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Coming to Albany/Saratoga Springs for Wedding need dining recs...

burgeoningfoodie Feb 15, 2010 07:11 AM

Hello Chowhounds of the North,

My girlfriend and I are flying into Albany this coming Thursday around 5pm (hopefully) and will make our way to Saratoga Springs for a wedding on Sat. I've been told it's roughly a 30 min trip, but am unsure of what the road(s) will be like given the forecast of snow.

That being said, I am looking for recommendations for dinner that Thursday in either Albany or Saratoga Springs, breakfast and lunch recommendations in Saratoga Springs, and since we are flying back out of Albany in the late afternoon, I'm not sure about brunch or lunch recommendations in either Albany or Saratoga Springs. Something where price and quantity meet is preferable though I realize this may or may not limit things. Please no Tex/Mex or Indian.

Is there something unique to these areas? A good European bakery won't hurt either.

Thanks a bunch!

  1. g
    gerchak198 Feb 15, 2010 12:29 PM

    I-87 from airport/Albany to exits 13-15 is rarely impassable! For your Albany dinners I would recommend either New World Bistro on Delaware or Dale Miller's downtown. For Saratoga dinner, try Chianti, Maestro's,Beekman St. Bistro, or 8 Tables. For Saratoga breakfast, I like Beverly's. Max London's does a great brunch. Mrs London's bakery (on Broadway) has been called "the best bakery between New York and Montreal." Others?

    1. financialdistrictresident Feb 15, 2010 02:44 PM

      Second gerchak198 rec for Mrs. London's. I was there for lunch today. I prefer it for breakfast. Miss Albany Diner aka MAD is an interesting breakfast option in Albany (please note cash only). Scallions is my favorite lunch place in S. Springs.

      Second 8 Tables suggestion for dinner (it's small and can get lively). Also like Dine. The Wine Bar would be my first choice.

      You might want to check out these threads:

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/609052 Dale Miller
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/639111 8 Tables
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/509653 Best Restaurants in Saratoga Springs
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/349608 A really long thread on TOP Capital Region


      2 Replies
      1. re: financialdistrictresident
        trakman Feb 15, 2010 07:39 PM

        I think all of these recommendations are spot on. My only comment would be on Scallions. The decor is very hard and, if it is crowded, the noise level gets very crashy. Tough to hold a conversation.

        1. re: trakman
          financialdistrictresident Feb 16, 2010 03:42 AM

          trakman, I have only been to Scallions for lunch and IMHO it's not a dinner place. Luckily, I have not experienced the noise level you mention. Noise is one of my pet peeves and unfortunately can be an issue at 8 Tables. At Scallions, the duck salad is quite good.

      2. b
        burgeoningfoodie Feb 16, 2010 05:16 AM

        Thank you to you all for the suggestions. Yeah I'm not sure about the timing/location for meals upon arrival/departure to the Capital Region and so thought it best to get recs for both cities. Was briefly in Albany a few years ago and only remember getting to a place called.. Bombers (I think it was a hip burrito joint) across from a park. I had a few things going on at the Egg.. Also I believe I looked at the super long thread, if that is where you get a nod FDR. It is mostly in stuck in 2007/08 and so I wasn't sure what to take away from it. Apparently Marino's, Village and Pope's are the pizza places in the area. I also took a look at TimesUnion site but am unsure how reliable it is.


        Two other question, who does the best either NY bagels or if you get them Quebec/Montreal Bagels?

        I should note our rehearsal dinner in Mechanicsville is going to be Italian based so we are going to try and avoid eating as such during our trip.

        19 Replies
        1. re: burgeoningfoodie
          financialdistrictresident Feb 16, 2010 01:52 PM

          Lanci's in the Times Union link is now closed. 8 Tables is in their former location. I agree and disagree with some of the TU ratings.

          I cannot recommend any bagels or bialies in the Capital Region because I have been spoiled by NYC bagels and Kossar's bialies :)
          I am not a fan of Pope's, to be fair I've only been once and had a slice not a fresh pie. Have not been to Village or Marino's.

