Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Guilderland Election

I'm running for Guilderland Town Board. The election is in less than a week. I hope loyal readers of this blog will either vote for me or tell their Guilderland friends to do so.

Isn't it important to have someone on the Town Board who cares about quality restaurants?

Okay, maybe that's not an important characteristic, but I'd be good for other reasons. :-)

Read more about it at:
Guilderland NY
Warren Redlich for Guilderland Town Board

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Otesaga in Cooperstown

My wife and I spent a night at the Otesaga in Cooperstown a few days ago. Our anniversary is approaching. We made the mistake of getting married in early November, which suffers from my political activities, so we took off a little early.

The Otesaga was very nice overall. We arrived and checked in. The first room we went to, #311, was not spectacular. I called to see about getting a lake view. It didn't cost much extra and we switched to room 224. The windows aren't all that big, but I still liked the lake view better, plus the room was bigger. The Otesaga is on the southern end of Lake Otsego. This is a gorgeous location, and there was still some fall foliage so it was even better than usual.

The rooms are expensive. But dinner and breakfast are included and that is a substantial value.

Dinner was outstanding. We started with a cheese plate. It had 3 cheeses and "candied grapes" - I think they were coated in sugar. I'd prefer regular grapes, but on the whole the plate was good.

We both had soup and both were excellent. Heather had the tomato basil bisque, and I had french onion soup (I went off my diet for this short trip - and gained about 5 pounds). I had a salad as well - mixed greens with walnuts and a couple kinds of fruit. Very nice.

We both had surf and turf -- filet mignon with lobster tail. The steak had a great flavor, and the lobster tail was delicious. Some veggies with it as well - I think they were roasted.

Desserts were great too - Heather had apple streusel a la mode & I had cheesecake w strawberries (I told you I went off my diet).

Service was very good. There were different servers for cocktails, the main food items, and for dessert. That was unusual but it seemed to work well.

I'd say this meal in Albany would approach $100 per person, which makes the cost of a night at the Otesaga seem more reasonable.

Breakfast (a buffet) came with it too and it was good. I had an eggbeater omelet with lots of veggies. Not sure if this is saying much, but it was probably the best eggbeater omelet I ever had. There was a wide variety of other things to eat and I sampled a few items. All good. Figure this was worth $20 each and the cost of the room is even more reasonable.

Well, we liked the Otesaga so much that we came back for brunch (we ate light for breakfast to prepare). Brunch was not included, and cost about $30 each. A lot of the breakfast choices were there, but there were many other items as well. Notable were the shrimp cocktail (rather large shrimp) and the smoked salmon plate. Both of these were really good. Another significant addition was the dessert table. This is where the diet really fell apart. We sampled another cheesecake, a couple of chocolate cakes, pecan pie (not just a sample), and more. All delicious too.

The Otesaga is well worth a visit for those who can afford it.

A final note - we had lunch the first day at the Tunnicliff Inn near the Hall of Fame. This was not a good experience. Service was horribly slow. It took so long we walked out before the main course arrived. I just wasn't going to wait any longer. No, I didn't stiff them - I left money on the table - but I didn't pay for the food that never came. Probably just a bad day for them, but if you go there and it's crowded, I suggest going somewhere else.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

PF Chang's in Colonie Center

We had lunch at PF Chang's in Colonie Center yesterday. This time we had the Peking Dumplings (pork), which was the best part of the meal. I also had hot and sour soup, which was about the same as last time - not very good. For the main course I had Wok Charred Beef. My wife had the Mu-Shu (pork I think), which was pretty good. She certainly liked it. My overall impression of the soup and my beef dish was that they were way too salty.

I went to the PF Chang website and they have nutrition information, but it doesn't include sodium. I'm not first to say PF Chang has too much sodium. On the bright side, the nutrition info on the site suggests ordering your meal with "light sauce", and that would reduce the sodium. They should be clearer about it on the menu itself.
We went to PF Chang's the other day. Apparently it was Boss Day so my associates took me out for lunch. I wanted to try the new place.

It wasn't bad, but not great either. I will start with the good points. The interior was gorgeous, much nicer than any Chinese restaurant in the area (with the possible exception of Plum Blossom, which is also very pretty inside). It's not just the interior. The tables, dishes, and all the rest were very well done. Servers were friendly and well dressed too.

We had several dishes. The best was the Mongolian Beef (I went off my low-cholesterol diet for this meal). Very good flavor. Beef, cooked just right, with scallions.

We had a few other dishes. I had Hot and Sour soup. It was average for the area. It did look good, as did everything else, but the flavor was just not right. My favorite for Hot and Sour soup in the area is Amazing Wok, which is mostly a take-out/delivery place. They do it just right.

I should note here, and for all the dishes, that Chinese food can be a very personal thing. I prefer "authentic" flavors. Since I've never been to China, I'm not well qualified to judge such things for real. I go by what I hear from Chinese friends, and from experiences in Chinatown and other places with a heavy Chinese population (we had a great Chinese place in Houston when I was at Rice - the main menu was in Chinese). Some people are not into "authentic", and they may like PF Chang's better than I did.

The associates split a Wonton Soup. It had a lot of good ingredients, including shrimp, but again the flavor just wasn't nailed down.

We also had Crispy Honey Chicken. This was reasonably good, but there was an inch-long sharp object in a piece I ate. Fortunately I didn't bite into the sharp side. The manager gave us a coupon for a free appetizer on our next visit. I should sue just for the inappropriate response. :-)

Then we had a noodle dish - Vegetable Chow Fun. Nothing special about it. Not bad, but not a stand-out.

Last, we had a side dish of spinach with garlic. Again nothing special, but it was decent. It was basically what we expected.

This may be a tough market for PF Chang's. Emperor's is just across Wolf Road, and is a much better all-around Chinese restaurant. Ocean Palace is only a couple miles to the east. Our associate has been raving about Shanghai Grill in Loudonville, so we'll have to try that next.

On the bright side, the prices at PF Chang's were reasonable, less than I expected. But if I'm in the neighborhood, I'll either go to the Cheesecake Factory next door for non-Chinese food, or to Emperor's for Chinese food.