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OMFG. Just learned that we're moving to the Albany area and I've never even been there ever. Besides helping with the urgent need for school district recommendations and such ... Where will we eat??? I'm sure we'll occasionally haul ourselves up to Saratoga Springs and places as far afield, but I'm really looking for local spots in Albany (or Troy?).

And if anyone is looking for a fabulous house in MtP, PM me. Argh. sad.gif

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OMFG. Just learned that we're moving to the Albany area and I've never even been there ever. Besides helping with the urgent need for school district recommendations and such ... Where will we eat??? I'm sure we'll occasionally haul ourselves up to Saratoga Springs and places as far afield, but I'm really looking for local spots in Albany (or Troy?).

And if anyone is looking for a fabulous house in MtP, PM me. Argh. :P

I live in the capital district and wish I had good news for you. Unfortunately the area is a chain restaurant waste land. Which may explain why I drive to Komi when looking for a great meal. :blink: Later today when I get a free moment I'll get back to you with a few suggestions.

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Unfortunately the area is a chain restaurant waste land.

Bleaker than I thought. Maybe it's time to invest in the kitchen of my dreams? I do look forward to your recommendations!

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Bleaker than I thought. Maybe it's time to invest in the kitchen of my dreams? I do look forward to your recommendations!

Look on the bright side: the climate is probably cool enough to keep an Aga :blink:

My recollections of visiting Troy are that the town is fueled on generic college pizza, and half of RPI appears to use hockey skates to get across campus via the glaciers that overlay the pavement. But that was quite a while ago...

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Look on the bright side: the climate is probably cool enough to keep an Aga :P

You just wandered into my hubby's dream kitchen! He's lobbying hard for an Aga, and I have to say, I'm warming to the idea. :blink: I'm laughing to keep from crying.

C'mon, there's GOT to be a decent restaurant up there. (Note the lowering of standards.)

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I can't help with Albany, but here is one for Saratoga: Eartha's Kitchen (518-583-0602). They are in a different location then when I was there, but they have been around for ages (15 plus years) and I always loved the food there when I lived there. As a student I only ate there when my parents visited though. There are alot of not so great restaurants in Saratoga though, beware. Oh, and DO go to the track come next August. It is a blast. Don't eat at any of their overpriced eateries, though breakfast at the track (when they practice the horses) is worth it for the view. We usually eat at the Nathan's stand and it leaves more money to loose at the track. I used to waitress at Bruno's pizza, but that was ages ago. They have new owners, so no word on if the food is still good, it is right by the race track. And drinks at Siro's after the track is a must, at least once.

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I grew up in Albany, and I am back there frequently. I can assure you it is not, in fact, a wasteland!

I recommend:

Cafe Capricio - great Italian.

Nicole's Bistro - elegant French

Karavali - really good Indian food

McGuires - great bar and fun "New American" food

Jack's Oyster Bar - classic seafood/steakhouse restaurant

67 Prime - great steaks

Avenue A - wine bar

sorry for the lack of in depth descriptions! But believe me, Albany has some real gems in the downtown area. You just have to get out of the suburbs and you will find some amazing chef-owned restaurants.

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I can't help with Albany, but here is one for Saratoga: Eartha's Kitchen (518-583-0602). They are in a different location then when I was there, but they have been around for ages (15 plus years) and I always loved the food there when I lived there. As a student I only ate there when my parents visited though. There are alot of not so great restaurants in Saratoga though, beware. Oh, and DO go to the track come next August. It is a blast. Don't eat at any of their overpriced eateries, though breakfast at the track (when they practice the horses) is worth it for the view. We usually eat at the Nathan's stand and it leaves more money to loose at the track. I used to waitress at Bruno's pizza, but that was ages ago. They have new owners, so no word on if the food is still good, it is right by the race track. And drinks at Siro's after the track is a must, at least once.

We have something in common. The owner of Bruno's "Peter" had another Bruno's in Colonie where I was a manager.

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I grew up in Albany, and I am back there frequently. I can assure you it is not, in fact, a wasteland!

I recommend:

Cafe Capricio - great Italian.

