Sunday, October 15, 2006

Ocean Palace (and Amazing Wok and Pearl of the Orient)

Update: I'm pretty sure Ocean Palace is closed. Emperor's Palace on Wolf Road is not too far away and a great choice.
We ate at Ocean Palace tonight. I loved it. My wife did not.

She had wonton soup and cashew chicken. She was not fond of the soup, but liked the cashew chicken better. I thought both were excellent. The chicken was just right and had a delicate flavor. The soup also had a delicate flavor. Neither dish was the way they are in most Chinese restaurants around here. I suspect OP is more "authentic". One hint that way is that there were two other families there while we were eating (a very early dinner on a Sunday) and both were Chinese and speaking Chinese. Also, they have menus on the walls or hanging that are written in Chinese only. That's a hint that their target market is not gringos like us.

I had a mix of tofu and minced pork. The version I had in Japan was spicier and had more pork. The one at Ocean Palace has a fairly small amount of pork, with a lot of tofu along with some Chinese mushrooms. This dish was good, but I remember liking it better in Japan. Maybe I was just looking for what I remembered. We also got noodles for our daughters, but they didn't eat much of them. It was ginger-scallion noodles. I thought it was also quite good.

This is one of those funny things about cultures. To Americans, tofu and pork together doesn't make sense. Americans think tofu is for vegetarians, so it doesn't make sense to have a dish with tofu and any kind of meat. Asians do not view tofu as a vegetarian thing. It's food. Similarly good hot-and-sour soup has both pork and tofu in it. Which reminds me -- I had hot-and-sour soup at Ocean Palace tonight. It was better than what you get at the buffet places, but I like it better at Amazing Wok.

Amazing Wok is a hole-in-the-wall (or mini-mall) place not too far from us. It's made for delivery and take-out mostly, though there are a few tables. We get delivery from them often. Their hot-and-sour soup my favorite, and their other dishes are good too. My wife likes Amazing Wok and usually does not like what she gets at any other Chinese place. I think Ocean Palace is better overall, but you have to want the authentic stuff.

I should also mention Pearl of the Orient, which we go to sometimes and like quite a bit. We used to go to a place called Dumpling House, but I think they closed.

My wife also had a comment about Chinese restaurants in general. They're not family-friendly, or at least not gringo-kid friendly. They don't have milk or apple juice. The interiors do not look fresh and clean - not dirty, but just not as nice. They don't have kids menus, crayons, or other items to distract the kids so parents can enjoy themselves.

There will be a new chain Chinese place coming into Colonie Center, called PF Chang. We hear good things, but we'll see.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A simple request

As you may know, I'm running for Congress in NY's 21st district. The media will not cover the campaign. There appears to be a deliberate policy of not covering challengers except in rare circumstances. What kind of a democracy do we have if the voters don't know who the choices are?

If you think newspapers and other media should cover challengers, please contact the appropriate people at the media outlet of your choice.

For the Albany Times Union:

For the Daily Gazette (Schenectady):
c/o The Daily Gazette
P.O. Box 1090
Schenectady, N.Y. 12301-1090

For the Troy Record:

For the Leader Herald (Fulton County):

For the Recorder (Amsterdam):


Monday, September 11, 2006

The Chariot in Guilderland

One of my old favorites is the Chariot Restaurant in Guilderland. It's been there since 1974. The Shinas family owns and runs it. Their son Andy was graduated with me and I think we even went to the same elementary school.

We had dinner there Sunday for my mom's birthday. The food was excellent. I haven't always liked everything at the Chariot, but I usually like most of what we get. Last night I got the Tuscany Toss (penne with white beans and spinach in olive oil). That was excellent. I also got a dolmadakia appetizer which was good. The main course also came with a salad which was fine - nothing to write home about (or blog about), but it was still a solid salad. Hmm. Solid Salad - might be a good name for a restaurant.

