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Mar 31, 2009 11:44 AM

New World Bistro Bar, Albany

Jack and I made it in to the new New World Bistro Bar last Sunday. We had a lot going on, so we made an early (5 PM) reservation, thinking we could slip in while it was quiet. Hah! The place was already jumping by the time we arrived – don’t know if that’s because of movie-goers or just the excitement this place has caused in its first week. It was nice to see such an eclectic group there – families, older folks, young singles, etc. The room has a very urban hip look, with exposed brick, local art and funky lighting. I love the somewhat more artsy casual décor at NWHC, but would prefer this for a more urbane, Manhattan-style night out. (That translates to, basically, “our out of town friends will be less confused by the décor here.”)

With just the two of us, our sampling options were limited, but we over-indulged just a bit with the meze sampler and all of the “Forbidden Pleasures.” The meze had a chunk of manchego with fig jam, two wasabi tobikko eggs (sooo good!) some beet/orange/goat cheese salad (very nice,) pickled gigante beans and roasted red peppers (good) and “festive” olives (basically just an assortment of olives.) It was nice to try so many tastes and the portion seemed reasonable for $12, although in an ideal world I would have rather swapped out the cheese and olives for something more unusual. They have so many interesting-looking apps, salads and pizzas I don’t know that I will ever get around to eating a standard main there.

The “Forbidden Pleasures” portion of the menu includes gamebird rillettes, roasted marrowbones, menudo, boudin noir and chicken liver pate. Our server thoughtfully brought everything in two courses so our table wasn’t over-crowded. The chicken liver pate came with its own little container of cornichons (from which I ate about 1/ 2 dozen of the tasty little things,) toast, mustard and little squares of aspic. It was rich and delicious. Rillette is basically duck confit and is also served with toast and mustard. We quite liked it, and the serving is more than ample, but having both it and the pate makes for something of a fat overload. The boudin noir was good but I actually found the accompanying white bean salad more enticing. Menudo was great! We only got the “taste” potion but it was substantial – I can only assume paying for the bowl would get you quite a vat! This was spicy, rich and luscious. Finally, our favorites were the roasted marrowbones, which came with apple butter, sea salt and toast. I absolutely loved this – Jack makes this for me on occasion but said that, considering the work involved and the very reasonable $6 menu price for this, he may have roasted his last bone.

We paired this with one of their wines by the bottle. One nice feature – while they have a pretty good selection of wines by the glass already, they will open any bottle as long as you buy at least two glasses. We had no problem finishing the whole bottle, though. We got a mid-range Australian Shiraz that had more depth than I expected. Unfortunately I can’t find the name on the online menu, but it was, I think, something Jack and was $39. They also have a specialty drink menu I forgot to look at, and a selection of beers by the glass, plus a “beer flight” option, with small portions of any four for $5.

Service was good – our server seemed just a bit TOO perky but I can hardly fault someone for that. And for all our indulgence, the bill before tip was only $90.

The menu emphasizes that they try to use local, sustainable, seasonal food as much as possible, a plus in our mind. We were already fans of Ric Orlando's cooking but are happy to be able to get it much closer to home these days.

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  1. Thanks for the report meg944. Sounds like another option when I get off the train this Friday night . . .

    1. Had dinner at NWBB tonight - we were very impressed. Everything we had was great; as good as, and if anything, better than the Saugerties restaurant. Service was excellent and the waitstaff were very friendly, pleasant and welcoming. The menu has substantial overlaps with NWHC but also some nice differences.

      We did have 2 complaints though - one is that 3 out of 6 draft beers were out. This may be due to the place being new and underestimating how much of a supply is needed, but needs to be addressed.
      The other issue was that we reserved an early table, and when we were arrived were seated at a "bistro" table which means the next table is quite close. Asked to be relocated to a table that had a little more room around it seemed to cause some consternation on the part of the Maitre D' who responded that those tables "were reserved". Well, we had a reservation TOO. He did accomodate us, but this seemed an odd reply since we had a reservation and most of the restaurant was empty at that time.

      This was the second time recently in an Albany restaurant that this has happened - perhaps it is a custom in the restaurant business that diners need to specify what table they want when making a reservation, but I have never heard of this, except in places with waterfront tables or indoor vs outdoor choices. Otherwise, I have never had before requesting a different table when arriving to find a table in a location I did not like.

      If this is the case, the restaurants should either advise diners of this, or else ask if there is a seating preference when taking the reservation.

      But otherwise, we had no complaints about the food or service and look forward to dining there in the future.

      2 Replies
        1. re: financialdistrictresident

          For apps, we had Blackened Stringbeans, of course, and Dobe wings with Pique sauce, which are also on the NWHC menu, and were cooked as well if not better than we have had them at Saugerties. For main dishes, I had a small plate of Shrimp with Yellow Curry and Big Noodles (was plenty for me with apps), and SO had the daily chicken and rice which was Moroccan rub roasted chicken, and jasmine rice, with both braised greens and some spiced roasted root vegetables also I ate most of his veggies which were fantastic.
          Everything was cooked and seasoned beautifully, and I thought the mains were very inventive, with great augmentation with vegetables.
          I would order all of the above again...except there is happily much more menu to try.
          But to be able to get Blackened Stringbeans without an hour drive each way is just heaven.

