Everybody's Cafe is located at 674 Columbia Turnpike in East Greenbush. For all intents and purposes it's a house that's been renovated to serve as a cafe.
Brian and I ventured for breakfast, and were immediately greeted upon entering and told to sit anywhere we liked. As we walked into the two-part dining area, I realized our options were limited to the seating on the right half because the left half was overrun with small children climbing on every unoccupied surface.
Furnishings at Everybody's consists of a smattering of tables, a love seat, and a couch. You definitely get the feeling that they want to make the cafe feel as if you're sitting at home or having neighbors over. I will say this ... while I appreciate, value, and even like the concept to a great extent, my experience in this particular instance was an example of just how badly the concept can backfire when you dine too closely with your neighbors. That's as much detail as I'll offer.
Our server had followed us to the table we chose to sit at, placed our menus down, and immediately asked for our drink order. We were a little flustered, not having a moment to even take our coats off yet, let alone look at their offerings so we went with the old stanby of coffee and water. As we began reading the menu over, we dicovered that they actually had a sizeable selection of specialty teas, and lattes. It would've been nice to have had a few seconds to read that, and order one.
On to the food. The menu was very small. Not necessarily a bad thing, but with only one sweet offering (French Toast), there was just a lack of variety; 1 wrap, 1 "bowl," a benedict, and 2 omelettes. This doesn't count any daily specials.
Brian ordered their French Toast which comes with Real Maple Syrup (a nice touch). Not wanting to order two of the same dish, I opted for the Three Egg California Omlette, which consisted of Cheddar Cheese, Avocado, and Bacon Bits. Being somewhat of a bacon purist, I asked for actual bacon instead. My dish also came with Home Fries (choice of regular or sweet potato. I chose regular), and toast (I asked for Wheat).
While waiting for our order, we previewed some dishes that were heading out to neighboring tables. One gentleman received an order of pancakes. Remember that menu I delineated above? There were no pancakes on that menu, or their specials. How did he get them? Why were they not on the menu? That's a big restaurant fail. We shouldn't have to be regulars in order to know what is and isn't on the menu.
A plate of French Toast came out for a neighboring table, and given the appearance, there weren't high hopes. Brian was delightfully surprised to have been wrong. Even though the crust of the bread was tough and ultimately not palatable, everything else about the bread made for a perfect French Toast dish. Even though the batter hadn't completely distributed, the bread acted like a sponge of sorts, absorbing the moisture and flavor while being pillowy soft.
My omelette, however, was not successful. In fact, I'll go as far to say that it wasn't an omelette. The eggs were completely overcooked, and were basically the equivalent of a taco shell by design. Yes, this also means that the filling wasn't what you'd expect an omelette filling to be. The filling was folded inside after the eggs were cooked to death. I didn't have an omelette, I had an egg taco. I did not order an egg taco. Therefore, I was quite displeased with my dish.
The home fries were at least decent. They were perfectly cooked through, but only the crisper pieces retained much of the flavor. The bread was a loss. While I could tell it was a non-commercial, homemade wheat bread, it shouldn't have been toasted. Most of it was too crunchy to eat.
Based on my experience alone, I'd give Everybody's Cafe 2 forks. However, Brian's experience was significantly different. He gave his dish alone a perfect rating. Service was wonderful, if a bit rushed at the beginning. Not including pancakes on the standard menu (I later saw it written as an option on a chalk board) was a big minus. And... since I'm the one writing this review, I wasn't a fan of the environment on this visit. So it gets a 3 fork rating overall from me. Not a place I'd return to, even with the "designed to be homy" feel."
|California Omelette||French Toast|
Hong Kong Bakery and Bistro used to reside within a local Chinese market. When they moved into their own building on Wolf Road in Colonie, we added it to our list of places to go. This review is for their dim sum which is only served until 5PM.
As we walked in, we were greeted and sat immediately. I wasn't a fan of the table, but I won't him them on that. (the booth was too far away from the table, and it had a base on the bottom that gave me absolutely no place to put my feet). The Dim Sum menu is on a piece of paper where you check off the items you want. We went for a mix of things to try out, including roast pork pastries, (deep) fried pork buns, shrimp and spinach dumplings, roast duck dumplings, steamed shrimp dumplings, and pan fried pork buns.
