If you missed it, Alaturco (Alaturco Mediterranean Cuisine vs. the Ballston Spa location called Alaturco Mediterranean Grill) opened their new location at the Clifton Park Center Mall on Thursday. It’s the same…but different.If you check out their facebook page (link above) they’ve got some additional pictures. We really like the Ballston Spa spot as the food is right in our wheelhouse, but the drive is sort of annoying, so we were quite excited to see they were opening a spot in Clifton Park. Obviously we were pretty eager to check out the new location and see how it held up.The key, of course, is the food. And I’m happy to report that the food seems to have translated almost exactly. Instead of repeating myself, if you haven’t read it, check out my review of the Grill. So here’s a bullet point round up:
- It’s a much larger space – 10 or more booths and a number of tables for 2 or 4, very tastefully decorated, open, and attractive
- The menus, while seemingly just about (if not completely) the same as the Grill’s, are gigantic. Just two pages, they’re housed in large, heavy, albeit attractive, covers. The booths are a bit of a squeeze, at least our’s was, so trying to open and read the menu was awkward.
- Unlike the Grill, we didn’t get a small bowl of spicy olives or pita to begin. Unknown if this is a change or just due to the recent opening. We don’t care for the olives, so no big deal. I don’t ever recall seeing a lot of people eating them, so this might just be a wise cost-cutting move. The pita would have been nice, though.
- Instead of plain water, they were serving a delicious infused concoction containing lots of sliced lemon and cucumber. Very refreshing!
- The food was great, it could have come from the Grill. Prices were seemingly the same. My lamb shish kebob was delicious. However, I missed the grilled vegetables that accompanied the shish at the Grill. There was more lamb, though, six hefty cubes. It was cooked perfectly and the cut was astounding. I hope they keep up that quality, but it might have been a grand opening splurge. Buttery and soft. My wife’s chicken kebabs were also excellent. The chickpea studded rice and tasty bulgur were the same, although presented molded instead of scooped onto the plate. The so-so salad was a larger portion than I recall from the Grill.
- Of course we got the hot medley of appetizers.Just as good, also. The cauliflower was a larger quantity of smaller pieces than we ever got at the Grill, but good. They didn’t hold up quite as well as the larger hunks, but were fine. The falafel was absolutely delicious. They’ve always made a good falafel, but I could take it or leave it, but this was some of the best I’ve had. The finger rolls, their take on cheese sticks, were good, as always. Here’s a peek inside.
All in all it was a very similar experience to the Grill. The service left something to be desired, but hopefully that will be corrected. I’m hoping they get busy and have to hire some college kids or whatever to wait tables instead of doing it themselves, but they’ve never really seemed to ‘get it’ at the Grill, either. I don’t know if it’s a personality thing or a cultural thing, but it can be frustrating. My empty water glass was walked past after the table next to us got their water replenished. This was after it had been empty for quite a while (they were not busy, only a few tables were occupied at any time). I’m not kidding when I say it took probably 15-20 minutes to get a bill AFTER our plates were taken, leftovers wrapped and returned, and we had declined dessert/coffee. Even then we weren’t approached with a bill, but a question as to whether we wanted it. They need to turn tables faster if they’re going to survive in busy Clifton Park. Maybe they want the experience to be ‘authentic’ or it’s just what they’re used to, but it’s just not the life we live in the US, we’re not out to dinner for the evening, we’re there to eat and then may have other plans, we don’t expect to waste a half hour sitting there toying with our water glasses after we’ve eaten.
While that was a lengthy gripe, overall we were pretty satisfied. Hopefully they’ll catch on, because we definitely want to go back and probably also get takeout from there. There was some interest and others seemingly stopped in to grab a menu. If the menu appeals to you at all, go ahead and check them out. If you like the Ballston Spa spot, there’s absolutely no reason you won’t like it here.