Druthers in Albany Has Got it Going On

24 May

Druthers in Albany is slated to open this Tuesday (5/26), but don’t expect the same old concept as the Saratoga location.

They certainly spared no expense to make the Albany spot a go-to hang out for all Druthers lovers, including beer cheese advocates or just plain old beer lovers.

They’ve also brought on Chef Michael Spain (who was previously the Executive Chef at Sperry’s in Saratoga), which will allow for a whole new flow of creativity in the Albany kitchen.

Here’s a look at the new space, and you’ll see from the pictures why you should visit next week! They’ll be posting the finalized menu on Monday evening, so check back for that tomorrow.

Druthers in Albany, NY

Druthers Beer Tap Albany, NY

Druthers Brewing Albany NY

Druthers Albany NY

Creo’ Launches New Menu, with New Chef

22 May

I don’t get out of Saratoga nearly as much as I should, but when I got the invitation to visit Creo’ and sit down with the new executive chef, I jumped at the opportunity.

Creo’ is located in Stuyvesant Plaza in Albany, NY, and prior to this week, I had only visited the restaurant once about two years ago for lunch.

The interior is really unique, with really cool lighting throughout, and a middle dining section that’s separated from the others by bright and bold greenery.

creo' interior

The new chef, Eric Sell, might sound familiar to you Saratogians, as he was once the executive chef at Javier’s. Sadly, as Javier’s closed, Sell found his place in Albany as a Sous Chef at Creo’ in Albany. Ultimately, his talents shined through, becoming Executive Chef in just a few short months.

Having the opportunity to sit down and chat with Chef Sell, I learned all about his background and story. After growing up in Hong Kong, Sell is all about experimenting in the kitchen and trying to come up with unique dishes that push the limits and entice diners.

creo' menu

And it’s that experience that helped him craft this new seasonal menu, which features both new creations of his own as well as keeping some of the menu favorites from frequent patrons.

As far me, I started with two appetizers, the Lobster and Avocado Tart and the Kung Pao Calamari.

Lobster and Avocado Tart – crispy lobster tail, creamed leeks, tomato, avocado, and mango honey mustard ($22)

avo and lobster tart at creo'

lobster and avocado tart at creo'

Yaaaasssss this tart deserves to be a staple at this restaurant. First of all, presentation is beautiful.

Second of all, that fried lobster, man. You look at it and it kind of resembles a fried chicken tender. When you cut in, instead you find a delicate piece of fish. Frying preserved the juices within the lobster, which only made this experience better.

You get crunch from the breading, softness from the lobster, and then a creaminess when you get a bite with avocado.

Yowzas… and then add the buttery tart and that mango honey mustard? Amen.

Kung Pao Calamari – crispy calamari, tossed with a Thai sweet chili glaze ($12)

calamari at creo'

I do recall having this the first (and last) time I was at Creo’, and there’s definitely a reason it’s still on the menu. I love any calamari with a kick, and this certainly had it. While I’d say that it was still more on the sweet side, you can still pick up a little punch with the chili flakes sprinkled throughout.

Ahi Tuna – baby bok choy, baby carrots, cashews, ginger, garlic, General Tso sauce ($29)

tuna from creo'

tuna at creo'

tuna 2 at creo'

If you’re into the Asian flair, this ahi tuna dish should be right up your alley. Not only was the tuna perfectly cooked, but the vegetables were just plain good.

You see the words General Tso sauce and you think of that thick, sugary sweet sauce you get with chinese take out. Nope, not at Creo’. The sauce was subtle, yet satisfying, and just lightly covered the vegetables to add just a touch of sweetness.

Rotisserie Half Chicken – cinnamon chipotle rub, garlic Parmesan whipped potato, broccolini, apricot chicken jus ($22)

chicken at creo'

chicken 2 at creo'

chicken 3 at creo'

After the first bite, I tried to convince Tim into us getting a rotisserie for our kitchen. Unfortunately, he shot my idea down, but I’m telling you guys… that rotisserie makes a HUGE difference with chicken.

Don’t get me wrong – there are definitely places in Saratoga where you can get a really nicely cooked chicken (The Wine Bar & The Brook Tavern), but a rotisserie chicken is like a different ball park.

Okay so I contemplated bringing this up, but it must be done.

If you ever had Boston Market as a kid, you know how that juicy, fall off the bone chicken tastes like. This chicken was reminiscent of those childhood experiences, but elevated like 1,000%. Not only was the cooking method on point, but the cinnamon chipotle rub was off the charts. The cinnamon came through the skin and into the meat of the chicken, and it offered a warm, yet bold flavor that you don’t often get with chicken.

In addition to Chef Sell, Creo’ also recently brought on a new pastry chef, so of course I had to do my due diligence and try some desserts.

This here is the chef’s take on a classic s’more, with a dense, brownie-like cake accompanied by torched melted marshmallow, finished with a graham cracker dust.

smores cake at creo'

smores cake

Honestly, the meal itself was phenomenal, but this dessert was the kind of dessert that literally just makes you giggle. The first bite sent me straight into my happy place, and nothing could change that.

