BurgerFi Latham – Sneak Peek

BurgerFi Storefront Latham NY

BurgerFi opens tomorrow at 11 am on 860 New Loudon Rd (Rt 9), Latham, NY. I was invited to a menu preview this afternoon. Overall I think it’s a good new addition – they’re a chain that sources from Meyer Ranch, which provides antibiotic-free beef that was never given additional hormones, grass raised and grain finished (best of both worlds, IMO), and none of the beef is ever frozen. I think this is a great direction for a chain to head, and one I see other chains embracing as well. Ethics aside (which is a weird phrase), the food is competitively priced and enjoyable.

BurgerFi Latham interiorThe interior is set up casually – order at the counter, pay, grab a table and wait for your food. They also have beer and wine, and it looked like some MMA style fights were on the TV when we were there. It’s easy for me to imagine biking over for a burger, beer, and a match if they wind up broadcasting fights.

There were some other local members of the media at the tasting. BTW, it’s really a thing of beauty to see Angelo Mazzone and Bill Lia walk over and talk to Steve Barnes, who curates the Tablehopping blog for the Times Union. If you want coverage, his blog certainly has the most readership/exposure. Also, he’s a nice guy with good taste, and someone pretty much anyone would want to talk to. Any way, social peeping aside, let’s get down to the food!

BurgerFi Cry Fry

Up first was the Cry Fry ($5.47) – a combination of their fries and onion rings. This is a regular order. You definitely want to share this with 1-2 other people. The onion rings are massive and massively delicious! Theyre beer battered in Coors Light. The breading is very light and crisp, giving way to large rounds of onion underneath. The fries are fried in peanut oil, and get the perfect balance of fluffy/poofy/creamy interior and crisp exterior.

BurgerFi Urban Style Fries 2

Up next were the Urban Style Fries, and I believe (hope) that these were the large portions. Because dear god, they were massive. There are two servings pictured above, and 3 people could barely put a dent in one of them. Urban style fries  are their regular hand-cut french fries with parmesan cheese, herbs, and garlic aioli. I’m not normally a mayo/aioli fan, but these were delicious. Just the right amount of garlicky creaminess atop the fries (they weren’t swimming in it), and a nice sprinkling of parmesan that stuck to the fries.

BurgerFi Urban Style Fries

Seriously massive, right? But also seriously good.
BurgerFi CheeseburgerAnd then it was time to try the burgers! First up was the BurgerFi Cheeseburger, which is two patties, american cheese, lettuce, tomato, and BurgerFi sauce. This reminded me of a ShackBurger. Actually, when you first walk in, you’ll probably notice some similar vibes from Shake Shack and BurgerFi.

The meat was good – the patties are just under 4 oz (pre-cooked weight), and cooked all the way through. They maintain a good amount of moisture and flavor while being cooked all the way through. Texture-wise, the grind is a pleasant medium or small/medium (depending on how you look at it).

BurgerFi Breakfast All Day Burger

The Breakfast All Day burger is one patty, American cheese, hickory bacon, maple syrup, a fried egg, hashbrown patty, grilled onions, and ketchup. I love that runny egg. It’s really nice to see a chain restaurant not cooking an egg yolk all the way through before it goes on a burger so you get that golden goodness all over the burger.

This wasn’t my favorite type of burger, but if you’re a bacon-on-everything person you’ll like it. For some reason I just prefer my breakfast as breakfast and not on other stuff. Oh, and the maple syrup wasn’t too cloying. Very subtle.
BurgerFi The Twenty-Eight BurgerThe Twenty-Eight is the burger you want to order if you can only try one thing. Oh my gosh, so good. And I’m glad they saved this for last. It packs a mighty whollop of umami in the very best way. The burgers on the Twenty-Eight are from brisket dry aged for 28 days. The patties have a little more funk, just the right amount of blue cheese in between the burgers, and the pickles are add a great crunchiness.
BurgerFi VegeFi BurgerWe also tried the VegeFi Burger. It’s made of quinoa, lentils, and veggies, and topped with cheddar cheese, tomato, and BurgerFi sauce with a lettuce “bun”. The whole patty is fried, so it pretty much tastes like a big pakora/lentil fritter. The lettuce are squares of iceberg lettuce.

