Old re­li­able:

Troy’s ven­er­a­ble Manory’s re­mains re­li­able source of guilty plea­sures

Albany Times Union (Sunday) - - UNWIND - By Susie David­son Pow­ell

New own­ers of Troy’s Manory’s keep fo­cus on plea­sure foods.

Our ini­tial re­ac­tion upon walk­ing into Manory’s, past the old men sit­ting out front, is a mix­ture of re­lief and de­light. Open since 1913, this old-fash­ioned neigh­bor­hood eatery has stood the test of time and re­sisted a makeover too.

Call it a diner or greasy cafe, Manory’s has long been famed for its big egg sand­wich and sort­ing out hang­overs with a gut-bust­ing break­fast. It’s rightly proud of its largely un­al­tered in­te­rior in shades of brown, from the beige ban­quette booths to a huge brown sign an­nounc­ing it­self as “Troy’s old­est restau­rant.”

Go now and you’ll smash ev­ery well-in­ten­tioned res­o­lu­tion of the New Year with ice-cream sun­daes, fried wings, fried chicken with thin maple syrup, fried eggs and home fries with stiff ba­con. For an ex­tra $2, you can raise the caloric stakes on your plate with a side of sweet potato fries.

Old men and in­ter­na­tional stu­dents sit at the cube-shaped counter as short-or­der cooks siz­zle burg­ers and press waf­fles in back. Young men in tight black T-shirts work ev­ery sta­tion, sling­ing cof­fee, de­liv­er­ing plates and blend­ing Manory’s milk­shakes in stu­dent-in­spired fla­vors from Fruity Peb­bles to Oreo-topped cook­ies-n-cream.

And that’s a first we can’t un­see. No, not the Fruity Peb­bles ce­real — also avail­able as con­fetti-col­ored waf­fles and pan­cakes — but the all-male crew. In­stead of a ma­tronly Doris call­ing us “hon” and tuck­ing her notepad in an apron pocket, we’re served each visit by young men who stroll be­tween tables in some clunky diner-ver­sion of the all-male “Swan Lake.” There is, if mem­ory serves me right, one wait­ress be­hind the es­presso bar. The rest of the lineup has frat-boy youth on their side. And given the per­cent­age of Troy stu­dents din­ing in (plus the stu­dent apart­ments up­stairs), it comes as no sur­prise.

But the gents turn out to be An­thony March­ese, son of for­mer own­ers Lou and Jen March­ese, plus Bren­dan Jones, Jack Eng­ster and Con­nor Mc­grath, who took over the busi­ness last July and have been a con­stant and pro­duc­tive pres­ence in­stalling new floors, an es­presso bar, Stacks nitro-brewed cof­fee on tap and draft lines for fu­ture beer. Two more friends, Isa­iah Evans and An­drew Cle­ments, join them on the short-or­der grid­dle.

The four own­ers have tapped into Troy’s re­vival by ex­pand­ing hours to 11 p.m. and ap­ply­ing for a liquor li­cense. In a sea of juice bars and $2,000-a-month down­town apart­ments (like the fully rented News Apart­ments two blocks away), they are bet­ting on all-day break­fasts, Black Pearl es­presso roasted in Al­bany, grown-up af­fogatos and milk­shakes in enough fla­vors to ri­val a 1950s milk bar. Un­der new man­age­ment, Manory’s has only pol­ished up its old-school ap­peal.

The menu it­self is largely un­changed — that is, chal­leng­ing for the heart and soft on the wal­let. In “The Elvis,” ba­con pieces and ba­nanas are cooked into a stack of pan­cakes cov­ered with warm peanut but­ter, driz­zled jelly and sugar; Lum­ber­jack pan­cakes stud­ded with diced sausages are smoth­ered in South­ern white sausage gravy; Manory’s in­fa­mous nine-egg Tro­jan omelette is stuffed with sausage, pep­pers, onions and three types of melted cheese be­fore a few la­dles of col­loidal white gravy. Ar­ter­ies may har­den just read­ing the list.

