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Frugal forager

Deacon Blues serves excellent fare amid walls of names

Sunday, December 15, 2013
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Deacon Blues’ chicken Parm sub was sizable and satisfying.
Deacon Blues’ chicken Parm sub was sizable and satisfying.

The history at Deacon Blues is literally written on the walls. Names with hearts and dates are immortalized on the soft pine paneling in ballpoint pen, they’re chock-a-block, overlapping, thinning as you move out of arm’s reach. We could make out “SUE + ED,” accompanied by “John + Sherry ’75”. “I’d like to know if they’re still together,” said my friend Lisa.

We were sitting in a creaky wooden booth at Deacon Blues, an unassuming restaurant in a roomy little converted bungalow, one of a row along 25th Street in Watervliet, reading the wall next to our booth.

The regulars, elbow-to-elbow at the bar, turn to look when the door opens, but you can just keep walking straight into the dining room, with its white-cloth covered wood tables and captain’s chairs, and booths along both sides of the large room. “Along Comes Mary,” by The Association was playing softly. It’s very casual, and family-friendly.

Deacon Blues offers a range of reasonably priced food — wings and pizza, hot and cold sandwiches, burgers. Chicken Parm will run you $14.95, a burger with chips and pickle goes for $4, and a small pizza, $4.50. There’s comfort food like grilled cheese and ham, and lots of fried appetizers including mozzarella sticks and potato skins. Weekend specials include prime rib.

Friendly atmosphere

It’s friendly. We were greeted right away, and the competent woman running the dining room offered us our choice of seats. We headed for a booth and as soon as we settled in she came and took our drink orders and handed us menus. The once-clear plastic menu pages are slightly foggy and a bit aged, but the prices impressed me. Even a Frugal Forager could swing an appetizer, so we started with wings to share ($8.50).

The wings arrived promptly, accompanied by crunchy pale green celery sticks and a bowl of chunky blue cheese dressing. The chicken wings were hot and delicious, with crispy skin and wonderfully juicy meat inside. I turned a wing over in the puddle of sauce, sopping it up before I ate it, savoring the heat that wasn’t too hot. Excellent wings, we both agreed.

Not too long after we finished the wings, our meals arrived. Lisa’s choice was something new to me: white seafood pizza ($4.50), topped with small shrimp, scallops, imitation crab, melted mozzarella and garlic. It’s a favorite of hers. I took a small piece with a shrimp covered in cheese. It was different from anything I’ve had, and a good combination of flavors. “The crust is really crunchy,” Lisa said, showing me the browned bottom.

Sprawling chicken

My chicken Parm sub ($7.75) sprawled the length of the oblong oversized plate and then some. The roll was split and stuffed with breaded chicken fingers and lots of marinara sauce topped with mozzarella cheese. The cheese was melted and the roll toasted around the edges nicely from the heat of the broiler. It looked and tasted delicious. It wasn’t too filling; the bread was almost insubstantial, all crispy crust, just how I like it.

The white meat breaded chicken tenders were even better when covered with red sauce and melted cheese. I sliced off a hunk to share with Lisa and ended up taking home quite a bit. It’s enough for two meals, which makes it quite a bargain. But healthy? Not so much.

The fries were freshly cooked, hot and salty, and it was a large portion, as if the oversized sub needed some rounding out. We both loved them.

Our server kept a close eye on us, refilling drinks when necessary and generally supervising without hovering. I had my leftovers wrapped, and we got the check: $26.87 with tax and tip.

Writing on wall

“My parent’s names are here,” said Lisa. “They met here for their second date in 1964.” It was a clandestine meeting, she said, and they added their names to the wall, commemorating the event. Fleetingly I considered immortalizing my own relationship. There really wasn’t room.

So visit Deacon Blues for excellent wings and an inexpensive casual meal. Everything we had tasted good. Oh, and look for “Joyce + Jerry” somewhere on the paneling. They’ve been married for 45 years.

 
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