Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Albany Just Might Be Ready For This Place

Tonight was my fourth visit to the recently opened New World Bistro Bar on what's becoming a transformation of Delaware Ave. in Albany - and thank god - it couldn't have come at a better time... well, maybe it could have come sooner...

Anyway I'm always excited to go here - this restaurant's arrival to the area is like the cool kid arriving at the party - and Albany is the party - and in real need of some coolness.. It's a Tuesday night, and at exactly 5:03, as I'm waiting for my friend T. to show up I witnesses a sudden stream of cars into the parking lot - has no one told these people it's Tuesday??? In Albany?? But I'm not complaining, mind you, I was just a little thrown..

T. arrives and it's a good thing she does, because the crowd continues to grow and the hostess isn't confident she could seat us - but after a second look she manages to find a table for two in the bar area. We gladly take it.

The first thing you notice when walking in the door is the palpable energy - of the staff, the patrons, the walls, the tables and the chairs... perhaps a long-forgotten feeling for diners that eat out regularly in the Capital District - but again, I'm not complaining - it's a welcome change. And the food is good too..

We start off sharing the deviled eggs appetizer - which may seem an odd choice, except that these are made so well, I'll likely order them every time. The filling is spicy - probably the result of the addition of some good Dijon, and they're topped with some fish roe - giving that perfect added texture to what is otherwise a soft and creamy bite. And they go perfectly with my house sparkling wine - a great summer choice, light, dry and crisp. It's listed on the menu as a Paul Cheneau Cava, from Spain. I highly recommend it.
For dinner T. tries the "Evita Peron" pizza - and I have to admit I'm jealous after seeing it arrive to the table - this ultra thin, almost cracker like crust is topped with crumbled “Morcillia”, mozzarella, onions, tomatoes, parsley - and again, makes another fabulous summer menu choice.
As you may have figured out after reading previous blog posts, I'm a sucker for tuna - so I opt for the arugula, beets, manchego and sunflower salad topped with blackened ahi tuna, cooked rare. Terrific.. the greens, tossed with an ultra light vinaigrette, are peppery and light, the beets add some substance and the sunflower seeds provide a nice crunch. And don't even get me started on the tuna - fantastic.. pretty much raw inside, the outside with it's crisp blackened crust is a perfect contrast.
Not only was the food a joy, but the service was attentive without hovering - we were left to enjoy our meal and chat for almost 3 hours - even as we watched people lining up to be seated.
So don't miss this place - it's the shot in the arm Albany's been needing for a long time, and I can only hope that it's success creates an environment where more new, bold and exciting restaurants feel they can make it here, in Albany, home of the chain restaurant. And I think we can handle it.. I really do..

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