Nicole's Bistro - elegant French

Karavali - really good Indian food

McGuires - great bar and fun "New American" food

Jack's Oyster Bar - classic seafood/steakhouse restaurant

67 Prime - great steaks

Avenue A - wine bar

sorry for the lack of in depth descriptions! But believe me, Albany has some real gems in the downtown area. You just have to get out of the suburbs and you will find some amazing chef-owned restaurants.

A handful of the above restaurants I worked at, one time or another. They are good restaurants for what they are but are we making comparisons to other cities? Cafe Capricio is one of the best in the area. Nicoles Bistro is fine if your looking for nothing more innovative then steak au poivre and rack of lamb. And Jacks I can't recommend myself as I believe Dale Miller should spend more time in his kitchen and less at ACF meetings.

Andrew Plummer of McGuires is talented and respected.

Don't get me wrong. There are some good restaurants, but for the Capital of NYS I believe it is serious lacking and behind ten to fifth teen years. Duck with raspberry sauce or filet with demi fine. But for those thinking they will find another Ziebold, Fabio or Monis. That is just not the case.

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OMFG is utterly right. I have no clue how I possibly could have survived living in Albany and environs for 17 years prior to moving here. Actually, I think it's the reason why I'm a halfway decent home cook right now....because I really had no choice but to cook in my own kitchen during "the Albany years." Cafe Capriccio is, indeed, an exception to the rule. It's the best restaurant in the area by far. Also check out Arlington House in West Sand Lake. If you like beer, you're lucky to be near one of the finest beer bars in America, Mahar's. Troy, actually, used to have some decent restaurants (Allegro) but unfortunately that never lasted long. So outside of the above, I'm firmly on the side of the Capital District as nothing but a chain restaurant wasteland. And I'm sorry to compound it further, but even Saratoga has nothing worthy of being decent. In all my years there I never once found a reason to head up the Northway for the same mediocrity I could get in Albany. I cannot agree at all with a previous poster about "gems" in the Albany area....unless your gems include pyrite and cubic zirconia (Jack's Oyster House????)

Here's another way to look at it. The greatest culinary talent in the Albany area is Rachael Ray.

Sorry to be such a downer, but as you're house hunting, make sure you find a joint with a really decent kitchen.

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If you don't mind driving about 20 minutes, you can head over to the Berkshires in Mass. I went to Williams College, and there are some nice little places there. I think that there are good restaurants scattered all around the area -- they just won't all be in the same space, the way they are here. You should definitely check out the Blue Hill at Stone Barns, http://www.bluehillstonebarns.com/bhsb.html, which is where Blue Hill in New York gets all its "stuff." You're also relatively close to Vermont and both Ben and Jerry's and Jasper Hill Farm, makers of the divine Constant Bliss, among other cheeses. Finally, the area around Albany is beautiful. Speaking entirely about Williamstown here, you can pick wild blueberries all summer as well as wild raspberries and blackberries. You can also order things that you truly miss and have them delivered to your door. Tripewriter and I actually dream of someday living up in Williamstown with land, dogs, hiking, streams, fresh fish, wild berries, and cheese from Artisanal Cheese ;-). In other words, I think there's plenty to find if you're willing to both look for it and travel to it. Enjoy!

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Blue Hill at Stone Barns is excellent. But keep in mind it is a few hour drive from the capital district. Dan Barber can hold his own with the best chefs/restaurants in the country which makes the drive worth it to me.

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Sorry to have vanished, but things ... you know how it goes. Apparently the real estate market is still alive and well in MtP, because we’re outta here.

As for our soon to be new home, two trips to the region have yielded the following:

