This past week was Restaurant Week in Downtown Albany. For those not from the area, or the blissfully unaware within the area, this is a week that restaurants advertise a three course meal for a low low price of $20.13. As first-timers, we were afraid restaurants would cheap out on menu items and portion sizes.
I feel like I've been the negative nellie on this blog, which is hopefully not a reflection of my real life attitude. I do tend to be the one to write when we have a bad experience, for whatever reason. Today, however, I want to tell everyone about a fantastic experience we had at The Hollow Bar + Kitchen in Downtown Albany.
The Hollow. Though it failed to live up to its name in that we saw no headless horsemen--this is more disappointing to me than you'd think--the food, service, and hospitality managed to overcome this deficit. Walking in the interior is fairly nondescript, with simple brick walls and white linen tablecloths. The lighting is a little low, though I didn't have an issue reading anything (possibly because we sat near the window), and the music and atmosphere generally comes across as rock-indyish to me, but I may just be a cultural gorilla.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Sunday, August 11, 2013
I take lunch pretty seriously, especially since I work in Downtown Albany. In looking back at my favorite Downtown Albany lunch spots, I can't believe I totally neglected to mention The City Beer Hall! Sure CBH is great for happy hour and dinner, but it's much quieter and less crowded during the day. With a gorgeous patio space out back, it's a perfect lunchtime getaway break in the summer.
The lunch menu has evolved into a a lighter, fresher one using seasonal ingredients and it's been a nice alternative to days when I've had a 518 burger and felt too stuffed to work the rest of the afternoon. To be fair, it is probably the best burger I've had in Capital Region. Can't go wrong with quality grass fed beef cooked to a perfectly juicy medium rare. Other go to comfort foods that have stayed on the menu (and that I've obviously had more than once) are variations of delicious, cheezy things: truffled mac 'n cheese; gourmet grilled cheese with aged cheddar, pear, and jalapeno jam on sourdough; and the fried chicken sandwich with cranberry goat cheese and arugula. So when I came across the Heirloom Tomato and
Watermelon Salad, it was a nice break from the comforting carbs and for days when I try to eat more vegetables. I've been loving watermelon salads lately and the panko-crusted goat cheese medallion that accompanied the salad was a nice creamy, tangy element to the mix and the basil-mint vinaigrette rounded the dish well. It was the perfect light salad on a warm summer day. My only gripe was that the portion needed to be bigger but I guess it would be a great duo to balance the mac 'n cheese, which is now a smaller portion as well.
The inner french-Canadian in me squealed when I saw poutine on the menu. We all know that I have high standards for poutine. Since I got J hooked on poutine since we started dating, I couldn't have a bite without my partner in crime. We stopped in for a snack today and went all out: poutine with the pulled short rib. I've come to the conclusion that cheese curd here will never taste the same or squeak the same as the ones in Canada, with the exception of the local Montreal Poutine Truck. I'm always disappointed when the curds come melted but alas, this version was pretty tasty nonetheless. The short ribs were super tender and the beef gravy was made with beer which gave the dish another interesting dimension. The fries could have been more crispy but props for using hand cut fries.
Since J and I thought ordering two orders of poutine would be overkill, we got a side of the fish tacos instead, which turned out to be an awesome decision. This taco has an asian flair: pan-seared rare tuna on a corn tortilla with ginger-soy slaw and drizzle of wasabi mayo and pickled pineapple. We love sushi and this dish was right up our alley. Good thing we ordered this dish because it was a light refreshing bite compared to the heavy greasy goodness of poutine. We've been big fans of Chef Menagias since his days at the now defunct Wine 'n Diner and even more so now since HopChef. Still dreaming of those HopChef hanger steak and eggs chef ;) We're happy to see him back on the culinary scene here at the City Beer Hall.