Foodies of the Capital Region! Your source for news, events, and reviews of all things food.
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- Category: News
- Written by Brian
Just got home from the Mazzone Food Tour. We visited all 6 Mazzone restaurants and had a small dish at each (and a dessert at the last stop). Our favorites were the edamame dumplings at Tala and the delmonico steak at Prime Bar and Grill.
The tour was put on by Mazzone Hospitality and the Giddyup Bus. They are already planning a second tour.
- Category: Events
- Written by Kent
Taste of Upstate Wine, Food & Music Festival hosted by the areas premier wine trail; The Upper Hudson Valley Wine Trail. Join us for a celebration of the best our wonderful part of the country has to offer. Whether it be wine, food, music or art; we believe the folks in Upstate NY do it better than anyone else and we’re ready to show them off in the country’s best city!
When: Saturday, April 19th from 12pm-6pm
Where: Saratoga Springs City Center
Tickets: $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Children under 10 are $10 and includes food samples. Children under 5 are free.
- Category: Restaurant Reviews
- Written by Courtney
Dim Sum seems the perfect way to do brunch on a Saturday, so we headed to the new Rain Modern Chinese at 259 Lark Street in Albany last weekend. The restaurant lives up to its name with sleek modern décor, and the most striking feature was the entire front wall of windows with the panorama of Lark Street bustling by. We were seated immediately and served complimentary tea. The friendly waiter provided paper order sheets for us to choose our dim sum selections. I shall preface the rest of this review by saying that I am not typically enamored with the steamed dishes on a dim sum menu. The benefit to dim sum restaurants that serve from wheeled carts is that you can choose the dishes that look the most appetizing, and in my case, choose a variety of textures.
From the dim sum menu we chose to share Sesame Seed Balls, Rice Noodle Roll with Beef, Fried Shrimp and Pork Dumpling, Pork Siu Mai, Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf, Spring Rolls, and Beef Short Rib with Black Pepper Sauce. From the regular menu, we chose the Hoisin Glazed Pork Belly Bao because my friend can’t turn down a good pork belly. We probably chose too many dishes because we brought almost half of our food home in a doggy bag.
The first dish brought out was the Sesame Seed Balls. These were perfect in consistency and the bean paste in the center had a nice texture and was not cloyingly sweet – a pleasant surprise! The Rice Noodle Roll with the Beef was cooked well and the beef filling had a terrific flavor. It was also reasonably firm for a steamed dish. Just as we were starting to realize that we had a lot of dishes still on their way out, the waiter brought us the Fried Shrimp and Pork Dumplings. They were more like a bun than a dumpling and the filling was soupy rather than firm, but once I got over my surprise, I liked them well enough. The fried bun was delicious, although the filling was a bit mealy for my tastes. My favorite dish by far was the Pork Siu Mai. Despite being a steamed dish, I found it to have an awesome texture and the hints of garlic and ginger in the meat really took it to another level. I could have eaten nothing but the Pork Siu Mai and been quite content. My friend’s favorite dish was the Hoisin Glazed Pork Belly Bao, and I have to agree that it was a star. The meat was tender, the slaw was tangy and well dressed, and it was served on soft buns.
At this point, my dining companion and I agreed that it must surely be 5 o’clock somewhere and the Fuji Volcano for 2 was calling us. The drinks menu wasn’t descriptive enough for our liking as it was vague on the specific juices in each drink, but we decided to roll the dice because there could be nothing unlikable about a drink that promises to be brought to the table in flames. I am happy to say that it met our expectations. The Fuji Volcano is actually a mixture of several drinks, and there is a small island in the middle of the gigantic moat of tropical elixir where the bartender pours a shot of Bacardi 151 – the part they light on fire!
