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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.

The Cheese Traveler to Host Friday Night Cookouts

Where: The Cheese Traveler, 540, Delaware Ave, Albany

When: May 30th, and subsequent Friday evenings

Cost: Priced according to menu between $4-$10

The Cheese Traveler, a cheese shop which opened in Albany in September 2012 and was recently named Best New Specialty Food Shop in Hudson Valley Magazine, will host Friday Night Cookouts over the summer beginning May 30th.

The menu will rotate every few weeks and feature locally raised meat, seafood, and seasonal vegetables. The Cheese Traveler sells organic beef and pork from Tilldale Farm, Fish from Fin, and developed many relationships with great producers when they sold their cheeses at farmers markets over the last three years.

We want to consistently host events in the neighborhood to bring people together. We couldn’t think of a better way to enjoy summer than with the grill. It gives us an opportunity to feature Tilldale Farm and other small producers of local meats, some of the great products we sell, and Ryan Skrabalak, our chef, whose talent we believe is one of the gems of our shop.” said proprietor Eric Paul.

***Squee! I’m so excited for this! I love being able to grab a casual burger in the Del So and just hang out. I’m not much of a burger-making gal myself, but I will totally swing by when someone else is making them.– Albany Jane***

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It’s nice to find a restaurant in Saratoga that keeps their prices sane during track season (i.e. the racing of the horsies). While I didn’t make it up to the track this year, I went up to catch the Philadelphia Orchestra at SPAC one night. It was late evening after the show was over, and the group I went with was looking for a snack/meal. Druthers was our first thought, and it was nice to see that they kept their prices Saratoga-reasonable during track season (i.e. they didn’t change them to jack them up during the busy season).

Albany John went with a sampler of beers ($14) and I went with a light pint.

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Thai chicken wings for me ($11). They weren’t crispy, but the skin was a pleasantly succulent-soft without being soggy and flaccid. What was initially a bummer wound up being really pleasant for a crispy-skin lover like myself. The peanut flavor was on the mild side, and there was just a little kick of heat. It was served with homemade quick kimchee, which had red bell peppers in it (ruining an otherwise pleasant side slaw coz you guys know I dislike bell peppers).

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Albany John got a Druthers burger ($13) with greens on the side. Ordered rare, and received rare. So beefy and juicy. I had to exercise what little self control I have to not eat my good husbear’s burger, too.

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Our friend got the Mac & Cheese ($13), which I’ve seen other people order before, but never had anyone at my table order. It looks big, but once you get it in front of you… woah. It’s gigantic. And comfortingly cheesy, too. Stretchy, creamy cheese with crunchy crumbs on top.

Leisurely dinner for two during Saratoga’s high season with drinks in the $50 range? Not too shabby.

What do you do when you’re in Saratoga Springs, NY for a late-ish dinner after the opening of Badger’s Hookah Bar just a few blocks away? You hope Danika at Garnish Marketing says “I’m going to go to Druthers for a drink in a little bit. You in?” Yes. Yes yes yessity yes.

Albany John had a blast taking pics of the Druthers table at the Saratoga Wine, Food, and Fall Ferrari Festival this past September. They were happy, fun, and lively – great energy, and I meant to head around to Druthers to try their fare in-store.

A chill in the air made Albany John crave Chili Con Carne ($8), which lists habanero among its beefy ingredients, but isn’t anything overpowering, or even all that hot. Albany John was a big fan of this chili – very little fat/grease on top, and lots of deep, beefy flavor.

He also got a pint of Fist of Karma Brown Ale ($6), which he thought to be miles above Newcastle (which is one of my favorite beers lately). I dunno. I still prefer Newcastle. This was a bit hoppier & tarter.

Pasta fagioli ($6) for another friend. Vegan, even.

A rare Given My Druthers Burger ($12) for me. Cute Druthers brand on the bread bun.  I got greens on the side (you could also get fries), which were pretty heavily dressed. I’d ask for them naked next time.

Happiness is a bloody rare burger. This was pretty hefty, yet unsurprisingly I managed to finish it all. I didn’t really taste the pickled green onion or pickled shallot that the menu lists, but the chuck, short rib, and smoked pork belly. I’m glad I’ve found restaurant in the area that makes a rare burger rare and not medium-rare or medium.

Danika & her Mr. got the flight of beers on tap, which was $14 for 7 4-oz flights. The waitress was a peach & wrote out all of the beers on tap, too.

