Bomber’s Burrito Bar

I started my day off with a bagel. Sesame seeds, toasted, with butter. I went to Uncommon Grounds on Western Ave. It’s in the same plaza as Boston Chicken/Market. It was a cheap-o $1.45 + tax for this bagel. It was ok. I should have asked them to toast it twice.
Uncommon Grounds is pretty sweet, and I always forget it’s there. The bagels are quite nice too. Not too fluffy and hard to bite into, and soft with a good chew. This one was a bit too flat, though. The chick behind the counter had obviously pulled an all nighter and was yawning like crazy and squishing her hands on top of my bagel as she sliced it and then when she folded it. Imagine someone doing CPR on your bagel. But still, the insides weren’t completely smushed into an unrecognizable bunch – that’s how good the bagels are at Uncommon Grounds.

I got a little too excited over my bagel, though. I haven’t had one in over a month, mainly out of forgetfulness. In my euphoria, I dropped over half of my bagel. NOOOOOO!

Later on that night, I went out to Bomber’s Burrito Bar for karaoke. I am not a karaoke person, so I must have been posessed by some singing devils. Or maybe it was the siren song of margaritas, and the promise of spring in the air.

I went upstairs to the bar part of Bombers, because that’s where all the stuff is. The downstairs is just take out, or people eating basic tacos or burritos.

The margaritas are $5 per glass on Wednesday nights at Bomber’s. And they pour a pretty mean drink. I started out with a margarita on the rocks. They come in awesome Bell Jars – lots of margarita for me! If you order them regular/neat/no ice they come in the regular margarita glasses. I am too clumsy for those, so I opt for anything in the bell jar.

The purple drink is a prickly pear margarita, frozen too. It was a great suggestion by our server, Carly (at least that was the name on the receipt).

Now, I have to say… that was the best service I have ever had in Bombers. I know, I know. I was really surprised. I was ready for surly service with crazy amounts of attitude on the side, with a few snide and catty comments thrown in just for fun. But no, not this night. Carly was the best server I’ve ever seen or had at Bombers. Possibly in all of Albany, even. She was incredibly professional and has basically made me want to go back to Bombers again and again, and to get her again and again as well. She’d come up and let us know if something was slow/backed up in the kitchen, just great over all. Wednesday night’s experience made me think of Bomber’s as the fun, quirky place it used to be and seemingly has returned to.

Mini taco – $4.99 for about a dozen of them with salsa, sour cream and guacamole on the side. They were pretty tasty. I’d order them again.
Tequila overload! Since I couldn’t get enough of the stuff, I ordered tequila chicken wings! $7.99 for a dozen of them. They came with a bleu cheese dipping sauce that had some chipotle or something going on in it. Pretty good, but unnecessary because these wings were delicious! They were moist, a bit sticky, had garlic bits clinging on them, and best of all – they had a wonderful tequila flavor that went great with the wings. I highly recommend trying these.

Troy Night Out and Festivites Galore

Troy Night Out happened to occur on February 29th. I love leap days, and I love it when quirky days or fun holidays land on Fridays. When you were a kid, didn’t you always love it when Halloween landed on a Friday?
First we stopped off for coffee, otherwise I never would have been able to trudge through the snow. I got a latte at Spill’n The Beans.

One of the locations (I forget, sorry, correct me if you remember) also had… cupcakes!

There were some awesome galleries and showings, but one of my favorites was at Kismet. They had affordable, zombie-tastic works of art by David P. Geurin, plus nice music going on.

After Kismet, a stop at Brown’s Brewing Co was in order. Brown’s is a local brew pub in Troy, NY specializing in their own microbrews. The art of this is lost on me. Beer is kind of like soda to me – it’ll quench a thirst, but that’s about it. Beer, however, has the upper hand in the beverage hierarchy because it will afford me a nice buzz (or more), whereas I usually get hyper and annoying after a few sodas. Albany John enjoys their beer, especially a smoked beer that tastes like mozzarella cheese.

There’s more than beer to appreciate at Brown’s, thankfully. It turns out that this past Friday was also their 15 year anniversary, so they had specials running like crazy. Celebration Ale was $1.50 a pint. They are normally around $4. I actually kind of liked Celebration Ale too, and at $1.50 a pop, well; we had more than our fair share.
We got mussels, a burger, and a pulled pork sandwich, each of which were $5.15! Holy cheap-eats, Batman!

