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

Call for reservations today! 

Added 12/12/14

New Year's Eve Menu:


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


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


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.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Taste NY Holiday Expo

On Sunday, December 7 from 11:00 am - 4:00 pm, the New York State Museum will become a holiday market for New York State's finest specialty foods, cheese, chocolates, hand-crafted beer and wine, maple and apple products, and other edible gifts.

Shop, sample and sip - and find something delectable for every foodie on your holiday list at the TasteNY Holiday Expo (formerly the Chocolate Expo). Cooking demonstrations and children's activities will be offered throughout the day.

Admission is $5 per person, cash only. Children ages 12 and under are free.

For more information, visit:

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Be the Big Cheese with this year's Bread, Wine & Cheese Event

A cheese plate is a delicious substitute for excessive desserts through the holidays (or any time), but figuring out what to include can be a challenge. At this event, you will learn more about cheeses made right here in the Hudson Valley and explore pairings of different wines with those cheeses. After your afternoon at the winery, you'll be the Big Cheese of the Cheese Platter!

On November 15, Hudson-Chatham Winery will host an evening of bread, wine, and cheese: The 7th Annual Bread Wine and Cheese event!

Meet the Cheese Makers and Bakers for the Bread, Wine & Cheese Event:

R & G Cheese 
R&G  produces artisan camemberts, chevres, and unique cheeses with fennel pollen, truffles, exotic pepper blends, and more. Sean O'Conner's fresh chevres come in staples like plain and garlic-herb, but also maple-chipotle, orange ginger, and more. Working with locally sourced milk from cows and goats, Sean makes a diverse range of hand-crafted cheeses that are always super-fresh and fabulous.

Hawthorne Valley Farm
Hawthorne Valley Farm was one of the first dairies in the US to be certified organic. Their philosophy is simple: happy cows and healthy soil result in delicious dairy products, ranging from soft, spreadable cheeses to harder, aged cheeses. Hawthorne Valley Farm also produces a range of baked goods made from flours, grains, nuts, seeds, and fruits that are all biodynamic or organically grown. They will have both cheeses and breads at the event.

Four Fat Fowl
This new creamery's motto is "Cheese worth clucking about," and one taste of their signature St. Stephen triple creme and you'll know why. The creamery is in nearby Stephentown, but with rave reviews pouring in, the cheese is finding its way to stores and restaurants from Albany to Manhattan. And the Hudson-Chatham Winery!

Bonfiglio and Bread
With a shop on Warren Street in nearby Hudson that draws accolades from every foodie in the
Hudson Valley, we're always thrilled when Bonfiglio brings their breads and pastries up Route 66 to the winery for this event. This is Seriously. Good. Stuff.

Sample the products and educate yourself so at your next holiday party, you can confidently serve your guests the best bread, cheese, and wine.

Friday, October 10, 2014

BACO-NALIA at the Hudson-Chatham Winery

Did you know that the Hudson Valley is the oldest wine making and grape growing regions in America? More than 100 years before the first vines were planted in present-day California, the French Huguenots had planted vines in the Hudson Valley near New Paltz, starting a wine-making legacy that still continues today.

Today, the friendly folks at the Hudson Chatham Winery continue that tradition on their rolling acres in Ghent, just a quick drive from Albany. Voted best local winery in the Capital Region by Capital Region Living Magazine, and recipient of many accolades and awards for their wines, Hudson-Chatham Winery is truly a destination for those seeking an authentic Hudson Valley wine experience.

Next weekend, on Saturday, October 18, the winery will be hosting a special BACO-NALIA event, in which all five Baco varieties will be released including: 2013 Estate Baco Noir (from their very own vineyard); 2013 Reserve Baco Noir, Casscles Vineyard; 2013 Middlehope Baco Noir (from their winemaker's vines he planted as a teenager); 2013 Baco Noir Old Vines; and 2013 Field Stone Baco Noir Old Vines (made by aging the wine with stones from the vineyard).

The release will be kicked off with a vertical tasting of all five wines in their tasting room from 1-3 pm. Lite fare will be served with the sit-down tasting. $40 per person.

Following, at 6:30 p.m., a Private Dinner will be served where each course, catered by  Blima's, is paired with one of the Bacos. That's a five-course meal with foods as varied as savory cakes to short ribs of beef and much more! $75 per person.

