Peck’s Arcade, Troy
Vegetables step up to the plate in this trendy town
Photographs by Jennifer May
Don’t be fooled by the name: Peck’s Arcade is not a pinball emporium, but you can expect a high-energy atmosphere.
Open for just over a year, this popular eatery’s improbable moniker comes from the distant past, when a department store operated here in the 1880s. With its Scandinavian blond wood modern furniture and sleek industrial design, the space today bears no resemblance to that time, but owners (and married couple) Vic Christopher and Heather LaVine thought it would be fun to remember. And it is. Retro illustrations from the department store’s past adorn the menu, which only comprises about 20 items, but still delivers a broad range of tastes.
Small plates hover around $10 and set the scene for an imaginative meal. Decadent but tiny enough for a splurge, the 23 Layer Potato is a crowd-pleaser. Like a potato au gratin but more sophisticated, it is layered with thin potato coins and a double punch of Gruyère and cream, then baked and served with salsa verde. Another small wonder, crispy oysters are cradled in Bibb lettuce and presented with house-made kimchi.
Chef Nick Ruscitto’s “vegetable-forward” philosophy puts greens, fruits, and roots in starring roles. “We always have an interesting selection of vegetable dishes, and usually some form of charred beets,” explains General Manager Charlotte Guyton. When we visited, the beets had a pleasantly crunchy crust and were served with black olives, pistachios, and buttery stracciatella cheese. Broccoli also goes glam when it’s transformed into a tempura appetizer. Poached leeks perk up in a tangy tonnato sauce. A gorgeous eggplant terrine glistens with layers of Ricotta and tomato and a drizzle of honey.
Most of the pastas (about $15) are made in-house. Ricotta gnocchi is especially dreamy, a light and fluffy alternative to traditional potatoes. Plump tubes of paccheri pasta swaddle lamb bolognese, finished with shavings of flaky and fragrant grana padano cheese.
As you can imagine, all these choices generate excitement (and repeat clientele), and the 50-seat space is often full. People don’t mind, since this gives them an excuse to head upstairs to the specialty cocktail lounge, dubbed the Tavern, where you can try an interesting new drink while waiting for a table to open up (or not). “People especially love the New Brooklyn,” says Guyton, referring to a rye whiskey and craft bitters cocktail crowned by a rich and boozy brandy-soaked cherry.
Housed in a 1880s department store, Peck’s Arcade boasts a sleek, modern interior. The “Library” on the second floor is used for private parties of from seven to 20 guests
Or they might discover a new wine. Owner LaVine makes a point of working with small distributors to support lesser-known viticulture regions and promote interesting varietals. Guyton recommends a light and zippy Canary Island white as a refreshing alternative to Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. Or try a glass, reminiscent of Pinot Noir but with more intrigue, from the French island of Corsica.
Maybe you’re a dessert person, and that’s a plus here. Pastry Chef Greg Kern knows how to rock a dessert cart. (He also serves up desserts at Lucas Confectionery wine bar, the owners’ sister business around the corner.) How does this sound: Toffee pudding with a port wine toffee sauce and pistachio ice cream? Warm chocolate cake with espresso ice cream? Chocolate fudge brownie with cocoa nib and mint ice cream? Notice a pattern here? (Hint: It’s the irresistible fillip of homespun ice cream.) As the weather warms, look for a S’mores-inspired dessert with house-made grahams and brûléed marshmallow fluff. Sweet.
If you go...
Restaurant Review: Peck’s Arcade in Troy