Category Archives: Restaurants

So I kind of bought a wine bar

imageTo be more specific, my brother and I bought THE Wine Bar & Bistro on Lark. Last week. Now, you should know that this all happened very, very fast. That is, if you take away all the years I’ve worked in the business (30+), including the last 4 1/2, for which I’ve worked at this very place. An opportunity presented and with the assistance of true, but pithy phrases such as “Do what you love” and “It’s perfect for you” I made a leap out of my comfort zone.

It’s kind of scary, but more exhilarating and exciting. I know that I am going to be working very long days, but it isn’t 7 days a week and I’m healthy and strong. I estimate that I’ll be working 60 hours a week or so, but you know what? There are 168 hours in a week which still leaves me plenty of time for sleeping and loved ones and running and reading.

I’m not particularly goal oriented, I haven’t been consciously working in the hospitality industry for decades as a means of stepping towards owning my own restaurant. I did it because I loved it.  I don’t run 15 or 20 miles a week because I’m training for a marathon, I do it because I enjoy being outdoors and I appreciate my health. Because I am fairly fit and active, I can face 60 hour weeks with confidence. Maybe this venture is what I’ve been preparing myself for physically with runs and bike rides and yoga classes.

It’s going to work because I love the hospitality industry and it is the perfect venture for me.

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Filed under Albany, Lark Street, Local, Restaurants

Colin Hay at The Egg

Back in May, I chaperoned a middle school field trip to Montreal. It was an exceedingly long day and somewhere around hour number 16 the acoustic Colin Hay version of Men at Work’s song “Overkill” got stuck in my brain. It seemed appropriate.image

When I finally got home that night, close to midnight, the guy and I spent some time You-Tubing Colin Hay while sipping bourbons sours. As Saturday became Sunday, things began to improve and I finally felt removed from the smell of pre-teen feet, and the sound of pre-pubescent voices. I credit the guy, the music and the bourbon in fairly equal measures.

The very next week I saw that Colin Hay was coming to play in my very own pretty city. Unable to find anyone else willing or able to attend the show, I hesitated about buying a ticket solo until 97.7 WEXT offered some up with a pledge. I made a contribution  and scored a single ticket – done.

In my heart, I was going with the express hope of hearing Colin sing “Overkill,”  however I was a bit delayed in arriving at the show due to a different sort of overkill, namely of the wining and dining sort.  You see, some friends and I met prior to the show to take advantage of both the pasta and wine specials offered at The Wine Bar and Bistro on Lark.  And, we don’t like to do things halfway when it comes to terrific food and delicious wine…

So, I was about 15 minutes late in arriving at the show and, according to the ladies I spoke with later in the bathroom, Colin did “Overkill” prior to my arrival.  Despite missing my one “must hear” song, I absolutely loved the show.  Colin Hay is a very, very funny man and I spent as much time laughing at his banter as I did applauding his music.  I was completely unfamiliar with every song he played but enjoyed each of them.  I hadn’t been in the Swyer Theatre (the smaller of the two venues in The Egg) in a long time and had forgotten how good the sound is, so different from larger or outdoor venues.image

Hay signed merch (there was a good assortment of cds, vinyl and such) and shook hands post-show and the line was impressively long.  Maybe I’ll catch that song next time.  It certainly wouldn’t be overkill to see Colin Hay again.

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Filed under Albany, drinking, Eating, Lark Street, Restaurants, Wine

Friday night cookout at The Cheese Traveler

Despite the threat of tornadoes, a couple of the (formerly) McGuire’s girls and I dropped in for the weekly cookout at the DelSo’s own Cheese Traveler. What? You didn’t know they had a dinner menu of delectable, seasonal items available for dine in or take away? Please allow me to share some information about what we ordered from last night’s offerings.

Panzanella

Panzanella

We opened with the salt potatoes, a panzanella salad and a specially requested order of grilled asparagus. The potatoes and asparagus were both accompanied by a delicious aioli, while the panzanella was a medley of gorgeous greens, vegetables and capers tossed with chunks of perfectly grilled bread. We ordered a second one of those bad boys.

imageJaclyn and I each had the #2: a tilldale burger: Shelburne cheddar, pancetta, and garlic aioli ($13), while Emily went with the #3 a lamb burger: chèvre, chutney, garlic aioli ($13). Juicy and beautifully cooked these burgers were exactly what three rather particular restaurant veterans were hoping for – simple, conscientiously sourced components put together for a dynamite casual meal.

The beverage selection has been thoughtfully curated and there were beers, wines and ciders available to enjoy on premise or to take home.  The water that was served was thoughtfully flavored with mint – nice attention to detail.

The menu changes so check here for the week’s offerings.

See you there.

