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Good food, casual dining near Wolf Road, Albany?

Hi, I'll be in Albany this week for a conference for work. We'll be dining with some engineers and highway superintendents so I'm looking for a relaxed casual atmosphere with good food. Nothing fussy or out of the ordinary in case we have any 'un'adventurous eaters in the bunch. I'm thinking pub style eating would be best. We'll likely have a couple cars following each other to the restaurant, so something easy to find, drive to, park, etc would probably be best. Any ideas?

Thanks in advance for your help!

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  1. I used to travel up there for business and all I remember is a lot of chain restaurants, Macaroni Grill,outback, olive garden, red lobster, etc. If you have unadventurous eaters it might be the best way to go anyway. I have had decent meals on business travel at both olive garden and outback but not these particular ones. I did eat at a pub downtown Albany near the hospital but it was not good enough to recommend here.

    1. Wolf Road and Clifton Park areas are culinary wastelands filled with chain restaurants. Bucca De Peppo or something like that on Wolf Road is edible and better than Olive Garden. Haven't been to The Barnsider in years but that might also work. If you have a car and are willing to travel a bit there are better options in downtown Albany. Also CCK for Chinese and Van's for Thai (I have not been, but it gets raves on this Board) on Central Avenue. Of course, Chinese and Thai won't work for your non-adventurous eaters. You might want to check out these threads:

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/349608
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/254971

      IMHO the best dining options in the Capital Region are in Albany and Saratoga.

      5 Replies
      1. re: financialdistrictresident

        I had a meal at the Barnsider about two months ago. It was decent, nothing spectacular. Solid fare for people who like a solid meal. Standard salad bar, steaks, a couple of chicken and fish options. The one great thing was that on the back page of the menu they have a 'lighter fare' section where they allow you to order one of six or so different meals from the main menu but served with 1/2 the amount of protein. I ordered the chicken from there, and it was still a massive chicken breast - more than enough for a satisfying meal.

        My advice to the OP: is you do decide on the Barnsider, call ahead to make reservations. We called as we were leaving the hotel, and we luckily had to wait just a couple of minutes. Others were waiting much, much longer.

        From what I've ever seen, the chains on Wolf Road often have very long waits. The call ahead option at Barnsider alone made it a good choice.

        1. re: financialdistrictresident

          Van's is Vietnamese; Blue Spice for Thai.

          1. re: gerchak198

            Thanks for the correction, gerchak198. I meant to write Vietnamese . . .

            I did not care for Blue Spice on nearby Central Avenue. To be fair I've only been once and for lunch.

            Phoenicians (casual ambience, more of a lunch place, their delicious Lebanese cuisine might not work for your non-adventerous eaters) or CCK on Central Avenue is where we usually eat when we're in the area. Otherwise we head to downtown Albany or maybe Stuyvesant Plaza.

            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/613885
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/672892
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/601116

            Trying to think of pubs near Wolf Road. There is a Biergarten next to MAD (both in downtown Albany near Huck Finn's), not sure what the food situation is at Biergarten since I haven't been. Maybe Albany Pump Station in downtown Albany? I have not been but have seen several recs for it on this Board. Albany Pump Station:

            www.evansale.com
            http://www.timesunion.com/entertainme...

            1. re: financialdistrictresident

              I've been to blue spice about three times now. I went for dinner, when it first opened, and the menu was extensive and the food was very good.

              I went back twice for lunch and it was OK, limited menu and a little expensive.

              I'd say try it for dinner, it was an entirely different experience.

              1. re: adventuresinbaking

                Thanks for the tip adventuresinbaking.

        2. We have had an enjoyable meal at Buca di Beppo, 41 Wolf Road, Colonie NY. (I know, I know...it's a chain.) Portions are meant to be shared, food is good & it's a fun atmosphere. It might work for the unadventurous as there is spaghetti and meatballs, chicken parm & pizza. Here's a link:

          http://www.bucadibeppo.com/menu/index...

          1 Reply
          1. re: GlendaleGal

            I agree that the area is full of chains. We usually eat at Macaroni Grill when we're in the area.

