It is a very rare thing that I make a trek to downtown Albany to eat. There are plenty of fine eateries in the areas surrounding Albany. Since a friend from out of town was visiting, and we had a later engagement downtown, we decided to eat at Justin’s on Lark. I was kind of reluctant due to the fact that I have eaten there before and had what could easily have been the worst sweet potato fries of my life there.

The restaurant is owned by John DeJohn, who is known to be a tough guy.

So, we got a table there and looked over the drinks menu. There was no beer menu at the table, so when I asked the waitress what they had, she picked up a beer menu. There was a decent selection of domestic beers, most notably the whole line of Ommegang beverages. I ordered an original Ommegang Abbey Ale, and the waitress brought me this:

Ommegang Witte

I was starting to get angry because I really wanted the Abbey Ale and not the wheat beer. When I told the waitress she brought me the wrong thing, she was reluctant to go get the right thing, so I just told her to leave it. Whatever. This didn’t bode well.

For dinner, I ordered the jerk chicken. There was a cute statement about seasonal vegetables as a side dish, so, just for history to not repeat itself, I asked what this meant, and the waitress responded “cauliflower” to which I said “yea, leave it off.”

Jerk Chicken with black beans and rice

Right before she brought out the meals, the server turned the lights all the way down, which is actually a small peeve of mine. It made this extremely difficult to eat. As you can probably tell from the picture, the dish was half of a chicken served as two quarters on the bone. As I kept trying to eat this in the dark and not bite into bone, my body filled with rage as I was unsuccessful.

As I was eating, the adrenaline was really rushing. I was enjoying the flavor of the chicken, but having a lot of difficulty eating it. The black beans were decent, but the rice was overcooked and wet. This made me even more angry.

Cassie ordered a special salmon dish, and described her salmon as “one of the better encrusted salmons <she’s> had even though it looked burnt and was too small.” If you would have seen the portion, it probably would have made you upset for what they were charging.

Overall, I’d chalk this up as a thumbs down. When you couple the frustration with the server not really knowing what was going on with the shortcomings of the menu and dining experience, the natural reaction is rage. Would it be banal for me to challenge John DeJohn to a fight after this experience?


5 Comments for this entry

  • Sue says:

    I’m going to an OTE meetup at Justin’s next month; this bums me out.

    • Cassie says:

      Sue – If you’re up by the bar and just ordering drinks and appetizers, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. The bar is good and their appetizers are yummy.

  • Leigh says:

    Justin’s used to be our number one “go-to” spot but the quality of the food and the service have been going steadily downhill for a while now. We actual had a server a few weeks ago who said, “HI! My name is [Server] and I’ll be your waiter today!” Not exactly a “fine dining” introduction. Also, it’s disappointing to me that their menu almost never changes. Even the things they used to do really well are slipping lately. I’m more likely to just do drinks there, if anything.

    If you’re in the Lark area, DeJohn’s is a much better bet. The staff is warm and helpful and pretty much every aspect of the experience (food, drinks, service) is superior to Justin’s.

  • Rob says:

    At least she brought you something good by mistake!

    • derryX says:

      Agreed, but I really had my heart set on the nice dark Abbey ale to pair with the chicken. I guess the Witte goes with the lemon they randomly garnished my dish with.

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