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Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Dinner, Food, friends, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants

18 thoughts from the weekend my son turned 18

  • When he was born, my oldest son scared me. That changed.
  • Now, I’m in awe of him.
  • According to my sons, the plural of penis is penis. (The “s” is silent when it’s plural)
  • Crazy > Creepy
  • The Olde English was the perfect place to celebrate my Anglophile son’s birthday.
  • Molly, our server, deserves a raise. She was terrific, as was my fish and chips.
  • The skiing this weekend was wonderfully challenging.
  • Ryan, the guy at Best Buy who set me up with my new phone, was a super representative.
  • The woman who violently slammed my car with her hand in the parking lot at Crossgates Mall represented “ugly with anger” beautifully.
  • It feels good when someone you’ve known for 20+ years tells you that you look happy.
  • Troy really isn’t that far from Albany.
  • The old fashioned at The Wine Bar and Bistro and the new fashioned at New World Bistro Bar are equally perfect.
  • Applying for my son’s third passport in 18 years fills me with pride.
  • 8 countries in 18 years is pretty damn impressive.  I can’t wait to see where else my children venture.
  • McGeary’s on a Saturday night was wonderfully diverse, a testament to Tess’ ability to create an atmosphere that is welcoming.
  • Putting on a pretty dress and lipstick for an evening out doesn’t ever get tired.
  • It has been a remarkable season for x-country skiing.  That being said, I’m excited to hit the pavement in my sneakers soon.
  • The seasons, the years, life go(es) by so very quickly.  Get it while you can.

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Filed under Albany, birthdays, Boys, Dinner, family, Food, Lark Street, Local, Observations, Restaurants, skiing, Troy, Uncategorized, x-country skiing

Restaurant families

imageAfter more than three decades in the restaurant business, I know a few things. Some of the knowledge I’ve gained is related to food – how to make a buerre blanc or hollandaise and what to do with an excess of vegetables (frittata, risotto or soup).

I’ve learned about wine and spirits and the significance of all the minutia that is involved with creating an atmosphere that welcomes guests and makes them want to return. All of this is important to being successful in the hospitality industry but it pales in comparison to what I’ve come to know about people.

As a server my focus, naturally, is on my guests. I sincerely want those that I take care of to be happy and I have been so fortunate to be able to wait on some of the same people since my long ago undergraduate days. They’ve witnessed my life and the connection we share crosses our respective sides of the table to a place somewhere in the middle. Many of them know which nights I work and I do my best to recall who likes to sit where and which glass of wine they enjoyed last time they were in. We’re familiar with one another.

Over the years, though, there have been situations which have proven that the most valuable thing I have learned about the restaurant business is that the people I have worked with are my family. We’ve shared annoyances, laughter and the stress of a life that is utterly unpredictable every single shift. At the end of the night, while counting money and emptying trash bins, we have connected over a glass of wine (or two) and then hugged good night before heading to our cars to return to our other families.

It’s been a really tough couple of months for my family. The losses right now are so utterly outweighing triumphs and joys that my heart is echoing with absence. As we come together again to support one another, to embrace each other in love and sorrow during a time which feels impossibly tragic, the ability of our industry to create connections between people eclipses in importance any other aspect of the job.

Each shift on the floor comes with the guarantee of there being something new to witness or with which to contend. At this time of sadness, it is vital that we also remember with that same certainty that we are a family.  Always.

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Filed under Albany, family, friends, Observations, relationships, Restaurants

5 Things to love at Peck’s Arcade

  1. The delight of sitting at the kitchen bar (aka worshipping at the altar of Nick Ruscitto) next to my sweetie, perusing the menu.image
  2. These insane, buttery, crisp crab fritters.image
  3. The wonderful take on surf and turf we indulged in – beef short ribs and crab legs.  That chimichurri is so beyond what any pesto could ever hope to be.image
  4. The perfectly stimulating, yet satisfying dessert melange we enjoyed – so many flavors (chocolate, coconut, toffee, salted caramel) and textures (dense, chewy, airy)… What a treat to sample Greg’s talents!
  5. The unabashed enthusiasm of an owner who is able to indulge his inner DJ knowing that he (and his partner/wife) have assembled a professional staff who can keep the floor and kitchen consistently humming.

    image

    (photo snagged from Twitter)

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Filed under Eating, favorites, Food, Local, Restaurants, Troy, Wine

Seven-year (p)itch

So…this Wednesday, 12/17, is the 7th anniversary of the Wine Bar & Bistro on Lark. Yes, that did go fast! I’ve been onboard for the last 4 years and consider myself fortunate to be able to continue having a presence in the local food scene in such a special spot, especially since my availability is generally limited to a single night of the week.

Lucky me, though, – I work Wednesday nights and will be on hand to celebrate our milestone. And you know what? You should be, too! We’ll be featuring a few items from the original menu, at the original prices, and selected bottles of 2007 vintage wines will be available at a 50% discount. See? You’re lucky, too!

That’s a date then, right?

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Filed under Albany, Dinner, Eating, Events, Food, Lark Street, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants, Wine