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Oct 6, 2008 05:50 PM

Restaurants close to Albany/Rensslr. Amtrak Station

Need some new ideas for restaurants near the Albany/Rensslr. Amtrak station. All cuisines okay. I don't eat red meat. Restaurant must be open Friday night past 8:30 pm and Sunday nights (before the 8:05 pm train). We have been to:

Friday nights - Cafe Capriccio (our usual choice), Yono's, Tosca, Carmine's*, the Wine Bar in Latham*, The Carolina House (I got off in Hudson because we needed someplace new to eat).

*a little far for really hungry hounds at 8:30 pm

Sunday nights - De John's (tried for the first time last night, wanted to try Ali Baba in Troy but their phone wasn't working.) Victory Cafe, Lombardo's and El Loco are closed on Sundays. Another time we ate at an Italian place, Buca Mio, because the Thai place on Wolf Road was closed. Wolf Road is too far from the station.

Thanks in advance for your help.


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  1. On Sundays the pickings can be a little thin in downtown Albany. If you liked DeJohn's I'd try Justins. It is a few doors down closer to Madison and on the other side of the street.

    I love Ali Baba, try it sometime, but it is a bit out of the way.

    Albaraki now has two places, one on river street and one on lark street. I still think the river street location is the best, but their hours have been a little uncertain lately.

    Cafe Madison might suit you. It is on Madison Ave near the intersection of South Allen and Madison. I know they do Brunch on Sundays, but I'm not sure how late they are open.

    I also like the Shalimar on Central near Henry Johnson Blvd, but people have mixed reviews of the place. However, I've always found the food to be great, the place is spotless and I know the owner runs a very tight ship.

    2 Replies
    1. re: adventuresinbaking

      Thanks, adventuresinbaking. Your timing is good as I will be heading Upstate on the train tonight. DeJohn's was good - service was great, pasta entress (smoked chicken carbonara and a seafood entree) were delicious and huge portions. Nice patio out back, we ate upstairs.

      1. re: adventuresinbaking

        adventuresinbaking, it was a Latham kind of weekend. Usually Latham is too far. We ended up at the wine bar in Latham and Carraba's Italian Grill on Sunday. Looking forward to trying some of your suggestions. The wine bar has a new Fall menu - the spicy calamri (not breaded), butternut squash ravioli with cream/sage, and vanilla infused quail on granola with cherries were all good. I wonder if the wine bar is always that quiet on Thursday nights or if it's a reflection of the financial crisis/economy or long Columbus Day weekend.

      2. If you are out in Latham, you might want to check out Vino Santo. They have a very nice wine list, the atmosphere is "adult" without being to stuffy. Some of their menu items are better than others, I really like their pizzas (woodfired) and they have some interesting items on their small plates menu.

        4 Replies
        1. re: adventuresinbaking

          adventuresinbaking is Vino Santo the wine bar in the shopping center (I can never remember the name)? We've been several times. It's inconsistent.

          1. re: financialdistrictresident

            We had a horrible dining experience there, one of our party got a chicken dish that had a HUGE piece of grizzle in the center, we tried a few small plates, best was the mac and cheese. We were not impressed at all.....

          2. re: adventuresinbaking

            I was very excited about there being a tapas place in the Albany environs . . . until I went there a few months ago.
            They don't have the tapas concept down at all. It's tables and large plates. And their sherry selection is miserable. Food was okay, but nothing to crow about.
            And it misses the mark for tapas -- small plates with lots of flavor. Especially the tables spread out in a large room.
            And the location? Please, what could be more of a let down than dining and then leaving onto the mega-strip plaza of Latham Farms.

            1. re: NYchowcook

              hey chowcook,
              I think I could get past the location if the food was OK. I also did not find the manager any help at all, we asked for a sampler of apps prior to dining, no-go. He couldn't even recommend a selection that he thought would highlight the menu....

          3. Up 9 and 20 to East Greenbush. Hannaford shopping center has a great new restaurant Chez Mike. Excellent quality and great service. Open until 10 on Friday nights.

            8 Replies
            1. re: cook152

              Thanks, cook152. adventuresinbaking maybe Vino Santo is the wine bar in Latham that I call the "wine bar" (not the real name, which I can never seem to remember).

              1. re: financialdistrictresident

                Creo' in Stuyvesant Plaza is open now. It's not as close as I'd like to Amtrak but closer then Latham if we're running late. I'd like more options in the Lark Street area on a Sunday night.

