Showing posts with label brunch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label brunch. Show all posts

Monday, October 6, 2014

Pass The Thyme Cafe

Where did summer go? It's hard to believe that fall flavors are in full swing. The Capital Region is blessed with an abundance of pick-your-own orchards with a variety of apples and even better, cider doughnuts and fresh-pressed cider. One of our favorite orchards is Samascott Orchards in Kinderhook, NY. Now that  autumn apples are calling our names, a hearty brunch is a must before doing some picking. We've driven by Pass The Thyme Cafe numerous times on our way down for PYO summer blueberries and just recently stopped by for a fantastic meal. You'll find this sweet charming spot less than a mile down the road from Samascott Orchards serving a classic variety of breakfast fare and lunch items. 


Omelette of the Day: J went with the special of the day, an omelette with spinach, avocado, tomatoes, bacon and cheddar with a smashed potato cake, toast, and fresh fruit. For $10, this was a huge breakfast! Eggs were fluffy and generously filled with fresh vegetables. The most interesting element of this feast was the potato cake, a unique hybrid of creamy mashed potatoes sprinkled with scallions  and encrusted with a thin, golden crunchy layer of cheese on the bottom. The cheddary tuille of sorts was one of the best, memorable bites. 

We also shared a side of hash. I was perplexed by the dish of thinly sliced potatoes but somehow it worked. It wasn't potato chip thin but had just enough toothy bite yet satisfying crisp. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Good Morning Breakfast Cafe

Some breakfasts are worth getting up early and driving 30 miles for. While its alter-ego Good Night Noodle is on summer vacation, Ballston Spa's Good Morning Breakfast Cafe is open six days a week to satisfy a hearty breakfast and brunch craving. GMC and GNN both pride themselves in sourcing organic, local foods and humanely raised and minimally processed ingredients.

That means pasture-raised farm eggs in our delicious breakfast wrap and eggs benedict that you can taste the difference in. When I broke into the poached eggs from my Dave's Un-Benedict dish, I could see that the egg yolks were creamier and brighter. The eggs just tasted like they came from happy chickens. Eggs benedict are my go to brunch staple; there's just something about a rich hollandaise sauce mixed with a luxurious egg yolk. I was a little skeptical when I read that this take on the breakfast classic substituted the rich butter-laden sauce with its own "un-hollandaise" version. But this tangy substitute was just as delicious as its calories-ridden counterpart. Made with yogurt, turmeric, and cumin, this sauce was super tangy and creamy without being heavy. It worked really well with the season's sauteed greens which today was kale, grilled ham steak, and toasted slice of sourdough. It's a healthier take on eggs benedict that tastes just as good, if not better, than the classic and better for you! 

Sure you'll find healthy options at Good Morning like homemade granola, unsweetened applesauce, and tofu scramble but you can indulge a bit too. We were treated to a slice of baked french toast with warm maple syrup and whipped cream. Best eaten warm, it was essentially eating a custardy piece of bread pudding with just the right amount of sweetness. As much as we like our sweets, we like a savory brunch which meant bacon! J's eyes were immediately drawn to the red pepper bacon aioli from the Bacon Lover breakfast wrap. This smoky and spicy sriracha-laden mayo was addicting and the perfect condiment to the wrap filled with a generous portion of fluffly scrambled eggs, bacon, and cheddar. Spicy, cheesy, creamy, and greasy; this wrap really is meant for bacon lovers like us.  As if that wasn't indulgent enough, J and I shared a side of smoked spuds--homefries loaded with cheddar, crumbled bacon, scallions and a dollop of sour cream. It's as delicious as it sounds. The homefries were chunky and crispy and the texture stood up to all the toppings. 

Just like Good Night Noodle, not one single item was a disappointment at Good Morning Cafe. So much thought and care is put into the creation of this menu, from the sourcing of ingredients to the execution of dishes. It's a gem of a breakfast spot and you'll leave feeling full, satisfied, and good knowing where your meal came from. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sweet Sue's

The brunch fairies have smiled down upon us again. A trip to Sweet Sue's was a bit of a redemption trip for J and I. We once stopped by for a cupcake and macarons but the texture of the treats were a bit off. Every place has an off day, we get it. But the more I looked on Facebook, the more I was tempted by the playful menu and brunch combos. I convinced J to check out brunch at Sweet Sue's in Troy and we couldn't have been more blown away. 