The chocolate cake was so concentrated, just like a thick piece of chocolate that you stick into a s’more. Dipped in the marshmallow, it was so dreamy. The chocolate cake kind of melted in my mouth as well as my tastebuds, but because it was more of a darker chocolate, it worked really well with the sweet, creamy marshmallow.

If you dream about s’mores in the summer, I’m telling you right now this will change your perspective on the whole s’more situation.

I don’t think I could have asked for a better experience at Creo’. From the incredibly kind waitstaff to the quality of food put in front of me, it’s definitely a place worth the trip from Saratoga. Wishing the best of luck to Chef Sell and I can’t wait to return for some more of that chicken!

To learn more about Creo’, visit their website here: http://creorestaurant.com/

Burgundy Wine Dinner at The Brook Tavern

14 May

Do you like wine?

Do you like to drink wine with food?

Do you like to learn about different wines from different regions?

If you answered yes to any or all of the above questions, then you should probably continue reading.

wine dinner at The Brook Tavern

The Brook Tavern is having a Burgundy wine dinner next Wednesday (May 20) at 7pm. The cost is $65/pp, tax and gratuity additional.

Hosted by the ever-so-talented Joe Armstrong, anyone who attends this dinner will without a doubt walk away knowing more about this wine than they did before, even if they think they’re an expert!

The wines they’ll be featuring? Côte Chalonnaise Reds, of course. These Burgundy wines have been making quite the headlines, including two separate articles by the New York Times recently which you can find below:

Wine Review: Côte Chalonnaise Reds

Heading South for Bargains in Burgundy

Now that you’ve read up on your Burgundy wines, you’re probably wondering what food will be served with the wines, right? Well I’ve got that inside info for you all… (or maybe I just got the menu off the website):

AMUSE

Gruyère gougères with spicy dust, shaved pickled beets

Served with a Kir made with Aligote and Cassis

First Course 

Crispy fried goat cheese, frisée, bacon weave, ranch powder

Seguin Manuel Mercurey Blanc Vieilles Vignes 2011

Second Course

Poached Salmon in White Wine, English Peas, Tendril Salad

Domaine Jaeger Defaix Rully 1er Cru Les Cloux Blanc 2011

Third Course

Steak tartare, arugula salad, butter phyllo, black sea salt, shaved toast

Seguin Manuel Mercurey Rouge Vieilles Vignes 2012

Fourth Course

Saint florentin toast point, celery leaf & spicy mustard micro salad

Domaine Jaeger Defaix Rully 1er Cru Preaux Rouge 2012

Dessert Course

Fresh berries with custard, caramel sugar dust, toasted almonds

There aren’t too many spots left, so give The Brook Tavern a call to reserve your spots today! It’s bound to be a great night, with delicious food, even more delicious wine, and of course, great company. I hope to see you there! Call 518.871.1473 for reservations.

A Fresh New Menu at The Wine Bar

13 May

The Wine Bar has been on my mind lately.

For one because I absolutely love Chef Dominic Colose’s blog, and secondly, because I don’t think they always get the recognition they deserve.

But I’ll expand on the latter in a bit.

Last Friday night, Tim and I decided to veer from the usual and have a “date night”, which usually means no food pictures or write-ups, and after looking at my list of restaurants I’ve been meaning to get to, The Wine Bar was basically shouting at me from my mini chalk board.

And then I remembered that the new spring menu was released just a couple weeks ago, and I knew that it was time for a visit.

So I hopped onto Open Table and reserved a table for two in less than five minutes, and just like that, reservations were made.

We were seated at my favorite spot in the restaurant, right by the window overlooking Broadway. With a full bodied Cabernet in my hand, I reviewed the menu and found myself torn between the butter poached salmon and the coriander chicken.

When it came down to it, the chicken seemed more my style that night. Plus, it totally worked with my wine, which was a double win.

Chicken is one of those dishes that is a hit or miss, so a lot of times I choose not to get it. But this experience was completely different. The chicken was extremely juicy, but had a super crunchy crust of spices which infused the chicken with their warm, nutty and curry flavors.

It was tender and oh so moist. Not only that, but it was also unbelievably flavorful thanks to the crust it formed.

Now back to what I was saying in the beginning. What I really enjoyed specifically about The Wine Bar was that the menu was relatively limited. In my opinion, having a small menu allows the chef and kitchen staff to really focus on each individual dish, making each choice just as food as the next.

In addition to that, I believe Chef Colose is an extremely talented chef, not only in Saratoga, but within the Capital Region. His courage to offer unique and out of the box menu items and his knowledge for the industry is really special, and I don’t think he always receives the respect and recognition that he deserves.

If you haven’t been to The Wine Bar in a while, you need to pay a visit there. The spring menu is bomb-diggity, and chances are you’ll enjoy your meal just as much as I did.