Tag Archives: restaurants

Answering the call of cheese

imageOr maybe I should say the call of The Cheese Traveler. A couple of weeks ago while I was out of town, Eric reached out to me to see if I might lend a hand during his weekly cookouts. His regular servers were moving on to other opportunities and he just needed some help for the last 8 weeks or so of his season. Well, you know me. I like to work and if I can be of assistance to someone in my DelSo neighborhood, I’m in. Plus, there was cheese!

Two weeks ago, along with my neighbor/former McG’s coworker, Emily, I worked my first shift. How did it go? Well, we muddled through by the grace of our experience and the mellowness of everyone involved. If you’ve never done front of the house duties before I don’t know if I can explain to you all the variables and details which are involved with walking into an unknown food business and providing service, but, I’ll give it a shot…

First, there’s the menu. Although Ryan, Eric’s rockstar grill guy, runs a fairly small menu, the individual items feature numerous ingredients. Many of them include source information (for instance “Tilldale Farm“) or require some explanation (what is Halloumi??). Then there’s the beer, wine and cider offerings, which are really extensive and primarily small batch. Add in the need to understand how tickets or orders are placed (who makes the cheese plates vs. the hot items) and how the meal is paced if there are multiple courses. Of course, the server needs to know where to find things like silverware, napkins and glasses. Oh – and what do you when the gentle sprinkle of rain becomes a downpour?

So, Emily and I figured it out. Some familiar faces came out to enjoy a bite to eat and we managed to make it through the night relatively unscathed. Last night, our second dynamic duo evening, we did even better helping The Cheese Traveler to enjoy one of the best Friday night cookouts of the season. And we had a great time doing it!

I’m in for the next two Friday nights beyond point I’ll be occupied with my own project. Check out the menu, which is updated weekly, and stop by and enjoy a tasty dinner al fresco. In addition to my cameo appearance(s), there will be guest chefs featured on 8/28 and 9/4. Come see us!

Leave a comment

Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Dinner, drinking, Food, Local, Restaurants, Summer

Working my block and other randoms

imageI’ve worked on Lark Street between Spring and State Streets for nearly 13 years. That’s like a third of my life (+10).

My head has so many ideas racing around. I really want to make Lark + Lily the kind of place I’ve always looked to frequent – comfortable, consistent, warm, not overly serious.

That kind of sounds like me, doesn’t it?

I don’t have an aesthetic as much as I have an energy.

Making the transition from watching OITNB to Girls, Season 1 has been…. interesting.

As I become more involved in restaurant matters, I find myself culling other areas of my life. I don’t have time for things which make me feel weighed down. Those unmatched socks and that pile of mending to be gone – one way or another.

Sometimes when I run with Jeter I worry that he’s going to have a heart attack. That being said, I haven’t run much this month. Between the bugs on vacation and the heat and humidity of this recent hot spell, I’m just not feeling it. I miss it.

Speaking of the weather, when its this hot all I am interested in eating is plain Greek yogurt with fruit and granola and Caprese. And ice cream , of course.

I never, ever imagined I would own a business. It’s crazy exciting.

I can’t wait to share some of the things I’ve got planned. It’s going to be fun.

1 Comment

Filed under Albany, ideas, Lark Street, musings, Random, Restaurants, running, Summer, Uncategorized

My network is > than my paperwork

imageI’ve just returned from a two-week vacation, perhaps my last one for some time. There was lots of beach time, leisurely walks, and evenings devoted to little but enjoying a glass or two of wine, I did also work on the Lark + Lily project. Phone calls and appointments were made and paperwork was collected and completed. It would be a stretch to call it a “working vacation,” but work was definitely on my mind and addressed.

imageThe amount of paperwork required to buy/open a business is remarkable. I’m not going to harangue the State of New York for this, I’m just stating a fact. As I’ve gathered documentation, records and my patience to complete various applications (I’m looking at you, SLA!), I’ve had moments of feeling overwhelmed. Along with a few deep breaths, here’s what is getting me through…

I have an amazing network of friends, professionals and connections who have been incredibly generous with their talents, experience and advice. Seriously, for every single piece of paper with which I’ve had to contend there are 5 people offering their support and assistance. I have a design team (Lori Hansen and Laura Glazer) helping me to create an aesthetic that is clean, warm and modern. A photographer, Jonathan Munshi, made himself available to shoot fantastic photos for the work-in-progress website and other social media platforms.

imageThe uber talented and way over-qualified Ken Ragsdale is doing my schematic drawings for my liquor license application. My wine distributor friends, along with my former husband (a former wine salesman) are waiting in the wings to help me put together a creative wine list with a median bottle price in the $40 range. A stellar mixologist, Larz Davi, offered to develop a couple of signature cocktails and we’ll be playing up the history of 200 Lark St. with her creations. Did you know that 200 Lark St. was formerly a chiropractic office? Look for the “Backcracker” on the cocktail menu!