Sweet Sue's plays around with lots of global flavors, even Vietnamese pho and banh xeo from what I've seen. The day's soup of the day was a Thai Tom Kha and we had to start our meals with a taste. It was a light red curry broth that wasn't the usual blow your head off spicy . For once I didn't miss the heat and enjoyed the balance of sweet and sour flavors. It wasn't too heavy on the coconut milk either and fragrant aromas of lemongrass balanced the sweetness well. It was the perfect soup to start off a beautiful spring day meal.

Get there early because brunch specials run out fast. I had my eye on the arepas from an earlier Facebook post but since they ran out, I opted for a breakfast sandwich with homefries. It wasn't just an ordinary breakfast sandwich. This one was made with Heritage Farms hickory smoked bacon, scrambled eggs, brie, and a schmear of fig jam on an Our Daily Bread croissant.

I loved the salty and sweet combo; the fig jam paired very well with the creaminess of brie and of course everything is better with bacon, especially thick-cut quality bacon. I also love when places opt for the peppery bite of arugula instead of lettuce on their sandwiches. The side of homefries were perfectly crispy but needed a bit more seasoning; just ask for ketchup and sriracha and you'll be all set. Sandwich aside, I was actually just as impressed with the side salad of arugula and house-grown organic sprouts. The greens were brightly dressed with a light vinaigrette and something so simple tasted so fresh and delicious. Locally-sourced and quality, fresh ingredients really do make a difference.
J was just as impressed with his Sooie Sandwich: Heritage Farm pork confit with slaw, pickled onions, and horseradish cream on ciabatta. The pork confit was packed with flavor but not greasy at all. The meat was heavy on cumin which was unexpected but in a good way. The slaw added a good, fresh crunch and horseradish added a good kick. J wolfed down this sandwich in no time. 


Of course a trip to Sweet Sue's wouldn't be complete without a cupcake or two, plus one more for the road. We chose a duo of Lemon Chai and Triple Chocolate cupcakes. This tasted much better than our first time around. Although the frosting was still hard from the fridge case, we didn't mind it all since it was so flavorful. It's a very buttery frosting, richer than your typical cupcake. It's butter alright. The cake part was fluffy and J couldn't get enough of the pudding filling in the chai cupcake. Plus it was so refreshing to see and taste real lemon zest in the cake. As for the chocolate cupcake, definitely plenty of chocolate flavor. What a sweet ending to an awesome brunch. It pays to have a leap of faith and give a place another go. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Olde English Pub Brunch

Brunch for us has been a streak of disappointments lately. It was only natural to be skeptical of a new experience. Bombers isn't known for any culinary feats unless you count bbq tofu fries. But brunch at its sister restaurant, The Olde English Pub, more than surprised us. J has been looking forward to trying The Albany Distilling Co.'s barrel-aged rum since our tour back in December. We saw a Facebook post for a drink special at OE and had to stop by. We're big fans of Crabbie's ginger beer so a Dark 'n Stormy was right up our alley. It did not disappoint. J picked up on some smoky notes but we both loved how smooth the rum was and it really is a perfect pairing with spicy ginger beer. 

We're late risers so lucky for us brunch hours are from 11am to 3pm. The menu is small but covers your basic sweet and savory classics and some unique twists like a sweet potato and black bean breakfast burrito and Banana Bread Ale whipped cream on french toast. But how could we pass on something like the Breakfast Burger. You all know how much we love The Hollow Burger, so naturally we had high expectations for OE's version made with chuck and short rib meat, avocado, and fried egg. Even though the burger came out more toward the medium side rather than rare, the meat still tasted delicious. The burger was well- seasoned and the creaminess from the avocado and richness from the runny egg yolk made everything come together. They even seasoned the egg! Even the shoe string fries were delicious; perfectly crispy and salted. If it weren't for the The Hollow Burger's habanero ketchup, we'd say this burger is a pretty good contender for our top 518 favorites. 