My wife got a beef dish (maybe tenderloin tips?) that came with sliced potatoes. Her dish was also quite good. My mother-in-law said something about the potatoes being like her mother used to make. I told her my friend Andy's mother still makes them like that. :-)

One particularly nice thing was the atmosphere. Our younger daughter (19 months) had not napped much and was cranky. I was able to take her outside repeatedly. They had a nice patio and we could actually see horses on the neighboring property - Hannah kept saying "neigh".

We brought home baklava and ate that at home. Not the best baklava ever, but they were good. Large pieces with a cream on the side that seemed heavier (and tastier) than whipped cream.

If you've never been to the Chariot, you should give it a try. If you've been, but it's been a while, you probably forgot that you miss it. Try it again.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Koto - Near Albany Airport

I'm a member of the Japanese Cultural Association of the Capital District. We meet at various restaurants. We used to go to Miyako in Guilderland, but the service was generally slow, and we had a really bad day when we had 30-40 people and it took over 3 hours, so the group stopped meeting there. I still go to Miyako a lot, probably more than twice a month.

Anyway, JCACD meets at Ichiban usually (it's cheap, but I'm not fond of it), but they've started going to other places. Tonight we went to Koto, which is on Old Wolf Road in Latham, not far from the airport.

The interior was very nice, though it seemed a little noisy. I'd like to give a full description of the food, but due to the circumstances of our dinner I didn't try as many things as I might usually. I decided to go for sushi. I had the "Sex on the Beach" roll along with the Chirashi.

As you might guess, the "Sex on the Beach" roll is not traditional Japanese cuisine. It had three different kinds of fish along with avocado and something else, maybe something with a little crunch to it (I'm guessing shrimp tempura, but that's a guess only). The roll was fine, but at $14 for that one roll, it didn't live up to my expectation.

Chirashi is a fairly common sushi dish in Japan. In my experience it's normally a bowl of rice with various pieces of fish on top. I ordered it because that gives you a chance to try a few different kinds of fish and you get to taste the fish itself, rather than the stuff loaded into a funky roll. It was not what I expected, but not terrible. It came out on a large plate with a larger than usual amount of rice. There was less fish than I would have thought (again, since it was a bit pricey), and it included crabsticks and tamago (like scrambled egg). I didn't think the fish was first-class. Don't get me wrong - it wasn't bad. But it didn't taste quite as fresh as what you'll get at Yoshi's or Miyako. Before I forget, Koto did a good job of presentation - the food was presented on nice plates in manner that's somewhat attractive, though not on the traditional types of dishes and bowls one might see in Japan.

I don't feel my experience was enough to give a thorough review. I will probably go again with my wife and/or others and order a few appetizers and a couple main courses so we can get a better sense of the place.

I should also mention that while dinner is a bit expensive, they appear to have a reasonable lunch menu that might make sense for those on a budget. It will probably never be a regular place for me due to location and my preference for other places, but I'll give it another shot.

Friday, September 01, 2006


I eat at Panera so often I forget to write about it. Our office is near Crossgates. Technically we're in the City of Albany, but we're really between Guilderland and Colonie. Anyway, there's a Panera in Crossgates Commons. Very easy for us to run over there and grab a quick bite, so we go there a lot.

For a chain, I have to say this is really quite good food. First of all, there are a lot of healthy choices, and they taste good. All their soups are healthy, but they always have two that are extra sanctified. My favorite is the vegetarian black bean soup, which they have available most of the time. Sometimes I get the asparagus-pea soup, and that's pretty good too.

There's a wide variety of sandwiches, including at least a couple vegetarian choices. Even though those are good, I usually get a sandwich that's not quite as healthy. You can also get fresh fruit as a side for 79 cents extra, and I always get that. It's usually melon, grapes and pineapple and it's always fresh and tasty.

They have a deal where you get soup and half a sandwich, called "You Pick Two". I don't actually know what it costs, but we usually seem to spend about $10 per person, including the extra for fruit and a coke or something like that.

They also have a pastry and bread section. There's a cheese danish that's so sweet it oughtta be illegal.

