What do you do when you’re in Saratoga Springs, NY for a late-ish dinner after the opening of Badger’s Hookah Bar just a few blocks away? You hope Danika at Garnish Marketing says “I’m going to go to Druthers for a drink in a little bit. You in?” Yes. Yes yes yessity yes.

Albany John had a blast taking pics of the Druthers table at the Saratoga Wine, Food, and Fall Ferrari Festival this past September. They were happy, fun, and lively – great energy, and I meant to head around to Druthers to try their fare in-store.

A chill in the air made Albany John crave Chili Con Carne ($8), which lists habanero among its beefy ingredients, but isn’t anything overpowering, or even all that hot. Albany John was a big fan of this chili – very little fat/grease on top, and lots of deep, beefy flavor.

He also got a pint of Fist of Karma Brown Ale ($6), which he thought to be miles above Newcastle (which is one of my favorite beers lately). I dunno. I still prefer Newcastle. This was a bit hoppier & tarter.

Pasta fagioli ($6) for another friend. Vegan, even.

A rare Given My Druthers Burger ($12) for me. Cute Druthers brand on the bread bun.  I got greens on the side (you could also get fries), which were pretty heavily dressed. I’d ask for them naked next time.

Happiness is a bloody rare burger. This was pretty hefty, yet unsurprisingly I managed to finish it all. I didn’t really taste the pickled green onion or pickled shallot that the menu lists, but the chuck, short rib, and smoked pork belly. I’m glad I’ve found restaurant in the area that makes a rare burger rare and not medium-rare or medium.

Danika & her Mr. got the flight of beers on tap, which was $14 for 7 4-oz flights. The waitress was a peach & wrote out all of the beers on tap, too.

O’Brien’s At The Garden Grill

So what do you do when you’re already a bit buzzed and roaming around the Delaware Ave area craving food at 9 or 10 at night? Andy’s and Cardona’s are closed. Leaving you with Chinese take out, pizza, or The Ultraviolet Café as possibilities.
But what if you want to keep drinking? What if, after a few drinks, you find yourself in serious need to eat a big hunk of meat, ‘cause after all, you’ve been meaning to eat a burger for weeks now, but haven’t gotten around to it? Or what if you just want the best-ever burger to be found in all of Albany, NY?

O’Brien’s. Go to O’Brien’s. Seriously. O’Brien’s.

It’s a bar on 2nd Ave, just off of 787 (take 787 allllll the way South to the end, go past Hoffman park, and at the end of the road at the light, take a right – O’Brien’s is on the right).

O’Brien’s is an Irish bar (if you couldn’t tell), but welcoming to everyone. I didn’t even have to pull out me No-Really-I’m-Part-Irish card, which is sometimes required, like during St Patrick’s Day. St Patrick’s day is also probably the only time I actually look ethnic, since most of the time… I, uh… don’t? But put me in a sea of people just a hair paler than I am – woo, it’s Albany Jane’s time to look kind of Chinese.

Anyhow, my own racial identity crises aside, I like O’Brien’s.

Their main draw for me is raspberry lambic – ON TAP! It’s Lindemann’s Framboise Lambic, actually, my absolute favorite beer. It tastes like fizzy raspberry soda, not at all like beer. I’ve had other lambics that were okay, but still tasted like beer. Lindemann’s is like nectar. Also, I’ve always seen it expensively sold by the bottle in bars around here, if at all. A small glass will run you $3-4 at O’Brien’s.

Albany John and I walked in and ordered burgers and chili. The burgers cost… I want to say $6.50, but I couldn’t see the sign, because it was written in yellow whiteboard marker, which is not the easiest thing to see in bar lighting. Albany John was also awesome and picked up the tab, which was around $25 for burgers, chili, and a few drinks.

I ordered mine rare, but a lady drinking at the bar heard me ordering, snapped around and told me I should get medium rare, because they don’t fool around – rare is RARE. Hey, ok, I’ll definitely take that advice. She also extolled the virtues of the burger. How awesome is that on those rare occasions someone overhears your order and goes ‘Oh, you are gonna LOVE that – it is so good….’? It’s freakin’ awesome, is how awesome.

Our food came out – the burger came with chips – and omgholycraplolcats – It was perfectly medium rare and oozing with burger juices. It was probably the best burger I’ve had in ages. BEFF’s was ok, but a little too tough or something. Red Robin’s haven’t been that great for a while either (Man, you’d think I was eating burgers every day).

These, though. Oh, these… these hit the spot so wonderfully. Had a full on meaty flavor, were cooked perfectly and were just the right size (I’d wager about ½ a pound). They were also tender, and not gristly. I demurely wolfed down my burger in all of ten minutes.

Oh, Right… Chili! We also had chili. The chili was decently sized in a crock, and had a coating of cheese on it (real cheese, not chee-z). It was meat-filled, but I was really enjoying it. Usually I really don’t like meaty chili, since it tastes heavily. I also liked that it wasn’t greasy, but had a good balance of flavors, as well as beans that weren’t complete mush.

And for the record – O’Brien’s burger totally kicked BEFF’s burger out of the water.