Revisited: New World Bistro Bar – Albany, NY

In my book, New World Bistro Bar in Albany is a cool place. Part of it has to do with my affinity for the name, but I’ve had a couple of decent meals there (derryX Dines, Prix Fixe NYE 2011).

After being on a several week burger bender and getting a number of recommendations for New World’s burger from numerous people including Michelle Hines Abram, a capital region PR professional who has a deep love for food as well as tremendous experience in the industry, I started to get curious about the burger. I took to facebook and asked what was so special about the $15 burger. After getting a bunch of very unhelpful “it’s awesome” responses, Ric Orlando himself responded, “Northeast Family Farms Grassfed Beef—Le Bus Broiche Roll, peppered bacon, chipotle aioli, grilled red onion, local tomato–drool!”

That was my kick in the ass to get down there to try it.

We had a reservation on a Friday evening, and we were promptly seated in an area near the bar. My chair was right at the top of a short staircase, and everyone who came up the stairs seemed to lean over me as they got up the stairs. It was a little awkward, but, with the exception of the lower level in the back, most of the seating is what I’d consider a little awkward.

I looked over the menu, and I found the burger deluxe buried under the Sandwich portion of the menu, probably where it belongs.

I really had to put my blinders on and focus on this page only because I was so close to changing my mind. Everything sounds great there (except a few of the seitan dishes, but I totally get it.). I did have to look at the drink portion of the menu.

And, in a twist of irony, I thought I picked a drink I had never tried before, the New Fashioned, but, as it turns out, I had ordered that on New Years Eve. I didn’t realize that until I tried it and said, “this tastes familiar,” at which point I used my smart cellular device to verify that it was the same drink. The memory is not what it used to be, folks.

The drink was awesome. The people tending the bar are able to make a very complex drink but retain the classic “old fashioned” feeling.

There was a young kid walking around putting rolls on peoples’ plates.

After taking a few sips of my drink, the server brought over a pair of cute chopsticks, because, naturally, I had ordered a couple of appetizers.

I was in the mood for something extremely spicy, and, being in the right place and understanding the star rating system, I went for the spiciest appetizer on the menu: coming in at 9 stars, PURPLE HAZE SHRIMP with ginger, habanero, pineapple, red cabbage – $10.

The shrimp were perfectly cooked, and the sauce was delicious and sweet but not very spicy, which was somewhat of a disappointment. After a few moments, our server came to check on me, and even she was surprised that I wasn’t wincing from the unbearable heat. In contrast with my experience with their tie dye pie, which is spiced with the same purple haze sauce, this was a walk in the park.

That’s fine though. The next appetizer I tried, CAGE PAN BLACKENED STRING BEANSdouble mustard creole remoulade, 6 stars – $6 for a personal serving, had just the spice I was looking for.

These have come highly recommended. This is a case where all of the hype is justified. These were amazing. There was a perfect char on the exterior, and the spice from the jerk seasoning that was blackened onto the string beans was powerful, complex, and very tasty. The remoulade added some additional tang and creaminess, and the string beans were cooked just right; they weren’t soggy and miserable, and they didn’t squeak as I bit through them.

Our server came again to check on us, and she was surprised to find out that I thought these were spicier than the shrimp. I was surprised too…

After they cleared the table of the appetizers, they brought some ketchup. It’s not homemade, but I guess it’s safe to stay away from the foodie bullshit backlash against homemade ketchup. While I like Heinz ketchup just as much as the next guy, I’m all about tasting creativity, and I’m sure New World could come up with something tantalizing that challenges the taste buds. This topic is irrelevant to the matter at hand because I didn’t even use the ketchup.

Hey. At least it’s organic…

The ketchup at the table was the cue that the main course was on its way.

The burger arrived at the table, and it looked fabulous. I tasted a fry and was indifferent, and I was a little bothered by the white tomatoes that were plated on the dish at the peak of tomato season, but I was still excited to cut into the burger.

To my delight, the burger was cooked perfectly medium rare. The cheese was nicely melted over the top, and the onion had some good caramelization. I added the veggies served along side to the burger and dug in. The seasoning on the meat was spot on, it really helped to showcase the quality of the meat, which was the clear star of the sandwich (as it should be). The brioche bun was a great touch; it was able to soak up all of the juiciness that was ready to leave the burger upon biting it, and all that juiciness is flavor.