Space is limited and reservations are required for these special events. Email or call 518-392-9463.

Of course, the tasting room is open from 12 noon - 5 pm where visitors may sample all of the Baco varieties or choose from their regular list of delectable wines.

Hudson-Chatham Winery is part of the Hudson Berkshire Beverage Trail.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Popular Albany Brewpub Hires New Executive Chef

The Albany Business Review reported today that a pioneer in the Albany brewpub scene, C.H. Evans Brewing Company at the Albany Pump Station, has a new executive chef. Hailing from the Sagamore Restaurant in Bolton Landing, NY, on Lake George, Todd Cutler hopes to bring more local food and beer and food pairings to the Pump Station menu.

The Pump Station is housed in a former water pumping station for the Albany Water Works in downtown Albany. They brew about 50 different varieties of beer annually and serve about 250 customers each day.

To read the full article, click here.

For more history on the C.H. Evans Brewing Company and the Albany Pump Station Building, click here.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Spirit of Albany: Jack's Oyster House

Jack’s Retains its Relevance, Over a Hundred Years Later

Some may call into question the future of a restaurant that has witnessed over a hundred years of American history. Could this place still impress the diners who aren’t easily wowed?  And if so, how? Few may think that such a restaurant can exist -- and if it does -- it’s a likely shell of its old self; one that’s been politely grandfathered into the now uber hip dinning landscape.   But on State Street, the horn of New York State political machine, sits Jack’s Oyster House, an old-line seafood and chop house that still reigns as that quintessential American icon.

Opened in 1913, Jack’s continues to be helmed by members of original owners -- the Rosenstein’s –and the restaurant has been dubbed “Albany’s Greatest Restaurant Legend” as well as, “The Best Restaurant of the Century.” The establishment consistently courts the interest of politicians and professions during its thriving lunch and maintains the pace during the evening hours as well. And through the changing frontier in the landscape of American restaurants, Jack’s look and feel exudes the understated opulence akin to a high-brow roadhouse restaurant of the 1930’s. In 2010 the restaurant received a facelift, modernizing some elements – like seating – but still staying true to its chop-house concept.

In terms of its food and fare, Jack’s – once again – maintains its culinary relevance by simultaneously embracing change, and also, at times, strategically bucking it. The menu is classic but not outdated.  At its core, the menu is a three dimensional aggregate, representative of American food past, present and future.  As expected, there’s a robust raw-bar – arguably the best in the city. And the menu, as a whole, is dominated by updated, generously portioned,  stand-out classics of a by-gone era, like Steak Diane and Chicken Lemonardo.

For the Spirit of Albany Campaign, Bill Crabill of Jack’s created a celebratory libation honoring the space Jack’s has occupied in Albany’s history and aptly named The Centennial Tini. On first sip, the presence of the extra dry champagne and echoes of citrus reminded me of a traditional French 75. But as the flavors coalesced, I began to taste how truly special this cocktail is, and why it is the most fitting representation of the restaurant.  With the Centennial Tini, every component was palpable and none of the elements competed against the other. The result was a beautifully balanced, near flawless cocktail served in a chilled vintage martini glass.  

The reason why this drink deserves such acclaim is partly due to the ingredients employed, but moreover, it is largely a result of precise craftsmanship and use of exacting ratios.  Far too many bar-keeps make a fundamental attribution error assuming that the ingredients trump the composition.  And that isn't the case, as the Centennial Tini proves. For instance, the flavors of the black raspberry liqueur in this drink detonate on one’s mid palate, right before the effervescence of the champagne is perceivable. Achieving such balance takes skill but it also takes great attention to detail; an attribute the staff of Jack’s just happen to be masters of.

There are many restaurants that will continue to be part of region’s strong unbroken wave in Capital City dining, but there is no disputing that Jack’s Oyster House will persist as its leading edge.

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, September 25, 2014

An Irresistible, Delectable Event

If you've been to Crossgates Mall recently, you've probably noticed the newest restaurant that's been getting a lot of attention: Texas de Brazil. This Brazilian Steakhouse serves up a 50-60 item salad bar and carvings of meat including beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and Brazilian sausage. Is your mouth watering yet? If so, you'll be interested in an event coming up on Tuesday, October 21, at the restaurant from 6:30 - 8:00 pm.

