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The Wine Bar and Bistro on lark (Albany)

I might have to move to Lark Street . . .

Went to The Wine Bar. Charming place. Lots of brick and cozy corners. Sat on the patio near one of the fountains. Excellent service considering there were only about 3 servers and they had to cover patio, inside and outdoor seating on lark. There's also a bar inside that seats about 4. Now on to the food%3

We started with a bottle of reasonably priced rioja, Vina Real oro Reserva 2005.

We shared 2 small plates. The sardine special with warm bread. It had tomato and watermelon and a little bit of spice. My description doesn't do it justice. Delicious.

Since SO had the calamari "risotto" with pancetta and curly thyme on his last visit and I only eat poultry and fish, we passed on it this time. We had the foie gras with lavender ice and micro grapefruit, frisee and blueberries. Suprising. Excellent.

For our large plates SO had paella (web site does not have the current menu and there are specials). I tasted the octopus. It was too chewy for my taste. The fresh green peas and beans were very good.

I had the seared scallops with caper puree, etc. Cooked perfectly. Simple and delicious. I will be replicating the caper puree at home.

For dessert we had espresso and shared a brioche (called something else on the menu) with orange segments.

Thanks hounds. The Wine Bar and Bistro on lark makes it to my top 4. Can't wait to go back.



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  1. Jason Baker is one of the area's top chefs.

    1. It's difficult to not enjoy anything Jason Baker prepares.

        1. This does the sardines w/watermelon-tomato-fennel salad and a little spice justice:


          1. Anyone have the tasting menu recently?

            1. Going for the tasting menu soon . . .

              Anyone do the wine pairing? Would appreciate your suggestions on pairing vs. ordering from the wine list.


              7 Replies
              1. re: financialdistrictresident

                We had put ourselves in the hands of wine manager Jonathan Stewart and were quite pleased. We also chose to let him pair each wine with 2 successive courses so that we didn't end up drinking 5 or 6 glasses of wine based upon our number of courses. I'm looking forward to your report back.

                1. re: Roger K

                  Thanks, Roger K.

                  One of the best meals we've had this year . . .

                  We did the wine pairings which is an excellent value at $25 per person.

                  1. re: financialdistrictresident

                    I'm very pleased to learn that you enjoyed the entire experience. Especially at $25 per. I assume that was the price of adding the wines? Do you recall what you had to eat?

                    1. re: Roger K

                      The 6 course tasting menu is $70 pp w/out addition of wine pairings. I will post a report soon. . .

                  2. re: Roger K

                    We sat in a cozy, private booth. Service was excellent. Thanks to Kerry (especially for writing down the names of all the wines for us) and Jonathan. Chef Baker stopped by our table (we are grateful someone with his talent is in the Capital Region and not across the country). Now on to the food and wine:

                    We started with some bubbles . . .Proseco D'Valdobrianc Sorelle Bronca MV

                    Chilled vegetable terrine - summer fresh vegetables in a cold terrine. Parsely oil (I think it was with this course). So simple and fresh, loved the parsley oil. Very good.

                    Diver scallop crudo with red pepper relish, citrus. The texture was challenging for me. I enjoyed it better after SO cut my scallops into little pieces. Not sure why, because I like sushi. For some reason the scallop ceviche texture just didn't work for me. Paired with Sauvignon Blanc Domaine Cassagnades 2010. For me, the wine was the star of this course.

                    Pan seared branzini with caviar, lemon emulsion, Hudson Valley foie gras. This was amazing. Perfection. SO called it fish and fowl. Please, Chef Baker, can I have some more? Paired with Whispering Angel rose.

                    At some point we had a palate cleanser of fresh rasberries and ? It came in a tiny, skinny glass. Think apertif glass but very skinny.

                    Sous-vide moulard duck with black sesame puree, salted pistachio, chicken of the wood mushrooms. Another favorite. Duck was cooked perfectly. The pistachio puree was surprising and delicious. Excellent. Spatburgunder (pinot) Kessler Pinot N was the pairing.

