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Van's Vietnamese

Food: 5 Forks!     Portion, Flavor, Freshness, Variety - all excellent

Service: 3.75 Forks

Atmosphere: 3.5 Forks

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 Shrimp Fresh Summer Rolls Combo Pho


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Com Thit Nuong (Grilled Pork)

Thai Chicken & Shrimp





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I am a bit back logged on reviews since I've taken a bit of a summer break, but it's time to catch up.   I went to Druthers a few months ago with a friend.

I had experienced their mac and cheese at the past few mac and cheese bowls, so it was on my list of places to go.  Since we were in the area, we stopped by and I of course had to order one of their mac and cheeses (the BBQ Mac and Cheese with pulled pork).  My friend ordered the ugly burger (Gorgonzola, beer cheese, onions, onion rings, bacon and a fried egg)

The mac and cheese was great, a huge portion for a good price.  It wasn't quite as good as I had from them at the last mac and cheese bowl, but still a darn good mac and cheese.  I would definitely order it again, but I would probably try one of their other types first.  Josie liked her burger, but she wasn't sure all the ingredients went together.  The burger was cooked exactly how it was ordered, but the roll was a little burned.

Service was great, even thought place was packed (at 3:00 on a Saturday).  They also have a brewery on site, and I enjoyed both beers I tried (although that isn't really part of this review).  I will definitely be back - 4 forks.

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BBQ Mac and Cheese Ugly Burger



Ali Baba


Ali Baba is located on 15th Street in Troy. It's a small, family owned, Mediterranean style restaurant with a very minimalist decor. I'd heard a lot about this restaurant, so I dragged a friend with me. He already knew about the place and loved the food. In fact, he was surprised I hadn't been. He also threatened me with imminent death if I went anywhere near his lavash bread...

I arrived early, and was seated. The woman looked at me quite strangely, and to this day I'm not sure why. The place was pretty empty, there was only one other occupied table at the time.

My dining companion entered, and we struck a deal on the lavash bread situation. I ordered a starter of 5 of their dips in a mixed plate, which comes with Lavash Bread. Ordering my entree was more difficult. See, their restaurant menu is all pictures. No details on the ingredients. Meanwhile, their online PDF menu lists the ingredients. So, there I was with my smartphone, matching the online menu with the restaurant menu by matching the titles. Meanwhile, my dining companion chided me for not just asking questions. To be honest, I was afraid of a language barrier, and simply decided to take matters into my own hands.

I settled on the Lamb Iskender, which is a yogurt marinated lamb, topped with a tomato sauce. My friend ordered a curry dish (I can't recall if it was beef or lamb).

Our meals were out promptly. I will say that I found a few of the dips to be lacking in salt. The Hummus should have had a more pronounced lemon and salt flavor than it did, but the yogurt sauce that comes with the Lavash Bread was divine.

My Lamb Iskender was very good. At first, I thought there was a lack of seasoning in the dish, even given the yogurt marinade and tomato sauce. Then, I discovered there was additional yogurt sauce beneath the lamb itself. This wasn't mentioned on their menu, but it provided the extra flavor the dish needed. The texture of the meat was also very good, if a little overcooked for my particular taste.

Overall, I give Ali Baba a solid 4 forks. The dish I had, had great flavor, but I felt the dips needed work. I'm also not a fan of having to do investigative work in order to figure out what I might be ordering, only to still be surprised by ingredients in the dish that weren't on the menu. Still ... I would return.

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Lamb Iskender Curry Dish



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Blowfish Sushi Restaurant


Blowfish is a new, all you can eat option, sushi restaurant located in the Price Chopper Plaza on Western Avenue in Guilderland. Since the loss of Hibachi X (the Colonie sister restaurant to Sushi X), Brian and I were eager to try Blowfish when it opened.

The decor is strange, in my opinion, for a sushi restaurant. It's modern hipster ... It reminds me of TCBY. The music playing playing over the sound system also struck me as strange. It ranged from country, to pop, rock, and more. I don't think they've really found their identity yet...

The restaurant wasn't busy, and we were promptly seated. I will say, that was about the only promptness of the service. The wait staff didn't seem familiar with how to conduct table service at all. They were almost afraid to approach a table (one table actually went to the hostess to pay their check). Plus, as is typical in our experiences with authentic ethnic restaurants, the language barrier made it impossible to ask questions.

To make things simple, Brian and I both chose the All-You-Can-Eat option. While I don't recall the names of the rolls, I do know that the fish was fresh ... which is the absolute minimum for a sushi restaurant in my opinion. Past that, the flavors were "just okay." There was nothing that popped. I'd even go so far as to say they were just mediocre.

The service was inexcusably slow. They didn't seem to know what they were doing, and they seemed almost irreverently afraid to serve/clear the plates. There was also the matter of the screaming infant belonging to one of the owners, and the fact that the child received more attention than the customers.

For a mediocre experience, Blowfish gets a 3 fork rating.

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