BurgerFi Chicago Style Wagyu Beef Hot DogChicago Style Wagyu Beef The hot dog itself has a nice little snap/pull to the case and a good beefy flavor. This is a little different than your typical Chicago style hot dog – the pickle and tomatoes are in slices instead of wedges, which makes for a different kind of chew/bite.
BurgerFi Red Velvet ConcreteDessert! We tried the Chocolate Shake (not pictured) which had a lot of dark chocolate flavor and wasn’t a complete sugar bomb. A very grown up shake.
We also tried Red Velvet Concretes, which are very thick vanilla custards with layers of red velvet cake. You’ll want to split your concrete with at least 1-2 other people. They are incredibly delicious and rich. The vanilla custard is really good. Lots of rich egg yolk flavor and vanilla. Frozen custard is more popular in the south – it’s nice to have a place nearby to grab some.

Overall, I think it’s a good addition to the fast food options in the area. It’s family friendly, cares more about animal welfare than other mainstream chains (change has to start somewhere), and has a tasty product. Hopefully the quality I tried today holds up to the test of time.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go patronize another Lia-owned business and put some of this food to use!

Mussels Night at The Merry Monk!

Albany John and I went back to the Merry Monk to try more of their mussels! We loved our first visit, we had to go back! And when they’re buy-one-get-one free on Wednesdays starting at 4 pm, it’s hard to stay away for long. Albany John got mussels in a cream sauce. Very good – plump, and not too creamy. Very complimentary sauce without being overwhelming.

And we each got frites! Two dipping sauces each. So tasty! The buffalo blue cheese is addictive as a dip.
I threw my normal pickiness to the wind and went with the coconut curry mussels. And I LOVED it! I’ve had this cold I just can’t shake – it just seems to keep coming back. And this had so much flavor!
There were a few funky/unopened shells, but for the most part, they were all plump and well-cooked. Albany John thought the turmeric garnishing was a little excessive – if it gets on your clothes they will be stained.

I’m still loving the atmosphere – laid back, not rushed, and a nice step away from the hubub of downtown Albany during/just after office hours.

Garden Bistro 24 for Family Dinner

Bro, Margarita, and Baby Dubs came up from Mississippi for a bit recently. It was so good to see them! Hard it believe it’s been almost a year since I last saw them!

I wanted to do something special while they were up here, and booked a dinner at Garden Bistro 24 for them, my mom, my sister, plus Albany John and me. Oh, and a toddler.

I emailed ahead of time to partially arrange a special meal for my sister, who’d said she’d eat cooked food. So I requested something vegan and gluten-free. Much to my surprise, John Grizzaffi himself responded! Who ever expects the chef and OWNER of a restaurant to answer your emails? (He’s a peach, btw).

They have old fashioneds!So yummy! So potent!

Albany John got a hangar steak. Yum! Cooked med rare. My mom got a steak too, but no sauce. Not sure if she really liked it, she said it was kind of tough. Ah well. I guess I should have considered the cuts a little more. My mom’s more of a prime rib gal. I was hoping she’d like GB24 because they do simple meals, but I guess I didn’t consider the cuts she usually likes.

I got a duck confit special. Came in an amaretto sauce (but not too sweet). Two legs! Woah man – so much food! Really tasty – can’t get enough of their mustard, either.

My sis-in-law Margarita got a Garden Bistro 24 salad with Chicken. She really liked this.

My brother got mussels with the coconut sauce on them. He was like “These are fucking DELICIOUS!” (only add more cursing and it’s all said in caps). If I hadn’t seen the duck special I would have deffo ordered up some mussels!