And yet even as our eyes widen at plates with fries and sides of fries, we’re charmed. Op­er­at­ing in its own par­al­lel uni­verse, Manory’s is an old-time re­jec­tion of di­ets and fads. Whether any­one ought to eat here reg­u­larly is a le­git­i­mate con­cern, though eggs Floren­tine come clos­est to healthy, with poached eggs, wilted spinach and a homemade Hol­landaise sauce. That’s be­fore a side of hash browns deep-fried to bronze bul­lets, and promised fresh fruit that never ap­pears.

Those eat­ing in are ei­ther too young or too old to care about waists. Waf­fles are 2 inches thick, fluffy and gold, served sweet as the straw­berry-topped Bavar­ian un­der a tank­ful of Reddi-wip, and sa­vory un­der craggy fried chicken and — yep — South­ern gravy. Happy fam­i­lies fill booths, el­derly cou­ples smile be­tween crumbly bites; at peak times the line snakes out the door.

Here’s a quick run­down of things you can do: Deep dive for jalapenos in the 5-hour pulled­pork deep-fried na­chos with plas­tic cups of pre­made guac and sour cream on the side; gnaw chicken wings stained Day-glo

or­ange in the but­tery hot sauce of your noc­tur­nal col­lege years; go com­mando with a fried egg or moz­zarella sticks on your stiffedged, well-done burger; and time the cherry slowly cap­siz­ing the whipped cream on your cin­na­mon toast sun­dae.

With a liquor li­cense in hand more could change, but the idea of a Bloody Mary or Bellini with break­fast or a pint with your burger seems long over­due, and im­por­tant to the res­o­lu­tion of a hang­over. Though car­rots and cel­ery ac­com­pa­ny­ing wings are the only raw food we see, the new own­ers con­tinue to ex­clu­sively use lo­cal Dzembo Dairies for milk and ice cream, and Bella Napoli bak­ery for burger buns and baked goods. Their ex­pan­sion into evening hours puts triple-decker club sand­wiches and grilled cheese (but­tered on both sides) within post-cock­tail reach. Wrapped for take­out, a corned beef Reuben on rye calls my name all the way home.

Sure, there are sal­ads of the ice­berg and peaky tomato va­ri­ety, but they sort of miss the es­tab­lish­ment’s all-day­break­fast ideal. When not grilling and but­ter­ing muffins, staff turns ap­ple cider donuts and grilled cin­na­mon rolls into fluffy French toast, some stuffed with ice cream. Root beer floats lustily over­flow; thick ice cream shakes risk burst­ing cap­il­lar­ies as pa­trons suck hard on straws; ni­tro­gen-in­fused cold brew tit­il­lates post-mil­len­ni­als; pend­ing beer and cock­tails may usher in a new night­time scene.

Built on quick ser­vice and break­fast glory, Manory’s is an in­sti­tu­tion. Dough­nut French toast? Gravy-sopped waf­fles? Kids-ce­real milk­shakes? Check. Is it good? That’s a judg­ment call. What’s not good for the body may be good for the soul.

Din­ner for four with plates, shakes, and fries costs $100, with 20 per­cent tip. A break­fast sand­wich and latte to go is $15 with a $2 tip.

Susie David­son Pow­ell is a British free­lance food writer in up­state New York. Fol­low her on Twit­ter, @Susiedp. To com­ment on this re­view, visit the Ta­ble Hop­ping blog, blog.time­sunion. com/table­hop­ping.

Pho­tos by Lori Van Buren / Times Union

Above, a Buf­falo burger, and, at left, a straw­berry choco­late milk­shake are among the of­fer­ings at Manory’s.

Pan­cakes at Manory’s.

Pulled pork na­chos at Manory’s.

Bis­cuit gravy eggs at Manory’s.

Pho­tos by Lori Van Buren / Times Union

Chunky mon­key latte at Manory’s.

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