Friday, February 5, 2016

Epicurean cartoonery

Go here for the Capital Region Food & Drink Events Calendar.

Today's ride on the Capital Region Foodie-Go-Round


• The Old Country Buffet chain is on a diet. The brand, owned by Ovation Brands of Greer, SC, on Thursday closed 74 of its "underperforming" restaurants operating under several names, including one at 555 Hubbard Avenue in Pittsfield, MA. And, apparently the folks who took over the company last August didn't feel like giving their employees advance notice. A sign posted on the Old Country front door there said, "To team members at this location, we regret to inform you that this location has been closed permanently. Please see the visiting manager for exit paperwork, along with monies due to you. We do encourage and invite you to reapply at one of the nearby Ovation Brands restaurants. Thank you for your time and for your understanding. If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at Thank you." Ovation Brands, formerly Buffets Inc., has undergone several bankruptcies in recent years, closing 80 restaurants in 2012. It still operates more than 300 venues under the Old Country, Fire Mountain, and HomeTown Buffet names in 35 states. The Old Country at 2320 Watt Street in Schenectady and the HomeTown Buffets at 994 Hudson River Road in Mechanicviand 3565 Route 20 in Nassau apparently were not affected.


• Vince George, former longtime manager of the Indian restaurant Karavalli in Latham, and two partners this week opened Bombay Royale in Northampton, MA. George, Lee restaurateur Pramod Warriar (Bombay), and Vargheese Athimootil are behind the downtown venture, located at 52 Crafts Avenue in One Roundhouse Plaza. Its huge menu offers a wide variety of regional Indian dishes. A buffet meal option is offered weekdays from noon to 2:30 p.m. and weekends from noon to 3 p.m. Phone:  (413) 341-3537.


• Dan Nilsson, chef-owner of the Scandinavian restaurant DA/BA in Hudson, has died, apparently at his own hand. His death on Wednesday was confirmed by a State Police spokesperson. Nillson had appeared on the Food Network competition series "Guy's Grocery Games" in 2014.
Go here for the Capital Region Food & Drink Events Calendar.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Last of the Mingles bites the dust

SARATOGA SPRINGS -- If you want to Mingle, it's going to be difficult. The second of two restaurants incorporating that name has closed.

Mingle On the Avenue, which operated for about 1½ years in the Pavilion Grand Hotel at 30 Lake Avenue, officially closed on Sunday. The original Mingle's closed its Albany location last April after just 3½ years.  In a statement released to media, the hotel's owners said, "We are working to establish a new restaurant concept for this space which will serve the needs of our valued guests.”

The brief history of Mingle has been at best tumultous. Brian Bowden, the founding chef at the Saratoga venue, left less than a year into the venture. Owner Jose Filomeno's mother, the locally well-known chef Un-Hui Filomeno who had been head chef at the Albany location, took over the kitchen.

In her new role, Filomeno worked with Brady Dillon who had joined the restaurant after leaving his role as head chef at The Merry Monk. However, he quickly departed to become sous chef at the new Hamlet & Ghost cocktail venue co-owned by his brother, Brendan Dillon, at 24 Caroline Street.

The Filomenos had worked together at the restaurant Avenue A, and she also had worked at The Ginger Man, both in Albany.
Go here for the Capital Region Food & Drink Events Calendar.

Firehouse Chili Cook-off returns this Saturday

TROY -- This weekend is shaping up as a great one for lovers of comfort foods.

In addition to the Saratoga Springs Chowderfest and the Ballston Spa Chocolate Fest I wrote about earlier, those of you with a yearning for something a bit hotter can take in the 6th annual Firehouse Chili Cook-off.

The event is scheduled for 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday at Brown's Revolution Hall on River Street, just north of the Green Island Bridge.

The competition is exclusively for firehouse cooks, with proceeds from the event going to The Burn Center and the Fireman's Home. Tickets are $10 per person. Last year's competition raised $3,700.
Go here for the Capital Region Food & Drink Events Calendar.

Check the region's top food-and-drinks events calendar

Are you sometimes overwhelmed trying to keep up with the tsunami of  information on food and beverage events in the greater Capital Region?

If so, you probably haven't been taking advantage of my Capital Region Food & Drink Events Calendar, arguably the most thorough and live-linked compilation of events involving, well, food and drink. It even has a subsection dealing with cooking classes both for adults and for kids.

If you're not already checking out the calendar on a daily basis, it might be helpful to acquire the habit by bookmarking it so you're always fully informed on upcoming events of all sorts.

And, if you're part of a business or organization putting together an event, don't forget to let us know well in advance so we can publicize it.


Today's ride on the Capital Region Foodie-Go-Round


• There's a new Sunday brunch possibility in Albany. But, it comes at the cost of a dinner service that same day. The Capital City Gastropub is dropping its Sunday dinner service in favor of offering brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Sunday. A few menu items: eggs Benedict; a smoked trout board with dressed greens, black pepper creme fraiche, caperberries, lemon, and grilled bread, and several burgers including a smoked mushroom and bean burger and a gastroburger with cheddar, crisp BBQ pork belly, fried egg, house pickles, lettuce, roasted garlic aioli, and a side of fries. The pub is located at 261 New Scotland Avenue. Phone: 360-2073.