Mussels – great, great, great! The cream sauce was also terrific. Not too heavy, which means I probably drank about a cup of it. Thank god they didn’t leave straws on the table. The size was also amazing. I figured for $5.15 we’d get a small plate, or maybe a dozen – nope, we got a huge order of them.

Burger – I ordered it rare, and it actually came out rare! My initial reaction was kind of disappointed, because it looked like a pre-formed burger patty, and my tongue was re-living eating a burger at Sutter’s. Once I bit in, I was pleasantly surprised – pretty good flavor. The burger also didn’t have any added condiments on it (ew, like mayo), but some lettuce, onions and tomato. It also came with a little cup of coleslaw and a pickle.

Pulled Pork – Wow, I am glad I didn’t order this. No, no, it wasn’t bad at all! It was so rich and porky – I wouldn’t have been able to eat much of it, especially after the mussels. There was also cheese on it, which I wasn’t crazy about, but the pork flavor was intense – Really moist, too.

We’d also gone to Brown’s before for a beer and nibbles one afternoon on a lark. I got their fries with all the crap on ‘em (cheese and bacon, mmm baaaacon) and Albany John got French onion soup.

The French onion soup had a lot of… I forget, but there was one spice in there that was kicking at our taste buds. It was mildly distracting. Albany John liked it, but I thought it was a weird combo with how French onion soup normally tastes.

The fries were great. They were crunchy, crisp, and stayed hot the entire time. The cheese melted well, and the bacon slivers were each incredibly crisp and flavorful. I really liked these fries and will most likely order them again.

After Brown’s we went over to Daisy Baker’s for the Official Unofficial after party for Troy Night Out, by Good Ship.
Free entrance, 18+, drinks specials (like $2 Mike’s Hard Lemonades!), amazing music, RPI geekery, eye pleasing visuals, beautiful area, and all over feel-good and dance vibe.

Go to the next one if you have never been!
Seriously, I haven’t had so much fun in such a while. If you’re like me and don’t like the downtown Albany/Pearl St scene; Goodship puts on a great event. I can’t wait to go to the next one.

Oh, and Saturday was party @ CDFI. Yea, party peeepal! CDFI also was awesome. DJ Kellan Scott was spinning some great tunes and everyone was awesome as always.

(Man, this post actually makes me look like I have a life. In reality, I hardly ever go out this often. If it helps, I spent most of Sunday sleeping on my couch watching Netflix)

Sherry Lynn’s Gluten Free

Albany John and I went for an impromptu afternoon somewhere past Grafton one weekend. What in the hell was I doing out near Grafton? Well, out past Grafton, actually.
When we went to Mass MoCA on Route 2, we noticed a small sign for a Peace Pagoda. We’d went to one before in Western Mass, so it was cool to see one with a little sign close-ish to us.

Anyway, we checked it out, I walked around it a few times, and that was about it. So on our way back, I figured it couldn’t hurt to keep driving around. After all, it’s not like I come out by Grafton all that often so why not? Instead of heading towards Troy on Route 7, I swung a right and we soon passed Sherry Lynn’s Gluten Free. I’d read a review somewhere of it, and I was really intrigued by a gluten-free restaurant ‘round these parts. This isn’t it, but here is a review I found on Google. Very informative!

I know it’s a big deal to my gluten-free brethren to be able to eat things that would normally make them ill (and possibly kill them later on). But, I have to admit; I went seeking it out because I heard they made great gluten-free cookies, cakes, breads… basically carbohydrates. Hey, and a new, diverse range of baked goods made out of flours I haven’t even thought of? Awesome!

However, it was later in the afternoon when we’d walked in, and there wasn’t much left. As an aside – Sherry Lynn’s Gluten Free is painted bright red and looks like a converted barn (or really big house). When you walk inside, it feels like it could have been the ‘General Store’ in a small town, circa Laura Ingalls Wilder. There were plenty of people sitting in the small area with tables with coffee and papers.

