I really don’t like being teased.
When news broke that the owners and chef from The Wine Bar and Bistro on Lark, a place that I adore, were opening a gastropub-style restaurant, I was pumped. I first read about it along with the menu on Tablehopping.
Once the place actually opened, some time in mid September, the local media outlets like Tablehopping and All Over Albany started posting pictures of the food. It was like dangling a raw steak in front of a hungry dog. This picture, linked from Tablehopping, made things even worse
I don’t eat hot dogs often, but when they look this good, I have to try them. And when they are made from Waygu beef, I NEED to try them.
So in the third week that they were open, I made my trip. It was a grueling three weeks!
Ohh, and this happened on the way there. Teases Teases.
We arrived at the Gastropub, located at 261 New Scotland Ave. in Albany, just after they opened on a Saturday evening and were the only table in the restaurant.
I knew I was getting the hot dogs, but didn’t know what else to get from the menu. It doesn’t seem like it, but there are many different types of things you can order. I was determined to order one thing from street food, one thing from French classics, and one from charcuiterie.
But first, I started with a beer. Reckoning Porter made by Troegs, a trustworthy craft brewery.
The first thing to arrive was the charcuterie. I ordered guanciale, which is the cured jowl of a pig. It’s fatty goodness not unlike pancetta or bacon. It was served on a warm plate.
I thought the service with mustard, caper berry, and cornichon was a fun nod to the charcuterie platter they serve at The Wine Bar on Lark. I can’t say I’m completely on board with grainy mustard as an accompaniment to the guanciale, but I was a huge fan of this being served above room temperature. Cured, fatty, meat in purest form. Excellent.
My hot dogs arrived simultaneously with the poutine Cassie ordered.
You will notice my hot dogs look very different from the hot dogs on Tablehopping. I really don’t understand this completely, but I didn’t mind the lettuce at all. The tomato and onion relish, which was served on the side in the Tablehopping picture, was nicely applied to the rolls. The hot dog itself was juicy and delicious. The pickle along the dog added some good crunch. I didn’t really get much from the mustard or the lettuce, but the rocket peppers really shot this dish to another dimension. They were very spicy, but it was a quick heat that dissipates fast, especially with a nice sip of beer. In fact, I would call a major draw of this restaurant this dish. For $11, you and a friend can each have a hot dog while enjoying a beer. I ate both, but was totally full after that. Nevermind that there was also Cassie’s poutine on the table, which I, of course had to try.
The poutine was close to perfect. Crispy fries, sweet and deeply flavored duck gravy, chives. The cheese was not the best it could be. It honestly seemed like a shredded cheese that completely melted to the bottom of the plate in areas, not chunks of cheddar curds like we expected. It tasted fine. We asked our server what kind of cheese it was, and her reply was squeeky cheese. We got a chuckle from that, so I guess it was worth using it in the dish.
By that time, I ran out of beer. Actually, I probably ran out earlier because of those peppers, but, man, were they good! I ordered a Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale. Another popular beer from a trustworthy craft source.
And I’ll point out the trend you might not have picked up. The beers they have are solid selections, all reasonable craft beers.
Lets stop for a second. I was already stuffed by this point. I still had a duck leg coming.
This dish was well crafted and executed. Each bite of the duck melted as I ate it. It was served beside a sweet orange relish that really helped to balance the salty and fatty goodness of the duck leg meat. The warm potato and fennel salad was also delightful. I normally expect dishes that contain fennel to be totally overpowering, but this was a case where the fennel aroma and taste was subtle and worked perfectly. I could have done without so many chives as a garnish; you can see it was a little much in the image above.
The beauty of this whole thing is that all of this exploration including Cassie’s braised bison short ribs (not pictured above), a glass of prosecco and dessert (from Crisan – also not pictured), was under $100.
Now, I don’t know which place I like better.
Wine Bar or Gastropub.
It’s a good thing the same team is responsible for both.