Cheap drinks, stellar bar food, and service was always quick and friendly no matter how crowded it was. Once you’ve got Your Place it’s hard to find another one. I know Tess & crew have moved downtown to Pearl Street, but it’s such a different location, and still not quite the Lark Tavern I knew and loved.
Met up with my college pal and his fiance. We figured we’d do drinks, but also some food. Somewhere in Albany. Not Pearl Street. Not Mahar’s. Not in a wine mood, or a beer mood. Cheap would be nice, too. That’s a pretty difficult list to fulfill, as it would turn out. We wound up at Junior’s (1094 Madison Ave, Albany, NY 12208). Same strip as Mahar’s.
Drinks came out in tall glasses or cocktail glasses. $7 for call, $6 for well drinks. Not too shabby, but I would have preferred a smaller drink (bravely, I soldiered on with my bigger drink, though).
Service was great – our waitress was really friendly and nice. More like someone taking care of guests in her home than a waitress at a bar/restaurant in Albany.
I flipped my shit when I saw ‘waffle fries’ on the menu. I got the House Burger ($9.99) which had pickles, onions, swiss, bacon, mushrooms… a bunch of stuff on it that I can’t really remember now, but it was pretty decent and crazy and subbed the waffle fries for the regular fries.
Albany John got a cuban sandwich, I think? $7.99 or $8.99 for a gigantic loaf of a sandwich. Fine, but nothing mindblowing. Pulled pork, some pickles, maybe some bacon. The regular fries were good, too. Crunchy.
Most of the food, from appetizers to entrees, ranges from $8-12. It’s kind of like “Why bother with mozzarella sticks for $7, when a sandwich costs about as much?”
Close up of my house burger. 8 oz (half pound) of ground beef for $10 isn’t too bad. But they only cook them medium-rare. No rare. My burger came out a hodgepodge of doneness, though. Medium well in the center, with patches of rare and medium rare on the edges. I have no idea how they pulled that one off. I was at the very least pleased that it wasn’t a patty. It was actual ground beef and not some pre-formed frozen patty. Decent grind on it, but it sure needed some salt, even with cubed up bits of bacon on there. It was fine, but nothing to pull me back.
Once we got the bill, I was kind of like “Hunh. Oh, well, I guess we did spend that much.” Not like it was crazy-expensive or anything, but just that it was a little more than it was worth, to me at least.
So here’s my deal with Junior’s. It’s not bad. Not great. Somewhere in the middle. It was a good place for four folks to go out and grab some food and drinks and catch up. The food and drinks were fine. It served our needs. I liked the service, but overall I think I need a place that’s more than just “fine”, you know? Like, nothing on Junior’s, but I bet they could change a few things up and be really good. Right now, it’s just a place that I automatically go “Eh, it’s okay. Yeah, sure, I guess.” when one of my friends suggests it because his 21 year old girlfriend likes the cocktails they make there.