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Mountain Man came for a visit from Colorado for a few weeks. Albany John and Mountain Man went to SUNY Albany together, so he’s familiar with Albany, but it has changed since he went to school here. Thankfully, he likes eating and being outdoors, so we’re in good company. The bar for good food is pretty low where he lives in Colorado. Between most things getting trucked in and the elevation, there isn’t a ton of fresh/good food or variety where he lives.

We took him to Ala Shanghai for some real Chinese food. He told us some pretty horrific “Chinese” food take out stories in CO. He was so happy to have real dumplings, and that fresh whole steamed fish… man. So good.

Evidently the only cheap things in CO are the beer and alcohol, heh.

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Sushi is a crapshoot where Mountain Man is from. He’s in a touristy town and the elevation does something funny to the rice. We went to Sushi X. I know it’s not the greatest sushi ever, but there is something alluring about AYCE rock shrimp, grilled squid, and some fairly decent sushi rolls and sashimi.
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For $25 a person or so, it’s a pretty decent dinner out. Check off what you want on the order slips. Everything is made to order and quality is decent for what it is, and the selection is pretty wide. I’ve noticed that they don’t quite fill your order slips fully. A few orders might get left off, but eh, that’s what round 2 of ordering is for.
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We continued the Albany New Things tour by going to Nine Pin Cider Tasting Room downtown. The day we went was when they also had “Ciders & Sliders”, pairing up with Slidin’ Dirty serving up in their garage.
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The Nine Pin Flight was okay, though they only half-filled two of the flights for no particular reason, which was kind of a rip. We also got a bottle of cider to share and surreptitiously sip on with burgers.
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Sliding Dirty had a long ass line queuing when we got there. For me, the crowd was a bit overwhelming, but thankfully a friend was nice enough to wait in line for me.
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Sliding Dirty will put your burger on a tortilla if you’re celiac/doing the gluten-free thing, though if you are a true celiac their presentation may pose an issue for you, as they didn’t separate the tortillas from the bun-ed burgers, so gluten cross-contamination may be an issue for the very sensitive.

I thought the sliders were okay, but the price point kind of kills me at $4 per slider. You’d need at least 2 sliders for a meal if you’re peckish, at least 3 if you’re hungry, so you’re looking at a good $8-12 to start for sliders. When I think sliders I think “affordable”, and $8-12 to start for sliders isn’t what I really think of as affordable. FWIW, I hear they are trying to move to all local grass-fed beef in the future, which would at least rationalize the price point somewhat. I’m also not a huge fan of the bread-to-meat ratio on sliders in general, so I’m likely not Slidin Dirty’s target market. I’d just rather get a steak to grill at home for $12, or an actual burger somewhere else with a lower bun-to-meat ratio if I’m feeling burger-y. What the hey, lots of folks seem to like them, and they’ve just opened up a physical location, so this is just my curmudgeonly take on the slider fad.
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City Beer Hall was one of the final stops on the Newish In Albany Tour. Mystery buckets and brown liquor to round out a visit.

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Consider the recent Pints for Paws yet another reason to love the Ruck. One Saturday afternoon the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society set up a table in the alley behind the ruck, the Ruck set up two kegs of delicious beer for $4 a pint. Laguintas IPA & Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale (both 6%+ beers).

Donate to the shelter and/or buy some of the shelter stuff for sale. Pet lots of well-behaved dogs. Count me in.

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The staff were in and out of the crowd both gathering old cups/plates and petting pooches along the way.

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Dogs of all shapes and sizes were present, eager to sniff all of the smells.

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Probably the smallest, adorable little mop of a dog.

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To a dog that wouldn’t need much to dress as a cow for halloween (seriously, that was one big, shy dog).

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There were treats out for the dogs, so that probably helped with the friendly nature. “Does that person have a treat? Do you? Treat??”. Albany John joked that since our cat is a rescue, we should have brought her to Pints for Paws, too.

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I love the Speakeasy: Albany’s new juice joint. Even if you can’t use your phone or take pictures inside. And they’re cash-only. But my gosh. The cocktails are exquisitely made, and who doesn’t like an excuse to dress up for a night out?