 

The Comfort Kitchen held an after hours snacking session for some local bloggers.  Many thanks to Jen for the invite! First off – location. They’re at 454 Broadway in Saratoga Springs. This is like a mini-mall. I’d never been inside before. It’s on the bottom floor.

First up were tater tots made on-site. Dude. These were awesome. Solid fry job, nicely moist & fluffy potato interior. Def get some awesome sauce with these. Yup, one of their sauces is Awesome Sauce.

 

 

 

 

Next up were black bean patties.

The chipotle mayo on here really makes this veggie burger sing. It has a ton of flavor in that one little streak, so even mayo-haters like me have to admit its deliciousness.

Non-veggie burgers up next, hee hee. Sliders – a whole tray of ‘em! Comfort Kitchen gets their meat ground every two days. Rory, the owner, also goes out to market to buy his groceries – they don’t receive deliveries by truck.

Mac & Cheese, two ways. Pulled pork on the left, 4 cheese on the right. I was digging the pulled pork mac & cheese a little more than the 4 cheese. They used rotini pasta (spirals) instead of elbows – it’s a little thicker and holds the sauce better than elbow.

 

 

Ah, true love. Mac & cheese & a slider on a potato roll.

I loved, loved, loved that there was some pink to the slider. Rory says their default for burgers is medium, so just let them know if you want them cooked more or less. The grind was great – not too fine, but smaller than sausage chunks. Tons of savory flavor, too.For dessert, they made a cheeky treat – strawberry shortcake ice cream sandwiches: Rory’s nod to strawberry shortcake ice cream on a stick that we all grew up eating as kids. YES. So good, especially the crumbs made with dehydrated strawberries.
Comfort Kitchen MenuWhile your food will be prepared by incredibly good looking people, you won’t have to sacrifice your first born to eat here. Nothing on the menu is over $9. The space is basic and clean, with some Comfort Kitchen cartoons on the walls.  They’re only open for lunch (until 7 pm), and man, after seeing tacos on the menu, I think I’ve got to mosey my way back to Comfort Kitchen and give those a shot.

I love late night dining. The Brown Bag is a lovely new late night addition to downtown Troy. Open 7 days a week from 9 pm – 6 am, it’s a great spot for some cheap eats in the wee morning hours.

$4 for a cheeseburger with meatyflavor and coarse grind. Can’t beat a hand formed patty, even if it was just the teensiest bit dry. Pickles were great, adding just the right amount of salinity.

One of the kids behind the line might wanna change his gloves though – he was touching raw burgers, then pretty much everything else in the kitchen. From burger buns to the fryer handles. But the buns went on the grill, theoretically enough to kill any potential pathogens from raw ground beef.

The guys working there were way personable, though. I think Albany John and I may have been the only two customers who were still able to drive a car, and they handled their rowdiness well.

And guess what? They also take credit cards! Awesome!

All hail the great Meyer Empire! I went to the Saratoga Race Track with Cute~Ella, Sue, GenWar, and the rest of the Cute~Ella crew. Oh, plus I dragged R & M. My mind was on burgers made of cow meat.

I think last year was the first time I was ever at the track, not being much of a horse-racing fan in general. However, I am a fan of hyped-up burgers from NYC. Well, it’s easier to get there than Shake Shack in Central Park.

I don’t mind a “day at the track”. It’s $3 per person to enter, free parking, and you can bring in your own coolers and seats. You don’t even have to go look a the horse track. It’s basically like going picnic-ing with tons of people to gawk at. And you can dress up. Win-win in my book.

Also a win-win – two double Shack Burgers ($9 each) and a Track Shake ($5.75). The shake looks small, but it’s very custard-y and rich. It’s a lot to suck down.

The burgers were so good. Glad I got doubles instead of singles. Albany John thought his was fine, and even I had trouble finishing mine off. They’re deliciously salty and beefy flavored. A bit pinky rare in the center, yet firm of exterior.

THEY ARE SO MEATY AND GOOD. SO MEATY! SO MUCH MEATY BEEFY FLAVOR!

Heads up – they show up on your credit card as “UnionStreetSportsandENT” and not something easier to recognize.

Albany John liked it, but his stomach felt a little funky later on. I guess he’s going to have to be on the Jack Sprat diet. I’ll troop through it for him somehow.

Cute hat I made a Cute~Ella’s the night before tracking. She so fancy!

Oh, and heads up – if you go, it’ll probably be elbows to asses people. Don’t really expect any personal space, but otherwise you’re good. As long as everyone’s friendly you’ll be fine. Also, their bathrooms are really quick and clean.

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