Here is the special dish John made for my sister. I don’t think she actually ate any of it, since she ordered a salad instead. I guess she decided to switch back to raw food ’cause she got a salad. It was beautiful, though, and full of ingredients I don’t normally see on BG24’s menu. Freshly grilled seasonal veggies, kalamata olives, and organic polenta. The rest of us picked at it – so flavorful. I don’t know, I just wanted to have something she could/would eat with the rest of us aside from her usual greens, but I guess I screwed that one up along the way. I ordered it any way, since I made such a big deal about special ordering it. At least she was nice enough to take it home in a doggy bag, tossing it, I’m guessing, out of my view.

John – thank you very much for the effort you put in this dish (and vegans, put a rezzie here!).

A pic of Albany John’s steak, the special vegan dish, the salad my sis got instead, and a pic of my mom’s frites, ’cause evidently I didn’t snap a pic of her steak.

Service was great (as usual) – really friendly service, and guess what? Kids are always welcome here!

All done!

I always like going here. I was hoping I’d pick a place everyone would like because I like it so much. You can enjoy the food yourself, but you can’t necessarily force others to like what you do too. Or hope really hard. But you can enjoy the company and let them distract you from bluer thoughts ’cause you’re so happy to be with the crazy family you have.

Hunh, and here I thought I just went here for a meal. Instead I come out with some kind of life lesson.

The Epicurean

Date night with the mister to The Epicurean (579 Troy Schenectady Road, Latham, NY) one evening in May. Evidently we still had a free bottle of wine left over from the purchasing system when they were in Troy (Buy, like, $100-150 or more and you get a free bottle of wine with purchase of 2 entrees on your next dinner), but it was set to expire by the end of May at the new location. Cool, that’ll get me in the door. Besides, we’ve been meaning to go back, but there are so many places to try, it’s hard to decide!

We walked into a pretty slow restaurant, and waited a few minutes for someone to seat us. It was a little confusing. No hostess that I could see anywhere near the podium, and the waiters were in different outfits. At first I thought our server may have been a busser, just because he was dressed a lot less formally than the other waiter (black polo and slacks versus a long-sleeved white dress shirt).

Bottle of Altos Malbec (normally $24). We were planning on getting some red meat, so I ventured out of my usual predilictions for sweet and white and went with a low-tannin red. Tasty stuff, but man it packed a whollop at 14%! I would have chosen something a little lower on the ABV scale if I’d have known, haha.

Still, tasty stuff. Would have probably been better to split with a few other friends. They took a few minutes to look us up for the free bottle of wine. Our server tossed a scrap of paper on to our table with a pen and was like “Write your name?”. Albany John wrote his name down for the server to find the card on file, or something like that. That was a little… less than formal than I prefer at The Epicurean. And it wasn’t that busy or anything. I could see if it were busy, but… yeah, there were like two other tables in there.

Epicurean, maybe tell your servers if they need someone to write something down for them, they should be like “Would you please write ______ down for me so I can find ____?” I wish some of Sandy’s natural hosting capabilities and formality were passed on to the servers. The servers always seem a little more casual than I’d like.

We got the charcuterie plate ($12) to start. Chicken pate (I think – it was in firm loaf form), and “two kinds of salami”. One wee tiny cornichon. Some salad greens and beet shavings. And some crunchy bread.

I really liked the chicken pate. Smooth, chickeny. I was expecting it to taste super-meaty and livery, but it was pretty light and good for the weather. Really good on the bread with some of the lightly dressed greens. Refreshing!

The circular salami was a little funkier than I prefer. Albany John thought it was kind of like a mortadella.

I liked the other salami, but it was kinda generic. Just reminded me of salami you could get just about anywhere.

It was down to us and one table after apps. Man, I felt so badly for the kitchen. The only thing worse than a kitchen over max-capacity is an absolutely DEAD restaurant.

