New World Bistro Bar – Albany, NY
Tagline: The New World Order invades the New World Bistro Bar.
Everybody has heard about Ric Orlando, area chef and consultant at New World Bistro Bar in Albany, NY, competed on Food Network’s program Chopped, and even got called up to compete in the Chopped Championship.
Between that tidbit of information and the fact that the name is so close to “New World Order,” it was imperative that I try this place. Couple that with a special event to celebrate, and I was ready to go all out.
Let’s get to it!
New World Bistro Bar (located at 300 Delaware Avenue in Albany, NY) has a unique menu that works on a heat rating system. Basically, if you see a number next to a star, that means the level of spice from 2 to 10; as the waitress explained, 2 is mild and 9-10 is like your habaneros or scotch bonnetts. They also have an extensive bar, focused mainly around wines, but also offering a few microbrews and spirits.
I am not going to lie, whenever I see “Bistro” in the name of a place, I usually stray away from that place. In my opinion, you really do anything more pretentious than include “Bistro” in your restaurant name. Up until this visit, I’ve also never had a completely stellar experience at a “Bistro.”
I opened the menu and really didn’t know what to do. I was dining with Cassie, who does not like spicy food, so I was on the fence about what to do about an appetizer. I ultimately decided to order my own appetizer when I discovered the tie dye pie on the pizza menu. It was described as “Purple haze sauce and 4 cheezes – gooey pain. 9*” I had to order that.
Man was that hot! The crust was not what I expected. It was less of a pizza and more like a cracker, which is consistent with no yeast being in the dough. The sauce was a very sweet and tangy fireball. I would definitely get this again.
For my entree, my eye immediately focused on the New World Jerk Chicken. I was amazed that I had the choice between half of a chicken or chicken breasts. As described on the menu, the dish consisted of “Free Bird Half Bird (the chef’s choice) or Boneless Breasts marinated, grilled, and finished in the oven, plated with coconut peas and rice, Island yams, greens, and plantains. 4* 7* or 10*.”
This is where a miscommunication must have happened. When I read “coconut peas,” I honestly expected green peas (which I normally dislike) with coconut (which I adore). Also, I expected to be served plantains. Didn’t happen, unless it was mashed into the Island yams. Here’s what my dish looked like:
And that’s after I picked off the greens (which I absolutely detest) that I requested not be plated on my dish. As you can see, there was no sign of plantains. There were two hearty chicken breasts covered in jerk seasoning, a pile of rice with kidney beans, and a mound of mashed sweet potatoes.
The chicken was absolutely phenomenal. I ordered 7* and I was coming off the endorphins from the pizza, but the heat level was perfect, and all of the jerk seasonings stood out. The rice was absolutely horrendous. After I removed the layer that was in contact with the minerally greens, I tried the rice and was confused by the texture. It felt like overcooked rice mixed with uncooked rice. There was definitely a coconut flavoring to the rice and many Caribbean islands refer to kidney beans as peas, so I’ll take ownership for that miscommunication. The mashed yams were underwhelming and really didn’t do anything to accent the dish. I’m telling you, some nice fried plantains (notoriously absent from my dish) would have been the perfect accompaniment.
Because I enjoyed my chicken so much, I forgave the rest of that entree travesty for the time being and decided to order dessert. I ordered the Nutella and Marscapone Mousse.
That was pretty amazing. The nice crunchy hazelnuts on top of the mousse was a great counterpoint for the soft, airy mousse.
Despite my strong displeasure for the overall entree experience, I would certainly go back. I would probably try a burger or something next time and not deal with the overly pretentious items, but I’d go back and take over.
Ohh, and I’m still right about having “Bistro” in the name of a restaurant.
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