The Ruck (Troy, NY)

As I mentioned back in the review of Manory’s, while I’m often traveling through Troy for both work and pleasure, I almost always seem to drive through town in either mid-morning or mid-afternoon, neither of which is ideal for mealtimes. And, being only about 2 hours from our house, if we’re heading home, it’s usually easier for us to continue on home. But our driving schedule on our last day of vacation actually had us arriving in Troy slightly later than usual, around 3:45 pm, and after a short hike checking out one of the waterfalls in town, it was 4pm, which was pretty reasonable for dropping by another perennial entry on Offbeat Eat’s “should visit” list: The Ruck, in downtown Troy.

Walking into The Ruck, you can immediately see it’s an old-school “college bar” for nearby RPI that’s adapted for the modern craft beer era, with a good 32 taps available, focusing primarily on regional and import craft beers; indeed, if this wasn’t the middle of the summer, even at 4pm The Ruck is usually teeming with students and locals, but for a mid-week visit mid-summer? At 4pm we had the place to ourselves for the first 30 minutes, enjoying IPAs from Sloop Brewing while we reviewed the menu.

The overall menu at The Ruck is “refined pub grub”, it’s mostly wings, sandwiches, and burgers. We started off with some wings: while we’re on the far side of New York from Buffalo, I’ve generally found that upstate New York appreciates wings enough that I can reliably order them, and the version at The Ruck was quite tasty: perfectly-crisped, non-breaded wings tossed in a proper, tangy-and-hot Buffalo-style sauce. While these were a little on the pricey side (8 for $15), the quality was definitely solid: even a wing snob should be well-pleased with these.

For burgers, they’ve got a few ready-made burger and sandwich selections on the menu, like the Roxanne: (beef burger with Gouda, candied bacon, spinach, and red peppers), but overall, the primary burger action here is the custom-built burger. Pick your protein (beef, chicken, tofu, tuna, or veggie patty), side, and toppings, and you’re off and running. I went classic: beef burger, medium rare, with cheddar, bacon, fried onions, and red pepper aioli. And this was a good burger: they know how to do a good medium-rate, the toppings were nice and fresh, the fried onions crisp and not overly breaded, and the aioli added just the right among of pepper. The fries weren’t a slouch, either, properly cooked, hand-cut fries.

I can see why my friends that had gone to RPI recommended the place, and why it remains popular with students (it was starting to fill up when we left at 5:30): great beer list, good burgers, and other pub grub, all in a pleasant bar. It’s definitely on my “return visit” list.

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