          You might want to consider Bloomers American Bistro (on Route 9 not far from Saratoga Springs). Albany and Saratoga Springs should give you plenty of options.

          1. re: financialdistrictresident
            burgeoningfoodie Feb 17, 2010 05:29 AM

            What is Putnam Market? THey make the claim to have the best desserts between Manhattan and Quebec or is that where Mrs. London's is located? Yeah I'm sure we will find plenty. Even though I'm coming from the South, Hattie's sounds like a well rounded place and if their Fried Chicken is THAT good it might be worth looking into.

            Although I do have to say, having seen a few posts about Ravenous and taking a look at the website.. I don't care how good your french inspired pancake maybe.. there is no reason that it should cost more than $7.50 or that there should be a charge for a dipping sauce. I don't know your opinion, but to me that screams rip off and sucker.

            Thanks again for the recs!

            1. re: burgeoningfoodie
              PSZaas Feb 17, 2010 06:37 AM

              Putnam Market is a gourmet market on Broadway, across the street from Mrs. London's. Best cheese counter in town, although there's not a lot of competition, good sandwiches, some tables for eating 'em.

              Saratoga Springs is an expensive town; restaurants charge what they need to in order to make the rent and the payroll. Be prepared: Ravenous is one of the cheapest good meals in town.

              1. re: PSZaas
                burgeoningfoodie Feb 17, 2010 07:01 AM

                Guess it doesn't seem like it would be so expensive. Am I right to assume it isn't a large town? It looks fairly walkable, but I neglected to remember the raceway eventhough it is the off season. I'll definitely keep that in mind. Note that comment isn't to say that the food at Ravenous isn't good.. it's like going to a burger joint and paying extraordinary amounts of money unless they start using truffles, foie gras or wagyu/kobe beef. Also, I wanted to go ahead and state that I'm definitely not dissing the town or the area. Was just a bit surprised.

                I see a lot of hits for Beekman Street Bistro, Wine Bar and Dine as well. Keeping in mind that we are doing Italian for one dinner already and that my gf is anti Indian and Mexican food (I love both though if it's TexMex I'll gladly take Indian over it)... those look like good places as well.

                Is there anything the area is "known" for or like a can't miss item .. like buffalo has its wings and beef on weck, NYC has.. well everything really (but in my case when I go to the city it's the pastries and deli foods).. For whatever reason the capital region of NC, which has loads of Northern retirees, can't get a decent bagel or deli place. There are some good bagels but not the stuff you get closer to the city and around the northern parts (Cranbury and up) of NJ.

                1. re: burgeoningfoodie
                  PSZaas Feb 17, 2010 07:19 AM

                  Uncommon Grounds, on Broadway, has perfectly good bagels, just not up to NYC standards. Saratoga is a small city, everything in the center of town is walkable. Hattie's is your best bet for a local favorite, then maybe a nightcap at 9 Maple (or Parting Glass, if an Irish Pub is more to your taste.) You're not going to be here long enough to try all the places you've mentioned, but you'll be able to decide if you want to return or not. I don't think any of the places you mention (Beekman St., Wine Bar, or Dine) serve lunch. Max London's, next to (and the son of) Mrs. London's serves lunch, but if you think Ravenous is expensive, you might not enjoy it. Scallions is a lunch favorite.

                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie
                    Mike CP Feb 17, 2010 07:58 AM

                    In Saratoga:
                    Def get to Hatties if you like fried chicken. Also try the mac n cheese w/ sausage.

                    If you want good deli, go to Roma's on Washington Street (not open Sundays). I've brought sandwiches back to the west coast from here, they are that good.

                    The sandwiches and desserts at Putnum market are very good as well, but this is not a traditional deli.

                    I would avoid Scallions.

                    In Albany:
                    Check out Bella-Napoli Italian Bakery. Looks like they have two locations. I went to the one near the airport at 672 New Loudon Road Latham, NY. Very very good.

                    1. re: Mike CP
                      financialdistrictresident Feb 17, 2010 09:25 AM

                      Second Roma's. The one in Latham is larger. I'm not a big sandwich person but they line up for the sandwiches there.