As for me, the specials board was calling my name. My go to brunch item is usually eggs benedict but housemade pastrami hash with hollandaise sauce with an over easy egg sounded just as good. It was a combination of my favorite benedict elements with another breakfast favorite. The potatoes had a nice crisp and the hollandaise was tangy and creamy, just the way it's suppose to be. I can't tell you how much I appreciate a well-seasoned dish. The pastrami was remeniscent of Montreal smoked meat and while a bit tough, had great flavor. Plus I finally got toast that wasn't stale nor heavily buttered! What a bonus that it was rye toast too, one of my favorites. 

The brunch fairies have finally smiled down upon us. The Olde English Pub is more than the little house with beer in it. We've got to get down here more often. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Umana Brunch

Neither two feet of snow nor snow emergency could stop us from Sunday brunch. It's been awhile since J and I have ventured out for a late weekend morning outing. Our last brunch trip to New World wasn't up to par to our norm so we decided to give Umana Restaurant and Wine Bar a go. Umana also happens to be open later than most brunch places (11:30am-3:30pm) and perfect for us since we usually get a later start to our day than most people. 

I drive by Umana almost everyday and have been intrigued by it since its renovation days. Umana's menu is inspired by global flavors and just what we needed to brighten our day from this dreary winter weather. Its brunch menu is small but spans many breakfast standards including fritatta, quiche, french toast and crepes all with an international twist. You'll find sweet fillings such as spiced mango chutney and cardamom honey sauce and savory ones like African spiced shrimp and salt cod in the egg dishes. Two brunch items stood out to us the most: the hash duet and pork belly omelette. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Illium Cafe

We're on the verge of a heart attack as we write this post but every bite of The Illium Cafe's Cajun Pork Belly & Crispy Prosciutto Panini was worth it. We've always been fans of The Illium and it's been our go to brunch spot after a visit to the Farmer's Market in Troy. Our favorite sandwich is the Surf and Turf Sandwich. It's a flavorful combo of grilled shrimp and marinated steak with blue cheese, roasted red peppers, and arugula on foccacia. But when we read about the pork belly panini on All Over Albany's Eat This! we knew it was one of those crazy concoctions that we had to try. 

Truth be told, this is the second time we've tried this sandwich within a three week span. We're gluttons but to be fair, J ordered his own last time while I got the Surf and Turf.  I devoured my own order this time around. I figured the pork would balance all the turkey from the Holidays plus I hadn't had any breakfast yet and we had a very late lunch. All justified.  

Be prepared to be unproductive for the rest of the day. The Cajun Pork Belly and Crispy Prosciutto Panini is an open faced sandwich made with a savory bread pudding with brie cheese, pork belly, and topped with a hefty mound of crispy prosciutto, fried egg, and hollandaise sauce. There is no shortage of pork here and it's all kind of magical. These are all rich and fatty elements but somehow it all works together. 

The bread pudding has all the familiar flavors of a classic Thanksgiving stuffing and is the perfect vehicle to mop the runny egg yolk and creamy taragon hollandaise sauce. Fresh elements of red onions and spinach helps break up the richness of all the other elements. Last time J got arugula instead of spinach, which I thought was the better of the greens. Love that peppery bite. Our version also differed a bit from Masticating Monkey's in that we got fresh spinach instead of sauteed. Plus instead of a brie sauce ours was a slice of grilled cheese with brie beneath the slice of savory bread pudding. I can only imagine that the cheese sauce would add another rich layer of flavor.  A touch of acid or something pickled would have helped cut the greasiness of the dish but when you're ordering a dish like this, you might as well go all in. Why else would there be pork belly AND crispy prosciutto. Over the top? Absolutely but so worth it. 

The pork belly is essentially a thick cut of bacon. My pieces were a bit tough and dry this visit and frankly I didn't really pick up on any Cajun flavor but it's ok. The mountain of crispy prosciutto more than made up for it. Crispy, crunchy, salty, and bacon-y. This sandwich is the ultimate comfort food. If you need to squeeze in some veggies, the dish also comes with slices of pickles and a side of potato salad or coleslaw. 