I like what they’ve done with the space, decor-wise. My camera took a yellower picture than it is, but lots of warm sunset tones, and comfy chairs. Wasn’t so crazy about the jazz piped through the sound system, but is restaurant music ever good?

Albany John actually propsed to me when this space was Vin Santo, so the space holds a good bit of sentimental mushiness for me in the depths of my cold, cold heart. We were super excited when basically the first restaurant we ate out at as a married couple moved into the space. And this night we were seated at basically the same table we got engaged at. Awww.

Alright, enough with the mushiness, on to the important stuff – the food! I got Escalope de Veau Forestiere ($27). Veal cutlet with zucchini-mint gratin & fingerling potatoes. Slathered in delicious sauce. I think this was a shoulder cutlet, or some other kind of working part of the veal (do veal even work?), because it was a little tougher than I’d have imagined. When I think veal, I think “super tender”. Overall, I think it was a tad pricey (maybe $23-25 would be a better range), but man, all of the flavors go so well together.

Probably also doesn’t help that I wish they had their veau oscar on the menu. Man, that was so tender and delicious! It’s the veal dish I dream about.

Albany John ordered first, so he beat me to ordering the beef tartare, set at an affordable $18. There is a LOT of meat here. They use ground beef, not minced/chopped beef, so I was a little worried by how the texture would come out, but it was a nice, coarse grind and very well chilled.

It was absolutely filled with minced raw onion and lots of whole capers. It tasted fairly light. We found the egg yolk to be fairly unnecessary. The flavors were so good! I really want to order this again. So good. Did I mention it was good?

I know the fries look a little oily, but they were actually good – really well cooked.

The Epicurean’s dishes are all about the little touches. This sauce? All butter. And as always, their dishes needed absolutely no extra seasoning. I also like that their dishes are a manageable size. No take out containers needed.
The mushrooms on my veal weren’t just sliced white button, but a mix of oyster as well. And those fingerling potatoes, yum. So tender, and perfect for sopping up sauce. I’m deffo going to put some mint in with my zucchini this summer, too. Great combo.

At the same time, this iteration of the Epicurean is so much more different than the little gourmet space on Route 7. It felt like a secret there – all cozy, and only with a few servers. The high ceilings here make it seem less intimate, despite the warm decor. The weekend dinners felt more like you were dining in a speakeasy.

The prices here are a little bit higher than before, and the servers a little less polished. They’re nice, don’t get me wrong, but when you get used to Sandy fawning over every little thing, or coming to shmooze at your table during dinner, or bringing a dish out with a little of his Epicurean-style oomph, it’s a difference. It’s like when you were a kid in elementary school, and when you cut yourself, your parents would usually give you a hug or whatever and then when you go to the nurse she’s like “I can get you a wet nap and a band aid or you can go back to class”.

The dishes, decor, and prices point more towards formality, that’s all. The service would be fine if they did a more casual bistro feeling and changed the menu a bit. (But please bring back my veau oscar. And maybe some of that tapenade, too.)

Oh, it’s also moquito season because I got bit SEVEN times while over the course of our meal while dining inside. Ugh, so itchy now! I’m such a mosquito magnet.

Garden Bistro 24

I was finally able to check out Garden Bistro 24, one of the more recent additions to the Albany dining scene. It’s in a stripmall on Central Ave in Colonie. Or, as Albany John knows it – in that plaza with the video game resale company.

We met up with Daniel B. for a nice night out.

I actually showed up a touch early (shock, I know), and we sat at the bar and had a cocktail. Lemon drop type thing. Tasty, and wow, what a kick! Only minor gripe was that tax was not included in the price. It was something like $9-10. It’s Albany – this is a bistro. We can drop it down a few bucks if tax isn’t included.

Other than that, tasty drink I’d order it again.

A very well stocked bar. I doubt they even have a well. One or two large flat-screen TVs, but they’re not blasting. Garden Bistro has some minimal decor. Lots of tan and earth tones in the decor. Tables on one side, bar slightly to the rear.