I'm not saying Panera is haute cuisine. But it's a darn good lunch. And while it's not cheap, I spend a lot less there than I do when I go to Miyako's for sushi.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Cheesecake Factory in Colonie Center

As I mention in the comments below, the Cheesecake Factory has become one of our favorite restaurants. We go about twice a month, usually for lunch. The menu offers great variety with some interesting options, and the food is always excellent. Comes with good breads at the start. Salads are great. Entrees are usually huge, with leftovers often too much for a single meal. It's a little pricey, but you get what you pay for. Original post below.
We went to a charity event at the new Cheesecake Factory in Colonie Center. This was not a sit-down event, so we didn't get the experience one might get as a typical diner, but they did serve food that will be on the menu.

Despite the name, they do serve food beyond cheesecake. Staff squeezed through the packed crowd to serve appetizers, including quesadillas and some interesting "egg rolls" - one was a guacamole egg roll and the other was "tex-mex". All three of these were good.

There was a buffet with a few items, including a Hawaiian salad (called Luau, I think), a Cajun dish with shrimp and chicken, and a chicken dish with mushrooms (maybe marsala). It was all interesting and different from what you see in other places around here. These dishes were good. Nothing was "great", but keep in mind this was a buffet so we didn't have the usual atmosphere to really get the sense of the food.

The interior of the restaurant is, well, spectacular. An impossibly high ceiling (it's gotta be 30 feet or more) with well designed colors and features makes this a place you want to be.

Getting to the most important issue, the cheesecake was fantastic. I had a caramel cheesecake that was over the top delicious. My wife had a "vanilla bean" cheesecake that was delightful as well. I had been hoping to try a plain cheesecake, but they were not serving any. The caramel was so good I didn't mind.

I predict this place will do quite well.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Out of Albany - Moonbeam Cafe in Gorham NH

A brief and unrestful vacation in New Hampshire led us, on recommendation, to the Moonbeam Cafe in Gorham for breakfast. I had the special -- scrambled eggs with swiss cheese, roasted red peppers, and chorizo sausage. Before you say anything about cholesterol, you should know I had a slice of French Toast on the side and took some of my wife's bacon too. So I'll die a little younger ...

The food was fantastic. A spectacular breakfast. They have a wide variety of breads to choose from for your toast. My egg dish was done just right. Wife and older daughter enjoyed their meals as well.

And a non-food hint. The TU reviewed a science museum near White River Jct., VT. The Montshire Science Museum. This is a great place to take your kids, especially kids under 10 and even under 5. Our 4 1/2 year old and our 18 month old both had a blast. We liked it too.

Red Robin redux

We went to Red Robin in Latham yesterday. Since they brag about their burgers I should have tried that the first time. I had their Chili Chili Cheese Burger. Yeah, the one with a bit of cholesterol.

It was a really good burger. Still a great place to take kids. Your kid can scream (ours did), and it won't bother anyone because the place is so loud.

Apparently they were extra busy because there was some problem at the Clifton Park restaurant, so people came down.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Italian Community Center

Some time ago I did a post on Italian restaurants in Albany. In that post I forgot to mention the Italian American Community Center (IACC) on Washington Avenue Extension. Now that it's next door to our new office, I go there at least twice a month. I also just joined as a "Friend of Italy" member. I have travelled in Italy and have Italian-American neighbors, so that seems fair.

The restaurant used to be called "Le Caravelle", but they've dropped that name and the restaurant is now run by Mallozzi's, which is a restaurant operation out of Rotterdam. I think Mallozzi's also runs the food at the Western Turnpike Golf Course (Town of Guilderland).

Anyway, I've been eating at the IACC a lot recently. One key thing to mention is the Greens & Beans. This is a very healthy dish (escarole, beans, and garlic, I'm guessing with olive oil), that happens to taste great. A number of places get this dish wrong, so it's nice to have it right.

They have a good variety on the menu. The lunch menu has less on it, but there's still a lot of choices. I've been getting the an eggplant dish lately (I forget the name, but it's something about rollatini or gondola). I'm also the kind of person who will sometimes order off-menu. If I'm in a particularly health-conscious mood, I'll order pasta with vegetables in olive oil. The IACC handles this without skipping a beat.