                    Wild caught salmon with house made kimchi, corn pudding and grilled green onion. Very good. We also grill scallions, so simple. It was SO's lucky night because the chef served coconut glazed veal checks. This attention to detail regarding my request (I only eat poultry and fish and when I made our reservation asked if SO could have some meat) was very much appreciated. Paired with Chateau du Rouet Rose 2010.

                    Dinner was over before we knew it . . .not the usual 3 hours for a tasting menu . . .time to savor dessert . . .

                    Baci and R & G Camembert cheese with Crisan's chocolate hazelnut ganache. Delicious. And with the sherry, Solera 1847 Sherry, it was a perfect ending.


                    One of the best meals we've had this year . . .

                  3. Since SO is in Italy (did he know it is white truffle season?), I thought I'd treat myself to the Wine Bar. Had a foie gras terrine app, salmon and cheese for dessert. Full report to follow . . .

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: financialdistrictresident

                      I know you do not eat meat.... I wouldn't expect foie gras...

                      1. re: jaylhorner

                        If it clucks, quacks or swims I'll probably eat it :)

                        Didn't care for sea slugs . . .still in my food memory. . .

                      2. re: financialdistrictresident

                        Check out the same team's Capital City Gastropub on New Scotland near Albany Med. Ctr. Spectacular!

                        1. re: gerchak198

                          Here's a menu for the Capital City Gastropub courtesy of the TU.


                          Photos, beverage list and Facebook link are here:


                          Capital City Gastropub
                          261 New Scotland Ave, Albany, NY 12208

                          1. re: Roger K

                            The latest Everleth/Baker venture had only been open for two weeks when I and a friend had dinner, so there were no doubt some kinks yet to be worked out. The food was for the most part terrific. The pork belly banh-mi was delicious but be warned: this is not really a banh-mi but a Jason Baker "deconstructed" banh-mi. You cannot pick it up and the bread is barely there. Fish tacos=scrumptious. The fried Lake Michigan smelts were the smallest, lightest, most delicate and delightful smelts I've ever had. The fried Brussels sprouts were exquisite. The confit of moulard duck leg was good but overly salted. The guanciale was too chewy so I had to cut it up into tiny pieces; I guess I prefer it cooked. A nice crisp draft beer and a glass of wine for friend accompanied the meal. I highly recommend CCGP. When we were there, there was no signage, except for a large "Pasquale's."

                            Capital City Gastropub
                            261 New Scotland Ave, Albany, NY 12208

                            1. re: Roger K

                              This is next on my list . . .

                              What's the signage like now?

                              1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                Signage is small and under the first floor windows of the building. Luckily the leaves are off the tree in front of the entrance so it's easier to see. Entrance is under the front stoop of the corner building (southeast corner of Lark and Spring). It's in the basement. If you see people sitting on the 2nd stoop in from the corner, it's likely the kitchen staff, and maybe Jason.

                                Opposite end of the block from McGuire's. Across from NOHO Pizza and Crisan Bakery, kitty-corner from Kinnaree Asian restaurant.

                                If you full zoom-in to this map you can see all of what I've described... including the staff and Jason.


                                Kinnaree Asian Restaurant
                                193 Lark St, Albany, NY 12210

                                1. re: Roger K

                                  Thanks, Roger K. Might try to get over to the CC Gastropub this weekend.

                                  1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                    Still have not been. . . BTW, they don't take reservations and open at 5 pm.


                                    Escargot, duck, quail, smelts, fish tacos, fried brussel sprouts (and many other vegetarian choices) to look forward to.

                                    1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                      I trust you may have already seen the last TH blog update:


                                      No one seems to be complaining about waiting for a table at this point. Maybe you'll make brunch in the Spring.

                                      1. re: Roger K

                                        Thanks, Roger K.

                                        I am NOT a fan of big TVs in restaurants (8 Tables had one . . .). Glad to read they won't always have it on. I understand how tough the restaurant biz is and a good bar crowd pays the bills. We usually go out for a relaxing dinner and conversation.

                                        Their wine list looks lmited but is reasonably priced.