I decided to try out a blueberry fritter. It was $1.25 for the fritter, which was about the size of a swollen golf ball. It wasn’t cheap, and the blueberry was more of an afterthought. The price is also a lot higher than you might expect because of all the different non-wheat flours. I just got a bare hint of blueberry as an aftertaste. Texturally, it was amazing. The outside was crispy, crunchy and airy. The inside was as soft as a donut (kind of like Krispy Kremes, may their former Latham location RIP).

The insides also puffed back up – amazing! You know how if you eat a donut, and once you bite down, your lips and teeth tend to mush it all down a bit? Well, when you bit into these, they just sprung right back. After I finished it, I was wondering why I only bought one. $1.25 may have been steep, but those fritters were so much fun to eat!

And then, I kid you not – one of our friends came over later that day with some of each of the goodies!

I tried an iced cookie – really impressive. They were soft and almost cake-like, and the flavors were amazing. They had a very delicate crumb as well – the different flour used in there was so awesome. I was really full from stuffing my face when we got home, though, so I didn’t try the other bar-thing he got that is pictured bottom left. To the right are more of those fritters.
Awesome, awesome, awesome, just be prepared to pay more because non-wheat flours can be more expensive, ergo, more expensive foods.

As a note: I could have sworn this was just called “Sherri’s Gluten Free” but it is “Sherry Lynn’s Gluten Free”

Location: 1691 State Highway 7, Troy NY 12180

(if you need another hint, go on Route 7 like you’re going to Grafton Lakes State Park, then keep going when you’d normally bear right onto Route 2. It’s right past that)

Bombay Grill

Albany John came home after I did and said “Damnit, I was hoping you’d still be wearing clothes!”

He wanted to try one of the newer Indian restaurants in the area, and I’d just hopped in the shower.

After I got out of the shower, he showed me a menu for Bombay Grill in Latham, NY – and woah, they have a lot of coupons on the back of their flyer. Like 10% off all take out orders. W00t.

We put our orders in: Chicken Korma ($10.95) for me (because I am a spice-wuss), plus cheese nan ($2.95). Albany John got the appetizer sampler ($5.95) and the chicken tandoori mix ($13.95). We also got a free biryani because we’d ordered over $25. And then we got 10% off. Suh-weet.

Bombay Grill is in Latham where that sushi place used to be. It’s directly across from Firestone and Bella Napoli. It’s also right next to the Smoker’s Paradise and Night Moves. Don’t tell me that’s not enough description!

Once we got home, we opened up the food and tore in.

My Chicken Korma was very well spiced and the gravy part was a lot thicker and less greasy than many of the other Indian restaurants around here. It also came with multi-colored rice, which was also really good. A few bites in… and a lot of spice kicked in. SPICY KORMA!! AHHHH!

Don’t bother ordering the cheese nan. It was hard and tough in the center, almost like stale pita bread, and very hard to bite off. The outside was a too doughy, tough, and chewy. It was very… difficult to eat the nan. There was also greenery involved, which initially made me think I’d gotten the wrong nan. The cheese was there; I just couldn’t really taste it. I think one reason is that they used some really crappy flour. One thing I could really taste was FLOUR. Ugh, not very pleasant at all – overly chewy, floury nan.

The appetizer sampler contained a potato patty (maybe like an Indian lakte?), a samosa, 4 pakoras, one tamarind sauce and one neon-green sauce.
The potato patty was crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. The samosa – very good, but I think it could have used more curry. The pakoras were spiced like crazy!

The tandoori chicken sampler/mix was really disappointing. The menu listed a half chicken as $7.95 and a whole chicken as $12.95, so we figured for $13.95 we’d probably get a half tandoori chicken, plus the extra stuff. We got one small tandoori chicken thigh, 2 kebabs, and 3 chicken breast strip-things that were shaped like letter Vs.
The chicken breast strip-things (very accurate, I know) were spicy like crazy! They were tasty, but, holy crap, spicy. The kebabs – were also really spiced and hot. I couldn’t really taste much beyond heat in those things. The tandoori thigh – all the spice from the breast things rubbed off on it, so it really killed the tandoori flavor, for me at least.
There was also a ‘salad’ included in the tandoori chicken mix. I don’t understand why restaurants tout ‘salad’ as a feature to your item if it’s just a few slivers of iceberg lettuce, an onion, and maybe a slice of red cabbage. It was included in the same package as the chicken, so it was mostly soggy when we got home (hey, perils of take-out, I know). But at the same time, it looked more decorative than like an actual salad. Restaurants – please stop including a ‘salad’ if it’s not much more than iceberg lettuce. It’s not an incentive to me to buy the meal, and it just looks like a garnish with a misnomer.

