Monday, January 4, 2016

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


GRAND OPENING

Chester's Smokehouse has scheduled an official grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony. The festivities will take place at 11 a.m. Tuesday, February, 2. Attendees will be able to taste any of the more than 80 house-made meats and house-smoked cheeses available for sale. Chester's, a European-style deli and butcher, is located at 15 Watervliet Avenue, Albany. It is owned by Chester Rozycki. Phone: 650-6642.

OPENING

• A local grocer has opened a restaurant featuring dishes from around the Indian subcontinent, replacing a long-running Indian restaurant in downtown Albany. Shagorika has opened in the 1 Central Avenue space that for many years was home to the restaurant Gandhi. The new venture is owned by Mohammed Faroque, a native of Bangladesh who also owns the grocery Amina Bangla Bazaar at 21 Central. Shagorika features dishes from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. (Ignore the dishes listed on the website. They apparently are for design purposes only.) In an interview with Blogging the Avenue, Faroque said, "I asked people from my community what they are missing, and they say 'homestyle food'."  He is offering low-cost dishes, including a lunch special that will allow people to order anything on the menu for $5. "I don't want to do a buffet, but they can fill a container for $5," he said. Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to 10 p.m. Sunday. Phone: 465-7777.

TIPPING

Davidson Brothers Restaurant and Brewery is jumping on the no-tipping bandwagon. The venue, located at 184 Glen Street in Glens Falls, is adding an 18% surcharge in the dining room -- which, some may argue, is the same as tipping from a consumer's point of view -- while servers will be paid both an hourly wage and a commission based on sales. The restaurant, which this year will mark its 20th anniversary, is owned by Rick and John Davidson. Says Rick, "The bottom line was for our own economic survival, this has to happen. It’s one way and the only way that will benefit our customers and our employees.”

COMPETING

• The Pizza Hut chain today debuted a "$5 Flavor Menu," a seven-item lineup that includes medium one-topping pizzas, eight boneless wings, pasta, a double order of breadsticks or flavor sticks, a chocolate chip cookie pizza, brownies, and four Pepsi beverages. They cost $5 each when two or more items are ordered. Jeff Fox, the company's chief brand and concept officer, told Business Insider, “Most consumers have tried some of our items, but they haven’t tried them all in combination.” The new menu is part of a wider effort by Pizza Hut to boost value options at the chain. It recently added a deal that includes two medium pizzas for $6.99 each.

MAC-AND-CHEESING

• The event is more than a month away, but tickets have gone on sale for the 7th annual Mac-n-Cheese Bowl, sponsored by timesunion.com/Table Hopping. The competition anmd tasting is a fundraiser for the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, and one of my favorite judging gigs each year. This year, the Bowl is set for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, February 20, at the Marcelle Athletic Complex (MAC) at Siena College in Loudonville. It annually features 30 local restaurants' variations on pasta and cheese, and it typically attracts more than 2,000 attendees. Chefs or restaurateurs wishing to participate or get details on the event may e-mail Jessica Tanner at the food bank. There will be two admission times, 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Ticket, available at all Price Chopper locations, are $20 ($5 for kids ages 5 to 12, free for younger than 5). Price Chopper tickets, which will be good for admission at either time, will be capped at 2,000; any tickets beyond that will sold at the food bank’s Latham headquarters (965 Albany-Shaker Road, near Route 7) and will be good for admission at 12:30 p.m. only.

DEVELOPING

• This sounds like an interesting project -- an Asian tapas called TapAsia. It's under development at 227 Lark Street in Albany, in the basement space that used to be home to the eatery Flow from the Garden, downstairs from the coffeehouse The Brakes. According to the Times Union, it's owned by Natalie Warner who told a meeting of the Center Square Association that she will serve small plates for lunch and dinner daily. No details have been posted on the Facebook page or website at this point.

• The Blue Flower Thai Restaurant is under development in the 144 Washington Avenue, Albany. That entity was registered with the state as a limited liability corporation on September 21, 2015. The address was the longtime home of the original El Mariachi restaurant, which has gone from a high point of three venues to a single one, on Hamilton Street in Albany.

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