The Pork Belly Panini is a try at your own risk type of sandwich but since it's the holiday season, why not indulge a bit. You need some pork fat to warm up in this chilly weather anyway and it's fuel for all that Christmas shopping. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Iron Roost

We're very Albany-centric when it comes to brunch. On a whim, we decided to take a trip up to Ballston Spa for a weekend outing. We've stopped for tea at the Whistling Kettle a number of times but always overlooked The Iron Roost until recently. Located on Front Street, this quaint and charming cafe makes brunch a treat. Their speciality are gourmet waffles, both sweet and savory. They also make it a point to use fresh, local ingredients whenever possible and we love to support businesses with this philosophy. 

Your food is homemade and made to order, but you pay at the counter first and then the food comes to you. I've always associated waffles as a sweet treat but never underestimate the power of a savory waffle. It's not weird at all! We were so impressed with the Green Turkey special from our summer visit and were delighted to see it again on the specials board. We had to order it again. This savory waffle wedge is made with sliced turkey, fresh avocados and sprouts, and a schmear of homemade green goddess dressing. Green goddess is a creamy and tangy dressing typically made with variations of mayo/sour cream and chives, garlic, tarragon, parsley and lemon. The waffle was a great alternative to a thick bread and worked well as a wrap here, light and crispy, and a great vehicle for all the above. What we loved about this sandwich is how light and bright the flavors were. We were actually eating something healthy for once that tasted awesome.  We also added a side of homefries to share because brunch wouldn't be brunch without them. The homefries were unfortunately nothing too exciting. We prefer smaller crunchier bites rather than the few big hunks of starchy potatoes. 


To balance the savory bites, I went with a sweet waffle. I'm usually a bit hesitant about ordering from the sweet side of brunch, afraid that it would be too cloyingly sweet. I was pleasantly surprised when I took a bite out of my lemon mascarpone and strawberry combo. The waffle was just sweet enough and had a nice chewy texture, almost like a yeast donut. We had tried the liege waffle over the summer and were so disappointed. It was strangely stale and had an odd grainy texture, unlike the yeasty ones we were use to from the Troy Farmer's Market. This was certainly a redeeming bite for us. The heaping scoop of mascarpone was intimidating but it was light and bites of fresh strawberries and drizzle of lemon curd was a good balance of sweet and tart. I would've loved more lemon curd to bring out more zing. Add two cups of dark roast coffee (roasted locally in Hudson) and we were happy campers.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Carmen's Cafe

Since R and I met, poor service has kind of become our thing. The first time I ever saw her was at a friend's birthday party at Brown's in Troy, where I ordered a soda three or four times and somehow never got it.  Since then, almost every place we've gone has featured long wait times, being completely ignored by waitstaff, kitchen errors, and stale/unseasoned food.  It isn't consistent, but it is unusually regular.  I suspect this is the reason we like to search out the little known, uncharted places in the area.  For one we both have pretty adventurous tastes, but also with this curse hanging over us, if we have a good experience then we know it's a genuinely great place.

Unfortunately, Carmen's Cafe fell completely flat on all the above issues.  It started well enough, we sat and were seen immediately for food and drink orders (although, oddly, by different waitresses).  The decor and floor were also nice, though my chair was set at the corner of the fireplace, forcing me to sit at a slight angle to the table.  Just enough to be annoyed but not enough to say anything or move once we had sat. 

The wait for our food was a good half hour for eggs. EGGS!  It was probably worse for R because it was her first meal that day (I take early classes on weekends), but regardless it's kind of long for breakfast in a dining room that's only half full.  Service fell down a bit here, as we finally had to ask what was going on with our food at the half hour mark (nobody had let us know the kitchen was backed up or checked on us in that time, though our water glasses were kept full which I appreciate).  Fortunately, at that point it was in the window anyway.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The American Hotel

As I'm sure you're all aware if you've read the rest of this blog, we are fans of the Beekman 1802 Mercantile in Sharon Springs, New York.  If you've never visited their storefront or had the goat milk ice cream, you owe it to yourself to drop by.  This post, however, concerns the historic American Hotel across the street, and I only mention Beekman 1802 because the hotel was featured during the show, which convinced us to stop in for brunch this morning.

