Albany NY and Capital Region Restaurants

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Windows on the Woods

Windows on the Woods has two locations and, from what I understand from the chef/owner, George Shoemaker, initially started out as a catering company. A Google search yields several recipes by George (pun intended) Click Here or Here.

The deli is only open during business lunch hours (weekdays 11:00 am to 3:00 pm). The restaurant space has about 6-8 tables in the front and a long deli-counter near the back of the store. Before you enter, you're greeted by the sign which indicates the deli "Proudly Brews Starbucks Coffee" (WotW +1). The coffee prices are reasonable and given its proximity (to our office in particular), helps out when you're in need of a caffeine rush, especially when you're not interested in consuming "office coffee."

WotW's menu offers salads, wraps, grilled and 'traditional' deli sandwiches. The prices are rather reasonable and the most expensive item, I believe, is about $6.50. I've found the portions to be very generous (WotW +1). I think WotW keeps its prices relatively low (at least a good value) since they don't use any high-cost meats or ingredients. In fact, they don't even offer an "italian-mix" type sandwich on their menu since deli meats such as prosciutto or genoa get costly. That said, however, they do stock cheese beyond typical american/swiss/cheddar keeping items such as mozzarella, brie, feta, and others. Having this variety on hand allows WotW, or its patrons, to create a great assortment of sandwiches, wraps, salads, or paninis, beyond what's on the menu. (WotW +1).

Since it opened last Spring, I've enjoyed several wraps and sandwiches off their menu. My initial impression was, in fact, not favorable. I had ordered the roast beef sandwich on their multi-grain bread. The bread was very thick and "doughy" tasting. (WotW -1). I also didn't care (nor do I still) for the roast beef they use. The beef has a metallic aftertaste and really lacks any jus flavor. (WotW -1). I nearly swore off WotW after that overall experience, but considering the unavailability of dining options within a walking distance, I returned the following week.

Upon subsequent visits I learned that WotW uses freshly roasted chicken for its chicken sandwiches, salads, and wraps. Each item contains nearly 6 - 8 ounces of grilled chicken (depending on who makes your sandwich) (WotW +1). My favorite wrap, which I'm sure I'll write about in a future entry, is the Greek wrap. It features grilled chicken, spinach, roasted peppers, an "herb mayonnaise," and deliciously salty Feta cheese. Other wrap offerings, which I've enjoyed, include the thai chicken wrap (with a great Asian-inspired chili vinagrette), and a roasted vegetable wrap.

I also tried the sandwich again, but this time opted for them to make a pressed turkey sandwich using the panini press. The bread they use is the same one I had before for the plain sandwich. Since its a thick bread, it held up very well under the weight of the panini press, and the bread tasted far better being slightly toasted. I think WotW would have better luck with the plain (un-pressed) sandwiches if they used a better tasting bread for those sandwiches. I should note that they offer several pre-designed sandwiches, or you can mix and match meats and cheeses and create your own for just under $5.00.

For those of you who know me personally, you may know that one of my favorite foods is soup. WotW offers incredible homemade soups that rotate on a nearly daily basis. In fact, the reason I'm adding this entry today, is because I recently waxed nostalgic about WotW's homemade New England Clam Chowder. (WotW +1)

There are two types of clam chowders available in this part of the country; New England and Manhattan. The New England version is the most popular and served up in most restaurants on Fridays, having the thick, cream based broth. The Manhattan is the lesser-known, lesser-loved (?) tomato based one. I've always preferred the New England style to the Manhattan one, with my favorite commercially available one being that served at Legal Seafood.

WotW's chowder offers an incredibly creamy and rich broth (read: high-calorie), and has all the qualities I enjoy: huge chunks of potato and fishy, briny, meaty clams. Its thick enough to adequately cover the back of a spoon and perfectly seasoned, leaving to the eater the addition of a few specks of pepper if desired. Its accompanied by a bag of oyster crackers, but I usually ask them for a piece of the French baguette, which demands are always graciously accepted.

If you're in the area -- whether its in our office park, or any of the other ones near Crossgates/Washington Ave Extension, it behooves you to give WotW a try.

(Score O being par, WotW +3)

Windows on the Woods
13 Columbia Circle
Albany, NY 12203

Happy dining,

NB -- I've received some feedback about the "point system." I understand this is a completely arbitrary system, e.g., giving a point in this case for their chowder, but I am trying to design some way to keep tally of the places I've written about without using a traditional "#x out of #y" system. If you have any suggestions, comments, etc., please write. Thanks so much.


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