The thing about a place like this is their clientele is heavily Italian, so they have to get it right. They consistently deliver good food with the right flavors. And I keep going back.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Provence in Stuyvesant Plaza

My wife and I went to Provence in Stuyvesant Plaza for lunch maybe a week ago. It was not cheap, but it was worth it. We were able to sit outside, which is a nice touch. More places should offer this.

The food was simply excellent. We went overboard. Besides getting soup for me and a salad for her, we also got a cheese platter and then ordered entrees.

The cheese platter thing is a really nice touch. You don't see that at many places. They come out with three or four different cheeses and some bread. We're not talking cheddar and muenster. Stuff you probably wouldn't try unless you go to a place like this.

My soup was fantastic and Heather's salad was nice. Sorry to say I don't remember our entrees, but we were kinda stuffed by the time we got to them. I remember they were good, but can't say more than that.

We will definitely be going back here, though for budgetary reasons it won't be more than once a month.

99 - Western Avenue

My wife and I went to 99 on Western Avenue a couple weeks ago. They had some pictures on the wall from Guilderland High School yearbooks from my year and a few years around my year. That was neat.

The food wasn't bad, but it wasn't that good either. Not sure if we'll go back. Probably not. I don't have much more in depth to say about it. Not a terribly thorough review, I know.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Smokey Bones in Colonie

I just mentioned Mino in Colonie, so now I have to mention Smokey Bones. Had lunch there on Saturday. It's on Central just west of the Northway, next to L-Ken and across from Mino.

We've been going to Smokey Bones since it opened. I remember when it first opened that the food was really quite good. The baby back ribs and pulled pork had great flavor. That stands out in a chain restaurant (Smokey Bones is owned by the same company that owns Olive Garden and Red Lobster -- this particular one is in a former Red Lobster).

We still go there with some frequency, but my enthusiasm is waning. On the plus side, they offer pretty good variety on the menu. I particularly like the healthy sides, such as asparagus and broccoli. They make me feel a little better when I order the pulled pork or ribs. :-)

I had a really good salad there a couple visits ago -- I think it had mandarin oranges and pears, and maybe walnuts. Topped with the optional grilled shrimp, of course.

Anyway, the bad news is that I think the quality of the ribs and pulled pork has declined. Not that it's bad or anything, but it just doesn't have that great flavor it had when they started. Maybe I've just gotten used to it, or maybe they've let the quality of the meat slide just a bit.

I should mention that the place has a sports bar motif. There are a bunch of TVs all over the place carrying 5 or more channels of sporting events. The atmosphere is noisy enough that you can bring kids and not worry they'll annoy others, but it's not too loud either. A good family place with lots of menu choices kids will like. So we'll keep going.

Mino Sushi/Thai in Colonie

Update: Mino's was renamed Noi's, and we think it may have closed recently. Bangkok Thai is still open and still good.
I've been there twice, in less than a month, so I must like it, right?

The first time I went to Mino I tried a little sushi. Wasn't bad, but not anything special either. I won't order sushi there again, but that's my picky Japanophile thing.

The important thing about Mino is the Thai food. We don't have a lot of Thai food in the area. Funny that this place located itself within a mile of Bangkok Thai (BT), the only other decent Thai place I know about around here. BT is on Wolf Road near Central, while Mino is on Central just west of Wolf (across from L-Kens).

Like Bangkok Thai, the Thai food here is pretty good. Neither is on a par with the average in NYC or Silicon Valley, but they're good quality Thai food. I haven't been to Bangkok Thai in a while now, so I can't compare the two very well.

I've only had a few dishes in Mino so far. The beef salad dish was okay, but didn't have as much flavor as I expect - that one is probably better at BT. The Pad Thai at Mino was quite good last time. We also got a beef curry dish (red curry, I think). That was an error on their part - it was supposed to be chicken. It was pretty good but didn't blow me away. Decent flavor, but the sauce didn't have the creamy richness I expect from a Thai curry. The first time we were there I remember having the Tom Kha Gai soup (chicken with coconut milk). I remember that being so-so. Maybe the chicken was overcooked.