  • Shock at the wasteland of fast food joints and chain restaurants. (As well as horror at the lack of retail shopping opportunities. No Nordstrom, how is that possible?)
  • In that vein, my first visit to Burger King since childhood. A toddler is my defense. But then a SECOND visit to BK for reasons I don’t care to get into.
  • Several stops at Dunkin Donuts (not a bad thing).
  • An eh dinner at Emperor’s. At first I was excited by the fairly interesting menu but couldn’t get over the depressing, diner-like room (not diner in a good way) and greasy food.
  • A light lunch at Café Illium in Troy. Pretty good black bean soup with a spicy kick to it. Quaint room. We’ll see.
  • A fun, very good dinner for 4 at Café Capriccio. Starters included the simple but great beans/greens soup, the homemade ravioli (can’t remember what it was that night but wonderful), and a pretty standard antipasti platter. We moved on to 3 pastas: calamari/ink sauce, chingale, and puttenesca. All good, but the real stand out was the eggplant lasagna – surprisingly delicate and fresh but then unfortunately served with a load of veggies and mediocre polenta turning it into a massive amount of food. A+ was the house organic wine which, had we not enjoyed so much of it so much, I might remember what it was. Overall the restaurant was warm and lively and the food quite good, so I expect we’ll be back often.
  • A very good solo dinner at the bar at Tosca (Troy). I felt compelled to get the much touted Dover sole “flown in from England.” The fish was fine, but the lightly steamed but still crunchy baby root vegetables were truly fabulous – perfectly fresh and perfectly cooked. The restaurant was really hoppin’ too, surprisingly busy (to me) for a Thursday evening given that the rest of downtown Troy was a ghost town.
  • A great experience was lunch for 2 and a toddler at DeFazio’s (Troy). Lunch??? Silly us, the door was open and there were 3 guys behind the counter so we assumed they were open for lunch. Nope. I must have looked as disappointed as I felt because the owner offered us a stromboli that he had just taken out of the oven. Now, my husband and I have had our share of 'bolis in Philly, but this was completely different and so much better. The dough was a bit more like pastry than typical pizza, and the meats were a real explosion of flavor. Really outstanding, but I may have just been charmed by the whole experience.

So, we’re moving this week and, as soon as we can find a sitter, will be heading to McGuires. Haven’t found a house yet, so we're taking an apartment in downtown Troy for the time being to get a better feel for the area and wait for a house we love. I've heard good things about the Troy farmers' market and Larry Schepici is opening a gourmet market soon if not already, so that's promising. Thanks to everyone for your comments! I’ll try to report back once we settle in, explore the food scene more (such as is it), and build that kitchen that is undoubtedly in our future.

Cheers to all,

Trisha

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Stopped in Albany for the night while traveling and ate at Hong Kong Bakery and Bistro, it was great.  The Salt and Pepper Short Ribs w/Chili were amazing.  They have dim sum during the day but we missed that.  The bakery area looked quite nice as well.

I live out in Winchester, so good Chinese is a rarity, so I would kill to have a place like this near us.

Hong Kong Bakery & Bistro  |  8 Wolf Road  |  Albany, New York 12205  |  (518) 431-6520

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Stopped in Albany for the night while traveling and ate at Hong Kong Bakery and Bistro, it was great.  The Salt and Pepper Short Ribs w/Chili were amazing.  They have dim sum during the day but we missed that.  The bakery area looked quite nice as well.

I live out in Winchester, so good Chinese is a rarity, so I would kill to have a place like this near us.

Hong Kong Bakery & Bistro  |  8 Wolf Road  |  Albany, New York 12205  |  (518) 431-6520

Sounded good until I looked at their menu-- my friend would walk out if she saw shark fin on the menu. Come to think of it, I would too.

Thanks for the input though!

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I grew up in Albany, and I am back there frequently. I can assure you it is not, in fact, a wasteland!

I recommend:

Cafe Capricio - great Italian.

Nicole's Bistro - elegant French

Karavali - really good Indian food

McGuires - great bar and fun "New American" food

Jack's Oyster Bar - classic seafood/steakhouse restaurant

67 Prime - great steaks

Avenue A - wine bar

sorry for the lack of in depth descriptions! But believe me, Albany has some real gems in the downtown area. You just have to get out of the suburbs and you will find some amazing chef-owned restaurants.

 If you're still around Melissa, thanks for the Karavali recommendation. They had some of the best Indian cuisine I've had anywhere. Excellent find.

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The Albany Institute has a nice new cafe (museum admission not required) featuring excellent pastries and gelato from nearby bakery Crisan (who closed their own cafe a while back), as well as soup, sandwiches, and light meals, generally of the pre-made variety. Decent crowd on a Friday lunchtime.

Local friends were excited about Chester's, a smokehouse/deli featuring mainly Polish meats which opened last summer--unfortunately our own eating plans didn't allow me a chance to sample the sausages, but the beef jerky with red pepper made for a nice spicy snack.

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I don't suppose that great deli that was on Wolf Rd. near the airport is still there? I think it was called Jack's? It's been awhile since I've been in that area.

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