There were some dishes that we didn’t particularly care for, such as the Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf, the Spring Rolls and the Beef Short Rib with Black Pepper Sauce. The sticky rice in the lotus leaf was delicious on its own, however in the center of the rice was a very odd and unappetizing gooey meat mixture. And I was completely appalled to find almost exactly the same concoction in the Spring Rolls! Spring rolls are a favorite of mine and I never expected to bite into one and find meat goo, so I was really disappointed. The Beef short ribs were merely unremarkable. We agreed that beef ribs taste better any way other than steamed, which gave the outside of the meat an unappealing gray color and gluey coating.
In general, we were a fan of Rain Modern Chinese and I’ll give it 3 forks for the dim sum and 4 forks otherwise. The food we ordered from the regular menu was outstanding, so I look forward to returning for dinner sometime soon. And the dim sum was reasonably priced. Including our $13.50 drink, the total bill came to $55 for two people. For 8 different dishes, that’s not bad.
Beef Short Ribs with Black Pepper Sauce Fried Shrimp and Pork Dumpling
Rice Noodle Roll with Beef Spring Rolls
- Category: Restaurant Reviews
- Written by Courtney
We decided to try the Midtown Tap and Tea room on a Friday after work. Located at 289 New Scotland Avenue in Albany and with parking in the rear of the restaurant, it was an easy location to travel to from downtown. After having read a review from a few years about it being a bit run down and dusty, I was delighted to find a fresh, clean and tidy bar and restaurant. It was a bit empty for 5 pm on Friday, but by the time we left at 6:30, it was hopping. After being seated immediately, I inquired about the Happy Hour specials and learned that the beer on tap was $4. The newly acquired and locally made Nine Pin Cider was on tap, but not included in the special, but I decided to try it anyway. My friend got the citrusy Sauvignon Blanc. I’m happy to say that both drinks were delicious. The crispy and aromatic cider has inspired me to make a visit to the new local cidery down on Broadway for tasting hours very soon.
My friend and I opted to share several of their small plates, which ranged in price from $10 to $14. It took us a bit of time to narrow down our order because several of the dishes looked wonderful. We settled on the Lobster Calzones, the Spicy Chipotle Shrimp Tacos and the Ahi Tuna Crisps. Additionally, she decided to try the Roasted Tomato Bisque with Parmesan Crostini. The bisque was excellent. I don’t love tomato soups in general, but the spoonful I tried would inspire me to order it next time.
The Lobster Calzones were a pleasant surprise. The filling was very good, but the buttery, flaky pasta it was enclosed in was outstanding. The calzones were topped with a fresh roasted yellow tomato sauce, and came with an arugula salad perfectly dressed with a refreshing vinaigrette and candied nuts. It was our favorite dish of the lot. Next we got the Spicy Chipotle Shrimp tacos. While they were missing the expected chipotle heat, the tacos were delicious. The roasted corn salsa had an excellent depth of flavor, the cilantro lime and avocado sauce tasted very fresh and the shrimp were cooked just right. Last and unfortunately least, we were served the Ahi Tuna Crisps. The wonton crisps themselves were very good, but everything they were topped with was very disappointing. The slaw was barely kissed with the tangy sauce, the tuna was woefully overcooked and worst of all, the whole thing was drenched in wasabi dressing. Even when I scraped a good deal of the sauce off, the dish was barely palatable.
Since the name of the establishment referenced tea, we asked to see the tea and dessert menu. There wasn’t a large selection of either, but the teas listed looked very intriguing and we were impressed to learn that they were crafted locally by DiviniTea, a local shop in Schenectady. We chose the African Elixer and the White Melon, and decided to split the Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee. The teas are loose leaf and offered by the cup or pot. Both teas were aromatic and delicious, and the White Melon in particular made us wistful for Spring. While small in portion, the Crème Brulee was decadent.
We are happy to give Midtown Tap and Tea room 4 forks. I will definitely return to try more of their offerings. The service was attentive and friendly. While perusing their Facebook page, I noticed they frequently post pictures of their specials, which all look inventive and mouth-watering. My friend and I were particularly impressed that they feature food from local artisans and the wait staff were knowledgeable and enthusiastic about them.
Lobster Calzones Chipotle Shrimp Tacos