Don't take the criticism too seriously. I'll be going back. I love Thai food.

I forgot to mention the Thai Iced Tea. Very good (at both places).

Red Robin - Halfmoon

After a lovely day, we met my in-laws at Red Robin in the Town of Halfmoon. It's on Route 9 near Exit 9 on the Northway, an area many of us think of as Clifton Park.

The place was pretty full, with a lot of kids there. The staff do a Happy Birthday thing for people, and there must have been five birthdays while we were there. They've got someone in a bird suit who comes around too. I guess that's nice for the kids. Our kids seemed to like the place.

My wife liked her salad, and my in-laws apparently like the place too. I had the Carnitas. This is in direct contravention of my low-cholesterol diet, so I hope my doctor doesn't read this. Hey, I skipped the sour cream (well, I told them not to bring me any - they did anyway, and I managed not to eat any of it).

My dish was, well, it wasn't anything special, but it wasn't bad either. There just wasn't any particular flavor to it. I'm not saying it tasted like sawdust, but it just didn't have the right seasonings. That's mainly my fault for ordering a Mexican dish in a burger place. Same reason you don't order Spaghetti at Denny's.

I can't see myself rushing back there, but if my in-laws said they wanted to meet there again I wouldn't say no either.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Aromi d'Italia in Guilderland

Update: Aromi d'Italia has changed names and format. See our post on the new Café Teria.
Update: Aromi d'Italia continues to vary their menu. The other day they had a fantastic chilled soup - chilled Jamaican pineapple with Coconut ice (using a coconut gelato). One of the best soups I've ever had.
My wife and I had lunch today at Aromi D'Italia. It's a fairly small Italian place in Star Plaza (SW corner of the intersection of 155 & 20 in Guilderland).

The front of the place has a Gelato counter, and the Gelato is great! A lot of choices (including some relatively healthy varieties and the stuff we shouldn't eat too).

In the back is the dining area with some tables, but not very many - probably less than 20 total, and maybe only 15. The kitchen, or at least part of it, is in between the Gelato and the dining area. It is somewhat open so you can see some cooking going on. I never bother to watch, but it's there if you're interested.

The staff is very pleasant, both at the Gelato and in the dining area.

What stands out (besides the Gelato) is the great menu. They don't have the extreme variety of dishes you might find at some places, and they don't have all the Italian standards on the menu, but they do have a number of interesting dishes you probably won't find elsewhere. They also change the menu once in a while (maybe it's a seasonal thing), so if you keep going back you'll always see something new.

If you like to try something different, this is a great place. Also, I have been told in the past that they will make whatever you want. Just tell the waiter/waitress what you want and they'll make it if they can. So if your favorite Italian classic isn't on the menu, and you want it bad, don't be afraid to ask.

Today I was a bit adventurous and tried a new dish -- stuffed peppers. They were stuffed with a potato orzo pasta and a couple varieties of rice. I didn't love this particular dish, but that's what happens when you try new things. I usually do love the meals I get here. I should mention that my wife liked her Chicken Caesar sandwich (I think they call it a Panini), and we both liked our soups.

And I bought some Gelato too (the healthy kind) and brought it to the office for future indulgence.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Gershon's in Schenectady

Had breakfast a few days ago at Gershon's. I don't go there much, but this is one of my favorite places. It's more of a traditional deli. I had a smoked salmon platter with a bagel and cream cheese. Very good. They also have great sandwiches, most of which I shouldn't eat because of my crazy cholesterol obsession. And that's probably why I don't go there more.

It's on Union Street in Schenectady. Kind of a landmark institution. Very popular with the Jewish community because it evokes the NYC deli atmosphere.

Brandon's Steak & Seafood - Schenectady

I must be eating out more lately - lots to write about.

I was invited to have lunch in Schenectady with some older gentlemen (older than me anyway). They apparently have a regular lunch at Brandon's, on Van Vranken Avenue.

I had a cup of lentil soup and a mediterranean pasta dish -- it had spinach, roasted red peppers, and shrimp, drenched in olive oil. Other than the shrimp, it was a good low-cholesterol meal. And I didn't eat all the shrimp.

