Category Archives: Happy Hour

City Squire Ale House

#sillyandwillyreunited

Friday night, after far too long of a separation, my friend Will and I reunited for an evening of fun and food. Initially I thought we were going to hang in Albany for First Friday, but he felt the need to check out a friend’s new spot on Union Street in Schenectady since he been away when they celebrated the grand opening. Our night could not have been better.

The space, from what I understand, is a complete new build on what had previously been a tavern sort of place, the original City Squire. From the charming front porch, which blurs the line between indoors and outdoors with its floor to ceiling doors which open wide, to the upstairs deck, the building was simply beautiful. The color palette, the floors, the attention to detail, everything about the place combined to make a really pretty setting for what became an indulgent and prolonged meal.

We started at the bar with 3 items from the menu and drinks. Making selections was a challenge because so much sounded good, but we went with the Mexican cauliflower (a recommendation from the owner), a dozen steamers and the fish tacos which were made with fried shrimp on that particular day. Our bartender, Kevin, was great making sure we were comfortable and well taken care of, and went as far as to have other guests at the bar shift over to provide us with seating. Nice.

The cauliflower, served in a cast iron casserole dish, was fantastic. Florets of cauliflower, corn kernels, scallions and queso fresco came together perfectly in a flavorful array of textures. Ordered with a salad, it would make a dynamite and satisfying meatless meal. The clams were lovely – fresh and clean lacking only a vessel in which to place the quickly emptied shells. The tacos were a tremendous portion – 3 soft shelled beauties bursting with shrimp and assorted shredded vegetables served in a perfectly designed holder. We probably could have stopped there, but were joined by our third guest and moved to a table to sample a few more items.

Mexican cauliflower heaven

Clams, butter, crostini simplicity

Fish tacos – outstanding!

Will opted for a salad and a beef entree, while Raj selected two more small plate options – the Korean wings (spicy with a Korean chili garlic sauce) and the grilled flatbread a bruschetta-y sort of prep of naan, tomatoes, chicken and mozzarella. I sampled everything at the table and found it all to be well prepared and nicely seasoned. It is a casual place with paper napkins, yet the dishes and glasses were thoughtfully selected and our server was attentive to our needs.

As we wrapped things up to take home, we were joined by the chef, who actually oversees all four of the restaurants the family owns. While we didn’t order dessert, his enthusiasm and joy in being part of this project, as well as the others, was a super sweet way to end a meal. There is a real sense of family and teamwork that I really appreciated seeing. So many industry folks struggle with cynicism, but without exception, everyone we encountered was positive and upbeat. I was a guest of my friends and don’t know our total for the night, but can’t imagine it was out of line for the quality of the experience. Can’t wait to go back!

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Filed under Dinner, drinking, Eating, favorites, Food, friends, Happy Hour, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants, Schenectady, Spring, Uncategorized, upstate New York

Defining Luxury

Someone needs to explain to my children that spending two weeks at the beach every summer is a luxury, not something to be taken for granted. It’s always been important to me that the boys have traditions in their lives, certain experiences that provide a constant thread throughout their childhoods.  Cape Cod vacations have been a part of their summers literally for their entire lives.  While there, we always eat at the Lobster Pot, we listen to the same song as we cross the bridge in Bourne, there is ice cream nearly every day.  It’s what we do.

But, something seems to have backfired.   Their attitude is in danger of morphing into entitlement – is this how that happens?  Somehow they’ve gotten the impression that everyone spends two weeks frolicking in the Atlantic each and every year.  All of the preparations, the shopping and stocking up on tequila chips and granola bars, the packing of the linens, the beach toys, the clothing…the arrangements for the house and our dog while we’re away…the bikes…they’ve gotten the impression that everything will managed. By me, apparently.  And, of course, I will take care of them and all the necessary details involved with making us all comfortable for two weeks in a place or two not our home.  It’s what I do.

I work two jobs to be able to afford a two week vacation in Cape Cod.  This is a luxury. Which brings me to healthcare…I am firmly of the belief that every one in this country should be able to have access to medical care.   Getting sick and requiring medical attention is a completely different set of circumstances. It is a necessity.  I’ve been without health insurance and it is a bad place to be, certainly about as unlike a vacation at the beach as I can imagine. 

I understand that we all have issues with how our taxes are spent – I personally wish we spent as much money on education and the well being of our citizens as we do on war, but shouldn’t everyone be able to bring their sick children to a doctor? If I lost my job, a possibility in these economic times when districts are eliminating positions left and right, my biggest fear would be healthcare. As someone who has already had cancer twice, as well as weird heart issues (obviously, a precise medical term), I can’t imagine health insurers would be willingly lining up to give me coverage. What do you think? I don’t know as much about Obamacare as I probably should, but it seems like a starting point as our country considers the health and well being of our citizens. To me, it seems a positive indication that someone cares about a basic and essential need in a civilized society. I think I might spend some time at the beach talking to the boys about how lucky we are to have two weeks at the beach. And health insurance every day.

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Filed under Boys, Cape Cod, Happy Hour, medical, musings, politics, Summer

Happy Hour #4 – Kitchen Pass Edition




Yes, I know that I am posting my Happy Hour experiences out of order, but it is my blog. I wanted to share my experiences from Friday while they are fresh since I’ve already proven that I lose details as time passes. To begin – is anyone familiar with the term “Kitchen Pass” or is just a term known to my Greenwood Lake friends? Where I come from, a Kitchen Pass means that there is an opportunity to get out of the house untethered. A friend, who likes to be called Aloysius, advertised that he had a such a Pass so I suggested he come up to Albany and join me for some shopping in Saratoga. (Despite his staunch heterosexualness, the girls have always considered Aloysius to be one of us.) He declined, so I upped the ante with an offer of Happy Hour research. To this, he agreed.

We started at Wolff’s Biergarten on Broadway. We arrived at about 6:15, well into the FridayPuppy Happy Hour event. The place was hopping (beer joke) and filled with folks ranging in age from early 20’s to AARP members. It took some effort to initially get a beer, but the music was great, the people were friendly and the beer delicious. I even made an instant Facebook friend! A great start to our night.

We decided to visit the hubby at work and headed to Dale Miller for a cocktail. As fate would have it, the available bar stools were directly in front of the Jameson’s, so Aloysius was immediately comfortable despite the leap we made in swankiness. Lars made me my favorite martini of all time – this delicious chocolate-raspberry concoction that she has dubbed the “Lilly.” I am not a martini girl, but this taste of heaven in a glass is enough to convert me. John, I mean Aloysius, had a very interesting conversation at the bar with a man who may have offered him the opportunity to purchase his multi-million dollar software business. We’ll know more about that next week. Since I can only drink 1 martini, it was time to move on to the next place.

New World Bistro Bar has quickly become our favorite neighborhood place for a drink and a light bite. The atmosphere is inviting, the staff familiar and friendly, and it is a terrific last stop on the way home place. We finished up here with a delicious cheeseburger, perfectly medium rare, and an order of Duck Picadillo Empanadas and a couple of beers. Very enjoyable.

One of my oldest friends + 3 fairly new Albany dining & drinking spots = a great night out. Happy Hour #4 was a resounding success.

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Filed under drinking, Happy Hour, Restaurants