The evening starts with passed hors d'oeuvres from the restaurant and will lead into a 4-course pairing of port with imported cheeses, fruit, and delectable chocolates. Not only will you be sampling some delicious fare, but experts on port and chocolate will be on hand to educate you on the various pairings.

Space is limited, so be sure to buy your tickets early here. $30 per person, must be 21 or over to attend.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

This week at Taste: even more irresistible items

Last week we told you about Taste's new Prix Fixe menu, which was simply mouthwatering. So, this week, we bring you their new weekly menu featuring locally grown ingredients and delicious pairings:


September 23rd – September 27th
$25 per person,
Does not include beverages, tax or gratuity
Tuesday – Saturday
Wine fights Available for $15 per person
Menu Alterations Politely Declined
First Course
Parsnip & Apple Soup
Apple Chips GF
Fall Beet Salad 
Gold Beets, Marinated Mushrooms, Grapes, Roasted Fennel,
Brie, Fennel Vinaigrette   GF
Pork Belly Steam Buns
Sweet and Sour Cabbage, Scallions, Thai BBQ Sauce
Warm Olive Plate
Olive Medley, Herbs, Roasted Pepper,
Garlicky White Bean Dip,
Rice Crackers GF
Second Course
Sea Scallops
Truffle, Corn Puree, Snap Peas, Bitter Greens GF
Pesto Roasted Heather Ridge Farm Chicken 
Orecciette, Broccoli Rabe and Red Pepper Flakes
Grilled Lamb Racks
Roasted Fennel Bulb, Fingerling Potatoes,
Olives, Date Butter GF
Sweet Corn Risotto
Parmigianino, Snow Pea Salad GF
Third Course

Berry Pate


Chocolate Salted Caramel Hazelnut Tart

Gluten Free

Frozen Flight ~ Chef's Choice, an assortment of gelato & sorbet - GF

A five course menu is also available with even more irresistible items. See both menus on Taste's website by clicking here

Monday, September 22, 2014

Cider & Sides: what to do when life gives you apples

We all know what to do when life gives us lemons, but what happens when life gives you apples? Nine Pin Cider definitely knows what to do with them: celebrate! Loving their first harvest season, Nine Pin Cider Works is happy to announce their fall line-up for their hit event Cider & Sides!

From now until the end of October, guests can enjoy a food pairing with their delicious cider at 929 Broadway. On select evenings that their tasting room is open, Nine Pin teams up with a local mobile vendor outside of the loading dock area starting at 4 p.m. These local food vendors provide the perfect paring for our cider.

Here is the listing through the end of October. Subject to change.
  • September 18 – Cider & Sides – The Hungry Traveler
  • September 19 – Cider & Sides – Sweet Mama Mia
  • September 20 – Cider & Sides – Capital Q Barbeque
  • September 25 – Cider & Sliders – Slidin’ Dirty
  • September 26 – Cider & Sides – Sweet Mama Mia
  • September 27 – Cider & Sides – The Hungry Traveler
  • October 2 – Cider & Sliders – Slidin’ Dirty
  • October 3 – Cider & Sides – Sweet Mama Mia
  • October 4 – Cider & Sides – Capital Q Barbeque
  • October 9 – Cider & Sliders – Slidin’ Dirty
  • October 10 – Cider & Sides – Sweet Mama Mia
  • October 11 – Cider & Sides – Capital Barbeque
  • October 16 – Cider & Sides – The Hungry Traveler
  • October 17 – Cider & Sides – Sweet Mama Mia
  • October 18 – Cider & Sides – Capital Q Barbeque
  • October 23 – Cider & Sliders – Slidin’ Dirty
  • October 24 – Cider & Sides – Sweet Mama Mia
  • October 25 – Cider & Sides – Capital Q Barbeque
  • October 30 – Cider & Sliders – Slidin’ Dirty
  • October 31 – Cider & Sides – Sweet Mama Mia
In addition to their delicious cider, Nine Pin now has merchandise available! Show off your favorite fall fashions: hats, t-shirts, hoodies, and tank-tops with the Nine Pin logo! 

Enjoy your favorite hard cider and local food truck palate at the following times:
  • Wednesday – 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Thursday – 4.p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Friday – 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Saturday – 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Spirit of Albany: New World Bistro Bar

In 2009 new life came to Delaware Avenue when restaurant New World Bistro Bar opened, helmed by accomplished Hudson Valley chef, Ric Orlando.