                      I go to both locations for their fresh mozzarella, duck, harissa, etc.

                      Burgeoningfoodie, what is your price point? Saratoga Springs is one of the more upscale areas and restaurant prices reflect that (though there are many casual places, as well).

                      Fish fry, Italian food (unfortunately, not what you're looking for) and hot dogs with everything are what the Capital Region is known for, IMHO. Saratoga has water, potato chips and peppermint pigs.

                      Mike CP, just curious, why don't you like Scallions?

                      1. re: financialdistrictresident
                        Mike CP Feb 17, 2010 09:30 AM

                        i went there a bunch when i was first living in the area before i found out about some other places to eat. at first it was good, but as i ate there more I found it a little too pricy for how average it was.

                        i think it is an issue with their location.

                        yes, saratoga is expensive, but you can eat very well in that town without paying too much if you get off Broadway. I think Scallions would be good if they weren't on Broadway, because they wouldn't have to try to be qiute as fancy as they are.

                        1. re: Mike CP
                          PSZaas Feb 17, 2010 03:25 PM

                          Scallions hasn't been on Broadway for several years. 44 Lake Ave. Highly recommended for lunch, haven't developed the taste for their dinner service.

                          1. re: PSZaas
                            financialdistrictresident Feb 17, 2010 04:48 PM

                            Scallions menu:


                            The duck salad is quite good. I've tried their soup. I've never been for dinner. The space is pretty casual.

                    2. re: burgeoningfoodie
                      gerchak198 Feb 17, 2010 09:18 AM

                      Saratoga is "known" as the birthplace of both the potato chip and the club sandwich. You might want to pick up a box of Saratoga Chips at Saratoga Salso and Spice. We are also known for Hattie's fried chicken which, by the way, beat out Bobby Flay on his "Throwdown" show last year. Ravenous has unbelievably great Belgian-style french fries. Yes, the town is walkable, pop. 27,000.

                      1. re: gerchak198
                        burgeoningfoodie Feb 17, 2010 10:23 AM

                        I saw about the Bobby Flay getting beat on the chicken on Throwdown, but for what it is worth I think his record on that show is pretty bad.

                        I had seen some things on Karavelli's too.

                        I didn't know it was the birthplace of the potato chip. I thought that was somewhere either in PA or Maine/Vermont.. Maybe it's due to the brand of chips that are around here.

                        As far as price point goes, I guess if lunch is around 10 thats fine and as far as dinner.. I guess I don't want to pay a lot for crappola. Some places are worth the price they charge either because of the ingredients and the quantity of what you get... without suffering in the execution. So maybe it's not price, but more where price = quantity and quality... Hot dogs could be a great lunch and they generally aren't expensive.. Though if you tell me to pay $7 for a hotdog with the works.. I'll tell you what I think you can do with said hot dog (j/k).

                        As far as our location to town center (i.e. canfield casino), we are staying South of it roughly a mile on 9/Broadway.

                        1. re: burgeoningfoodie
                          gerchak198 Feb 17, 2010 10:44 AM

                          After your various comments, I'm now curious as to where you're from. And yes, Saratoga is the undisputed source of the potato chip. Moon's Lake House. Check it out. The concept of "longitude" and the idea of "scientific management" were also both presented to the world here. And Cambridge, NY, about 35 mins. from here, is the home of pie a la mode!

                          1. re: gerchak198
                            burgeoningfoodie Feb 17, 2010 11:54 AM

                            I'm from the Triangle area of NC.

                          2. re: burgeoningfoodie
                            financialdistrictresident Feb 17, 2010 10:44 AM

                            Don't forget about the pink peppermint pigs if you like peppermint or need to get some gifts . . .the shop is on Route 9 heading from Albany to Saratoga. I had my first peppermint pig this year. They are another local or Saratoga tradition.

                            Saratoga water in the blue bottles and Saratoga potato chips also make nice gifts or welcome gifts for house guests.

                            The Adirondacks are also home to maple syrup.