The first to come out where the roast pork pastries and the fried pork buns. The roast pork buns had a bit of sweetness and what I would describe as a bbq pork in them. They were just slightly warmer than room temperature, which was a big negative for me. The (deep) fried pork buns were not even room temperature, they were cold. The filling inside was congealed but per Josie, "had a good flavor". I couldn't even bring myself to eat the brick of cold pork mix. Next up were our steamed dumplings, shrimp, shrimp and spinach, and roast duck. The flavors in all of them were good, with the shrimp being a good size and cooked well, they were nice and tender. The duck tender and moist. The issue we had with these dumplings is that they were very sticky on the outside so they stuck to everything and ripped apart, and were completely slimy inside. While the flavor was good, the texture was off-putting. Finally we had the pan fried pork bun. This one was my favorite, it has a nice light crisp on the outside, and a soft chewy inside. Pork filling was nicely seasoned, it was probably the only one I would definitely order again if we returned.
Service was great, the owner/manager? came by a few times and made some jokes, and the waiter was there when we needed him, but not overbearing. Josie and I agreed we would come back to try the actual menu, but we would probably go elsewhere for dim sum. I would have given it a 2 fork rating overall, but Josie is a bit more of an expert in dim sum, so I will yield to her suggested rating of 3 forks.
|Roast Pork and Fried Pork||Shrimp and Spinach and Roast Duck|
|Pan Fried Pork Bun|
Grappa '72 is located at 818 Central Avenue, inside a strip mall next to the Hannaford strip mall, across the street from West Gate Plaza strip mall. You would almost not notice there's a fine dining establishment among all the strip malls, but this place is one that shouldn't be passed by.
I'd been dying to review this place, having heard about it often. So I enlisted the company of a couple of foodie friends of mine.
I arrived a few minutes early. When I walked in, a gentleman (who - based on later conversation - I believe was a manager) greeted me, before confirming my reservation and asked if I wanted to proceed to the table, or wait for the rest of my party. After I opted to wait, he then asked if I wanted anything to drink while waiting. Not only did he get my drink personally, but he sat me at an unoccupied 2-top while I waited for the rest of my party. Now that's service above and beyond, in my opinion.
My party arrived soon after, and we were immediately seated (after accepting the offer of having our coats hung). Grappa '72 makes fine dining comfortable. Everything from the warm decor, to the friendly service, and attention to creature comfort details speaks to an environment that's very welcoming.
Our server was also quite entertaining. She employed a somewhat Thespian tone in explaining their specials. There were soft, yet dramatic pauses and everything was said with a smile. Think similar to William Shatner, but wayyyyy better.
Now on to the food! We started with the Calamari appetizer, that came with a yogurt based sauce. One dining companion ordered the Osso Bucco entree which came over a bed of (Saffron) Rissotto Milanese, her hubby ordered the Vitello Mare Monti entree (veal, shrimp, and mushrooms in a light spicy tomato sauce), and I ordered the Vitello alla '72 entree (veal, basil, tomatoes, in a vodka Taleggio sauce over parmesean risotto).
Bread was served within minutes of giving our dinner order. While the bread wasn't warm, it was a wonderful texture; just the right mix of firm and soft. The olive tapanade was delish. There's oil and balsamic on the table, but no dish to mix it in. I asked for one (which I think should come as part of the package) and was provided a small plate straight away.
The calamari came out piping and hot were cooked perfectly. They were tender, had just the right amount of batter, and weren't greasy in the least. The critiques are two fold. The outside could've used a touch more seasoning. There was some salt and pepper, but it could've used more. The largest critique is that the yogurt sauce did absolutely nothing to compliment the dish. If anything, it took away from the dish. The calamari would've been better served with a remoulade, or no sauce at all.
For entrees I'll start with the osso bucco. My dining companion loved her dish, and I agree (having tasted a few bites of it myself). The veal was wonderfully tender, and the risotto was cooked perfectly. While I believe the veal could've used more seasoning, she was fine with it as is. One real detractor was the almost severe level of saffron in the risotto. There was an overpowering aftertaste that I couldn't quite put my finger on. After some deliberation, we determined the saffron was the culprit.
