Happy Blogiversary! It's hard to believe that Chopsticks Optional is one year old. We've come a long way since our very first post about our favorite Capital Region sushi spots. How fitting that we would write about seafood again exactly one year to the date. Since J has developed quite the skill for shucking oysters, fin-your fishmonger has been our purveyors for the best fresh and sustainable seafood needs.
We were hooked at first bite at the lobster roll taste off last summer. We've also had much success with take-home meals (they prep, you cook!), particularly a halibut with citrusy tomatoes and capers. Since Chef Katie does a great job of complementing flavors, we thought we'd give lunch a go at the Guilderland shop. The menu is available for takeout or eat-in with regular items like salmon burgers and crabcakes with rotating soups and weekend specials. The fridge and cases are usually stocked with various sides, seafood salads, and house-smoked fish too. But we've had our eye on the fish tacos for quite awhile now and couldn't pass up on that plus the day's fish fry special.
Sunday, April 27, 2014
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.