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I’ve been finding myself at the Speakeasy at least once a week lately. My first intro to the Speakeasy was actually kind of appropriate. I was going to go to City Beer Hall, but then decided it was too hot inside, so as I was walking back to my car to leave, I saw a friend pulling in the parking lot. He was going to the Speakeasy and invited me to join him. And after that, well… I’m hooked.

They have coins for members, but you can just walk in as long as you know what to look for. The red light and the doorbell instructing you to press only once. A cute blonde gal will answer the boarded up windows and doors with a bit of moxie, and once you say you’re coming for drinks you get the nod in.

P1010099I wish I could show you the artfully made cocktails. While part of me is pitching a fit about the technology ban, part of me also respects a place with rules of decorum and the ultimate goal of losing yourself and your troubles. Damn the Torpedoes is a delicious cocktail if you’re craving something on the heavier end of the cocktail spectrum. The Gin Fizz is incredibly refreshing on a hot summer’s day, and served in a highball glass with a rectangular ice cube. They even have a selection of ice cube shapes and sizes.

Cocktails are $12, and entirely too easy to drink. There’s a short menu, so you should probably grab a snack before going in if you’re planning on staying for any length of time.

I love the whole 1920s speakeasy culture and how The Speakeasy has interpreted it – it’s dark, the music plays but isn’t overwhelming. Even the live music. Live music in Albany that you can talk over is a rarity. No one’s in a rush, and the service is both polished and coy.

So guys and dolls, brush up on your 1920s slang and let’s meet up for giggle water.

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My Dad and his lovely lady come upstate to celebrate his birthday. We started off with beer and snacks at The Ruck.

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BBQ wings, with just the right amount of kick. A random afternoon is a great time to hit the Ruck up – it’s pretty empty, and they have free wifi if you need to log on.

For dinner, we went to Taiwan Noodle. My dad loves this place – great home cooking and low, low prices.

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Wood ear with celery on the right, boiled lettuce with oyster sauce on the right. My Dad loves that boiled lettuce dish. After this one was gone, he got a second plate. Personally, I’m not a fan of the flavor or texture iceberg lettuce gets when it’s boiled. Must be a generational thing.

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Pig feet appetizer! So tender and gelatinous.

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Two orders of har gow, because I will always eat the heck out of them, so when there’s more than 2 people, it’s better to get 2 orders when I’m around.

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Two soups – three mushroom and pork chop noodle soups. Tender, fried pork chop – very ample amount of pork chops in that soup! As always, both broths were quite delicate and flavorful. In this weather, non-greasy soups are key.

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Some you tiao crullers – fried and crunchy on the outside, chewy breading on the inside. Yum!

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And a pork belly app to round this meal out. Oh, we also BOYB’ed some beers since they don’t have alcohol on the menu.

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We were going to head to Crisan for a birthday dessert, but got there just after it closed, so we walked across the street The Wine Bar & Bistro on Lark.

We grabbed both menus, and my dad and his chickie both liked their regular menu, so we’ll probably be back the next time they’re in town.

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Our server was a beautiful brunette who overheard us talking quietly about Dad’s birthday and surreptitiously brought out his dessert with a candle in it, while thankfully sparing him the birthday song.

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We all ended up splitting orders of their berry shortbread – crumbly & rich shortbread, lots of berries and whipped cream. Yum.

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Last week was the opening party for the Olde English‘s back patio. I somehow managed to be online at the right time to snag one of their eventbrite tickets. Free entry, free drinks (with free glass, even), and grilled long hot dogs & frozen burgers. But the real star was the patio. This wasn’t one of those lame “Hey, our shitty patio is open,” patios, or when “patio dining” means eating on the sidewalk of a busy street.

The folks at The Olde English made good use of the trees here. I remember when this was Nicole’s Bistro, and the back patio was a bit too shaded and overgrown. There were a few tables, but it didn’t go as far back as it currently does.