The bartender was nice, and the bar area quiet. We decided to have dinner there. Seemed like a little more space than a table, too. Bottle of wine. Albany John and I left wine selection to the Profussor, who narrowed a few reds down he thought I wouldn’t hate. Good call on this bottle, and the bartender even gave us a few pours to try to help us decide. I thought this was nice though – low tannins, fruity, juicy (and under $30! woo!). See? I can use my wine buzz words!

We split the soup special. Eggplant and…. it’s been a few days so I forget what else. But it was tasty stuff. I think it was about $6 for a fairly large bowl.

The boys both ordered flat iron steaks (~$14) which came with a decorative amount of greenery (salad) and a big ole pile of frites. Plus some herbed butter on top. They both ordered medium rare.

I went for the mussles special – with champagne sauce ($16.50). Each mussle was plump and perfectly cooked. Not one bad mussle in the whole lot, and they didn’t become overcooked while sitting there. So tasty!
Plus a gigantic cone of frites with ketchup and a sweet mustard sauce to dip in. The mustard sauce was quite tasty. The fries bested me by a long shot, though. Haha! But they were perfectly crisp on the outside, light, and not too greasy. I usually don’t like smaller shoestrings because they tend to be way too crunchy throughout, or oily; but these were crispy on the outside, light, and airy on the inside. Well done.

Daniel B.’s steak came out closer to medium rare. Albany John’s was more like a medium. Kind of annoying to have two steaks ordered exactly the same and have them come out at different temps. Still a tasty steak, but a minor disappointment because when he was ordered he mentioned that he usually orders rare because he wants medium rare, and was told that they cook their steaks on the rarer side and should order medium rare.

I guess we’ll stick with ordering “rare” in the hopes of medium rare.

I definitely look forward to returning to Garden Bistro 24. The service was casual and friendly, the meal paced leisurely, and overall a nice night out. Cozy, almost. I’d put Garden Bistro as an affordable night out and a good place for a date night. Affordable prices, but you still get a bit of an upscale vibe and nice atmosphere. It’s also low-key enough that it’s relaxing.

Happy Sue Day!

Last Thursday the Mr and I headed out to Schenectady Bombers for Sue’s birthday. Here she is with Sexy Beast and her sexy cocktail glass with the free margarita in it.


It was trivia night, and Sue totally called my stars and stripes when she said she was glad it wasn’t karaoke! Haha (Oh, I really dislike karaoke). The trivia was way easier than the one time I went to the Albany Bombers on trivia, but oh man it sounded so loud! Then again I’m sensitive to loud noises, so yeah. Good people make for good times.

Albany John and I got an order of disco fries and rancho (ranchero?) wings. And some deliciously cheap beers. As you can see, Albany John hovered in on the wings, but I liked that they cooked them extra crispy. So crispy. So crunchy and good. I was curious about ranchero, and it is like garlic butter wings with loads of parsely in the sauce. Tasted good to me. But I have to tell you, it’s always hard to pass up the tequila wings. They are SO. Good.

The fries had extra crunchiness to them… More like Burger King, less like Mickey D’s in terms of texture. So yum! And gobs of cheese. Yum yum yum. I heart the disco fries.

And who couldn’t heart good meals with this loveable jerk (chicken taco), Sue? I would personally love a roll of stickers that say “Jerk”. No I wouldn’t. Because then I would get drunk and start labeling everyone.

Happy Birthday, Sue!!

Eggy Weggs

Ahhh soooo. This is what happens when one lives with a deviled egg lover and happens to have some extra time on ones hands. Kung Fu deviled eggs with nori eyes and radish facial hair.

I have this book on Japanese cute food accents. I started out trying to make egg “cars”, but soon decided that was too boring, difficult, and ugly. And that faces were way funner.

The “car” is on the left above. See? It’s so boring. And looks like a baby buggy. Who wants to eat a baby buggy? Especially when there are zany faces to eat!