• Another year, another dollar. In 2008, the Subway chain introduced its occasional "$5 Footlong" offer that helped it sell a whole lotta sandwiches. The offer resumed today, but now it's a $6 Footlong." The offer will run through the end of this month. The chain’s classic varieties, including the Italian B.M.T., the Subway Club, the Steak & Cheese, and the Chicken & Bacon Ranch Melt all be priced at $6 -- unless you happen to be at a Subway in Hawaii or Alaska. If you are, the offer is not in effect.


Menu additions at chain restaurants operating in the greater Capital Region.

P.F. Chang's China Bistro -- Long Life Noodles & Prawns, pictured (fried garlic prawns with egg noodles and roasted chiles wok-tossed with preserved black beans and scallions, $14.95), Butternut Squash Dumplings (dumplings filled with butternut squash and butter sauce, $7.50), Hong Kong Style Sea Bass (Chilean sea bass steamed and seasoned with ginger, served over an Asian mushroom medley, asparagus and grape tomatoes with ginger-coriander broth, $26.95), Sichuan Chili-Garlic Chicken (lightly fried and thinly sliced chicken breast seasoned in a chile-garlic glaze and topped with red chile peppers, scallions and bean sprouts, $16.50), Mandarin Cake (light orange sponge cake infused with creamy vanilla sauce and topped with mint and orange slices, $6.50), Monkey Mule (celebrating the Year of the Monkey with Monkey Shoulder Whisky mixed with housemade ginger beer and peach syrup, garnished with an orange twist, $10). All items available through February.

Baskin-Robbins -- Flavor of the month: Chocolate Hazelnut ice cream (chocolate ice cream swirled with hazelnuts and covered with chocolate-flavored coating and a hazelnut-cookie fudge ribbon; price varies by size and location).
Go here for the Capital Region Food & Drink Events Calendar.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Epicurean cartoonery

Go here for the Capital Region Food & Drink Events Calendar.

Troy's Bootleggers working out deal with SLA to reopen

TROY -- Bootleggers On Broadway appears to be on its way back.

The restaurant, located downtown at 200 Broadway, closed in December after its alcoholic beverage license was suspended following a raid by various agencies found about 175 underaged patrons.

Now, according to a report posted today on, a deal is being worked out between the State Liquor Authority (SLA) and Bootleggers' attorney James D. Linnan. It would call for payment of a $15,000 fine to receive permission to reopen. The matter will be heard by the SLA board at its February 16 meeting, according to an authority spokesperson.

The same report says Bootleggers also would agree to plead no contest to charges of 53 sales to minors, including 14 to people age 18 or younger, and one count of failure to keep books and records on the premises. Part of the deal also would require it to discontinue its college night and similar promotions, and begin use scanning devices for IDs.
Go here for the Capital Region Food & Drink Events Calendar.

'Chocolate Fest' this Friday in Ballston Spa

BALLSTON SPA -- The 3rd annual "Chocolate Fest" will give visitors an opportunity to both sample sweet treats and vote on their favorites.

The event, sponsored by the Ballston Spa Business and Professional Association as part of its "First Fridays" series of promotional events, will run from 6 to 9 p.m. this Friday. It will feature 14 chocolate specialties around the village. The public can pick up a ballot at any participating venue.

The festival also will include art exhibits, sales, and  children's activities at the Ballston Area Chamber of Commerce. Full details on a venue-by-venue basis are available online.
Go here for the Capital Region Food & Drink Events Calendar.

Today's ride on the Capital Region Foodie-Go-Round


• Hudson Harbor Steak and Seafood normally is closed on Sunday. But, for Valentine's Day owner-chef Stan Lamphere will be in the kitchen preparing dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. Hudson Harbor is located at 351 Broadway in Albany, adjacent to the SUNY headquarters. Its 19th Century building once was home to the Hudson River Day Line that cruised between the city and New York Harbor. Phone: 426-5000.


• The Adirondack Winery & Tasting Room is planning a "Locavore Weekend" for February 20-21. Visitors purchasing a tasting of the facility's wines will be offered a complimentary variety of locally-made food products such as cheeses, crackers, jellies, spreads and more. All food products will be available for purchase at a 10% discount. Adirondack Winery is located at 285 Canada Street in Lake George. Phone: 668-9463.


• Chipotle is beginning its long road back to respectability after a series of food-borne illnesses cropped up at some of its restaurants. On Monday, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared an end to the investigation into e. coli outbreaks at Chipotle without determining a cause for the food poisoning that sickened about 60 people in 14 states. Today, Nation's Restaurant News reports, "Wall Street analysts warned of a tough road ahead for Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. ... despite attempts by company executives to focus on plans to entice customers back to restaurants with a 'near zero' risk of food-borne illness. ... Chipotle founder, chairman and co-CEO Steve Ells [said] same-store sales slid 14.6% percent" for the quarter that ended on December 31. Same-store sales declined even further in January, with a 36% drop.
Go here for the Capital Region Food & Drink Events Calendar.