The menu introduced restaurant patrons to global fusion cuisine, in a buttoned-down, unfussy manner, and in a bigger sense created a new diction in the way enterprising foodies in the Capital Region ate. The restaurant is also consistently lauded for its impassioned commitment to local and sustainable food sourcing.

For the Spirit of Albany campaign, mix master and bar-keep, Sarah- Jane Mc Laughlin, wields an ambitious cocktail named after the punch-line of a joke, the “That’s All Benny.”

The jalapeno, coupled with the lime and fortified by vodka and apple liqueur, made for a beverage that requires an adventurous palate to imbibe. My appetizer – the Asian Guacamole - displayed an assertive fruitiness in the yuzu-ginger dressing, coupled with the cooling and refreshing cucumber and the buttery heft of the avocado.
The Asian Guacamole
At New World Bistro Bar one has time to notice – and in this case, admire – instances in the gastro-pub where coherency shines through with authentic ease. The physical space is one such example. Unlike lesser restaurants, New World Bistro took a cue from the street on which it’s perched and allowed some of the eclectic edge of Delaware Avenue to inform its dining space. The warm colors, exposed brick and unpretentious space deservedly continues to enhance the value proposition of this establishment; global cuisine and local pride.

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.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Taste announces new menu format

Farm to table continues wielding its influence on the local culinary scene as evidenced by an announcement by the proprietors of Taste in downtown Albany. Their standard menu has been defrocked in favor of a weekly rotation of culinary creations based on local market availability.

Each week on Monday, Taste will announce their menu for the upcoming week, which will be available Tuesday through Saturday. The three course dinner is $25 per person, and the five course dinner available only on Friday and Saturday is only $37 per person. Here's the menu for this week:


Menu for September 16th – 20th
Does not include beverages, tax or gratuity
Wine fights Available for $15 per person
Menu Alterations Politely Declined

First Course

Pumpkin Soup
Pancetta and Crème Fraiche GF

Warm Lobster Potato Salad
Potatoes, Pickle, Radish, Lemon Aioli GF

Short Ribs
Three Cheese Creamy Polenta GF

Roasted Sweet Potato
Citrus Cumin Glaze, Fresh Thyme, Garlic
Shallot, Orange Marmalade, Lime Juice, Farro GF

Second Course

Roasted Beef Tenderloin 6oz
Sautéed Kale, Mashed Potatoes GF

Roasted Trout Filet
Potato-Leek Nage, Truffle, Crispy Prosciutto GF

Duck Breast 
Pickled Cranberries, Mushroom, Marcona Almonds
Roasted Carrot-Orange Puree GF

Brussels Sprouts
Ricotta Gnocchi, Mushrooms, Dried Figs, Pine Nuts GF

Third Course

Brown Butter Almond Cake, White Chocolate Crème Fraiche,
Pumpkin Gastrique and Candied Pistachios

Chocolate Chili Semifreddo, Mexican Chocolate Gelato

Gluten Free
Frozen Flight ~ Chef's Choice, an assortment of gelato & sorbet GF

Taste is open 11:30am to 10pm Tuesday-Friday, 5-10pm on Saturday. To make reservations call them at (518) 694-3322 or go online.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Apples and Wine Signal Autumn's Arrival

Capital Region Apple & Wine Festival
One thing I’ve learned in my few years in destination marketing is that people travel on their stomachs. Some of the most successful destinations take a regional food, incorporate it into a festival, and voilà! People flock! Autumn brings many people to the Albany area for this simple reason: we have foliage, food, and festivals.

One of such festivals takes place this weekend at the Altamont Fairgrounds. The Capital Region Apple & Wine Festival will be the perfect complement to a weekend that is supposed to be mostly sunny and about 70 degrees. Enjoy a craft and quilt show, car show, food vendors, cooking demonstrations and wine tastings all day while music drifts through the fairgrounds. Tickets are a reasonable $8 for adults and can be purchased at the gate or in advance at Price Chopper locations through September 12. Parking is free, and more information can be found on their website.

Another event you wine lovers will want to add to your calendar is Hudson-Chatham Winery’s BACO-NALIA event on October 18th. If you’ve ever tasted their Baco Noir wine, you understand that it’s some pretty incredible stuff; just read the reviews on their new website here. Well, it’s very exciting to announce that they’ll be releasing some additional Baco Noirs in their tasting room that day: their first Estate Baco Noir (BN) made with grapes from the winery; the '13 BN Reserve Casscles Vineyard; the '13 BN Middle Hope Vineyard; and the '12 Field Stone BN. They join the already released '13 BN Old Vines.