The shrimp were the really small kind, about the size of the fingernail on my pinky. That's a minor turnoff, but the dish was quite good. Lentil soup was excellent. The others had clam chowder and sandwiches, and they seemed quite happy.

Brandon's also has a pretty classy interior. Nice place. I can see why these guys are regulars. There was a decent lunch crowd, so it must have a good following.

Mike's Diner

We take the kids to Mike's Diner (at the intersection of Carman Road (146) and Old State Road in Guilderland) for weekend breakfast once in a while.

It's a pleasant place to go. The parking lot can get quite crowded. Good food. French toast, pancakes, eggs, etc. All tasty. They often have special varieties of pancakes, and that's what I usually get.

With my current low-cholesterol kick, I had a Greek salad (yes, for breakfast). It was yummy. There was enough that I had the leftover for lunch.

My wife had eggs, pancakes and hash browns. All delicious as usual. The hash browns are good solid chunks of potato.

My older daughter had french toast. Since she doesn't eat much, I had to help her. Tough life being a dad. Okay, I only had a little, but it was decent french toast. I tend to like my own french toast better, but I never make it any more.

Pearl of the Orient

Had dinner at Pearl of the Orient on Easter Sunday with family. Kind of a Jewish tradition to go out for Chinese food on Christian holidays.

I hadn't been there in at least a year. This is one of my favorite sit-down Chinese restaurants in the Albany area. We like Amazing Wok for delivery, and we used to go to the Dumpling House on Everett Road. There was a problem with their phone number, so we called Pearl of the Orient instead. It's on Albany Shaker Road near Osborne Road (also near one of my favorite Italian places, D'Raymonds).

The restaurant has a lunch buffet, which usually suggests lower quality to me. That thinking does not apply here. The food is excellent. They used to have "black pepper chicken" on the menu. It's no longer there, but you can order it, and I did. They still have black pepper steak on the menu. I had to explain this to the waitress, who said she was new.

My dish was great! My wife had sesame chicken, which she said was too spicy -- not a negative to me. They also had mu-shu pork which they liked a lot. My hot-and-sour soup was also quite good. My daughters (ages 4 and 1) had plain lo mein and they definitely liked it. We were surprised how much our 1-year-old ate.

We also had a dumpling appetizer, but this was not as good as what you get at Dumpling House (I guess that's not a surprise).

Friday, March 03, 2006

Le Bistro in Lighthouse Point, Florida

When I started this blog I fully intended to review various restaurants around Albany, and I will get there, but when I go to a great restaurant elsewhere, I figure it deserves a mention.

Yesterday we went to Le Bistro restaurant in Lighthouse Point, Florida. I was looking for something special after going to a couple of ultra-cheap and unmemorable places. Le Bistro had a number of good reviews from local papers, so we took a shot. It was excellent.

For a start we were given four very small pieces of bread with a white-bean dip that had a touch of a curry flavor. Nice touch. Heather had a tomato soup, which was wonderful. I had a black bean soup which was fine, but not as good as the rest of the meal. Then we split the simple green salad, which came with a very good balsamic dressing.

Somewhere in there we were given a small plate with a grape, a chunk of swiss cheese, and something else I forgot. Again, a nice touch. Before the entree we were also given a sorbet, raspberry I think. Probably the best sorbet I've ever tasted, though I rarely eat sorbet.

The entrees were fantastic. Heather had tenderloin in bordelaise sauce. I had surf and turf, with tenderloin, lobster, and the biggest shrimp I ever saw (called Colossal shrimp). It was close to a foot long. Presentation was a touch over the top. Heather's "stick fries" came standing up in a tall wine glass (with paper to absorb some of the oil I suppose), and it also came with grilled tomatoes that were sitting on small puffs of mashed potato. On my dish the lobster and shrimp were skewered together so that they stood up on the plate. There were also two skewers with roasted garlic and olives.

