Josie's Top Reviews:
|The Flying Chicken|
- Created on Saturday, 03 May 2014 17:52
Ali Baba is located on 15th Street in Troy. It's a small, family owned, Mediterranean style restaurant with a very minimalist decor. I'd heard a lot about this restaurant, so I dragged a friend with me. He already knew about the place and loved the food. In fact, he was surprised I hadn't been. He also threatened me with imminent death if I went anywhere near his lavash bread...
I arrived early, and was seated. The woman looked at me quite strangely, and to this day I'm not sure why. The place was pretty empty, there was only one other occupied table at the time.
My dining companion entered, and we struck a deal on the lavash bread situation. I ordered a starter of 5 of their dips in a mixed plate, which comes with Lavash Bread. Ordering my entree was more difficult. See, their restaurant menu is all pictures. No details on the ingredients. Meanwhile, their online PDF menu lists the ingredients. So, there I was with my smartphone, matching the online menu with the restaurant menu by matching the titles. Meanwhile, my dining companion chided me for not just asking questions. To be honest, I was afraid of a language barrier, and simply decided to take matters into my own hands.
I settled on the Lamb Iskender, which is a yogurt marinated lamb, topped with a tomato sauce. My friend ordered a curry dish (I can't recall if it was beef or lamb).
Our meals were out promptly. I will say that I found a few of the dips to be lacking in salt. The Hummus should have had a more pronounced lemon and salt flavor than it did, but the yogurt sauce that comes with the Lavash Bread was divine.
My Lamb Iskender was very good. At first, I thought there was a lack of seasoning in the dish, even given the yogurt marinade and tomato sauce. Then, I discovered there was additional yogurt sauce beneath the lamb itself. This wasn't mentioned on their menu, but it provided the extra flavor the dish needed. The texture of the meat was also very good, if a little overcooked for my particular taste.
Overall, I give Ali Baba a solid 4 forks. The dish I had, had great flavor, but I felt the dips needed work. I'm also not a fan of having to do investigative work in order to figure out what I might be ordering, only to still be surprised by ingredients in the dish that weren't on the menu. Still ... I would return.
|Lamb Iskender||Curry Dish|
- Created on Saturday, 03 May 2014 16:25
Blowfish is a new, all you can eat option, sushi restaurant located in the Price Chopper Plaza on Western Avenue in Guilderland. Since the loss of Hibachi X (the Colonie sister restaurant to Sushi X), Brian and I were eager to try Blowfish when it opened.
The decor is strange, in my opinion, for a sushi restaurant. It's modern hipster ... It reminds me of TCBY. The music playing playing over the sound system also struck me as strange. It ranged from country, to pop, rock, and more. I don't think they've really found their identity yet...
The restaurant wasn't busy, and we were promptly seated. I will say, that was about the only promptness of the service. The wait staff didn't seem familiar with how to conduct table service at all. They were almost afraid to approach a table (one table actually went to the hostess to pay their check). Plus, as is typical in our experiences with authentic ethnic restaurants, the language barrier made it impossible to ask questions.
To make things simple, Brian and I both chose the All-You-Can-Eat option. While I don't recall the names of the rolls, I do know that the fish was fresh ... which is the absolute minimum for a sushi restaurant in my opinion. Past that, the flavors were "just okay." There was nothing that popped. I'd even go so far as to say they were just mediocre.
The service was inexcusably slow. They didn't seem to know what they were doing, and they seemed almost irreverently afraid to serve/clear the plates. There was also the matter of the screaming infant belonging to one of the owners, and the fact that the child received more attention than the customers.
For a mediocre experience, Blowfish gets a 3 fork rating.
- Created on Saturday, 03 May 2014 17:14
Iron Roost is located at 36 Front St. in Ballston Spa. Since Brian and I were headed to Saratoga for a wine festival, we knew this was the perfect opportunity to hit a breakfast spot on the way. I quickly came up with a top 3, and Brian zeroed in on Iron Roost.
At first I thought, "really? A 'just waffle' place?" Then I took a closer look at their menu, and my curiosity piqued. Granted I was still hesitant, but I figured what the heck? Plus, we've heard about this place from several people.
When we walked in, the hostess was nowhere to be seen. Not knowing what we were doing, we just wandered around, lost, inside. The hostess immediately spotted our lost faces, and gave us the rundown of how to order, and told us she had a table ready once our order was placed. The way Iron Roost works is the hostess gets you a table, then you place your order at the counter. Or if it's really busy, she puts your name on her list, and when she calls you to let you know a table is ready, that's the time to go up and place your order. It reminded us both of a crepe place in Lee, MA, only much better organized.
Everything about this place gave off a great vibe from the moment we walked in. Everyone was friendly, the restaurant had a warm feel, and last but not least ... the food was SO good.
Brian ordered the Bananas Foster Waffle with a side of their Housemade Sausage, and I ordered the Homemade Corned Beef Hash Waffle. Given how busy the place was, our food was out real fast.
