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.)

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