Then, at 1 pm, they'll be doing a first-ever vertical tasting of the Baco Noir Old Vines. This is the chance to taste multiple vintages of this wonderful wine. The cost is a worthwhile $35 per person ($30 for their Case Club Members) and includes wines and food.

To cap the day, at 6 pm, they’re celebrating with a private wine dinner featuring only the Bacos. It'll be a true wine-and-dine celebration of Hudson-Chatham Bacos past and present, paired with a 5-course meal. This event costs $75 per person ($65 for Case Club Members). Email Hudson-Chatham winery about reservations to these events here.

For information on other events and festivals in the area, be sure to check out our events calendar!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Spirit of Albany Series: 677 Prime

This first installment of The Culinary Capital Blog is designed to invite locals and visitors to experience the rich dining culture of Albany through partner restaurants, as part of the Spirit of Albany campaign.  Over the coming weeks this blog will highlight six inspired cocktails that were crafted by these participating restaurants; Jack’s Oyster House, The Hollow, New World Bistro, 677 Prime, La Serre and The Century House. Follow along as we chronicle how the city is depicted through this diner’s journal of food and fare.

One of Albany’s staple establishments – 677 Prime – a restaurant which has served the Capital Region in good stead, since Spring of 2005, is one that undoubtedly delivers the ultimate dining experience. The unmistakable feel of an up-to-the-minute men’s club is exuded in the entry way, where regulars have the option of stowing coveted dining essentials – like a twenty-year-old single malt Scotch whisky – in individually lit lockers appropriately constructed in rich mahogany and metal mesh doors. 

Such a display, affirms the restaurants’ position of marrying luxury with high-toned whim.  In the dining room, tradition meets contemporary in a deceivingly large and lavish dining space.  The wood tones are balanced by cool brushed metal accents, which are highlighted by a smattering of beautiful crystal and industrial light fixtures; it is indeed, the ultimate juxtaposition of masculine and feminine touches. The tufted leather booths coupled with crisp white linens adds to 677's understated sophistication. And a gallery wall pageants the artistic work of talented local artists.

Elegantly constructed floral arrangements and topiaries add brilliant hue to an otherwise quiet and neutral palette. And as the old adage goes, “you eat with your eyes first” and this atmosphere certainly sets the stage for something truly delectable. 

The menu at 677 runs the gamut from the expected to the exceptional. And although it is branded as the quintessential steak-house, some of the offerings buck conventional steak house fare and are truly thoughtful and purposefully inventive, such as the molten “crab cake” dip. The prices do skirt industry standards, however, every guest would attest that hand-cut steaks from top purveyors is definitely worth it.

There’s no dispute that 677 is a classic dinning institution, however, of late, its well-stocked bar now brandishes a cocktail that is anything but traditional.  The Dark and Spicy is an improbable combination of Ginger Beer, a smattering of rums; ADC Quackenbush Still House Rum and Gosling Rum, as well as, Golden Falernum and Simple Syrup, garnished with fresh lemon.  It is well composed, in that, the initial spice attack from the Ginger Beer and Golden Falernum was not overwhelming but rather warming as it facilitated the distinct taste and heft of the Rum to create a long and lingering, pleasant mid-palate.  

Although this drink features enough lemon juice to create somewhat of a palpable pucker, the characteristic acidity was muted by other dominant spice flavors.  However, in the end, it was the subtle saccharine notes which complemented the smooth finish to reveal a truly balanced cocktail; one which distinctly plays on the contours of the city in which it was created to represent.

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 BrigidWashington, 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.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Take a fresh look at Reel Seafood

If you haven’t been to the Reel Seafood Co. on Wolf Road lately, it’s time to return. Since January, the restaurant has undergone a $1 million renovation, hired a new executive chef and extensively trained their staff on the new menu, and launched a new website, all under the leadership of the new owner and daughter of the founder, Aliki Serras.

Voted the #1 Seafood Restaurant by Capital Region Living, Reel Seafood offers guests the freshest seafood cuisine in the area.

The seafood is shipped in daily from the finest seafood purveyors and you'll know after your first bite that they mean fresh. From the ocean to your plate, Reel Seafood Co. demands perfection. You can count on Reel Seafood Co. to provide you with the freshest seafood in the Capital District.