              2. re: cook152

                cook152 I just looked at the menu ( and this sounds like our kind of place. I'll report back after we get around to trying it.

                1. re: financialdistrictresident

                  If the mushroom bruschetta isn't on the menu- ask for it! They're also very good if you want to sub something.
                  Hope you enjoy it.

                  1. re: cook152

                    cook152 we finally tried Chez Mike last week. It seemed a little odd to find such a good restaurant in a strip mall. The staff was very warm. The room is pretty big and I was glad we got a corner table (there was a large group in the middle of the room). The menu on their website is not the current one. On to the food:


                    *Calamari (cooked perfectly)
                    * Cheese with honey and bread (delicious - I can't remember the name of the cheese)


                    *Catfish and fennel slaw special - very good fish was cooked perfectly
                    *Chicken in red wine sauce/breast and thigh/sauteed mushrooms and carmelized onion. Very good. We appreciated that I was able to order it without the apple wood smoked bacon.


                    *Chocolate biscotti with olive oil and salt - delicious!

                    Thanks for the rec.


                2. re: cook152

                  Chez Mike is great. I was visiting in the area last weekend and I found this old post - thank you.

                  Fried calamari to start was done perfectly. I had the mushroom ravioli and it was amazing. My wife had the pasta of the day - which wasn't designated as hot but had way too much red pepper. This was the only "miss"

                  Staff was very attentive and professional. I'd go back.

                  Chez Mike
                  596 Columbia Tpke, East Greenbush, NY 12061

                3. If you venture to Hudson again, I suggest you eat in Hudson!

                  There are some very good restaurants (much better than Carolina House!).

                  My fave is Swoon Kitchenbar for excellent seasonal fare. I don't think there's a better restaurant in the entire region.

                  Also good is Ca' Mea for Italian. Mexican Radio is good, though perhaps overpriced for what you get. I love their Louis Salad.
                  Others like DA BA and Vico. Skip Wunderbar, which is mediocre.

                  Here's a list:

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: NYchowcook

                    Thanks, NYchowcook. I've heard of Swoon. Spring is just around the corner and maybe a stop in Hudson is in order :)

                    1. re: NYchowcook

                      Agree with the down play of Carolina House (we live close and the decline in food quality and prep is noticable - used to be regulars). I cannot endorse Swoon though, maybe it is just a personal feel - negative in my case. Ca' Mea is on my list and should have been tried earlier - just bad planning on my part. Red Dot is on Warren St (like all the others) and is a great spot for a not so quiet meal. The noise level is the only turn off for me though others may find it a little on the "quaint" side. Still love it!

                      1. re: feelinpeckish

                        feelinpeckish, thanks for your thoughts and suggestions.

                    2. Went to Avenue A Friday night. We didn't have a reservation. We were promptly seated at a nice table by the window. Avenue A on Delaware has a lively atmosphere. The blackboard read "good neighbors create good neighborhoods" - I immediately liked the spirit of the place. There were two large groups (surprisingly, the open room wasn't too loud) . Service was friendly and attentive. Wine list is small and there are some reasonable options. Now on to the food:


                      *special - clams with jalapeno app - light and a little spicy, very fresh and good
                      *Korean shrimp and vegetable pancakes - very good, really liked the ginger honey soy dipping sauce


                      The portions are large at Avenue A and we ordered accordingly. We had the Cioppino (fisherman's stew) which was large enough for two to share and we still had some to take home. Very fresh. The warm bread tasted like it had just been baked in the oven.

                      The menu has inexpensive light fare and panini, salads, soups and dinner entrees (under $30 and large portions).

                      We will definitely go back.

                      Avenue A
                      544 Delaware Avenue
                      Albany, NY

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: financialdistrictresident

                        thanks for the report.
                        I went to Avenue A 3+ times when it was at its prior location (near Ave A on Ontario St). I wanted to like it.
                        The food was miserable. Stewed beef so tough that it couldn't be cut w/ a knife. Tasteless soup.
                        Maybe they hired a new chef w/ the move? I liked the decor at the old place but that was all.
                        It had been the Bagel Bite, which featured the only genuine NY bagels in Albany and the best fried eggplant around, so I was sad that BB left and Ave A moved in. But not so bad, I guess.

                        1. re: NYchowcook

                          Chef Un-Hui Filomeno. The place was crowded and the clientele reflected the international cuisine. Food was good.