The burger deluxe definitely holds a spot among some of the great burgers in Albany, and those ranks also include Capital City Gastropub, dP, and City Beer Hall.

Cassie had her heart set on dessert after overhearing a server tell a nearby table what the ice cream sandwich of the day was.

I honestly don’t remember the details, but it had some marshmallow brulee and sugar cookies. I tasted it; it was awesome!

I, on the other hand, thought it would be fun to see how they prepare their tiramisu. I asked the server what was special about it, and she thought they used a special cake that wasn’t lady finger cookies.

The tiramisu tasted awesome. It was definitely made with lady fingers, which I pointed out to the server who went to the kitchen to get to the bottom of what made theirs unique. While that was happening, I was enjoying dessert. I liked that the cookies were soaked just right and had texture left to them. The espresso flavor was strong and there was a nice tinge of liqueur. The berries were a nice touch, but they were scant.

By the time I had finished, she returned and verified that lady finger cookies were used, but that they soak them ever so lightly in the espresso and liqueur. I already figured all that out, and let her know it was great and rivaled my own.

The menu is evolving through the seasons, and there’s so much more of it to explore! I can’t wait to go back.


7 thoughts on “Revisited: New World Bistro Bar – Albany, NY

  • kriskaten

    looks like an awesome meal! however, i would have been really disappointed about the tomato. a WHITE tomato at a place like this is kind of disgraceful. even in february, there are campari tomatos that you can purchase just as red and ripe as summer ones.

  • -R.

    Not to hold your feet to the fire (and I realize it’s all a matter of personal taste), but in your opinion what burger reigns supreme among the pantheon of great area burgers? I’m thinking the dp burger would get the nod, but I haven’t tried the NWBB burger (yet). The City Beer Hall burger is good, but not in the same league as the dp burger (for me…there’s something magical about truffles/truffle oil).

    • derryX

      It’s not an easy question to answer.

      The dP burger really is as luxurious a burger as you’re gonna get around here. Truffles and foie gras aren’t for everybody, so, removing that from the equation, I’d say the beef used and the individual standards at each restaurant will dictate the experience. At places like dP, New World, and the Gastropub, the quality of the meat is top notch and I’m comfortable that it’ll come from the kitchen prepared at the right temperature. If not, I’m comfortable that I can send it back and they’ll correct it, no questions asked. City Beer Hall uses the same type of beef as the gastropub, but I’ve found they go a little further than I like for a med rare; I also think they can use better bread. So I think I’m in agreement that city beer hall’s isn’t quite up to the standard of the rest. That said, for the price, it’s a great deal!

      One thing I’d like you to look out for is the new burgers that Mingle will be serving. I actually sat down this past Tuesday night and enjoyed the Asian Burger with one of the owners. They’ve been working with Tildale Farms to get grass fed burgers on the menu. The beef was outstanding, and the way the beef is prepared and cooked was absolutely delicious. I plan on giving some more info once the owner sends me the updated menu. I’d put it right into the pantheon of excellent burgers at places like gastropub, dP, and New World, and I’d really like to hear your opinion on it.

      Also, Gastropub is now offering half price burgers on Wednesdays, which is ridiculous in an awesome way.

      PS – Truffle oils can be nasty, nasty stuff. Please be careful.

  • Valerae

    You know we love our NWBB! I did get the tiramisu on your recommendations (not that you ever have to twist my arm on tiramisu), but Drew has never been a fan – until he tried it at NWBB.

    We can’t afford it every week, but the bar is a fun place to hang out on a Friday evening after work. You can eat when they start serving food and it’s fun to chat up the bartenders before it gets busy. On the occasions when we’ve had a table my hope is to be in Brian’s section – he’s one of the best waiters in this area. I adore him as much as Jonathan at the Wine Bar.

  • Dora

    Happily, you can get the CAGE seasoning at New World. I have only a little left in my pantry… : ) Cast iron fry pan, evoo, butter or bacon fat (depending on the day), veggies/potatoes or protein and some hot pan shaking turn out an awesome dish. Have you tried New World Home Cooking on Rt. 212 in Saugerties/Woodstock ? Different vibe, worth the drive. The Woodstock folk think we can’t handle the NNBB. Bah.


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