocolate cream center was smooth and cool and was topped with a mountain of whipped cream and shaved chocolate. Most sugar addicts would have declared this love at first bite.
While The Standard is clearly a restaurant meant to appeal to the broad mall crowd, it’s also a great place to escape the chaos of the mall and unwind among the likenesses of Frank Sinatra, Sophia Loren and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. The meals were large, good quality and the accompanying service was well above average
The total cost for one glass of wine, one martini, one appetizer, two entrees and one dessert (excluding tax and tip) was $75.
The Standard Restaurant & Lounge is located at 1 Crossgates Mall Road, Albany. Hours are 11am-2am, seven days a week. For more information call 452.7007 or visit www.standardalbany.com.
Christina DeMers is an online marketing manager, food blogger and amateur cook who lives in East Greenbush, but eats just about anywhere.