                          3. re: gerchak198
                            financialdistrictresident Feb 17, 2010 11:09 AM

                            gerchak198, Price Chopper now carries Saratoga Chips. Not sure how the prices compare between Saratoga Salsa and Spice and PC. I have also seen them at The Jonesville Store.

                          4. re: burgeoningfoodie
                            financialdistrictresident Feb 17, 2010 09:28 AM

                            Too bad Indian won't work for you because I've read good things about Karavelli in S. Springs (and Latham?) on this Board.

                        2. re: burgeoningfoodie
                          financialdistrictresident Feb 17, 2010 09:30 AM

                          BTW last time we went to Beekman Street Bistro they charged for bread service :)

                          1. re: burgeoningfoodie
                            mjoyous Feb 17, 2010 03:31 PM

                            Simple equation in Saratoga when it comes to desserts: pastries=Mrs. Londons; Mrs. Londons=dessert. The Putnam Market doesn't come close enough to count in this field.

                      2. Fred19 Feb 17, 2010 06:26 AM

                        A great place for lunch is Pepper Jacks on Quail and Western.

                        Terrific Philly Cheese Steaks, wraps and soups.

                        Prices are good and food is tasty.


                        1. financialdistrictresident Feb 17, 2010 09:32 AM

                          What about organic, thin crust pizzas with a view of Saratoga Lake?


                          Apologies, just read they are closed 2/13 - 3/1. . .

                          1. g
                            gothhuntress Feb 18, 2010 05:52 AM

                            The roads are fine. For a great dinner, leave saratoga and either head north on I87 to exit 18 (about 1/2 hour) and go to Bistro Tallulahs. Excellent NOLA inspired food. Or head south on 50 to Ballston Spa (about 15 minutes) and eat at 51 Front Street. For my money, better fried chicken than Hattie's.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: gothhuntress
                              financialdistrictresident Feb 18, 2010 09:17 AM

                              I've heard of Bistro Tallulahs, but have not been. What is NOLA? North of Latin America?Where is Exit 18? Glens Falls vicinity (Exit 15 is S. Springs)? Thanks, gothhuntress.

                              1. re: financialdistrictresident
                                jaylhorner Feb 18, 2010 12:00 PM

                                Tallulah's... you will like. Downtown Glenns Falls.
                                NOLA = New Orleans

                                1. re: jaylhorner
                                  financialdistrictresident Feb 18, 2010 01:13 PM

                                  Thanks so much, jaylhorner. Going to Bloomer's American Bistro tomorrow . . .

                                  1. re: financialdistrictresident
                                    jaylhorner Feb 18, 2010 01:15 PM

                                    Maestro's tonight!

                            2. b
                              burgeoningfoodie Feb 18, 2010 06:23 PM

                              Did Beekman St. Bistro. Enjoyed the fact that the location wasn't a bustling street but part of a neighborhood. The restaurant is quaint and was low key on a Thursday evening. We enjoyed our food thoroughly. Didn't realize that Gotchya's was right next door. We rode up Broadway til about the split that heads towards the college and then back down to Phila and then down the other side of the park and over to the Saratoga Casino. Not totally sure what we are doing for our Friday, but I'll try to find some way over to Ms. London's. By the by, should we just park in one of hte public lots or is there a chance of side street parking in general? Any ideas for activities.

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: burgeoningfoodie
                                gerchak198 Feb 19, 2010 08:51 AM

                                No one mentioned Gotchya's because you eschewed Italian. For tinight I can recommend two live music venues: One is 9 Maple Ave., a cool martini bar with jazz---tonight is Mike Parker Quartet. You might also want to check out the Irish style pub The Parting Glass for the group New Shoes with a $5 cover. There's plenty of side street parking everywhere.

                                1. re: gerchak198
                                  financialdistrictresident Feb 19, 2010 09:17 AM

                                  Thanks for reporting back, burgeoningfoodie. What did you have at Beekman Street Bistro?

                                  Hope you get to Mrs. London's. The brioche and croissants are very good. Though I've noticed the almond croissants have been a bit well done for my liking lately. If you change your mind about Italian, Gotchya's is a good, affordable option.