      1. We went Friday night (broke my rule of going to a new restaurant within a few weeks of opening . . .). It was VERY crowded and lively. We had reservations and were seated at a table for two right next to the bar. The place was packed so asking for another table was not an option. Once I got over my initial crankiness about our table location and the server reminded me everyone else had a reservation too and it was only their second Friday, we really enjoyed our evening. Let me say it one more time, our server was excellent and knowledgeable. Pacing was great (especially important because we had a small table). Now on to the food:

        Apps & small plates:

        *Purple haze shrimp with habbies and red cabbage - very good, cooked perfectly
        *CAGE pan blackened string beans with creole remoloude sauce - addictive
        *Saigon style fried calamari with peanut tamarind and chile sauces - cooked perfectly/passed the calamari test
        *spicy tofu sticks with gingery plum sauce - very good

        Big plates:

        *Thai BBQ salmon glazed with lime and garlic dressing with peanut sauce, o. brown rice and greens - good, cooked perfectly

        Wines were reasonable and we had a bottle of Rodney Strong. Around 9:30 pm the place quieted down, there were some empty tables and we enjoyed some espresso.

        We had not been to the Saugerties restaurant. Everything was very good and the management/service was not indicative of typical new restaurant growing pains. We will definitely go back and are new fans of Ric Orlando.

        8 Replies
        1. re: financialdistrictresident

          We are planning a trip and movie soon.....

            1. re: LJNew

              Thanks for the details, LJNew.

              The calamari test . . .I can count on one hand the times I have had delicious, perfectly cooked, not overbreaded, fried calamari (Zip City - now closed, Bloomer's, New World Bistro Bar).

              Now we await the opening of Dale Miller and the new menu at 74 State . . .

              1. re: financialdistrictresident

                Ah, ok. Glad to hear it does not involve throwing it at walls or bouncing it off floors, or something.

                1. re: financialdistrictresident

                  Dale Miller is opening a new restaurant?? I thought he went up to some mansion in Lake George. I remember him from his old days at Stone Ends, where I had the best dinner to date (that date)
                  Tell me more!

                    1. re: jspear

                      He left The Inn at Erlowest before New Year's Eve, when we went.


                      Albany is becoming a dining destination . . .next to Saratoga Springs it has the highest concentration of good restaurants, IMO.

            2. What a great addition to the neighborhood, and the Albany dining scene! Do you know their hours? Lunch and dinner? Is it near the Spectrum Theater?
              I looked up the website and linked to the location.

              New World Bistro Bar
              300 Delaware Ave, Albany, NY

              7 Replies
              1. re: NYchowcook

                It's near the Spectrum, same owners. Avenue A was pretty good too:


                1. re: financialdistrictresident

                  ??? are you saying the Spectrum owns Ric Orlando's new restaurant?

                  I'm very reluctant to return to Avenue A since I had horrid dining experiences at their old location. I gave it many tries since it was in my then neighborhood. Mi Linh is just too precious for me to enjoy even though it is convenient to the Spectrum.

                  I will happily try Ric Orlando's new restaurant, and of course Dale Miller when he opens in April.

                  So Mr. Financial District, what are your favorite restaurants in the Albany area?

                  1. re: NYchowcook

                    That's what their website indicated.

                    To be fair, we've only been to Avenue A once, so can't judge the consistency.

                    I liked 74 State (their menu will be changing). I've been to Cafe Capriccio often. I love their duck ragu and tagliatelle. There are so many places I have not been: Mi Linh, Nicole's, Madison Cafe, DRaymonds, Lombardi's, Ali Baba . . .

                    1. re: NYchowcook

                      I have been to Ave A twice since their move and it has been good both times, but the menu in the new place is somewhat different and they have left off some dishes I liked so I have not been back often.

                      Although the ambience is not so great, I find Vans to be better and more consistent than My Linh for Vietnamese - have had a dreadful meal at My Linh which makes it hard to go back.

                      Also - NWBB is open 7 days/week at present but not for lunch. I think their hours are 3 or 4 to 11 or 12 (depending on what night). The wait staff told us they may be doing lunch in the future. I am rooting for weekend brunch myself.

                      1. re: LJNew

                        To each their own. Have eaten at My Linh dozens of times with multiple diners and none of us have ever had anything but a superlative meal. Plus, as a family owned and run establishment, I'm guessing that if you let them know you were displeased they would make it right.

                        1. re: LJNew

                          I agree -- I enjoy Van's more than Mi Lynh even if the decor isn't so frou-frou. The food is excellent and no pretension to be found!

                          Since the family owners of Mi Linh are part/all of the snootiness, I see no point to telling them they have an attitude that is off-putting. I just go to Van's (any chance I get!) instead.

                          1. re: NYchowcook

                            Since I have not been to Van's or My Linh's (and hounds have strong feelings about each) I'll have to do a comparison/ taste test to see if I'm a My Linh or Van's girl :)

                  2. We went to NWHC Easter brunch yesterday (which was very enjoyable), and as we were leaving my SO bumped into Ric, who seemed to be a festive mood.
                    After this brief exchange, we can report that he is planning is to start lunches at the NWBB in about 2 weeks time, and eventually add in some food events similar to the Easter brunch buffet, once the staff get their feet under them.
                    This sounds great - as much as we like the basic NWHC menu, we also enjoy their food events. Though some hounds might like hearing this news.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: LJNew

                      Thanks! We love their wine dinners in particular and look forward to having one a bit closer.