Not a fan of seafood? Don’t worry, this impressive menu includes fresh seafood, quality meats, pasta dishes and homemade dessert.

Reel Seafood Co. is now offering Happy Hour 7-days a week. Stop in for $1 oysters and clams, drink specials, and amazing sushi and sashimi. Take a look at the new menu, read recent reviews, and plan your next visit at

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Best Bites in State Capitals

MapQuest recently posted an article on the best places to eat in all 50 state capitals. Wondering what made the cut? Here's the excerpt regarding Albany:

Jack's Oyster House
Albany, NY
Politicians, authors and others have settled into the deep booths at Jack’s Oyster House for private conversations, end-of-legislative-session celebrations and bites of Jack’s "extravagant seafood tower." The 80-seat gastropub, New World Bistro Bar, fills quickly nightly with those seeking global cuisine sourced locally, like ceviche prepared with wild striped bass. Consistently rated Albany’s best, Angelo's 677 Prime starts you off with surf and turf tempura rolls and leads you to your choice of steak.

Read the remainder of the article here.
The dining room of 677 Prime
Do you think the rating is accurate? What other eateries would you recommend to someone visiting Albany? Tell us by leaving a comment below or on our Facebook page!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Spirit of Albany spills into the Times Union

Today's Times Union newspaper features an article on our Spirit of Albany promotion. The Spirit of Albany began last year to promote the talent of our local mixologists and to encourage visitors to try new restaurants while learning something about Albany along the way, as the cocktails must include an element that represents our destination.

Twenty two original cocktail recipes have been created over the past two years - and they are all delicious! I'm only guessing, but I think the journalist had a great time writing this article. Jealous? Don't be! Request a free recipe guide here and then plan your journey around Albany. Remember to be safe and designate a driver, though!

Read the full Times Union article here.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

World of Beer Coming to Crossgates Mall

From the Albany Business Review:

World of Beer, a growing franchise that serves more than 500 craft beers in a tavern-like atmosphere, is coming to Crossgates Mall in suburban Albany, New York.

World of Beer will open June 23 on the mall's lower level, across from Regal Cinemas.

Besides serving craft beers in bottles, World of Beer offers 56 beers on tap from more than 40 countries.

"We understand the Albany craft beer scene is thriving, and we hope to bring patrons the most unique and complex beers from local, domestic and international brewers," said Joe Rice, general manager.

The food menu includes many items that use beer as a key ingredient.

The business will host live entertainment Thursdays through Saturdays with no cover charge.

A staff of 60 full- and part-time employees has been hired.

World of Beer was founded in Tampa, Florida in 2007 and now has more than 54 franchises in the United States.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Hudson-Chatham Winery Announces Summer Events!

We know you'll like this: Hudson-Chatham Winery recently announced a number of summer events that are perfect for weekends and weeknights alike! Take a look at the events below and make plans for your visit to the winery, located just southeast of Albany.

Wine Slushies Day
Saturday, June 7. 12-5
IceDelites will be making wine slushies from all-natural mixes and Hudson-Chatham wines. The perfect kick-off to summer. 12 to 5 pm

Wine & Cigars Night
Saturday, June 14. 5:30-7:30 pm (after regular winery hours)
The folks from Habana Cigar Shoppe in East Greenbush will be at the winery rolling cigars and sharing their expertise while guests smoke and taste wines and enjoy sliders and snacks. Reservations required. $25/person ($20 for our Case Club members). RSVP to

Outdoor Movie Night
Saturday, July 12. 8 pm (after regular winery hours)
Join us as we show the highly entertaining wine-themed movie, Bottle Shock with Chris Pine. A fun movie based on a true story! Enjoy the movie under the stars! ($10 for movie and 1 glass of wine)

Clam Bake
Saturday, July 19. 1-4 open (winery open 12-5)
Clams, salads, corn, chicken, and dessert - all paired with your favorite Hudson-Chatham wines! More details to come.

7th Annual Sangria Festival

Saturday, August 9. 11-6
Our annual fiesta, complete with different sangrias, yummy foods, crafts, tarot card readings, henna tattoos, and flamenco guitar music by the renowned Maria Zemantauski & Jose Miralles!!