                                  Second jazz and a drink at 9 Maple after dinner . . . it might be standing room only.

                                  There are public lots all over. During track season and on weekends it's more challenging.

                                  1. re: financialdistrictresident
                                    burgeoningfoodie Feb 19, 2010 12:27 PM

                                    Yeah that is true. I just saw it in other threads and didn't realize they were right next door. I was hoping Bistro Sophia was still around. I saw it was suppose to close last year, but the hotel still has it listed and the website is still up. I read that there is Karaoke at Circus Cafe tomorrow night. I'll look into 9 Maple. We went to a few springs and tried out best to down the mineral waters.

                                    This afternoon we stopped into Mrs. London's but I thought there would be more to the display case. I guess I was looking for something more along the lines of an Italian bakery (not necessarily a Viniero's).. I may stop by there Sunday for a snack or after dinner tonight in Mechanicville (Crazy Rooster).... Unless someone wants to offer a spot in that area to get a dessert. Wound up eating at Putnam Market with a sandwich. It reminds me of a store near my place in NC but that place is 5 times as big. If you ever come to NC, let me know and I'll give you name of the place. We also stopped in Saratoga Salsa where we picked up some salsa for my gf parents and thought about the chips there but they were a bit high for the small bag. The Candy Co. had another brand of Saratoga Chips for half as much. I'll fill in the details of what was eaten later. Thanks again for the suggestions.

                                    1. re: burgeoningfoodie
                                      gerchak198 Feb 19, 2010 03:23 PM

                                      You must mean Chez Sophie, alovely French restaurant in 3 or 4 locations here for the past 35 years. Sadly, it has closed and the owners are departing for France where thye will continue to be involved wirth culinary and vinicultural endeavors. Have to say I envy you and your barbecue and your ham.

                                      1. re: burgeoningfoodie
                                        financialdistrictresident Feb 20, 2010 05:49 AM

                                        Mrs. London's is a French bakery. My favorite Italian bakery is Villa Italia in downtown Schenectady, near Proctor's Theater. On a much smaller scale, Schenectady's Little Italy (1 or 2 shops with pignolia cookies, etc.) and Roma's (S. Springs & Latham) have a few baked goods. They are the closest to NYC's Venieros (http://www.venierospastry.com/) you will find in the Capital Region.

                                        Bella Napoli in Latham . . .

                                        Happy eating!

                                        1. re: financialdistrictresident
                                          burgeoningfoodie Feb 20, 2010 07:04 AM

                                          Right my cousin mentioned Bella Napoli but he didn't know where the closest one was.

                                          1. re: burgeoningfoodie
                                            financialdistrictresident Feb 20, 2010 10:16 AM

                                            All this bakery talk had me at Mrs. London's this morning buying a chocolate croissant for breakfast :)

                                            1. re: burgeoningfoodie
                                              PSZaas Feb 20, 2010 02:43 PM

                                              Bella Napoli's original store is on River St. in Troy, and its newer, glitzier location is in Latham. But now the area has two excellent French patisseries to rival Mrs. London's, Crisan on Lark St. in Albany, and the Chocolate Mill in downtown Glen's Falls, both excellent.

                                              1. re: PSZaas
                                                financialdistrictresident Feb 21, 2010 03:47 AM


                                                PSZaas, is the Troy location gone? What do you like at Crisan's? I still have not been.

                                  2. financialdistrictresident Feb 21, 2010 03:44 AM

                                    Just remembered Oscar's is unique to the Capital Region/Adirondacks. . .

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: financialdistrictresident
                                      gerchak198 Feb 21, 2010 05:25 AM

                                      Yes, but I doubt someone coming from the Pig Capital would be very impressed by Oscar's. I once called and asked them if they had real country hame and the people at Oscar's literally didn't know what country ham was (and no, thye don't have it).