My other dining companion (her husband) enjoyed his Vitello Mare Monti. The veal was cooked perfectly, as were the accompanying carrots (it should be noted that carrots were not listed on the menu as coming with the dish). He did comment that the sauce lacked distinguishing flavor. It sort of fell flat, and didn't register as being lightly spicy at all. After a couple of tastes, I agree. Perfectly cooked, but needing more flavor.
My dish was consistent with the rest. Perfectly cooked veal and asparagus (which wasn't on the menu as an accompaniment). The sauce was smooth, and creamy but aside from the hint of cheesyness, there was an absolute lack of distinguishing flavor. Salt and pepper would've worked wonders.
Grappa earns a solid 4 forks. Everything was perfectly cooked, the flavor just needed more (or less in the case of the saffron). Towards the end (the check receiving portion of the meal) service dipped a little bit, but I think it was only noticeable because we were too full to continue eating, and were ready to conclude our visit.
Grappa '72 will definitely get a second (and maybe third and fourth) visit. I'm intrigued about the rest of their menu. I wonder if they make their own pasta....
|Osso Bucco||Vitello alla '72|
Friday night rolled along and I was in the mood for sushi. In comes Mr. Wasabi in Schenectady. I had been here several years ago and it was time for a revisit and a review.
We ordered the spicy tuna dumplings as an appetizer, it came out as 6 spicy tuna balls surrouned by avacado. I love avacado with pretty much anything so I was a fan of spicy tuna being surrounded by it. They were good, but difficult to eat and I would have preferred a little more flavor. For rolls, we orderd the ginza roll (crab tempura and mango inside, topped with spicy tuna, avacado and a mango sauce), a Fall Season roll (spicy crunch tuna, avacado, and bonito seasoning) and a spicy salmon crunch roll. Fish in the rolls was fresh and the rolls were actually as described. I thought the ginza roll had some conflicting flavors in it (mango and spicy don't really go together). Overall, the rolls were good, and I think we would order any of them again.
As an added bonus, we also ordered a dessert of tempura cheesecake. Normally this dish is a few small pieces of cheesecake battered and fried. In this case, it was an entire slice of cheesecake battered and fried. The thin part was great, but as you got to the thicker area, it was still completely frozen and inedible.
We had no complaints on service, everyone was friendly and polite. It was a great experience overall and earned a rating of 4 forks.
|Spicy Tuna Dumpling||Ginza Roll|
|Fall Season Roll (back) and Spicy Salmon with Crunch|
Josie and I often do some homework ahead of time to find a place we want to try out. I identified a cafe in Troy, so we ventured out for a Saturday morning breakfast. Of course the place I picked was closed for renovations, so we went wandering around Troy looking for a place for a late breakfast. We eventually settled on B-rads Bistro. We haven't reviewed a buffet yet, as they are hard to review - food tends to be prepared early on, and kept warm in chafing dishes. So you typically don't get a restaurants 'A-game', but it does give one the ability to try a variety of different food from a place. So, please keep in mind that this is a review of their buffet, and should bear little insight to how their normal food is.
When we walked in, a staff member came up to us and explained how the buffet works. All you can eat from the buffet, serve yourself drinks (Orange, and Cranberry juice and coffee) for $12. They also had papers you could fill out to have a custom omelet and salad made by the chef and brought to you. The buffet itself consisted of three dishes with warm food including bacon, sausage, hash browns, stuffed french toast, breakfast quesadillas, meatballs and a pasta dish. There were also plates of pastries and fruit to pick from.
The different options were original, not just the same typical stuff you would find at a brunch buffet. The food was on the dry side and most of it lacked the seasoning we would have liked. Josie's favorites were the breakfast quesadilla, and the meatballs. I thought all the food on the buffet was ok, but not spectacular. My favorite would be the omelet they made with the ingredients I chose.
Like I said when I began this review, buffets are hard to review. I'm not sure it would be possible for even the best of buffets to get a perfect 5 fork rating. B-rad had some great staff working there and made a decent omelet, but overall the experience was just ok, we most likely wouldn't go again for the buffet. I would be interested in trying out their regular weekday menu or their catering in the future. I would guess their creative menu ideas would be quite good fresh.
|Buffet setup||Food from buffet|
|Made to order omelet|