I went out with some friends to The Bier Abbey on Union Street in Schenectady for dinner tonight. It’s advertised as Belgian and pub fare with a huge selection of craft beers, and it’s on that little section of Union Street, with Cafe Nola and Orenda and Manhattan Exchange, and other places that I’m forgetting, that has started to look pretty darn happening. So, yay Schenectady. Again.
They’ve got picnic tables set up for once it’s warmer. When we walked in the front door it looked, briefly, like we’d walked into somebody’s random apartment building by mistake. But once you get yourself all the way in, the place is cool-looking. There’s a lovely bar with, as advertised, a ga-jillion beers, and beyond that there’s plenty of wood and cool lights made from bottles and pews and stained glass to put you in the “abbey” mood.
Here is where I should be adding a paragraph about the selection of beers, but since I am a beer light-weight and I was meeting up with friends, I didn’t actually pay attention. I just ordered up a bottled hard cider, which turned out to be huge. So huge that I was compelled to drink not only my own, but half of my friend’s since she was driving me home. We wouldn’t want it to go to waste, right?
The menu wasn’t huge, but it had plenty of basics that could please pickier eaters (chicken strips, burgers), along with several sandwiches and salads as well as entrÃ©es. My friends ordered a spinach salad and vegetarian carrot soup. I tasted a bit of the soup, which was roasty-sweet with a little bit of a spicy kick.
I’d been excited to go the The Bier Abbey mostly because I knew that they’d have Moules-frites. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a sucker for mussels pretty much all the time, and when we were living in Brooklyn pre-kids, Moules-frites were having a little hey-day around the city, so their natural deliciousness is wrapped up in nostalgia for me, too. So I was a little stumped when they had four different mussel possibilities, and I went with the Thai curry, a choice I regretted a bit. They were very good, but not as delicious as when I get mussels at actual Thai places, and I should have just gone with the mariniÃ¨res variety instead. Because that was the nostalgia pick. Still it was pretty tasty, the toasts were excellent, and the fries and mayo were super-yummy. Friends ordered fish and chicken fingers and were happy with theirs, too.
It was a quiet Monday night, but our server still managed to seem so harassed by minor requests that it was almost comical. It felt like she was that girl in high school who tolerates hanging out with you because she’s friends with your other friends, but behind every smile it looks like she can barely keep from rolling her eyes and making little “gag me” gestures. It was sort of bizarre, really. And of course, we were chatting away happily, so it wasn’t too bad, but it was enough to distract from the experience. Also, I am a water fiend, so I hate being at someone’s mercy when it comes to getting my glass refilled. Especially when I’m not with Cute W, who has spent years tolerating me drinking all of my water and his, too.
So! A fun outing with friends, menu choices that kids would eat, and plenty of beer. I would go again, although this time I’d order the white wine mussels and I’d bring along a big bottle of water, just in case.
Have any of you gone to The Bier Abbey? I read, later, that their burgers are excellent–any reviews on the food or the service?