Welcome To the Neighborhood (Naughter’s) -By: Matt Masterson
Written by Staff on November 16, 2022
Naughter’s on 5th Ave. in Troy bills itself as a “neighborhood diner” and that’s what it is – kind of.
Sure, they have some of the basics – eggs, home fries, and toast; hotcakes, a cheeseburger, a tuna melt – you would expect to see at any diner, but there is something else going on here.
The Troy of my youth had neighborhood diners across the city. A few of the oldest and most well-known are still around while the smaller ones (do I remember a place in North Central called Henry’s?) are long gone. They were places you went for the above-mentioned diner basics and the other dishes you would expect, like a turkey club or a chili dog, but not a French omelet.
Not familiar with a French omelet? It is only similar to the standard American omelet you get at a standard American diner in that it is made with eggs. One of the simplest of dishes, it has, for a very long time, been the test of a cook’s skills. Land an interview at a Michelin star restaurant and you just may be asked to make one (yeah, that kind of test).
I could go on, but instead I will refer you to an essay from the very good and very funny food writer Bill Buford entitled “Mastering the Art of Making A French Omelet” in The New Yorker from April of 2020, where he writes about observing the omelet class at L’Institut Paul Bocuse.
Naughter’s has a French omelet.
Served with perfectly diced potatoes and a bit of arugula it is exactly what it is supposed to be, nothing more and nothing less. Which is to say it is perfect in its simplicity (just eggs and butter), its presentation, and its flavor. It alone is worth the trip to this, ahem, neighborhood diner.
What first caught my eye when Naughter’s opened were the hours. Currently, it is open Wednesday and Thursday from 8 AM until 2:30 PM and then again from 6 PM until 1 AM, Friday and Saturday from 8 AM until 2:30 PM and then again from 6 PM until 2:30 AM, and Sunday from 8 AM until 2:30 PM and then again from 6 PM until 11 PM. As always, check the web for changing days and hours.
Covid killed a lot of late-night kitchen hours in Troy, so these hours are a welcome addition to dining options in the city. I’m not out late much anymore, but a younger me would have been stopping in after 1 AM on a regular basis.
It’s nice to know it’s there if you need it, even when earlier hours are your new normal.
One of my favorite dishes of all time is biscuits and gravy and on a recent visit Naughter’s did not disappoint. This isn’t the thick, bleached white, gloppy, sausage gravy you’ve seen at diners everywhere (but I do so love that thick, bleached white, gloppy, sausage gravy). This is far more refined. Woody, the cook, makes the sausage in house and the gravy is made from scratch. You don’t feel like you need a nap after eating it, which was nice because it was only 9 AM on Sunday morning when I ate it, and I had things to do after breakfast.
Naughter’s has sandwiches too. Good ones. Try the Philly Pork (sharp provolone, broccoli rabe, roasted red peppers, and garlic mayo). Delicious anytime, but maybe even more so after you’ve had a few beers around the corner at McAddy’s when their kitchen is closed and you’re hungry.
They also offer what might be one of the great anytime, but especially late night, sandwiches of all time, the chopped cheese. What’s not to love about ground beef, cheese, lettuce, and hot sauce? If you’ve never had one this is not a cheeseburger sub. This is loose beef, and that makes all the difference in the world. I miss the chopped cheese my buddy Kevin and his partners made at the old Troy Kitchen food court, but I miss it less now thanks to Naughter’s excellent version.
Vegetarian options? Yep. Vegan options? Yep. Indeed, they are probably most famous for their vegan Industry Eggplant Sandwich, about which much has already been written and I can’t improve upon. Order it.
There is a lot to like about Naughter’s. It’s an open kitchen, so if you like to watch cooks cook you can sit at the counter and do just that. And the vibe is cool. The music comes from a cassette player (millennials and younger please Google) and there are dozens of cassettes offering lots of options. On my most recent Sunday morning visit they were playing “The Best of Earth, Wind, and Fire Volume One”. Absolutely nothing wrong with that.
The owner, bet you can’t guess his last name, is friendly and engaging. The staff is too. The cooks are talented. Naughter’s is a welcome addition to the neighborhood.