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.)

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