At the end of last year, I won a special prize. I won the honor of being the best new commenter on Kristi Gustafson’s “On The Edge” blog, a potpourri-style blog that deals with anything from style and fashion to local events. It’s a fun local blog that has a tremendous (almost alarming) following, and it was only natural that I would meld with the majority of other readers and contribute to her community by commenting.
A list of the prizes (more-or-less $50 gift cards at area restaurants) that would be awarded for all of the winners was given in advance, but how each prize was allocated to the winners was not. I had to wait one week after finding out that I won to see what exactly I had won. Within that week, I started obsessing over the Bombers gift card. This was mainly because I had Bombers Schenectady in my cross-hairs for a future derryX Dines, but also because $50 at Bombers can get you pretty far; that’s like five trips for me, since nothing I’d order is over $10.
When the individual prizes were announced, after smashing through my kitchen table in a rage, I started looking into just how I would utilize a $50 gift card at one of Angelo Mazzone’s establishments. Cassie and I talked about it, and it was decided that I needed to try out Angelo’s 677 Prime. After browsing the menu online, we decided to make it our Valentines destination, after confirming with restaurant staff that the standard menu would be available on that day (as opposed to just a prix fixe menu).
So on Valentines Day, we hopped in the car and headed downtown. Angelo’s 677 Prime is located at 677 Broadway in Albany, NY, and it’s in a spot where you are kind of either stuck using their valet parking, looking for a street park a few blocks away, or paying for parking in a garage nearby. We opted to use the valet since it wasn’t that expensive and was the windiest day in recent history. When we got inside, a hostess checked our coats while I took in the ambiance. For the style dining this place offers, I was honestly amazed at how loud it was. In the front is a bar area that is apparently super-popular. We were taken to our table far away from the bar area, and Cassie was given a complimentary rose. Very cute.
I flipped through the wine menu. For someone like me, who only really knows Tuscan wines, I was overwhelmed. Once I found the Italian wines, it took me a few minutes to decide on a bottle. I had a bit of trouble finding a wine I felt was priced appropriately, but I did find a 2007 Vino Noble di Montepulciano that I was eager to try. In relative terms, this wine was priced 50% lower than the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines, and, after enjoying it, I would say it was a bargain. I have had a few of the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines that were on the menu, and I would put this one up against any of those. Sometimes, folks, it pays to think outside the box and take a chance on something. They pour the entire bottle into a decanter, which allowed the wine to breathe and oxidize nicely.
I had decided what I was eating before reservations were made, but there was a debate over what we should get for appetizers. We settled on American Kobe steak on a hot river rock. This was a fun dish. As you can see, the steak is sliced thinly. You toss it on the rock for a few seconds, dip it in the ponzu or burbon soy sauces, add some slaw and mangia! It was very tender and tasty.
We also ordered the Prime sushi platter from the raw bar. My loyal readers know that if I see sushi on a menu where it shouldn’t be (case in point), I always order it. Their platter contained the following three rolls: Spicy tuna (ginger chili sauce, wasabi sesame seed & tempura flake), 2 Crab California Roll (jumbo lump crab, surimi, avocado, tobiko & cucumber), and Tempura Shrimp Roll (asparagus, bibb lettuce, sweet garlic pepper sauce). What was in the rolls and on top of the rolls was great. The rice, on the other hand, was extremely mushy and lacked the feeling and taste of sushi rice. It wasn’t completely horrible, but I would refrain from ordering this in the future; this wasn’t completely unexpected.
This was a plentiful start to the remainder of the meal…