By Molly Congdon
CLIFTON PARK — Whether you are going out with a group of friends or just having a semi-romantic lunch or dinner for two, picking a place to eat can be an agonizing process that (it hasn’t been scientifically proved quite yet) might take years off of your life.
Let’s face it, people are picky eaters — some by necessity and others by choice — but it still throws a wrench in your attempts to organize the ideal out-to-eat situation without having to hear complaints, either direct or passive-aggressive.
Luckily in Clifton Park there is safe haven called Peddlers Bar and Bistro, where all will find satisfaction; well, at least my crew and I always do, and let me tell you, we are pretty tough customers.
There is something for everyone at 16 Clifton Park Village Road. The menu offers everything from salads, wraps and sandwiches to entrees, both traditional and exotic.
“The Thai calamari is one of the most popular, but our burgers outsell everything,” said Melisa Gravelle, who has been the general manager of Peddlers since it opened its doors a little over five years ago. “Our Peddlers sliders are a hit.”
The real beauty of this place? They cater to food allergies and conditions. I’m one of those pesky people who has celiac — an autoimmune disease where my body screams as loud as it can when gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, comes into the equation.
Peddlers, thankfully, has a gluten-free menu, and even better than just simply having these options, they are delicious. Chicken tenders without real bread crumbs are actually crispy? I must be dreaming.
“After we had been open for about a year we discussed it and it was coming up more and more,” Gravelle said. “We try as best we can to accommodate those who needed that when they go out to eat.”
As an added bonus, Peddlers has something that too few restaurants offer — a full-fledged outdoor seating area, which is a fusion between a patio and a deck. Sure, other businesses offer outdoor seating, but when you’re at Peddlers it’s easy to forget that you’re out in the open air.
The atmosphere sets it apart from other eateries in the area. “It’s like a vacation getaway without the sand and the ocean,” Gravelle said. “We pride ourselves in having warm staff that welcome everybody and we have a mixture of options for every palette, whether you’re a traditional wing eater or you want something fancy like a salmon medley.”
First, there is an outdoor bar. Enough said. Second, there are walls that separate the various seating areas; some in the shade and others in the sun. Third, they have some pretty radical decorations on the walls. Even the lamps are irregularly shaped, which adds a whimsical flair.
“It is a mixture of old and new; the owners love to go shopping in antique stores and they also will go and find things like molds that used to mold archways that hang from the ceiling inside,” Gravelle said. “It’s funky. You can always come in every week and see something new.”
And, oh, my food was just delivered to the table. Fast service doesn’t hurt. Now let’s take a bite of these gluten-free chicken tenders. Crispy goodness always wins the day, folks.
There is no question when it comes to Gravelle’s favorite part about Peddlers. “All the different people that we get to meet; those who are traveling through because we have the luxury of a Holiday Inn Express next door so we have a lot of business people who are here for a couple weeks on end and then they come back a year later,” Gravelle said. “We are all one big team here.”
Five things you’ll like about Peddlers:
Karaoke nights: There is something exciting about watching one of your dining companions (or even yourself) grab the mic and belt out Whitney Houston, crackly high notes or not.
It’s a tradition: The menu is teasingly diverse, but it’s always nice to have a few constant comforts at your favorite haunt. For Peddlers this is the Buffalo Wing Soup on Thursday nights. “That is our chef Earl Bishop’s creation,” Gravelle said.
“It is just like eating a buffalo wing in liquid form and without the messy fingers; all of our soups are made from scratch everyday.” Sometimes you need a little warmth with just a kick of spice to make it to the weekend.
Patio party: If you think this exterior scene is exciting during the day, just wait until you experience it at night. It truly is the best outdoor seating in the Capital Region; argue with me on it, I dare you.
Ambiance: You can’t beat the structure and eclectic feel both inside and out.
Diversity: You can stick with a tried and true order such as a burger, but it’s pretty cool that if you’re feeling more adventurous you can grab some fish tacos.
P.S.: Of course one does have to watch out for the occasional rain storm; sometimes those pesky doors don’t shut fast enough, which can lead to an all-hands-on-deck situation as diners get sprayed by slanted rain.