Our steaks were cooked perfectly and the sauces were delicious yet subtle -- the sauces did not overpower the other flavors. My lobster and shrimp were good, but the steak was so good that the other items didn't stand out. I had a side of grilled vegetables and that was good but not in league with the steak. One notable thing about the veggies though -- the waiter (Ron) kept commenting on how the chef uses the freshest ingredients. He was correct. The asparagus and zucchini in particular had a very fresh taste to them. Perhaps the chef didn't oversauce them to show off the freshness. In my experience store-bought zucchini and asparagus are pretty bland. These veggies had a real "green" (I can't think of a better word) flavor.

Heather had chocolate mousse which she liked very much. I had creme brulee, and it was without question the best creme brulee I ever had. I don't eat creme brulee often (more than sorbet), but I've had it enough that this means something. It was served in a deeper cup than I'm used to, and there was more creamy stuff under the caramelized top.

I find that one of the biggest things that separate fine restaurants from the rest is the texture of the food. Le Bistro gets that. The tenderloin is tender. The mashed potatoes are fluffy. Etc. Definitely a cut above.

It was expensive. We broke the century mark ourselves, and we didn't have wine. A couple could easily go over $150 or even $200 if you have a couple more courses. The 6-course tasting menu is "only" $45, which is a bargain if you like the items on the menu that day.

One other comment. While the food is fancy, the menu is clear so you know what you're ordering and it's mostly food you're familiar with. We were looking at another local place and Heather vetoed because so much of the menu was unfamiliar. If you're not the most adventurous type, you'll still like Le Bistro because it's really just regular food, but much better.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


I went to Brueggers on Sunday for lunch. Trying to eat very low cholesterol, so I had what I think is called the Mediterranean bagel (it has hummus), and I had a soup. I wasn't impressed with either one. In the past I've liked some things at Brueggers. The bagels themselves are good, and I remember liking the Santa Fe bagel sandwich. But the hummus was a letdown, and the soup was nothing special. Not bad or anything, but it just didn't have that special something.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Mahar's is a pub. I think they have food, but it's not why you go there. Mahar's is the place to go if you like the taste of beer. They have a fantastic selection of beers from all over the world.

This is not a place to get drunk. Mahar's is actually a quiet place, and there are rules of behavior. I've never seen anyone get thrown out, but I've heard that it happens.

You can register and keep track of all the beers you've had. When you get to certain numbers, like having tried 100 different beers, you get prizes, like a mug or a t-shirt.

My favorites tend to be the Belgian flavored ales, but I always like a good Porter. The bartenders are very knowledgeable, and a good way to start is to ask them for a recommendation.

I used to go more -- when I was in law school I lived nearby. Now I go less than once a year, but I should find a way to get there more often.

Via Fresca

I went to Via Fresca about a week ago. It's sort of a restaurant. Basically it's a take-out place, but with high-quality food. They have a great selection of De Cecco pastas and other Italian gourmet foods on some shelves. They also have a variety of prepared foods - entrees and other items they've made. Some of it is in a cooler, and there are also two counters where someone will put things together for you. I think they also have sandwiches.

I just popped in to see it, as it's not too far from my office. I picked up a few items, including a whole wheat De Cecco spaghetti, and some prepared items. Now I don't even remember what I had, but I remember it was good. The place has a very nice feel to it -- they just opened in December.

Tough thing for them is that they're on the south, or eastbound, side of Western Avenue, near Crossgates. I would think most people who might want to pick up dinner there would be coming westbound, and so would have to make two left turns - one to get in and another to get out. Sad that something like that can matter, but it might.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Joe's Pizza in Rotterdam

I've been meaning to mention this place. Joe's is in Rotterdam at 2780 Hamburg Street. A friend of mine likes to go there and had his birthday party there a week or so ago.

I'm on a new low-cholesterol kick, so I ordered the linguine a la romano (I probably misspelled that). It came with broccoli and mushrooms in olive oil. A lot of garlic too. It was excellent.

Eating low cholesterol can be tough when you go to a pizza place, so it's nice when they have good alternatives. I've had their heavy stuff in the past and that's good too.

Joe's is pretty informal. There's a take-out counter on one side, some tables in front, and a bigger room in the back. Prices are also reasonable.