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Why hello, sailor! After checking in with Mark to cross my name off of the guest list, this mustachioed chap was at the ready with Newcastle and Strongbow. A Newcastle for me, a Strongbow for Albany John. The cider was a really good choice, what with the heat/humidity and all. But man, I love Newcastle. (Newcastle is pretty much the only beer I can keep at home that Albany John won’t drink. It’s a little too sour/lemony for his tastes)

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I also love Newcastle’s marketing techniques. Online, they’re pretty irreverent and funny, and it was good to see they kept the same tone with their promotional items as well.

I’d say the only drawback to the patio at the moment were the incredibly loud generators underneath the Clinton St. 787 exit as part of the 787 repairs. But let’s keep our fingers crossed that they finish construction this season so we can really enjoy the patio.

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I saw that The Ruck was randalling Dogfish Head Festina Peche through red raspberries, blueberries, white peaches. Three cheers for social media! I promptly squealed and informed Albany John that we were going to The Ruck. No protests from him, he loves that bar.

The Festina Peche initially wasn’t pouring right, and the bartender could only get 3/4 of a glass out. As you can tell, it was good, because by the time we got a 2nd beer, Albany John and I had downed about half of it. It was pretty refreshing, with lots of white peach notes, and the berries adding more sweetness to it.

It was sticky and humid in The Ruck, so I asked the bartender for another light somewhat fruity refreshing beer, and got this ginger/grapefruit beer. Definitely refreshing, and Albany John loved the assertive gingery flavor. It reminded me more of a gingery spritzer than a syrupy beer. Good for summer.

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Albany John noticed sweet potato tots on their menu, so we got an order ($6). It came with raspberry melba sauce, which was jammy and went well with the tots. Good fry job – didn’t taste too heavy or anything.

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Got another Festina Peche randalled through fruit and it poured all the way this time. Guess what – only $5! Five bucks! How crazy-good is that pricing for good tasting beer? This is why I love the Ruck.

DSCF5283 The Charles F. Lucas Confectionery is one of my favorite new additions to downtown Troy. I’ve been there a few times already. Go for a platter of their charcuterie. The 3 choices for $12 worked well as a hearty snack for Albany John and me. You can choose between cheeses and charcuteries, but we went with a meaty trio.
Hot smoked duck breast on the upper left corner, boar pate in the center, and duck salami on the right. The boar really hit a high note with my taste buds: can’t wait to order it again. Good texture to the salami, too. I’d probably skip the smoked duck breast in the future. It was fine, but since I’ve started smoking my own meats at home I make things way smokier than other places tend to.

The kalamata olive tapenade is next on my hit list.

DSCF5281The bread was nice – from Placid Baker. This is such a cute date night place, and even when it’s busy they are so nice about seating you and trying to find you a place to stay.

I love the idea of wine from a tap. I got a glass of red, which was drinkable and tasty enough, but didn’t really make me want to order the same one again. Maybe I will try a white next time.

Service was great – our waitress kept refilling water frequently, was pleasant, and knew when to come over just enough.

DSCF5256Here’s a picture from another (more casual) time when we grabbed a table to stand at. I really like that they don’t push you to drink at the Confectionery. Albany John and I were getting over colds when we went here and went for hot beverages instead of wine. No pouting from our waitress or anything.

Oh my gosh, the lattes ($4). So good. So nutty and sweet. No sugar needed, although they have a variety of caloric and non-caloric sweeteners available. The herbal teas are $3, and pretty generous as well. A pot is a bit larger than a mug. The African Nectar soothed my sore throat.

Desserts are from Sweet Sue’s just down the road on River Street. I like the truffles and the macaroons (only $1.50!), but the whoopie pie is a bit dry/crumbly and the filling is a chocolate buttercream. I think your best bet is for anything that generally stays moist and doesn’t risk drying out. I’ve had some of Sue’s other baked cake-goods and they’re normally really moist. But cakes can dry out after a few hours, and if you’re here, it’s generally later at night past when a bakery would be open.

Anyway, the truffles are snacking orbs for $1 each. I liked the white chocolate and lavender. And for real, the macaroon was coconutty and light without being too chewy or as dense as a paperweight.

Now where do I buy chalkboard plates? Those things are adorable!

 

 

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