The biryani was good, though. And huuuge. Also, spicy. It came with a side of raita, which I didn’t try because Albany John is going to eat the rest of the biryani for lunch today.

Overall… I wasn’t pleased enough to return. I thought the tandoori mix was overpriced for what you got. I mean, would it have killed them to toss in a drumstick or an extra thigh? Everything was spicy. Like, crazy hot spicy for me. But Albany John just insists that this further proves my spice-wussyness. I did enjoy the first few bites, as the flavors are very well balanced. Until the heat comes, and I’m chugging down all the liquids around me. I was planning on everything being moderately spicy, but not my korma. I figured cream sauce != spicy. You will probably enjoy it, instead of wussing out like me.The nan also killed it. I need good nan.

Location: 571 Watervliet-Shaker Rd, Latham NY

Pig Pit BBQ

The Pig Pit is a barbeque and tex-mex joint on Ontario St in Cohoes. (the website goes to their catering page, not the pig pit, but it’s close. Ish…) If you’re visiting friends in Lansingburgh, its pink sign is certain to tempt you to come in. But you’ll tell yourself that you’ve got to meet your friends, so maybe you’ll try it on your way back. Or make better plans for next time to come earlier and eat there. And then you’ll put it off for months and months, passing it every poorly planned time you visit your friends until you can take it no longer, because you really needs you some ‘que.

Once you order, you’ll wait around some cute stools and hanging lights until it’s ready. The Pig Pit isn’t really a sit down type restaurant. It seems more like the place some local kids can hang out and grab a bite to eat, but it does mainly take out. That said, you could eat there, you’d just all be on stools.

I ordered the brisket platter ($12.95) and Albany John ordered the pulled pork sandwich ($5.95).

The brisket came with two sides, so I ordered corn fritters and sweet potato fries. The corn fritters were amazing – crunchy and crisp on the outside without being greasy, and moist on the inside. The sweet potato fries were also grease-less, but were very bland. They also came with a side of Mrs. Butterworth’s, which I couldn’t quite wrap my head around.
When I first looked at the brisket I didn’t see any pink. None. I was skeptical and kind of disappointed because it looked like it was overcooked. I took a bite, and… woah, this was not the usual brisket I had in San Antonio, nor quite like anything else I’d ever eaten. The meat was in slivers and really resembled beefy bacon. The taste initially reminded me of beef jerky, only good (I can’t stomach beef jerky). It was smoky, peppery, and smoky. The smoke really came through. It was a bit drier than I am used to, which I think is due to the thin slices. It was enjoyable though, maybe I’ll see if they can leave the meat in hunks next time.

Albany John’s pulled pork sandwich was in a sub bun and was… gigantic. Now, my food looked to be darn-near a pound, but his… omg, his looked like it was two pounds of pulled pork. The sandwiches at the Pig Pit can also be prepared a few ways for FREE. One of them was with coleslaw, but they forgot to put it on Albany John’s Sandwich. This pork, though… it was so tender, but not the least bit mushy nor dry. The sauce wasn’t drippy and clung to the meat. The sauce and meat had a moist three-way with my taste buds.
The only complaint I had with this is that you will need a larger man to initially break into the sandwich. Logistically, I looked at it and couldn’t figure out how I would avoid slathering my hands, arms, and clothing with pork. My fingers, while not that tiny, would have had a hard time wrapping themselves around this massive sandwich. Really, this is the only thing I can think to nit-pick about. The sandwich is awesome.

Albany John and I have decided that the next time we go to the Pig Pit (because now we must) we will have to split a sandwich and maybe get a side of corn fritters, because those will be more than enough for two people, possibly three if you add a salad or something to your meals.