And then there are the leavings.

In retrospect, perhaps feeding my husband 5 large deviled eggs is not the healthiest weekend snack, but damnit, they were cute.

Pig Pit BBQ

I bought an Entertainment book a while ago, and saw that one of the coupons was to the Pig Pit BBQ. Sweet! I headed over and got some ‘cue. Man, I just can’t resist that pulled pork sandwich.

The Pig Pit changed locations fairly recently. It’s no longer on 112th St in Cohoes. It’s still in Cohoes, but just off of the highway. You’ll see it on your right once you start driving in. They have a very nice set up. It’s no longer the bottom part of a house, but its own free standing unit with plenty of parking. There’s indoor and outdoor seating available, and you can even peep into the kitchen thanks to some wide windows.

Albany John got the quarter chicken platter. Sweet potato fries were so crispy, and perfectly salted. I might need to order an extra side of them next time. Never enough! The cornbread muffin was a sweet and fluffy type. More Yankee style than pure cornmeal, and highly enjoyable. The coleslaw wasn’t too mayo-y either. Just lightly dressed and cohesive.

I always assume that quarter chicken usually means the thigh/leg quarter, but we were surprised with a breast and wing! Albany John thought it was a small piece. It was, but their birds are only 3 pounders, so a quarter of a 3 # bird isn’t going to be that big.

It was smoky goodness. If there’s one thing I’d say about Tex’s BBQ it is the real deal in terms of getting some Texas style kick-you-in-the-face smokiness in your food. So while it was a small piece, it was moist and full of flavor. I’d take that over a bigger, less flavorful breast any day (or just order a half chicken).

The pulled pork at Pig Pit also has tons of in-your-face smoky goodness. The sandwiches are so jam packed with pulled pork, it’s hard for me to want to try anything else. I got mine sloppy with coleslaw and then slathered it some more with BBQ sauce (nice – tangy and sweet).

Most of the time I only eat half of the bun and just eat the pulled pork with a fork. So freakin good. One of these days I’m going to give their brisket a try. One day.

I am so glad to have Pig Pit in the area. You know Cap Region, we’ve got two very good, very different BBQ places – Pig Pit and Capital Q. Different in really good ways. I’ve been meaning to try out Brunswick BBQ & Brew, too, but haven’t made it up there yet.

Red Robin

Went to Red Robin recently for my Mom’s birthday. I am usually a fail-daughter when it comes to her birthday, so this year I tried to do my best to make it special for her.

My mom is a bit of a picky eater. She likes her food plain, and doesn’t like most vegetables. Red Robin was a good spot to take her. It pretty much is the perfect spot for her – burgers and fries. Can’t go wrong with those. I’d say it’s in her top 5 for meals, with prime rib and a baked potato being number one.

I also enjoy Red Robin. They have some satisfying burgers, should the craving for a mega-huge burger hit. I like the coarse grind of the meat. And being super uncreative, I like their over the top take on toppings for burgers. Oh, and the bottomless steak fries also help, too.

I got the A-1 Peppercorn burger, which came with bacon, parmesan peppercorn spread, some cheese, and ‘crispy onion straws’ (fried onion bits). It sounded interesting. It was very peppery. I did my usual at Red Robin – Eat less than a quarter of the burger and MOW DOWN THE FRIES.

Albany John got the Pub Burger, which was a good combo of swiss cheese, mushrooms and onions sauteed with ale, and some tomatoes (he left off the ranch dressing – ew). I really liked this burger. The ale flavor was surprisingly pronounced in the ‘shrooms and onions. It was a tasty burger. I’d get this the next time I went.

I didn’t cringe or nag when my mom ordered her fries “Extra hot and really crispy – almost so that they’re burnt, but not”. Instead I smiled and nodded. The waitress said she’d make a note of it, and the kitchen actually cooked them longer. My mom was very happy. She got a bacon cheeseburger, and quite liked it.
I think she got the most enthusiastic birthday song from the servers, which she was just over the moon for (my mom loves attention). That was nice because there were a lot of birthdays when we went there, so she felt extra special.

