Friday, January 23, 2015

Spirit of Albany: The Century House

The House That Became a City’s Home

Enterprise prevailed in the Fall of 1949, for it was then that The Century House in Latham first opened.  For proprietors, Jim and Dorothy O’Hearn, the acquisition of the land and once “century old” farmhouse was a decision wrought in incredulity and promise.  They allowed the travel patterns of Route 9 to chart the vision for the property (the only way to get from Manhattan to Montreal was through that route) a route, which fortuitously ran right outside the property.  Armed with a loyal band of family members and that American resilience to stay the course, the O’Hearn’s turned an improbable edifice into a celebrated and beloved icon of upstate New York.

Fast forward, and today, The Century House still affirms its original concept; part destination for

wearied travelers and part dining facility. But, at its core it is a business in service of others and one wholeheartedly dedicated to its most valuable entity, its patrons. Hence the reason why this Federal Style Tavern hasn’t strayed too much from its philosophy or from its physical appearance.
The House retains its farmhouse charm and old-world elegance – evidenced in its landscaping and
detailed use mid-century lanterns-- while at the same time allowing some modern design touches to accent the almost Dickens-esque, storybook structure.  Striking the tasteful balance of incorporating the antiquity of yesteryear and the appeal of modern elements, is something that many seasoned designers find elusive, but it is a balance that the folks at The Century House achieve with ease because it is an extrapolation of their core philosophy of comfort and service.

The food at The Century House will always be of mention as it continues to be a steadfast crowd pleaser.  Their vibrant lunch service features a full menu and hyper-attentive service from the wait-staff.  The dinner service hits on all the notes characteristic of a classic fine-dining experience and is complemented by the charm and whim of experiencing The Century House after dusk. With a full bar service, ample portion sizes and generous dining room accommodation, dining at The Century House undoubtedly takes you back to a by-gone era in American history, where “going out to eat” was a grand affair.


For the Spirit of Albany Campaign, The Century Houses’s own Mike Niccoli concocted a cocktail that celebrates an equally noteworthy edifice in Albany’s history, The Schuyler Mansion. With Pindar Merlot and Hudson Baby Bourbon as its main components, this crimson libation salutes the red brick characteristic of the mansion – and National Historic Landmark -- for which it is named. The combination of the merlot and bourbon at first tastes like they are at odds with each other, but the Schuyler Mansion Manhattan is an inventive spin on the classic Manhattan. “It’s an acquired taste” my wait-person noted and after a couple of sips, I saw in it, the bold and robust distinction that this drink is meant to embody, as it mimics the mansion that still stands strong.

Editor's note: We asked some of Albany’s best mixologists to create original cocktail recipes that

embody the spirit of Albany, and we compiled those recipes into our 2014 Spirit of Albany Recipe Guide. In this exciting blog series local foodie Brigid Washington, a Culinary Institute of America grad and local restaurant consultant, explores each restaurant – it’s menu, it’s atmosphere, and of course, it’s custom cocktail – and provides her perspective on how it all comes together to create part of Albany’s creative culinary scene! (The ACCVB does not, in any way, condone drinking and driving so please designate a driver as we did for this series.)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Local, Farm Raised, and Delicious: Creo to Host Lamb Dinner Next Month


The Event: a Lamb Dinner on February 5, 2015 

The Purpose: to shed light on locally sourced produce and meat

Creo's head Chef, Davis Gibson, has partnered with Gary Kleppel, owner and operator of Longfield Farm, located in Altamont, NY and author of "The Emergent Agriculture: Farming, Sustainability, and the Return of the Local Economy" and Dee Woessnet, owner and operator of the farm, Toft East, to create a four-course meal featuring local lamb and wine pairings. 

The dinner will highlight Chef Gibson, Gary Kleepel, and Dee Woessner speaking to attendees about the numerous benefits of purchasing and consuming local products. 

Tickets are $55 per person and can be purchased online at CreoRestuarant.com or by calling the restaurant at 518-482-2000

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Spirit of Albany: La Serre

Not all restaurants hold lofty ambitions. There are many successful establishments that find their sweet-spot in refined familiarity. These restaurants offer fare reminiscent of one’s childhood, and they do so in polished yet unpretentious setting.  Every city boasts of at least one such gem, and in Albany, it is La Serre.

La Serre is coyly tucked away in downtown Albany on Green Street. And despite the fact that it is a stone’s throw from many  other noteworthy eateries, La Serre has carved a niche for itself – in a thriving, yet saturated market, by giving patrons exactly what they want; a tasteful trifecta of food, service and ambience. As well as par none, banquet and large party facilities.
 
The ambiance of La Serre deserves mention. The restaurant is housed in a building that dates back to the mid-eighteen hundreds. The historic edifice was a product of a modern restoration, although most of its dated, old-world charm shines through some of the modern updates. There is also ample patio space which presents the option for patrons to dine al-fresco when the temperatures permit.