Early Gong Hay Fat Choy and Happy Groundhog’s Day!

Albany John and I went down to the city for the weekend for an early Chinese New Year with my Dad, Yeh-Yeh (grandfather) and Uncle. We also crashed with our friend who moved down there recently for a new job, who I will lovingly refer to as ‘wifey’.

We took the Double Happiness bus from Albany to New York City, which was $45 per person round trip. I think they’re cash only. We really enjoyed not driving down, and some how; we got to mid-town Manhattan in under three hours. Awesome.

We grabbed some cheap tex-mex, where I got a gigantic shrimp burrito for $6.50. It had the thinnest soft shell I’ve ever eaten, and everything was miles above what I’ve had here. There was also a very generous amount of guacamole in there too.

Wifey wanted to introduce me to crab chips, which are like shrimp chips, only shaped like tiny crabs. We wandered around Broadway trying to find Koreatown, where she had originally gotten them, but alas, it was not meant to be. We also probably should have looked it up before we left.

After walking around for about an hour, we said ‘ah, screw it’ and walked into the first diner we saw, which touted itself as the ‘Best Diner in Manhattan’. Oh, yea. Albany John had a big salad, Wifey had an omelet, and I had the worst bagel in New York. I thought that they would at least have had something from nearby, but no, it was a frozen Lender’s bagel. I’m half surprised they didn’t just plop a frozen bagel in front of me and go ‘HERE!’. I ate some of wifey’s omelet. Yea omelet!

So afterwards, we had the most disgusting subway ride to date. I have always been enamored with public transportation, and I still like the subway, but that was awful.
We booked our asses out of the stop and ran right to Tasti De Lite, which serves soft serve frozen dairy goodies. That day they had crème brulee as a flavor, and oh baby, was it ever good. I had some over the summer in ‘cheesecake’ flavor. If you label anything as ‘cheesecake’, I’ll love it. I have no clue why I like it so much, but I do. It’s chemically and fakey in all the right ways.

We then hopped back on the subway and went from the Upper East Side to Flushing. With the express trains out of commission, we suffered a very long ride on the 7 local to Flushing. L. O. N. G. ride. Take note, and don’t keep your family out in the cold waiting for you (cause you know they will, even though you told them to pick a restaurant and wait inside, where it is warm, for you guys to show up. Because seriously, Dad, you know how to get around Flushing now).

When we finally got out, we picked a restaurant and chowed down! Albany John reeeaalllly wanted Ma Po Dofu, which is a spicy tofu dish. I was pretty ambivalent about it, but it got ordered.
It didn’t suck. It was made with silken tofu (which always ups the eat-ability factor for me) and was spicy, but tolerable. It was also fairly light and easy to eat.

My Dad and Yeh-Yeh also ordered a ton of food: garlicky baby bok choy, a shrimp and scrambled egg concoction, pan fried mushroom noodles, steak, white fish with veggies,and my personal favorite – deep fried (aka Salt & Pepper) pork chops.

We then all hopped back on the 7 line and said good-bye to them at their stop, while we continued on back to Wifey’s apartment in the Upper East Side. Once we got off, I had the lucky opportunity to pay $8.99 for a 6-pack of Mojitos at Duane Reed! Actually, Albany John did 😀

Wifey and I pounded those suckers down as a pre-game before we got all sexed up and went out clubbing until 3 am.

Actually, while I wish I could tell you about my wild night of clubbing, we ended up sipping the Mojitos while Albany John had some beers while we all watched Murder In Manhattan. We are such party animals!

The next day, we headed off to catch the bus. We were about an hour or so early, so we roamed around Chinatown. Albany John got a bunch of new knives from a restaurant supply store (and has been shouting at me to stop putting them in the drawer with all the other knives, so that these have a chance of not getting dinged).
He also suggested we get some pastries or other goodies to snack on. Good suggestion on his part. I tend to get up and start my day, and I’ll think about eating after I’ve finished whatever it is I’d had planned. And then I become CRAZY WITH HUNGER! So I got a chicken roll, which tasted like chicken pot pie in a puff pastry case. Winner! Especially at 85 cents. And then I got hungry again, and ate a crappy looking but really tasty almond-coconut bao type thing.