I think Red Robin’s ordering system is a bit funny. You order your burgers “pink, no pink, or very well done”. But the ‘pink’ burgers are not too bad, and consistently pink. Better average of getting a not overcooked burger here than in many non-chain places I’ve visited.
Oh, and they’ve also had to start putting their calorie counts on the menus, which is a HUGE downer. I mean, I’m a glutton, so it didn’t stop me from ordering what I wanted, but I was like “ONE THOUSAND CALORIES IN A BURGER?! ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? I DIDN’T WANT TO SEE THAT!! I CAME HERE AS A TREAT!” (Oh, and fries are an extra 500 or so calories. Super).
Red Robin also has other entrees, sandwiches, soups, salads, and appetizers. Albany John likes their salads. Tons of stuff in them.

And OH MY GOSH, don’t forget to ask for Campfire sauce. It’s cracktacularly good to dip your fries in. I’m sure it’s just a combination of BBQ sauce and mayo, but I’m going to pretend there’s no mayo in it and just enjoy it as a creamy, tangy slathering vehicle for fries.

So yeah, Red Robin’s a nice spot in the area, especially if you’ve got a picky eater in your group. I’ve always had good service from staff there. Not all chains are the devil, and hey, when the food’s good, it’s good, right?

Je Ne Sais Quoi… D’Amour – The Epicurean at Latham Farms

Albany John and I absolutely love the Epicurean. When we heard they were moving to Latham Farms in the old Vin Santo space we eagerly awaited their opening.

Tonight was opening night.

The husbear signed up for their email list and received notification that they’d be opening today, with a number to make reservations. He had his weeks confused and thought that this weekend was memorial day weekend. We’re going out of town memorial day weekend, and he decided not to tell me about the email so I wouldn’t get bummed out about the opening occurring while we were away.

It was a crazy week here, and we just figured it out last night. I read the new Epicurean Bistro menu and couldn’t wait to try it out. I figured we could show up early, and hopefully score a seat without reservations. Maybe a bar seat, or something like that.

We may have been the 2nd people in, and luckily there was no problem with seating! Hooray!

We opted for a seat in the bar area near the window. The light in the late afternoon/early evening was lovely. The Epicurean has made some changes to the interior of Vin Santo, but they’ve worked well with the existing decor. I think the tables might be the same. Minor changes, just enough to make it their own and simple. Little Epicurean-style touches here and there that said “Yes, this is the Epicurean,”.

Our waitress Darleen, who was coming back to restaurant serving from banquet serving, was absolutely lovely, in spite of any lingering opening night jitters that may have been. She helped create a wonderful experience, and I will be requesting her the next time I dine at The Epicurean. There’s something to be said for the innate, charismatic optimism of opening night – the air inside felt electric and sparkling with energy.

We’ve never ordered a bottle of wine before. Usually a glass or two, or some cocktails; but a bottle of wine opening night at The Epicurean’s new locale, after a week worthy of something just a little bit more… it seemed fitting.

Here we have the 2005 Eifel-Pfeiffer Riesling ($26). It was crisp and sweet, much like a ripe apple. Albany John, who isn’t much of a sweet wine guy, liked it quite much. Meanwhile I danced in my chair after the first sip. If you like sweet Rieslings, you’ll love this.

We initially thought we’d go in for some wine and appetizers to try some things out and lounge around a bit. However, after pouring over the menu, I soon realized that was not an option. Sometimes you have to go with the flow, and when the flow says “What does it taste like? Oh, order it!”, you listen.

Here is my Pissaladiere Traditionelle, featuring caramelized onions, anchovies, tomatoes, and kalamata olives ($12). I’ve been reading about pissaladiere lately, and was beyond delighted to find it. To draw a comparison, it’s kind of like a French pizza. Kind of.