                                        We like smelts and sardines. Capriccio Saratoga does them well as does Cella Bistro. We'll see how CC Gastropub does :)

                        2. Found our way to CC Gastropub. Sign is up now and mirrors the branding on their web site. Wine list is limited, reasonably priced. Service was flawless (didn't experience any of the issues mentioned on Yelp). They don't take reservations. We had a proseco at the bar and were escorted to a table in less than 15 min. Our server told us the owners visited gastropubs in Chicago while planning the restaurant's concept. Now on to the food:

                          We started with the fish tacos - an excellent value (2 tacos for $12). This was one of our favorite dishes. The fried haddock was cooked perfectly. The lime and avocado and sweet chili aioli danced on my palate. Ditto gerchak198's "fish tacos = scrumptious."

                          Next we had the escargot w/heirloom garlic, flat leaf parsley, pesto, beurre blanc and garnished with chives (?). Just when we were about to ask for bread our server appeared and asked if we wanted bread. We mopped up the sauce with our warm bread. It looked like we licked our plate clean :)

                          We shared the Cavendish Farms quail with heirloom vegetables (carrots, mushrooms, baby onions), chicken jus, puff pastry. The quail was cooked perfectly. The carrots were VERY salty. The pastry was on the soft side (but so good when dipped in the chicken jus). Very flavorful dish. Probably wouldn't order this again.

                          We saw the fried brussel sprouts w/grana podano, lemon and Maldon sea salt and fried Lake Michigan smelts go by . . . next time . . .

                          By now we were getting full and were torn between dessert or one more dish. We took a look at the dessert menu (carrot cake is a popular item) and opted for one more dish.

                          We had the poutine (cheese curd) w/duck gravy and foie gras. I've had Oscar's cheese curd before and didn't really care for it. Now I know why . . .cheese curd is meant to be all melty with fries, duck gravy and pieces of foie gras! Very good. We left a lot of fries behind but no foie gras or poutine :)

                          CC Gastropub is a rare find in the Capital District. Can't wait to return.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: financialdistrictresident

                            Sounds like a VERY enjoyable time. Sorry to hear you didn't try any of the draft beer offerings. Maybe next time.

                            1. re: Roger K

                              SO is a wine guy :)

                              The beer selections looked interesting. I'm a Guinness kind of girl. The hoppier the better.

                              1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                Guinness has been my "go to" for the last 20 years. I once considered making my own beer but decided that there were too many good beers out there to try first. After tasting over a thousand different ones, I still don't see an end in sight. I lean toward stouts and porters, but still enjoy a bitter or goodly hopped ale. You must get to The Olde English Pub and Pantry and to The Merry Monk when SO is not available - limited wines available at both places.



                                The Merry Monk
                                90 N Pearl St, Albany, NY 12207

                                The Olde English Pub & Pantry
                                683 Broadway, Albany, NY 12207

                          2. We went to The Wine Bar again recently. Had the tasting menu with wine. Highlights:

                            poached crawfish
                            Anise Hyssop

                            local ramps, mujol caviar, pork fu

                            Pork Belly
                            Apples, ginger, cinnamon

                            Wild board crepinette
                            chimchurri, English peas, crab

                            Sous vide prime NY strip
                            local fiddleheads, black trumpet mushrooms, sunchokes


                            The presentation, vegetables (local fiddleheads, micro radishes, the freshest sweet peas, sunchokes, etc.) and wines were the most memorable part of the meal for me. One fish course we did not care for, I think it was the texture. The dessert with the cheese and chocolate, etc. (my description doesn't do it justice) was delicious. Will post more when I get some time . . .

                            1. SO went to The Wine Bar recently and said it was one of the best tasting menu's he's had there. Last time we went they forgot I only eat poultry and fish. I chnaged my reservation so maybe the info. didn't transfer. Many thanks to Chef Baker who graciously did a tasting menu on the fly so SO could have his meat and I could eat only poultry and fish.