The industry folks (Tess Collins, Paul McCullough, The Purnomos, Connie Ware, Kevin Everleth, Matt Baumgartner) who have shared their knowledge (and Rolodexes) will eternally hold a place in my heart, along with the legal professionals and realtor who are helping me to make this all happen. Media professionals Steve Barnes and Mary Darcy are also greatly appreciated.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

The challenge of the paperwork is surpassed by the challenges trying to remember every single person who has come forward and offered a hand to me. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some, but will correct and update this post as necessary.

Leave a comment

Filed under Albany, Lark Street, Local, Restaurants, stress, Wine

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.

3 Comments

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.

Leave a comment

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

No safe harbor – Mariner’s Harbor, Kingston

imageYou’ve probably considered at least once what defines a restaurant experience as a positive one. Was it the menu? The presentation of the plates? The value? Maybe location or ambience? Or was it the service and attention to detail? While we all may have personal opinions about which components of dining out are most significance, I’m here to provide you with an example of the incredible importance of having an educated, competent and polite front of the house staff.

Last night I met my girlfriends for a dinner in Kingston’s Rondout district. Post-dinner we decided to find a place for an after dinner drink and found ourselves at a well established place none of us had ever ventured in before – Mariner’s Harbor. It was about 8:15 when we arrived and, after consulting with the accommodating hostess, we elected to take a high-top table at the bar where we would be able to enjoy our drinks after ordering and purchasing them at the bar. This is where things got bizarre…

I asked the young bartender if she had port. She looked puzzled. I asked again this time adding the word “tawny” as if that was going to get me somewhere. She shook her head with confusion. I spelled P-O-R-T and explained what it was to no avail. Realizing the futility of my quest, I asked for a wine/drink list. That, at least, she was able to provide.

My friends ordered a couple of cappuccinos and a Sambuca while I came to terms with the limitations of the list I had been handed. I asked if maybe they might have specialty coffees or cordials. Her eyes lit up with a glimmer of life and she dashed away to retrieve a different version of the wine list. Or so it seemed. In actuality, it was the very same offerings I had previously perused, only this time they were in a more elegantly bound list. Sigh.

I stepped away from the bar and asked my friend to order a sombrero for me, explaining that it was Kahlua and milk. The bartender apparently went right to work searching for guidance as to how to make a sombrero. When my friend, Lisa, interrupted her research and described the drink’s ingredients, she was rewarded with a muttered “Why didn’t you just say ‘Kahlua and milk?'” Um, I don’t know. I wouldn’t order a vodka and o.j., I’d order a screwdriver, right? Was it really unreasonable for me to order a drink by its proper name?

My friends and I moved on from our head shaking about the attitude and incompetence at the bar and spent some time visiting. At about 9:00, Virginia and I decided to hit the bathroom before hitting the road. When we approached the bathroom (which was directly across from the kitchen doorway) there seemed to be a crisis of sorts. It appeared that a number of servers had been congregating and then subsequently disbursed at our approach. Kind of like cockroaches when a light goes on.

We entered the bathroom where we were immediately confronted by the sight of a woman vomiting in the sink. She was being consoled by a friend and reassured that she was just fine. I beg to differ. It is not “just fine” to vomit in the (only!) sink of a public bathroom. If you’re sick (or have been over served) and vomiting is unavoidable, the spacious stall would be the more appropriate venue for your regurgitations.

During the few minutes we were in the bathroom, taking turns with one of the two stalls since the other stall was occupied by a server, as evidenced by her black apron on the stall floor, no employees addressed the situation. For all we know, that woman is still prone in the sink, thong exposed and mumbling. We won’t be back to check. Ever.

Leave a comment

Filed under Dinner, drinking, friends, Rant, road trips, Uncategorized, upstate New York

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)

3 Comments

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