Albany NY and Capital Region Restaurants

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Chico's BBQ - Guilderland, New York

Chico's BBQ - Guilderland, New York

This inaugural post in the Albany New York and Capital Region Restaurant blog features Chico's BBQ in Guilderland, New York.


I am hopeful that I'll keep up with this blog on a regular basis, and request all of my readers to submit comments -- either publicly or privately, on a recent dining experience, food trend, or any other matter -- whether or not it relates to restaurants in Albany, New York.

I love food and travel (pretty much in that order). I enjoy reading about food, cooking it, and eating great dishes. My love of all things food stems from my family background. I hail from a very large extended family where I was, in fact, raised by my Grandparents. Family gatherings were commonplace and food was the focal point. Everyone in my family, men included, can cook very well. It would also be helpful to my readers to know that I'm first generation Indian-American. My grandfather emigrated here in the early 1970's and my parents shortly thereafter. The reason this bit of information is important is that I believe my cultural background has helped me appreciate and develop my palette for certain flavors. Although many, if not most, Indians are vegetarians, my family has always been omnivores. I was enjoying certain "delicacies" well before they were in style now in the finest French restaurants. I recall while growing up that I was embarrassed to tell my (American) friends that I had a dinner which consisted of liver, gizzards, lamb, goat, or even lamb brain.

This afternoon, after much planning, I was able to join fellow food-blogger, Warren Redlich. Warren is a local attorney and regularly posts about dining in this area. While it's likely that many of our entries will overlap, hopefully we'll each be able to provide our own unique perspective on a particular dining experience.

Warren and I agreed to meet at Chico's BBQ in Guilderland, NY. Warren, who was born and raised in Guilderland, explained to me that the location of the restaurant has evolved through many iterations during the past several years. This was immediately apparent upon entering the premises, which was largely reminiscent of a "country kitchen" or casual Italian restaurant.

I did not protest to meeting at a BBQ restaurant since its one of my favorite foods. I've lived in South Florida for the past 13 years with brief stints in Georgia and South Carolina in between, so I've been fortunate enough to try very good BBQ. As an aside, I've found that many "BBQ" places in this part of the country are really grilled meats and not "slow and low" BBQ.

My point (if any) being that I was welcomed by the familiar smell of smoke upon entering Chico's. This was a positive thing and I looked forward to the meal ahead. (Chico's +1)

We sat down and I noticed that we were the only people dining in the restaurant (at least in our dining room). It was just past noon so this was a bit of concern (Chico's -1).

The server was kind enough and allowed us ample time to study the menu. She asked for our drink order and I requested Sweet Tea. For a brief moment I was whisked away to the South and hopeful they would have Sweet Tea. I was elated to hear they had it, but upon further inquiry, I learned that it was Sweet Tea from a fountain and not freshly brewed. (Chico's -1).

Shortly thereafter Warren and I ordered lunch. For me, the standard "control group" dish is how well a BBQ establishment can cook chicken. The benchmark is Shorty's BBQ in Miami (yes, Miami) Fla. Chicken is difficult in the sense that it can't be over or undercooked and it takes a talented cook to make it just right. I also think a restaurant with high turnover is key since many places may "sandbag" chicken (i.e., make it in advance and heat before serving) since the smoking/bbq'ing process is a time-consuming one. The quarter chicken (dark meat, always) "platter" comes accompanied by two sides ($5.99). I opted for coleslaw and mashed potatoes. Platter's also come with a piece of cornbread. (I wouldnt normally order chicken on the bone for a "working" lunch, but this was in the interest of science...and blogging).

Unfortunately, I'm not qualified to comment on Warren's dish, which was the "Plain Jane" platter ($7.99) -- hand pulled pork on a roll. Our server indicated that this was one of the more popular dishes on the menu.

The service was prompt and our dishes were on the table within 10 minutes of ordering. (Chico's +1)

Although the plate was quite full, I was disappointed by the portion size of the chicken. I first dove into the mashed potatoes. My immediate response: blech. I can't believe why a restaurant, much less a family BBQ place, would insist on using instant mashed potato flakes. The gravy was a bit salty, but had the semblance of being homemade. I tried the coleslaw next, which was okay, but a bit too "wet" and heavy on the mayonnaise. I can, however, see how the coleslaw may go well perched on a pork sandwich (Carolina style). At a moment at which bbq and other restaurants are creating well seasoned, fresh and crisp coleslaw, Chicos' slaw was just pedestrian. (Chico's -1)

Finally, I cut into the chicken. Can someone say Sandbagged?!? The skin was dried out and the meat, rather than being pink on the inside as well-smoked chicken should, started turning dry and brown. I picked around the overly dry bits on the leg and thigh and surrendered for the rest of the meal. (Chico's -1).

That said, I may consider giving Chico's another chance. The service was friendly, and I have yet to try their pulled pork. A future visit, if any, will be during dinner time or when they're busier.

Final score (0 being par: Chico's -2)

Happy dining,


  • You, sir, are a weirdo. I trust you taste in food, however. I hope that this blog gains enough popularity that you can afford to sit down and get an interview with crazy indian guy that makes Curry House famous. Keep up the good work.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:31 AM  

  • Beautifully written; very descriptive and helpful. Keep up the good work

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:18 PM  

  • My Identiy is Andrea & I say that I love your blog.

    What a stud in that picture. Oh yeah you too Chirag. hehe.

    Im actually kind of angry I dont live there anymore and cant try out all these places you write about. Super duper blogger my dear!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:11 PM  

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