                              Not the case when SO went because they're both meat eaters :)

                              Now on to the food:

                              Tuna marrow

                              Heirloom tomato

                              Chilled Maine oysters

                              Cucumber, Thai Consomme, Caviar

                              Pork Belly

                              Apple, Ginger, Cinnamon

                              Day Boat Halibut

                              Yellow watermelon, sous vide corn, avocado

                              Stuffed quail

                              Charred onion, leek, eggplant


                              This is one of my favorite restaurants in the Capital Region.
                              Once Track Season starts I'll have a really good excuse to head to Albany and eat at The Wine Bar outside on the patio. Not that I need an excuse . . .

                              11 Replies
                              1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                A Major ALERT to all!!!
                                The Table Hopping blog from the T.U. has announced that Jason Baker is leaving the Wine Bar and Bistro on Lark Street to work for Adventure in Food Trading. Baker’s last day at the Wine Bar will be Saturday, Aug. 25.


                                What a disappointment!

                                1. re: Roger K



                                  Great for his kids. Maybe he'll do some guest chefing from time to time? Farming and cooking are tough gigs . . .

                                  1. re: Roger K

                                    I spoke with Jonathan about this last night, and he mentioned that the sous chef will be taking over the position. It will be interesting to see how this develops as the wine bar is easily in my top 5 for Albany...

                                  2. re: financialdistrictresident

                                    I finally got around to posting a review of the restaurant, even though I've been there a number of times already. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/861449

                                    1. re: unagi1

                                      unagi1, thanks for the report. Really enjoyed your descriptions of the wine. SO is a wine guy and will appreciate your post.

                                      We're going for the tasting menu soon and will return after Jason Baker leaves. His successor has big shoes to fill.

                                      BTW, what are the other restaurants in your top 5?

                                      1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                        Hi financialdistrictresident,

                                        I'm glad you enjoyed the post. The other 4 restaurants in my top 5 right now are:
                                        2. New World Bistro Bar (tied with Wine Bistro on Lark for #1)
                                        3. DP/Yono's
                                        4. The Gingerman

                                        All the above have good wine BTG selections, which influences my ranking by quite a bit.

                                        #5 is my casual pick, which right now is Kinnaree on Lark Street.

                                        1. re: unagi1

                                          unagi1, I'm curious if the fact that at least 3 of your top 5 are serviced by the same wine distributer might partially explain your enjoyment of these 5.

                                          1. re: Roger K

                                            Hello Roger K,

                                            Just out of curiosity -- which of the three go through the same distributor? Interestingly enough, the only wine that I saw cross over between the top 4 was the 2010 Abbazia di Nova Ella Kerner from Alto Adige.

                                            Yono's / DP, as well as Prime 677 received Best of Award of Excellence (2 glasses) in the Aug. 31 edition of Wine Spectator. The mid-level award means the restaurant carries at least 400 or more selections, and good vintage / producer depth or good wine-making region width. Prime 677 did not have an adequate BTG selection (and the bar fare to match), that was a few months ago. I might give them a try again to see what new additions they have.

                                            The Wine Bistro on Lark did receive an Award of Excellence (1 glass), and also got an additional nod based on "inexpensive wine pricing".

                                            NWBB probably has the least impressive list of wines, but they have the best consistency -- I've been there 5 times and not had one miss there yet (knock on wood).

                                            So perhaps the distributor has had a hand in it, but when speaking with management at each of the restaurants, it's pretty clear that they are passionate about wine and putting together a good list, regardless of what price tier the wines are in, is a top priority for them.

                                            1. re: unagi1

                                              Greetings, unagi1,

                                              While I can't be certain that all their wine comes from a single provider, I understand that the Wine Bar on Lark is serviced by Winebow. And I believe that Winebow provides all, if not most, of the wines to the Ginger Man and Kinnaree.


                                              I wouldn't necessarily expect to see the same wines at each location because the food preparations are unique to each of your favorites. I would agree that price point is not an issue at three, and maybe four, of them. But all 5 want to have beverages that will complement the dishes they serve.

                                          2. re: unagi1

                                            Thanks, unagi1. We still have not been to The Gingerman and hope to get there soon.

                                            1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                              You're welcome. I love that Charcuterie platter they have...