          2. Believe it or not, there actually are very good non-chain options right on Wolf Rd. I highly recommend Reel Seafood Co for fresh, innovative fish and seafood. Emperor's Chinese restaurant has excellent authentic Hong Kong cuisine. There's a Pakastani restaurant right next to it. I haven't been, but I understand they have some Pakastani Chinese dishes. Buffalo Wagon is right off Wolf Rd and has pan-Asian cuisine. Blu Stone Bistro is attached to (but not in the lobby of) the hotel on the upper part of Wolf Rd near the airport. I've heard good things about it. And next door to that is Kobe, a Japanese restaurant that does the show cooking. THere's also the Scrimshaw in the Desmond hotel. And of course the Wolf Rd Diner.
            If you want something pub-like, there's a pub and games kind of place called Wolf's 1-11 that has an interesting looking menu that might be good for your crowd. http://blog.timesunion.com/tablehoppi...
            And there's Nottingham Chop House that also might be ok but it hasn't gotten very good reviews. http://www.timesunion.com/AspStories/...

            So yes, believe it or not, there are decent places to eat right on Wolf Road. If you're willing to venture a little further, there are even more good, non-chain options. Welcome to Albany!

            16 Replies
            1. re: AmyH

              AmyH, I've read good things on this Board about Emperor's and Buffalo Wagon (see thread below). Have not been yet. Not sure Chinese will meet the OP's rec for a casual pub, but it is one of the better options near Wolf Road. Ate at Scrimshaw during a conference last year, cannot recommend.

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/611461

              AmyH, what do you like at Blu Stone Bistro? I have not been yet and nothing comes up on Yelp or chowhound. Times Union reviewed it in April and 3 diners posted reviews:

              http://www.timesunion.com/entertainme...

              1. re: financialdistrictresident

                I have been to Blu Stone Bistro.... will not be going back. Food was mediocre at best.

                1. re: financialdistrictresident

                  Actually, I have not been to Blu Stone Bistro. I was just wracking my brain for non-chain places on Wolf Road. I'm glad jaylhorner has chimed in, even for a negative review. We are big fans of Emperor's, but you're right that it doesn't meet the casual pub criteria. Reel Seafood is excellent as well.

                  1. re: financialdistrictresident

                    The comments on the Table Hopping blog that talked about the review of Blu Stone Bistro are all positive, and the food looks really good in the photos. http://blog.timesunion.com/tablehoppi... Makes me wonder if they changed chefs between the review and jaylhorner's visit.

                    1. re: AmyH

                      I am also a fan of Emperor's, but do not care for Blu Stone Bistro. I do not have suggestions for Wolf Road non-chain places that meet the poster's criteria.

                  2. re: AmyH

                    +1 for Blue Stone Bistro; casual, friendly joint. D'Raymond's is nearby, topnotch old school Italian, very convivial. Down the road at Crossgates Mall The Standard is surprisingly ok, good drinks, good value for food, service is sometimes a little amateurish, rat-pack vibe. I like it better than Barnsider, which is decent, but more oriented to families.

                    1. re: PSZaas

                      D'Raymond's is one of my favorites

                      1. re: PSZaas

                        You can reserve The Standard on www.opentable.com.

                        No recent posts on this Board. This link has some information (a bit dated):

                        http://www.timesunion.com/entertainme...

                        1. re: financialdistrictresident

                          No recent posts besides mine, I suppose you mean. I'm pretty sure I said I dined there, and said it was "surprisingly ok." In point of fact, I've dined there maybe 5 times; it's become a casual favorite. Very good cocktails, like I said, steaks are fine, other dishes are catch-as-catch can. Lots of comfort-food choices.

                          1. re: PSZaas

                            PSZaas, your post on this thread was all I found when I did a search of this Board for The Standard. Please tell us more about the food and why it is one of your casual favorites (beyond "steaks are fine"). . .

                            It will be interesting to see where the OP ends up.

                            1. re: financialdistrictresident

                              I usually end up with the skirt steak, maybe a wedge salad, a really good Manhattan to start. My wife is usually a martini, a ribeye, maybe a filet, maybe an order of edamame. We often split their gargantuan baked potato and an order of broccoli. The skirt steak is really delicious, and, so far as I know, it's the only one in town.

                              1. re: PSZaas

                                Thanks so much, PSZaas for the additional details. Sounds like it's better for beef eaters, not poultry/fish eaters like me . . .

                                1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                  They have a roast chicken on the menu that has tempted me, but never enough to order it.

                                  1. re: PSZaas

                                    Thanks, PSZaas . . . I can roast a chicken at home :)

                                    1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                      So where're you going to eat after a movie? Rushing home to roast a chicken isn't always the best option. I can make stuffed dates wrapped in bacon at home, but it doesn't stop me from enjoying Max London's.

                                      1. re: PSZaas

                                        I have not gone out to a movie in a couple of years :)

                    2. onealexis, where did you end up? How was it?