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.