Pardon my opinion, but when it became clear that the Cheesecake Factory deal had fallen through at the old La Piazza restaurant on Troy’s square, I was naive. But my past critiques of Troy restaurants have come home to roost in the form of Agave & Rye.
Ah, Agave & Rye; cosmopolitan tripe has finally invaded our small downtown. Never before have we been so near the aggressive garishness of utterly unhinged decor with such ham-fisted failures to incorporate American food trends into something appetizing.
Upon being seated, my companion and I ordered the margaritas, which are priced as an excellent cocktail ought to be: in the $10 and above range. Had this been an excellent cocktail, I would now expound upon the perfect balance of tart and sweet that we love in a margarita, tempered by the rich depth of tequila and accented with a salty, maybe even slightly spicy rim. However, the margarita was terrible, as though it were flavored primarily with citric acid. Perhaps the mixologist expected that the ridiculous past-trend skeleton glass would distract from the flatness of flavor and mouthfeel in the cocktail. At some point, I wondered if it weren’t just Country Time lemonade with vodka and extra citric acid. Maybe it is? Hard to know. So we skipped the cocktail menu after that in favor of beer, which was served in cans with no glass. Even Submarine House knows better.
The menu is ambitious in its culinary references. We skipped the chips and salsa, having heard from friends that they’re singularly awful, and went to the heart of the menu. It included tacos inspired by various world cuisines and ingredients to rival Bravo’s Top Chef, circa 2007. If you’re looking to pay upwards of $7 for a taco that you’ll barely recognize, whose edibility plummets once you hit a cheap, carb-rich trifecta of rice, hard corn taco shell, and soft flour taco shell, you’re in the right place. If, however, you want something resembling a culinary experience possibly worth having, you might consider taking the top third of the taco out of the shell and eating that on it’s own. It’s an overpriced 3 or 4 bites of food, but it takes the experience at Agave & Rye from personally offensive to just mildly irritating.
The service was okay.
I’d like to say that we stayed for a dessert, coffee or digestif, but by that time my dining companion was beginning to suffer from an attack of panic brought on by the neon spray-painted walls and aggressively loud rap music. Aside from the mirror in the paper maché frame that protruded 12 inches into the space between us at our table, the lights on the Home Depot chandeliers (obviously purchased at a clearance sale in 2010 when shabby-chic light fixtures stopped looking good in sorority house bathrooms) were starting to get to my friend. So we paid our tab and left, passing a spray painted sheep that might be interpreted to be some tone-deaf homage to a Rauschenberg sculpture from the 50’s, never to return again.
I cried myself to sleep that night, a yawning pit of regret welling up inside me as I remembered the time I complained about that LaPiazza pizza that was too salty one night in 2011, or the many times I’ve lamented the fact that every decent menu in Troy feels too much like lunch at the Country Club in 1995. I’ll never be able to take that back, but I refuse to accept the hellscape that is Agave & Rye as my penance; I’ll not spend any amount of my time or money there. So please, I’m asking you to go eat there from time to time and support our downtown, you don’t want to end up with regrets like mine. Hard as it is to believe, there may yet be something out there that is actually worse?
That said, Agave & Rye is no Cheesecake Factory. I will never understand why we were robbed of such a treasure.
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