Other announcements from the winery:
We are now open Wednesdays through Sundays, 12 to 5 pm.
Back in Stock: Ghent Blush, Lindenwald White, Blanc de Blanc
Happy Hour Fridays start on June 6, when the winery remains open from 5 to 7 pm.
Sangria Sundays start on July 6, when we concoct a sangria to enjoy by the pitcher or the glass.

Hudson-Chatham Winery is part of the Hudson-Berkshire Beverage Trail. Other members of the trail include Brookview Station Winery at Goold Orchards, Harvest Spirits Distillery, Chatham Brewing, and others. Check out the trail website here for more details.

Friday, May 30, 2014

7th Annual Italian Cooking Show on June 5

Who doesn't love Italian food? Better yet, who doesn't love Italian Food when it's cooked right in front of you? 
Next Thursday night, treat yourself to some delicious cuisine while benefiting a great cause at the 7th Annual Italian Cooking Show. This tasteful and well-priced event will be held at the Glen Sanders Mansion at 6:30 PM.

Bring along a few guests and watch as the chefs demonstrate their skills while preparing a special menu. Wine and food samples will be provided and a cash bar will be available throughout.

Maybe you’re not the best chef, or maybe you are! But you will certainly pick up a few tips and perhaps a few new favorite dishes at this event.

Your $40 donation will benefit the American Italian Heritage Museum, a wonderful organization who preserves Italian culture in the Capital Region. For reservations, call 518-374-7262 or visit this website today!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Craft Brew Alliance Beer Pairing Dinner at The Hollow Bar + Kitchen

On Thursday, May 22nd, from 6 pm-9 pm, The Hollow Bar + Kitchen will be hosting a Craft Brew Alliance Beer Pairing dinner. If you haven't been to The Hollow, this is a perfect opportunity to see the many improvements that have been made to the historic space and sample some excellent food and paired brews.

Those interested in attending can pre-purchase tickets at the bar - and get an extra pint of one of the featured beers on the house! Call in your reservation today to (518) 426-8550 or email 3 pints + 3 courses, just $40!

Here's the menu...

1st course:
Roasted + Grilled Spring Vegetables with Widmer Hefe Viniagrette
Beer Pairing: Widmer Hefe

Interior of The Hollow Bar + Kitchen
Photo credit: Times Union
2nd course:
Kona Castaway IPA-glazed Mahi-Mahi, Sautéed Chicken or Veggie Protein Filet, Grilled Tropical Fruit Salsa + served on Spring Risotto Cake.
Beer Pairing: Kona Castaway IPA

3rd course:
House-Made Macaroons with a Dark Chocolate Kona Koko Brown Sauce
Beer Pairing: Kona Koko Brown Ale

Guests that attend the dinner will also receive special pricing on subsequent pints of the Kona and Widmer featured beers for the rest of the evening.

Make your reservations today, as this event is sure to be a sell-out!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Hudson Berkshire Wine Festival Plans Announced

The 2nd annual Hudson Berkshire Wine Festival will take place May 24-25 at the Columbia County Fairgrounds in Chatham, NY.

The 2nd Annual Hudson Berkshire Wine and Food Festival will feature the five beverage trail members - including some of our very own from Albany County - plus other regional wineries, distilleries, cideries and craft breweries. There will also be delicious foods for sale and sampling including gourmet cheeses and creameries, baked goods, grass fed meat producers, crafters, artisans and more!

Johnny and Professor Louie
Throughout the weekend there will be special guest appearances and book signings, seminars of wine and food pairings, home brewing, and cheese making by some of the region’s foremost experts. In addition, Celebrity Chef and Culinary Rocker, Johnny Ciao, will appear on stage to prepare several of his inventive California-style dishes on stage before performing on the harmonica with Blues Hall of Fame Inductees Professor Louie and Miss Marie!

Professor Louie has produced some of the music world's biggest names including New York State's very own legendary group The Band. His music is a delicious blend of Americana, and he will be part of Johnny's Culinary All-Star Band. He performs on piano and accordion accompanied by Miss Marie on vocals and percussion. Johnny will also be on hand at his booth on Saturday and Sunday meeting, greeting, sharing stories and signing cookbooks.

