Chester’s Smokehouse is a throwback to the days when refrigeration was spotty and every town had a smokehouse to preserve meat. It recently opened in an ungentrified district of Albany, taking over a building that allegedly housed a pretty rough bar. As a result, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan and other local business promoters were quite happy to give it a ribbon cutting ceremony.
I stopped by to share the festivities and taste a broader range of product than on a previous visit. Chester’s mantra seems to be “if it’s not moving, I’ll smoke it”. He boasts some 80 smoked meat varieties, including a “chunky, meaty, slightly garlicky” kielbasa which met Martha Stewart’s exacting requirements when her favorite Polish meat shop closed down. There’s also cheese (made elsewhere, smoked in house) and a dozen varieties of excellent pierogies.
I was especially interested to try the do-it-yourself mini dogs which can be doctored with Chester’s bacon sauerkraut and sautéed onions as well as the usual toppings. I liked the smoked blue and Cotswold cheeses and, of course, the head cheese. Chester uses a mild, crowd pleasing brine but the prices are so good (most items under $7 a pound) I have no right to complain. Combine several of these meats piled high on a sandwich and you’re in business.
Chester’s Smokehouse is at 15 Watervliet in Albany (yes, that’s just a couple of blocks from the excellent Honest Weight Coop). Open 7 days but with shortened hours on the weekend. Check the website for details.