I'll start with my dish. The waffle was perfectly cooked, and I loved that the batter was neutral in flavor. When dealing with savory flavors, a non-sweet waffle batter was a good call. The Corned Beef in the hash was spot on amazing. Absolutely amazing, and the eggs were perfectly cooked to an over-medium. I do, however, have to take off points for the potatoes. Something was off about them. They tasted unevenly cooked, and they didn't seem to have absorbed the flavor from the corned beef. It's strange to say that, in a hash, the potatoes didn't belong.
With Brian's dish, I'll start with the sausage, because it was the one thing that detracted from the plate. It was too sweet of a sausage. While I'm not opposed to a hint of maple flavor, the ratio was off putting and not something we'd order again. HOWEVER, Brian's waffle was out of this world! Everything about that Bananas Foster Waffle was complete perfection. If you get that waffle (which I highly recommend you do!) ask for a spoon for that sauce! Really, you'll need it because there won't be enough waffle for that amazing sauce and I'd consider it CRIMINAL to leave any of it on the plate!
Iron Roost gets a solid 4 fork review. We can't let the potatoes and sausage slide, as much as we'd REALLY like to, for the sakes of those waffles. That said, Iron Roost is a MUST on our visit list. Oh how I wish they were just a little closer!
|Corned Beef Hash Waffle||Bananas Foster Waffle|
- Created on Saturday, 03 May 2014 15:41
Blu Stone Bistro is located on Albany Shaker Road in Colonie, and borders the Hotel Indigo. When you walk in, the decor is very open and trendy. There's a bar up front, surrounded by various high-top tables. Past that, and through double doors, is the more formal seating area.
I will say that I found the non booth seating to be a bit cramped. Neighboring tables were too close, leaving no real space for me to push back from the table in comfort. I'm not a small person, so this was something I took notice of.
For the longest time, I'd avoided going to Blu Stone Bistro for one reason: Their horrific website. Every time I looked, it was a different shade of horrble. For the prices I saw on their menu, I refused to walk into the establishment until that had been addressed. It looked like now was the time.
I had chosen to drag a friend here because I knew they had happy hour, and I was curious. Restaurant happy hour specials should be a decent value, and also give the diner a good idea of what the restaurant has to offer. In my opinion, happy hour (just like Restaurant Week) should be the restaurant's way to reel in return customers. I didn't find that to be the case at Blue Stone.
Blu Stone Bistro's happy hour consists of their 2 cheapest wines being discounted by $2, and discounted well drinks. There were no appetizer discounts, and no real variety in drink specials. In fact, the drink that came highly recommended was one that was not on their happy hour menu and almost twice their happy hour prices...(the drink was phoenomenal ... but too expensive).
On to the food ... Since I'd arrived really early, I decided to start with a small plate of the Tuna Tartare (not pictured). The dish was exceptional, but at $14 the portion size did not bring value.
Once my dining partner arrived, I ordered the California Flatbread with Bacon ($16), and he ordered the Burger ($13) cooked medium.
For the flatbread being $16, $3 of which was the bacon topping, I found myself hunting for the bacon. if I'm paying $3 for a topping ... it should be everywhere. Just the fact that I had to search for it was a turnoff. The rest of the flatbread was just "ok," flavor wise, but the bread was tough. For the most part I found myself scraping off and eating the toppings, and discarding the bread entirely.
My dining companion's burger was overcooked. It was a well done burger ... there was no pink to be found. He did say that it had good flavor, which was its only saving grace ... especially at $13.
While the service was decent ... there's nothing about Blu Stone that would bring me back a second time. I feel they're too pretentious compared to what they actually offer, and there are far better choices that offer a far better value with amazing food.
Blu Stone earns 3 forks for medocrity. Also note that I've reflected the "Price Per Person" of their standard entree pricing, versus the burger and flatbread had during this meal.
|California Flatbread w/ Bacon||Burger & Fries|
- Everybody's Cafe
- Grappa '72
- Chez Mike
- Betty Boop's Diner
- Philly Bar & Grill
- Sally's Streetside Cafe
- Tailored Tea
- Duncan's (Dairy Bar)
- Mio Vino
- Tesoro (Guilderland Location)
- La Empanada Llama
- Grandma's (Pies)
- Wolf Road Diner
- Smith's Tavern
- Jack's Diner
- Home Front Cafe
- Illium Cafe
- Taiwan Noodle
- Wine Bar on Lark
- Ambition Bistro Coffee House & Eatery
- Mr. Pio Pio
- Dan's Place Two
- Milestone Restaurant & Bar
- Delma's Diner
- Cafe 217
- Portelli's Joe N' Dough Cafe
- Marotta's Bar-Risto
- Hibachi X
- The Flying Chicken
- Buffalo Wagon
- Xin Fu
- Barcelona Restaurant
- New World Bistro Bar
- Garden Bistro 24
- All Good Bakers (closed)