Dates and Times:
Saturday, May 24th from 11 am - 6 pm
Sunday, May 25 from 11 am - 5 pm

A Tasting Ticket includes admission, souvenir tasting glass, and all the wine, beer and spirits you care to taste for one price.
One Day Tasting - $25.00
One Day General Admission - $10.00 (Designated Driver/ Non- Beverage Tasting Tickets)

Click on "Purchase Tickets" tab at the website to buy online

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mac & Cheese... and Wine!

Spend this Saturday on the Hudson-Berkshire Beverage Trail sampling amazing craft beverages AND home-cooked macaroni and cheese dishes specially prepared for this event. Purchase a Trail Passport at any one of the five venues on the beverage trail for just $20 ($5 for designated drivers)!

If you can't make it on the trail this weekend, you can always head to Hudson-Chatham Winery on Wednesday, April 30, from 5:30 - 7:30 for a Hump Day Happy Hour with complimentary wine and food. This celebration of mid-week and mid-spring is sponsored by Ameriprise, who are opening an office in Valatie. So come out, have a glass of wine, and chat with friends old and new. Oh, and there will be door prizes, too! A reservation is requested and can be made by calling the winery at 518-392-9463.

Other events to add to your calendar:

Saturday, May 3: Vertical Tasting of Hudson-Chatham Merlot from 1-3 pm
A very special wine - and food - event where we sample our Merlots from 2007 up to what's currently aging in the barrel. A fun and fabulous way to compare and contrast some great vintages! $25/person ($20 for Case Club members). Reservations required.

Saturday, May 17: Private Wine Dinner from 6:30-9:30 pm
We're pairing our wines with an outrageous "Southern"-themed, multiple-course menu prepared by Chef David Robinson, founder of the incredible Culinary Command program. We guarantee good eating - and lots of wine-pairing discoveries for your own summer menus. Limited seating. Reservations required. ($75/person; $65/person for Case Club members.)

Saturday and Sunday, May 24 & 25: 2nd Annual Hudson Berkshire Wine & Food Festival at the Chatham Fairgrounds, featuring a dozen wineries, multiple distilleries, breweries, and cider makers - as well as lots of food - at the gorgeous and conveniently located Chatham Fairgrounds. For more information, go to

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Great Spirits Win Award for Albany Distilling!

The Albany Distilling Company has reason to be in great spirits. The distillery located next to the Albany Pump Station in Downtown Albany received top honors for several of their products judged at the American Craft Distillers Association’s convention and trade show in Denver and the American Distilling Institute’s annual Craft Spirits Conference in Seattle this past March.

The Distillery was awarded gold medal and bronze mdesl for their Ironweed Rye Whiskey. The company also recieved bronze medals for their Quackenbush Still House Original Albany Rum and Albany Amber Rum, respectively.

Check out the article from Steve Barnes' Table Hopping Blog on to find out all of the details.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

9th Taste of Albany Benefit to be Held May 1st!

One the area’s top culinary fundraisers is just around the corner. The 9th Annul A Taste of Albany will be held on Thursday, May 1 at the NYS Museum Terrace Gallery at 5:00 p.m.

A Taste of Albany is a culinary showcase and benefit for Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless (IPH), featuring more than 30 Capital Region restaurants and chefs, celebrating with entertainment, live and silent auctions, and views of Albany’s Empire State Plaza.  This is the 9th annual A Taste of Albany.

Festivities kick off at 5 p.m. with a red carpet entrance and happy hour. Start the evening with a smile and a pose, then head up the NYS Museum's Terrace Gallery for sampling of hors d'oeuvres from local restaurants, complimentary beer, wine, and soda, and a peek at the silent auction items.

Following happy hour, at 6 p.m. will be the Culinary Showcase. There attendees will be able to enjoy an extensive selection of tastes from more than 30 Capital Region restaurants, entertainment, live and silent auctions, and more!

Participating restaurants includes but is not limited to Albany Pump Station, Angelo's 677 Prime, A Perfect Blend Café, New World Bistro Bar, Portofino's Italian Ristorante, and Yono's. You can find out about all 30 participating restaurants on the A Taste of Albany homepage. 

Tickets for this event are $75 or you can purchase an Honorary Ticket for $175. Honorary Ticket purchasers will receive an "A Taste of Albany Dining Book," featuring coupons and discounts to local Capital Region restaurants.

Proceeds from A Taste of Albany benefit Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless (IPH), an Albany-based agency celebrating 30 Years of addressing the needs of the homeless and low-income community. Last year, the event raised more than $100,000 for IPH.