Monday, June 22, 2015

Muza in Troy: Old School European

Muza took over a corner on 15th St. in south Troy some years ago and step by step the owner is building a very interesting spot. The before and after photo in the dining room shows what everything looked like at the start and it has undergone quite a transformation and it looks like there may be more to come.  There are some very promising terraced spaces outside that I'm eager to see finished and in service. 

Once inside one can see a special dining room for a large party to the left, then the foyer, and dining room to the right.  To my mind it all seems very old style and I like it.  The dining room has two levels and has a golden amber ambiance.  There are nice large windows looking out over the street which add natural light, but they are heavily draped so that the sun can't become overwhelming. It's not exactly homey, but has few pretensions.

Service has always been polite, efficient and attentive.

But indeed the food is what has drawn me back. I come from the midwest where eastern/northern  European cuisine was very common due to 19th century immigration, although it is less so now. 

At Muza it's meat and potatoes cuisine, with noodles, cabbage, onion, carrots, mushrooms, a little this and a little that. These are very rich well-cooked flavors that end up blended in delightful ways.  But I'm rhapsodizing because this is what I grew up loving.  I'm genetically bonded to these flavors. Others may find them bland or unexciting, but for someone who needs expertly made stuffed cabbage, kielbasa, sauerkraut and potato pancakes every now and then, I think Muza will not disappoint.

I took this photo of the Muza Feast, which seems to me to have the most variety of their sampler dishes. However, most of the plates served here are going to look very much like this one. 

It's sturdy fare. The sauerkraut is tender and mild, with a good sour bent rather than sweetened with apple or sweet onions. I've seen fragments of dill and there are sprinkles of parsley for an herbed pungency. The golombki are right in my range for "perfect" with a great balance of rice and flavoring ingredients, cooked until the rice is completely tender but not mush (let me see….where are those leftovers again…).  And the tomato sauce is light and also slightly sour so that it adds the right level of brightness but doesn't take over. 

I'm not a pierogi specialist, so those of you who are should go and review them.  I simply woofed them and smiled a very big smile. There's not much to say about kielbasa and mashed potatoes - at Muza they are done expertly so that they are wonderful complements in a musical composition of well-balanced and mild herb and vegetable flavors.

It's hard to surprise with cuisine like this, and those like me who want it because it's just like it was back home don't want surprises. Because of my upbringing I have expectations for very common flavors and textures and Muza delivers on every item. I find myself swooning as I sit before a plate of rich beef and egg noodle goodness.

The crowd is mixed with all ages.  There are couples and families of all kinds.

The beer and wine lists are simple and I can't help but think that Muza could team up with some local breweries to pair beer with the cuisine and step up the game without getting outside the borders of what they are doing. Maybe that will be coming up since they are describing themselves as European-American Dining and Beer Garden.  I will keep hoping.

And while I wish that the sour cream and applesauce condiment dishes were crockery instead of plastic, I suppose I can't have everything I want.  I'll go back anyway.  At least until I've had every single thing on the menu and many dishes several times.

LorreBob sez: go and be happy that someone is still making this delicious food.

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