Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Zaika: An Assault on the Senses

Are you as addicted to Indian food as I am ? The mere mention of Naan, samosas, pakora, mango chutney, curries and biryani make me weak in the knees... not to mention desperately hungry.. .!

I recently went up to Clifton Park and reviewed an Indian restaurant called "Zaika". I was pleasantly surprised - the food was authentic, satisfying and tasty - and the prices incredibly reasonable. See my full review here: http://www.albany.com/capitalregionliving/2010/02/zaika.html#more .

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Food To Cheer Up Any Gloomy Night

I’ve always said that Mexican food is ‘happy food’… and the whole El Loco experience supports my claim. Not only does El Loco serve delicious, authentic food, the atmosphere just seems to shout “good times will be had here”.

This past Friday night Peter and I ventured out in search of some happiness, in the form of food and alcohol - was there any other option but El Loco? No, mi amigo, there was not.
As we entered the building at 465 Madison Avenue in Albany, brightly colored and whimsical décor immediately started to have an effect – this is sooo what was needed…

It was a little later than most Capital Region residents tend to head out to dinner - but there were about half a dozen tables occupied. The hostess seated us in the back, at a nice cozy table perfect for devouring lots of tortilla chips and salsa in relative obscurity...

The drinks were easy: 2 Loco’s Gourmet House Margaritas, on the rocks with salt.. ahhhhh… just the sound of Peter ordering relaxed me.. is that bad? Whatever..
El Loco happens to make one of the best Margaritas around, the menu even states adamantly that “sour mix is never used”. (Warning: they do pack quite the punch, so don’t let the size of the small glass fool you!)
Our drinks were tart and refreshing, and paired with our basket of chips and Salsa Roja, I was fast approaching food euphoria. And our waitress was sweet enough to let us linger and after inquiring twice about whether we were ready to order, simply told us to relax and just let us know when we needed her.

So... the bowl of Salsa Roja was just about empty…thanks to Peter literally drinking from it, (picture that if you will....) so now it was about time to peruse the menu. Being newly “pescatarian”, (vegetarian who eats some fish) narrowed the menu choices down somewhat – but pleasantly there was still a decent amount of choices for us non-meat eating types. After flip-flopping between the Veggie Quesadillas (which Peter declared as a “lame choice” as anyone could make those..) and the Burrito Espinaca con Champiniones I went with the later. The dish translated into a Spinach Burrito with mushrooms, artichoke hearts, and shallots, topped with jack & cheddar cheeses, and served with black beans and Mexican rice, which I ordered with a side of guacamole.

Peter chose the Vegetable Enchiladas Mole Negro; a mix of zucchini, mushrooms, potatoes, peppers and onions, sauteed in mole sauce, wrapped in corn tortillas and covered with more mole and cheese. His dinner was also served with black beans and Mexican rice.

Both dishes it turned out were pure comfort food. It was hard not to feel good while cheese oozed out of my burrito and got all over everything, including me, while the spinach inevitably got caught in my teeth. The combination of spinach and mushrooms was a real winner, hearty and satisfying enough to make me not miss the meat. And the cheeses.. well, that’s always the icing on the cake, isn’t it?

Peter’s dish was just as consoling and fulfilling. The mix of veggies provided a combination of textures both crunchy and soft, and the complex, authentic mole sauce nicely kept the rich cheese in check. Again, our waitress let us take our time - we slowly savored every bite and every sip.

All of this paired with two more Margaritas and I think we managed to turn the night around to some degree. Olé!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Jack's Oyster House - Still Good After All These Years

The next restaurant review is live kids... check out it out here. I got to visit an Albany institution, Jack's Oyster House.
...Did I mention how much I love this gig? And this dining experience was truly a pleasure...
Have you been recently? What did you think?