Thursday, February 21, 2013

Another Round of the Classic General Tso's Chicken

Not to long ago we had a discussion on General Tso's Chicken from Spring Garden in Troy. The incident involved me ingesting one of the spicy chili peppers included in the dish. As I remember it now, I was scarred. I've left that behind me now, it's a dark phantom of my past.

Moving on from that time, I decided to go out and get another round of the classic General Tso's Chicken. Again after much research and focus I decided to try Plum Blossom in Troy. This time I will say I found it more than satisfactory, it was great. The chicken had a mild kick to it, but it wasn't too overwhelming this time.

This was just a takeout order however and I did not get the chance to sit down and enjoy myself there, which I've heard is a great place to acutally go to for chinese here in the Capital Region. So if you're ever looking for a good General Tso's, you now know where to go.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Albany's Old Toll Gate

On a recent drive along Route 85 through Slingerlands I decided to chase away the winter blues by lunching at one of my favorite summertime destinations.  No trip to Thacher Park and the Indian Ladder Trail is complete without stopping at Toll Gate Restaurant & Ice Cream, which is open year round. My first trip there was when I was 16 with my high school sweetie as we ventured to the local mountainside known as the Helderberg Escarpment. I’m sure we sipped a milkshake with two straws. A very Norman Rockwell date.

While I actually passed on homemade ice cream on this trip (it was lunch alone for starters, so getting crazy with sundaes is a bit over the top), I would typically make a game time decision on the flavor and get it as a to-go cone. When it comes to my meal though, it’s the same thing every time – the Grilled Cheese Burger. This bit of deliciousness is a grilled cheese sandwich stuffed with a hamburger patty. I know what you are thinking, “what’s the difference between a cheeseburger and a grilled cheese burger?” Because you can taste both, the grilled cheese and the burger.

One of the greatest restaurant destinations in the Capital Region. If you haven’t been there, it’s because you clearly don’t know what the Helderbergs are, or how to get on Route 85.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

I know where I’ll be “Parking” it come summer time

First things first, Average Joe needs to thank Brad Stevens’ mother.  For without her we would never have discovered her son.  Brad Stevens, owner of Park Pub and B-Rads Bistro & Catering, has revitalized the collar-city’s menus and made dining in Troy anything but Average.   

My experience at Park Pub was phenomenal.  I was looking forward to taking Average Mom out to dinner because I’m a great kid, but I was stumped on a place we hadn’t recently tried. She suggested we try Park Pub, just another reason Mom is always right. 

In the midst of the recent cold spell, Average Mom and I both opted to have soup.  She had the quintessential park-fare staple, French onion, while I stepped out of my comfort zone and tried the Chick Parmesan soup.  The soup came out right away and even though I doubted the soup’s ability to really taste like chicken Parmesan, it did.  The tomato-based soup had chunks of vine-ripened tomatoes, pieces of tender chicken and was covered with mozzarella cheese.  The surprise was digging into the cup to find a piece of bread that balanced the flavors perfectly.

At the recommendation of a co-worker we also tried the green bean fries.  Served with a tiger-dipping sauce the serving size was more than generous.  The breading didn’t fall apart at first touch like some fried foods and the beans managed to keep their snap upon biting into them. 

Average Mom and I split the turkey club with sweet potato fries, and WOW.  Club sandwiches can be ordered at a million places between here and the next town, but what made this one different was the crunch of bacon paired with toast that wasn’t soggy or too dry.  The tomato on the sandwich was crunchy yet not too hard to chew through.  The turkey tasted moist and was almost 3 inches thick on the plate.  The colossal stack of sweet potato fries was the perfect end to the meal – crunchy enough on the outside, yet soft and flavorful on the inside. 

I remembered the space as the dimly lit golf course bar next to the ice rink.  It has since been transformed into a warm, family-friendly environment.  The tables were crowded with groups enjoying a pint of beer or glass of wine and the servers were friendly and attentive.  Come summer time when the golf course is packed with players, the outdoor patio will be stacked with patrons, and you can bet that I’ll be one of them.  

Friday, February 1, 2013

You like what? What’s a poutine?

“Well that just sounds dirty” is the reaction that I received when I asked the wife if she liked poutine. “Come on”, I say, “…seriously you’ve NEVER had poutine?” For those of you unaware of this Canadian delight, it’s french fries covered with gravy and cheese curds.

Fast forward one month later and I’m in Montreal with some friends, that’s right another road trip, and I’m sitting down at Reuben’s on St. Catherine Street enjoying Chop Chop Poutine (traditional poutine with the addition of chopped smoked meat). I will not describe anymore, -- simply look at the picture I’ve provided – ‘nough said.

Ok – so now I’m back in the United States and I hear that “Montreal Poutine” has set up shop in Crossgates Mall. I saw the lines that formed at their booth at the Saratoga Track this year. I just never had a chance to try it. So I go to Crossgates and order my poutine with meat. Expectations were very high. The clerk didn’t seem to know the products well, the cook less. I get my poutine order in a small cardboard box. No chop chop here.

 I know they operate other locations going up the Northway. I haven’t had a chance to hit those yet. I will give it a second chance, but until then I’ll have the picture of my Chop Chop Poutine to remember some good times.



(Troy, N.Y.)  Just in time for the big game, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que is introducing delivery services as well as offering two Super Bowl Sunday specials. Both meals are available for delivery or pick-up from the Troy location.

Dinosaur’s delivery service launched this week all specials (including the Super Bowl Sunday specials) and regular meal orders are available from 12 noon – 9 p.m. for customers in a 10 mile radius.  There is a $15 minimum order and a 10% delivery charge (for the driver).  To place an order, simply call (518) 308-0400.

To kick off the delivery program and to celebrate America’s largest unofficial eating holiday, Dinosaur is offering two Super Bowl specials (for both delivery or pick-up):

The Pig & Wings Tailgate Special (feeds 20 guests) includes special cut ribs with jumbo smoked chicken wings. Three homemade sides and cornbread are included. Possible sides include Bar-B-Que Beans, fresh cut fries, mac & cheese, maple whipped sweet potatoes, collard and mustard greens, chopped salad and/or Harlem potato salad.  The Pig & Wings Tailgate Special is available for $229.00.

The Touchdown Special (feeds 8 to 12 guests) includes special cut ribs with bone in chicken (1/2 white, ½ dark). Two homemade sides and cornbread are included. Possible sides include Bar-B-Que Beans, fresh cut fries, mac & cheese, maple whipped sweet potatoes, collard and mustard greens, chopped salad and/or Harlem potato salad.  The Touchdown Special is available for $12.95 per person
Each order comes with disposable pans, paper plates and serving utensils. Call 518-308-0400 or to place an order.