Both of us love heirloom style, historically rich places and things.  Old hotels that used to house former presidents and diplomats are just fantastic, and I love nothing better than looking in the old lodge and ballrooms of those places and picturing the grand parties of a hundred years ago (while we may be using rose colored lenses, it's still fun to pretend).  I used to work in such a place, and actually dealt with a great deal of abuse from the owner of the place solely because the property was so great.

So we were prepared to love this place, we wanted to love the American.  We would have forgiven a lot of issues in a lot of areas just on account of what it was and what it represented in the modern world, not to mention its appearance on the Beekman boys.  Unfortunately, what we experienced simply surpassed what we are willing to forgive in any eatery.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Ugly Rooster Cafe

Sometimes we cheat on the New World Bistro Bar brunch. When up at the summer camp in Schuylerville, in addition to ice cream stops at The Ice Cream Man, we like to grab brunch at The Ugly Rooster Cafe in Mechanicville. 

Small and quaint, it's the perfect spot to grab comfort foods with a southern twist. There's a lunch menu too but the breakfast menu is where it's at. My go to dish is the Southern Style Breakfast sandwich, which is more of a heart cloggingly-delicious fork and knife dish. Biscuits and gravy with fried eggs, cheddar, bacon, and fried green tomatoes. The fried green tomatoes are a must try--tart pickled green tomatoes in a super crispy corn meal batter--and even better smothered with white sausage gravy. This feast also comes with a side of homefries; breakfast wouldn't be complete without them.

Other go to breakfast comforts are the pancakes. On this particular day, J was extra adventurous and decided to take on the Colossal PancakeChallenge. That's 5lbs of pancakes with whipped topping, fresh fruit, and scoops of butter (um yeah, those are NOT scoops of ice cream, much to J's dismay) with syrup that must be consumed in 30mins plus 5 mins without upchucking. If you're crazy enough to tackle this Man vs. Food challenge, give yourself at least 45mins because that's how long it takes to bake these monsters. If you miraculously win this challenge, you get your meal for free along with an Ugly Rooster Tshirt and major bragging rights. Needless to say, there has only been one winner and J will be gracing the Wall of Shame and we're down $15. On the up side, J actually enjoyed the first few bites of his pancakes; they were actually tasty, fluffy, and the fresh strawberries made the challenge a bit more pleasant. J is still in recovery mode and I think he's gonna stay away from pancakes for awhile. Meanwhile, I'd definitely go back for the fried green tomatoes.









Friday, June 14, 2013

The New World Bistro Bar

Now that J got a new job that frees up weekends, we can go back to Sunday Brunch. It's one of our favorite culinary adventures and we always go back to our go to favorite brunch spot: The New World Bistro BarAs Food Network fans, we love the fact that owner Ric Orlando is a Chopped Champion.  But NWBB is also one of few places where we've consistently been blessed with excellent service and delicious food. 

NWBB prides itself in utilizing local, seasonal foods but also incorporates global flavors that give that unique twist that we love, especially Asian flavors.  We love New World so much we're considering using their catering for our wedding. Perfect for blending my Asian family's palette with J's Irish American family's taste. 


With each season comes a different menu and sometimes that means favorites like the Korean BBQ pork belly burrito doesn't stick around for long. However, it gives way to reincarnated dishes like the Korean Steak and Eggs. This delicious bowl of Creekstone all natural prime beef skewers, kim chee stew, Korean BBQ and local pea shoots with poached eggs captured those flavors that we were craving. 


One of our favorite brunch items that is a regular on the menu is the hash trio. Why have one hash when you can have it three ways? This is J's go to plate (minus the veggie hash since he is anti-mushroom). The hash tasting comes with the Mystic clam has, quintessential corned beef hash, and veggie hash. I don't mind the veggie hash which comes with roasted eggplant, squash, potatoes, mushroom and peppers. It's a nice light bite to the richer versions of the clam and corned beef hash. The Mystic clam is rich and briny with chopped quahogs and creamy with the bernaise sauce. As for the corned beef hash, you can't go wrong with the classics;it's one of the best in this area. Canned corned beef and hash is an embarrasement compared to NWBB's corned beef.  Other delicious brunch items to consider are the salmon eggs benedict and huevos traditionales with chorizo. One of these days I'll get around to trying the sweeter side of brunch, but I love the savory stuff! -R