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- Category: News
- Written by Brian
There were 17 different wineries, breweries, and distilleries as well as over 20 food vendors present to sample their products from all over New York and Massachusetts
Even with the bad weather, there seemed to be a decent turnout for the first day of this two day event.
The bad weather made event organizers move things around at the last second, so the ticket tables were moved inside (making the entrance a bit hard to find) and parking attendants were few and far between.
You still have a few hours to visit tonight, as well as all day tomorrow. If you do go, be sure to visit the food vendors outside, they need some love too, and the bad weather keeps people from seeing them as much as the vendors inside.
- Category: Restaurant Reviews
- Written by Brian
Johnny's is a new venture by Mallozzi in Schenectady across from Proctors. They are known for their daily homemade pastas and upscale dining experience for a reasonable price. I'm happy to say that Johnny's does not disappoint.
As we walked up to the door, someone was there to open the door and greet us. The hostess was standing ready to seat us, and our waitress (Jennifer) was prompt and friendly - Actually that isn't fair to say, she was far, far better than prompt and friendly, she was amazing. I would say I am quite experienced at eating at various restaurants, and Jennifer provided the best service and dining experience I have ever had. She was knowledgeable, professional, and truly passionate about the food and restaurant.
On our server's recommendation, we ordered the Italian Nachos ($10) and the Arancini Sicilliani ($10). The Italian Nachos were homemade tortilla chips with sausage, onions, tomatoes, olives, peppers, mozzarella, and an alfredo sauce. It was huge, and absolutely amazing. The chips stayed crispy, the sausage was flavorful and cooked perfectly, and the alfredo sauce made everything blend together. We were arguing about what the star of the dish was, and decided everything made the dish perfect. The Arancini Sicilliano is risotto balls with ground beef and peas in a cocktail sauce. The risotto was cooked great, and the flavors worked well together. I think the homemade marinara sauce stole the show on this dish, it was flavorful but not overpowering. The risotto could have used a little more flavor on it's own.
For the entrees, we ordered Pink Sauce alla Olivia with shrimp ($18) and Lobster Mondello ($22). The Pink Sauce all Olivia with shrimp came with tagliatelle. The homemade pasta was absolutely perfectly cooked, the shrimp was fresh and had a light grilled taste to it. The sauce was a little mild, but it just made the pasta and shrimp stand out even more. The Lobster Mondello was also served with tagliatelle. The lobster was butter poached, with an amazing butter flavor. Again the pasta was cooked to perfection and the sauce was seasoned enough to compliment the dish but not overwhelm it.
There are two things I need to stress again. Their homemade pasta is a must, and Jennifer is an amazing waitress. When (not even if) you go to Johnny's try the Italian Nachos, a pasta dish and ask to sit in Jennifer's section (I'm not sure they can do that, but never hurts to ask). This is a great dining experience for a reasonable price.
|Pink Sauce alla Olivia with Shrimp
- Category: Restaurant Reviews
- Written by Josie
If it had not been for one of our readers, who knows when we might have stumbled upon this little gem. Taiwan Noodle is located at 218 Central Avenue in Albany, in the space formerly occupied by Saso's Japanese Restaurant. I hadn't known another food establishment had moved in. Now I know!
Taiwain Noodle's cuisine boasts everything from dim sum, to noodle soups, lo mein, rice dishes, and more. What's more is that the value just can't be beat. Rest assured, if you're looking for your typical, blah, run of the mill Chinese food then this is not the food you are looking for. However, if you're looking for cuisine, at a deal, that's also a great experience, then I think you'll be pleased with Taiwan Noodle.
Brian and I arrived, and though the establishment was quite busy, there were still a few open tables. Tea was served, and then we began to order. You can not go without dim sum! Shame on you if you skip the dim sum! We ordered the Steamed Pork Buns ($3.25), Fried Wontons ($5.45), and Soup Dumplings (which aren't listed as Soup Dumplings on the menu. So you have to ask. I can't remember what it's actually listed as). For an entree, Brian ordered the Spicy Noodle with Meat ($4.95), and I ordered the Chicken with Chinese Sausage Rice Basket ($7.95).
Be warned, and prepared, that there will be a language barrier if you have questions. It's just the nature of the beast, and happens more often than not with international cuisine. Most times, there will be someone on hand who speaks better English than the rest, but it's still a good idea to know what to expect upon embarking.
A couple of minutes after ordering, Brian and I were served soup. Wow, what a delicious soup! It took a couple of tries to ask, but we finally discovered it was a seaweed soup with egg drop. We were so tempted to order more, but we knew food would be coming en masse.
Starting with the dim sum, the fried wontons were absolutely out of this world. We don't know what the mixture was, that was inside. What we did know, was that it was amazing. The soup dumplings were also delish, but the dumpling itself was much thicker than expected. More dumpling equals less soup, but it was still flavorful. The steamed pork bun was an acquired taste. It's a thick bun, with a small pork mixture inside. The bun itself doesn't have flavor, but it takes well to having flavor added. After applying some soy to the bun, I found myself enjoying it more. Brian was less of a fan, so I gladly finished the buns while leaving him to attack the remaining soup dumplings.
The entrees get mixed reviews. The noodles in Brian's dish were perfectly cooked, with just the right amount of chew. However, the spicy meat mixture had a lot of ingredients Brian tends to pass on and hadn't known they were in the dish. At first I thought his dish to be too spicy, and in a less than flavorful way, but much of the meat mixture wasn't mixed into the taste that I had. That said, I think it could have used some soy doctoring as well.