The menu of La Serre is engineered to reflect the heavy influence of French and Italian culinary traditions that has informed New York State over the centuries.  From Pate Maison to Classic Bolognese, the chef at La Serre puts forth an offering list that brings together the best of both worlds.  There is also a distinct presence of modern American fare as well, as evidenced by the wildly popular NY Strip Steak.  And chances are, for most diners with an established palate, it would not be difficult to navigate around this menu since it features dishes that are in essence, tried and true.  Gracious hospitality, heaping portion sizes and decadent dessert options bookend the entire dining experience.  And for those who opt for the classic, old-timey look and feel of a restaurant, La Serre delivers.

For the Spirit of Albany campaign, master bar man Al Fuller created the Hudson High Tider. This libation is more than just a geographical tribute to the restaurants’ proximity to the Hudson river – La Serre is steps away from river’s bank.  This drink is also a nod to a time period in which the river would sometimes overflow unto its environs.

The Hudson High Tider combines the kick of Patron tequila, with a three-prong citrus flavor attack  – from grapefruit juice, fresh lime juice and Rose’s lime juice. This likely marriage – of tequila and citrus – is moderated as well as accented by the sultry richness of Chambord. Chambord is a stand-out black raspberry liqueur which was introduced to French nobility, Louis XIV during one of his visits to Chateau de Chambord during the late 17th century.  The final touches to the Hudson High Tider are splash of club soda – which offers slight effervesce and a lime wedge on the rim of the martini glass, which serves as an apt garnish.  Altogether, the cocktail is a tasteful way to imbibe La Serre’s long standing history with the Hudson River and Albany alike.

Editor's note: We asked some of Albany’s best mixologists to create original cocktail recipes that embody the spirit of Albany, and we compiled those recipes into our 2014 Spirit of Albany Recipe Guide. In this exciting blog series local foodie Brigid Washington, a Culinary Institute of America grad and local restaurant consultant, explores each restaurant – it’s menu, it’s atmosphere, and of course, it’s custom cocktail – and provides her perspective on how it all comes together to create part of Albany’s creative culinary scene! (The ACCVB does not, in any way, condone drinking and driving so please designate a driver as we did for this series.)

Holiday Meals at La Serre

37 years may not seem all that long, but for one restaurant to have a tradition that has lasted for that many years is impressive.

La Serre Restaurant has been serving their Holiday Roast Goose for the past 37 years and this year is no different. Enjoy a festive lunch or dinner in downtown Albany's La Serre on Christmas Eve.

More holiday festivities follow on December 31. Join the festivities from 7 pm until 11 pm for a New Year's Eve complete with live music by Sonny & Perley and a fabulous dinner a la carte.

Great food, good music, and fine people!

La Serre
14 Greene St.
Albany, NY
518-463-6056

Call for reservations today! 

Added 12/12/14

New Year's Eve Menu:

Appetizer

Duck Spring Rolls ~ Sweet chili dipping sauce  10
Escargot ~ Cognac garlic sauce   11
Saffron Seafood Bisque   11
Beef Carpaccio ~ Shaved parma reggiano, truffle oil, & black pepper   14
Shrimp Cocktail  & Delaware Crab Salad T 16

Salad

Caesar Salad~  Romaine, garlic croutons, dusted with romano cheese and 
a creamy anchovy dressing    11
Nicolina ~ Mixed greens tossed with lemon herb vinaigrette, 
portabellas, chevre & roasted peppers   11

Entree

Wild Mushroom Ravioli ~ Truffle cream, exotic mushroom, parmesan & fontina  25
Classic Bolognese Paparadelle ~ A blend of pork, beef & sausage, tomato ragu  25
 Chicken Rustico ~ Breaded cutlet with herb ricotta and balsamic reduction   25
Sliced  Tenderloin of Beef au Poivre ~ Cognac glaze, studded with Madagascar peppercorns   39
Stuffed Portabella Mushroom ~ Greens, roasted red peppers & fontina cheese   23
Pomegranate  Salmon ~ Crisply seared, soy scented,  dressed with tangy - sweet pomegranate molasses  29
Surf & Turf ~ Sliced Filet mignon & Lobster tail, garlic butter    55
Lobster & Crab Ravioli ~ Egg & squid ink pasta, roma tomatoes  in a sage butter    28
Yellow Tail Sole ~ Lemon Buerre Blanc  29

Duck a l’orange ~ Espresso rubbed breast with Grand Marnier glaze 30

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

In the hopper: Cidery/brewery planned for Altamont

It seems that Altamont, NY, may be home to New York State's newest brewery and cidery, according to the Albany Business Review and All Over Albany. 

The owners of Indian Ladder Farms, a popular destination for apple picking and wine, will be home to the new operation once proper licensing is acquired through the State. Meanwhile, the barley and hops grown on the farm have been shipped to other local facilities such as C.H. Evans Brewing Company at the Albany Pump Station.
A view from Indian Ladder Farms
If you're interested in tasting a very local brew, the Pump Station will have the ILF IPA on tap this week.
C.H. Evans Brewing Company at the Albany Pump Station in downtown Albany, NY.
For all the details, read the full articles at the Albany Business Review and at All Over Albany.