                                      1. re: gerchak198
                                        financialdistrictresident Feb 21, 2010 04:29 PM

                                        Thanks, gerchak198. Forgot OP was from NC :)

                                        1. re: gerchak198
                                          PSZaas Feb 22, 2010 02:40 AM

                                          Oscar's is one of the treasures of the region, country ham or no. Order your country ham from NC or VA, then pair it with one of the twelve types of bacon that Oscar's makes. I think the OP has come and gone, but we're terrifically fortunate that the Quintals have reopened.

                                          1. re: PSZaas
                                            burgeoningfoodie Feb 22, 2010 05:08 AM

                                            Yes I came and went. Sorry that I only had time for brief blurbs. I'm a bit tired after a few hectic flight reschedules. Needless to say we (myself and girlfriend) both enjoyed the charm of the area. While I can be a city or country mouse, depending on how much diversion there is from everyday life, she is much more the suburbanite and enjoyed her time there. Canfield Casino was a beautiful location for the wedding we attended. We enjoyed looking at the surroundings up at Skidmore and then (on the way home) making a side trip to Howe Caverns (the alternate was Lake George). We didn't get to eat at many local places due to constraints and limited ourselves to Beekman St. Bistro and Putnam Market as mentioned earlier. If we hadn't filled up on breakfast, we would probably have stopped at Ravenous or another place between Saratoga and Albany. I'll write back on what we had a bit later in the day. Thank you again for the suggestions!

                                            On another note, while I am from NC and one of the bbq capital areas (along with Tx, Memphis, KC). BBQ is making it's way across the country in some form or another. My cousin seems to really like Dinosaur BBQ in Queens and also.. Syracuse.. or maybe it was Rochester. I don't eat it all that often when I'm down here even though it is all around me. Actually, I wish I could find more game meat here or Smoked/grilled octopus.

                                            1. re: burgeoningfoodie
                                              gerchak198 Feb 22, 2010 07:38 AM

                                              Dinosaur is Syracuse-based and is in Manhattan, not Queens. However, it is opening in Troy soon, only about 25 mins. from Saratoga. Glad you enjoyed the Spa City!

                                      2. b
                                        burgeoningfoodie Feb 22, 2010 11:15 AM

                                        So here is the rundown of what we had at Beekman St. Bistro.

                                        Porcini Bruschetta Wiltbank Farm Oyster Mushroom Bruschetta with Parmesan Cream and Thyme
                                        House made Gnocchi with White Truffle oil and Parmesan
                                        Rabbit Ragu (Ragout?) with Pasta (don't remember which one).

                                        Crostone of mixed field greens, poached farm egg, and olive oil
                                        Little Field Farm Arugula salad with lemon and olive oil
                                        Braised Lentils (this isn't listed on their online menu) but it had pita points and cream sauce I believe.

                                        We both enjoyed that the eatery was almost a part of the neighborhood and didn't realize that the area was practically an artistic commune. We enjoyed that the place was a jewelbox and that when we were there it was only one other couple/group. The waitress was attentive and also a gracious host. She also provided us with some information about the area and what we may want to do to kill time. The food was really good and so I'm glad (as well as she) that I picked it from the recommendations doled out by you helpful CHs. We also enjoyed the simplicity of the decor and despite that we were not far from the door, the place never really got cold or had a draft when people came in. It is also a plus that this place sources as locally as possible.

                                        We had the rehearsal dinner at the Ugly Rooster Cafe in Mechanicville. They closed the little corner spot just for the party. The food was Italian though I think they are usually a burger joint. It was non-fussy comfort food and so that made it good.

                                        The only other place we ate at was Putnam Market. My gf had their veggie sandwich and I had a good combination sandwich called... The Royal I believe. It was Roast beef, stilton, sprouts, and mango chutney. The sandwich was a little messy/sticky, but the flavor combination was really good. Again the store reminded me of one we have here. Except the one we have here is the size of a small department store called A Southern Season.

                                        We found out that Mineral water is definitely an acquired taste and that the spring water is good. I kept the deep blue bottle of the spring water I got at Putnam. Other than that I lost a little money at the Casino but it was fun nonetheless and thankfully smoke free (compared to Vegas).

                                        I look forward to trying my Saratoga chips now that I'm back home.

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