For my dish, the cut chicken pieces, though moist and wonderfully tender, had a lot of fat that should have been rendered and didn't really lend itself well to a steamed preparation. Fat on meat is something that has to be handled delicately, seared to a 'melt in your mouth' texture. Steamed, and congealed just isn't appetizing to the palate. I also learned that I'm not a fan of Chinese sausage. This isn't the fault of the sausage, as I believe that's just the way the product is, but it had a sweetness to it that was almost jam like.
Service was fast and friendly, and while I probably wouldn't call Taiwan Noodle my top contender in the realm of dim sum, and Chinese cuisine, I can definitely see going back. Their dim sum was enjoyable, and I'm intrigued enough by the cuisine that I had, that I'd to try their soup dishes as well.
(More pictures after the review)
|Spicy Noodle w/Meat||Chicken w/Chinese Sausage|
- Category: Restaurant Reviews
- Written by Josie
Some days it just doesn't pay to have high hopes for an establishment, simply from a perceived reputation. This was my lesson of the day with regards to the Wine Bar on Lark Street in Downtown Albany which I finally got to visit, after having wanting to do so for quite some time.
When we first entered, the front tables were jam packed, and we thought that would mean it would be too long of a wait for a table. To our pleasant surprise, the customers up front were simply enjoying a few glasses, and with the patio open there was still plenty of seating to be had. This, however, was where all pleasantness ended.
What first struck me as odd was the demeanor and dress of the wait staff. To call it 'laid back' would be an understatement. Of the three servers in our relative section, one wore short shorts and a tank top with visible bra straps. When she spoke, her hands never left her pockets. A second server had an ... intriguing lace over skirt, with a somewhat short skirt underneath. The third server was actually professionally dressed. When they spoke, it was in such a tone that it felt almost as if they didn't want to be there. There was no energy. There were no smiles. It felt .. uncomfortable, and none too friendly.
To start, Brian and I each ordered a glass of wine. Would you believe it took almost 15 minutes for us to get our wine? Strike two.
For meals, Brian ordered the hangar steak ($20). I ordered the bone marrow from their small plates section ($14), plus a small plate serving of the fresh pasta entree with shrimp, pancetta, and peas ($14).
It took well over an hour for our entrees to be served. Inexcusable! What's more, we watched as table upon table of diners seated after us received wine within 3 minutes, and appetizers/small plates within 10-12 minutes. One table in particular (of 2 people) received a never ceasing processional of wine, and appetizers, on the house, while Brian and I sat, hungry, and waiting. After the 4th free appetizer, delivered by a gentleman from the bar who wasn't even serving in this section (my guess is a manager), he says to them "You might want to consider ordering some food." He then chuckles, and walks away.
Meanwhile, the servers who are serving everyone else have not communicated to us about the wait time. After about 25 minutes or so, the bone marrow (and only the bone marrow) arrives. Now, on the one hand, I concede I should have asked that both my small plates be brought out together. On the other hand, as a server, when your customer orders 2 small plates as a meal, wouldn't it make sense to ask them if they wanted the small plates served together? This goes back to the less then welcoming, less than energetic service we received.
I'll actually segue here, and talk about the taste of the dish. I'm not a bone marrow aficionado by any means, but I liked this rendition much better than the one I had at New World Bistro Bar. I think part of it was because the bones were lengthwise, providing more surface area for roasting. That said, one of the two bones had little to no fat on it at all, really leaving only the one bone left. The bones were accompanied by a handful of perfectly fried oysters, two toasted baguette slices, and a mango rhubarb chutney. While the flavors and textures complimented each other, the star of the dish was the chutney. Hands down, that chutney was amazing.
Now we return to the wait. Again, we notice tables being turned over and served while we wait. What's even worse was that the wait staff was not only avoiding eye contact by this point, but they were also avoiding walking by our table at all. Even the simplest communication of "we're sorry for the wait, your plates will be up very soon," or some other form of acknowledgement would have been appreciated. Instead, I felt like we were being ostracized, and I couldn't figure out why.
After a 40 minute stretch, Brian and I were about to flag the earlier gentleman from the bar, who was now serving drinks to -and chatting with- another table. As hungry as we were, we had finally reached our breaking point, and were ready to leave. Lo and behold, off to our right, we see a server approaching (I don't even remember which one it was at this point, I was so hungry..and angry). Our dishes finally arrived, 40 minutes after my small plate.
Brian's steak was cooked to a perfect medium, and had good flavor. The fried potato gnocchi was also delicious, and everything was bathed in freshly grated cheese. What was unfortunate was the size of the plate. For $20, the portion size was that of a small plate. There was a grand total of 10 pieces of gnocchi on the plate. If you're unfamiliar with gnocchi, they're made of potato and flour and are barely the size of a finger tip. For a $20 steak entree, I dare say it felt like a ripoff.
By contrast, my pasta dish was the perfect size for a small plate. The pasta was al dente. The sauce, though uninspired, was still tasty. The shrimp were fresh, and perfectly cooked. My one complaint is that the peas were hard. They were crunchy, and undercooked, really taking away from the rest of the dish.
It probably goes without saying, but the Wine Bar is not on our list of places to return. Tasty as the food may be, the utter lack and failure in service makes me cringe at the thought of eating there again. For the first time, in our roughly 70 reviews, we found ourself having to grab something else to eat from a nearby establishment, in order to feel like we had a meal.
By a slim margin, the only thing holding the Wine Bar at a 3 fork rating was that the food was good.
|Bone Marrow||Hangar Steak w/Crispy Gnocchi|
|Fresh Pasta w/ Shrimp|