It tasted delightful. Now, I am a woman who likes pungent, heavy, salty dishes. While this pissaladiere was ripe with anchovies and olives, all of the flavors melded together to complement each other. No one flavor overpowered the other.

The crust. Oh, the crust. I am in love. I will shout it from the mountains, “I LOVE PISSALADIERE!”. It was thinner than any other I’ve tasted, crisp, and yet still maintained a doughy chew without becoming cracker-y.

I am not one for soggy Neapolitan pizzas like Bacchus makes. No, I am staunchly in the ranks of French pissaladiere. Perfectly cooked throughout, and no sight of sogginess.

This would be a great appetizer to share with a group of people. Or one appetizer if you have very large eyes with a stomach to match.

Albany John ordered the Calamar a la Provençal ($8). Sauteed calamari with tomatoes, garlic, onion, lemon, parsley, and herbs in a white wine reduction.

Who needs fried calamari when you have this? It was a wonderful starter to whet one’s appetite. The lemon came through as a delicate end note, with sweet garlic, tomato, and onion as the primary flavors. Tender, soft, calamari with just the right amount of tooth to them. Some bread to sop up the delicious liquids at the end would have been nice addition. I sopped up some of the broth with my pissaladiere crust.

The Onglet a l’Echalotte ($22) quieted all of my demands for red meat I’d been having throughout the week. It was perfectly seared on the outside and came out wonderfully rare. The texture of the very rare center was akin to sashimi. Light, and almost melting.

I’d been eyeing the steak tartare, but was skeptical of the meat being ground. I was hoping for a chopped beef. It was more of a texture thing to me. Maybe next time I will try the tartare.

The beef was very beefy. I’ll have to ask where they source their meat. It was so full of flavor – I loved it. I normally don’t order been in a restaurant, but The Epicurean is no ordinary restaurant. The Epicurean’s foods are so well flavored, you won’t find yourself looking for salt or pepper. I am a salt fiend, but I never once thought to add anything else.

The Onglet also came with frites. They were well fried – not oily/greasy, very soft and full of potato flavor in the center. They came skin-on, and the skin parts maintained a crispness, but otherwise they were soft fries. I would prefer them to be crispy, but then again, they were delightful as-is. They came sprinkled with what I think was flaked sea salt.

The shallot wine sauce came in a little shot glass in the center. It might not look like much, but it was more than enough. Rich and full of flavor, I found it almost unnecessary given the flavor of the beef.

One of their specials of the day was a salmon dish featuring olives, capers, and cavatappi pasta. Albany John heard “Salmon” and “Capers” and he knew he had to order it. We hadn’t been expecting a pasta dish. We thought the pasta would be on the side, or it would be a piece of salmon over the pasta. However, once Albany John dug in, he found many more square pieces of perfectly cooked salmon throughout the pasta. It ended up being quite a generous serving of pasta, gently covered in a rich sauce.

Now, the salmon. Oh, the salmon. They maintained their shape well, and were cooked just enough to remain tender and soft while being fully cooked. The pasta was not al dente, but just a hair softer, which went well with the texture of the salmon.

And the price of this dish? $15. FIFTEEN DOLLARS. Opening night, and one of their specials was cheaper than all of their entrees (which are very affordably priced). We hadn’t asked and were very pleasantly surprised when we received our bill.

The total for our bill was $83 pre-tax, $89 after tax. It was a wonderful meal. The service was professional yet relaxed and convivial. The food was beyond reproach. These are some of the reasons I love the Epicurean: Meals that are created with passion, served with care.

I feel like a valued guest whenever I am at the Epicurean. Everyone is happy, it’s a good time. You need to visit The Epicurean in Latham Farms. You’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t.

The Epicurean is located in Latham Farms, Latham, NY. They will serve dinner through June 1st, when they will begin lunch service. Brunch service will begin some time after that. Call 518-786-8272 to check hours of operation and to make a reservation.