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Morrettes (closed)

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Morrettes was featured on the Travel Channel show "Food Paradise", so of course we had to try it out.  The Capital Region has a ton of different places that deserve national recognition for their food.  Morrettes, however, is not one of them.

I ordered a standard cheesesteak because that is what they are known for.  Josie also got a steak sandwich, but hers was smaller and had gravy instead of cheese.  Their menu had fries with cheese and bacon on them, so that was also a must have.

None of the food was all that exciting.  The rolls on the cheesesteak were hard, almost stale.  The steak itself had absolutely no seasoning, which wouldn't have been as much of a problem if either the cheese or the gravy had any real flavor.  Bacon on the fries was overcooked, and they also suffered from the tasteless cheese.

Service was friendly, our waitress offered suggestions, and gave us everything we needed, but we couldn't get past the food that we had such high hopes for.

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Cheesesteak Steak Sandwich
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Fries with cheese and bacon

2fork

cost5-15
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Phoenicians Restaurant

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The Phoenicians Restaurant is a family owned restaurant serving Lebanese and Mediterranean Cuisine.  It is located 1686 Central Ave in Colonie.  This little gem is just over a mile from my house, and yet I had never heard of it until a recent recommendation from a friend.  I was missing out.

As soon as we walked in, we were greeted by the waitress and told to sit wherever.  We had looked at the menu online and I was leaning toward trying the beef and lamb kabobs, Josie was leaning towards a shawarma, so when we saw a mixed platter containing all the shawarmas and kabobs, it seemed like the perfect choice.  While we were waiting, the owner (Robert) came over and introduced himself, shaking our hands and thanking us for coming in.  Very nice friendly guy who made sure we got whatever we needed.  Every staff member we dealt with was incredibly friendly and polite.

Now onto the food.  This giant plate of food was placed in front of us.  Our platter came with:  4 skewers - 1 Filet Mignon, 1 Chicken, 1 Lamb, and one kafta (ground beef lamb mix) as well as chicken and beef shawarma, rice, hummus, pickles, garlic sauce, pita bread and house salad.  It was a ton of food, even when we were done we knew we'd be eating leftovers for three days.  This platter cost $46, but could easily serve three or four people.  Everything was absolutely amazing.  All the meats were very well seasoned and tender, but still moist.  Most kabobs I've had in the past have been flavorful, but very dry.  Phoenicians meats were completely different.

Josie's favorite thing in the platter was the lamb kabob, mine was the chicken shawarma, but we both agreed there wasn't anything on the platter that wasn't delicious.  Even the rice was seasoned.  The platter came with endless pita as well as hummus and a garlic sauce.  The hummus was very good, but overshadowed by the absolutely amazing garlic sauce.  It was a strong garlic flavor, but not sweet or bitter like strong garlics can often be.  We are going to try to make our own once we got Robert to give up the secret recipe.

We had a sampling of the baklava (baklawa as listed on the menu)  Very good.  I'm not generally a fan of baklava, but I would order it as a dessert next time I'm there, it has changed my opinion on baklava.

Great service, and amazing food get Phoenicians a well deserved 5 Fork rating.  This is our 88th review so far on CRFoodies, and this will be the 5th perfect rating.  5 Forks is rare, so we strongly recommed Phoenicians.  Give it a try, you will probably see us there.

 

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Phoenicians Mixed Grill (for two)

 

5fork

cost15-20
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Duncan's (Dairy Bar)

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Duncan's Dairy Bar it located at 890 Hoosick Road in Troy. The decor is rustic and somewhat minimalist. You walk in and there's a wrap around bar with high stool seating, and table seating around the back side of the establishment.

We went there for a weekend breakfast. When we walked in, we weren't sure if we were supposed to seat ourselves or wait for seating. We waited for a bit, with no assistance, then eventually wandered our way around and found an empty table for two.

The theme of our experience was "just okay."

Among the first things we noticed when we seated ourselves was the distinct lack of non-teenage staff. There were roughly two adults for approximately seven teenagers. While the ratio itself isn't a negative, there was a lot of counter-side chatter amongst the younger staff compared to the adult staff. That chatter resulted in lack luster service for our table. It felt impersonal and forgotten.

I ordered a simple French Toast with a side of homemade Corned Beef Hash. Brian ordered the Banana Chocolate ChipPancakes with a side of Bacon.

My french toast, while nice and eggy (which I enjoy), lacked overall flavor. The bananas and chocolate chips in Brian's pancakes had settled mostly to the bottom, but they were still cooked well. The bacon was "just okay." The hash, however, wasn't a favorite. The corned beef was pureed to mush, the dish was very greasy, lacked crispyness, and there was a very large onion flavor that basically ruined everything else.

Duncan's is an "okay" place to visit if you're in the area, and a decently priced meal, but not an establishment I'd go out of my way for.

 

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French Toast Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes w/ Bacon
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Corned Beef Hash

3fork

cost5-15
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Mio Vino

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Mio Vino is located at 186 Main Street in Altamont. The decor is warm and earthy, with dim lighting and soft, dak tones.

We ventured there for dinner. When calling in a reservation, we ended up with a late seating as there was a party of 25 happening that night, and they wouldn't be able to resume normal seating until 8PM. We were actually glad they let us know, and went with the 8PM seating.

Brian ordered the Full Rack of Ribs ($28) which came with Mac & Cheese and Aspragus. I ordered the Lobster and Crab Mac & Cheese (It comes in half or full. I ordered the full - $26). I enjoyed the take on my mac & cheese. It was rustic and almost 'deconstructed.' The seasoning was borderline, but in the end I think it was the seafood that saved the dish from needing salt.

Brian's ribs were "okay." The meat fell off the bone, but the barbecue sauce was very sweet, almost too sweet for it being a savory dish. I would also argue that, for being fall off the bone, the meat still seemed chewy. Brian disagrees.

It took roughly forty minutes for our meals to arrive. We believe that had more to do with the party of 25 still winding down. The dishes were piping hot, and service otherwise was immensely attentive.

While a revisit isn't out of the question for us, I feel it was just an "okay" dining experience, for such a nouveau establishment and for the price. One problem we all agreed on was the presence of live music (which they have every Friday). From our perspective, this is a bad move for such an open restaurant. Even from the back of the house where we were seated, the noise (yes, I would categorize this as noise) was almost too much. I couldn't imagine sitting any closer to the front of the house tables. I wouldn't have been able to eat.

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Lobster and Crab Mac & Cheese

Full Rack of Ribs

3fork

cost25-35
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Windowbox Cafe

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Now that the holidays are behind us, we can try to get caught up on some reviews that should have been posted a while ago.  Windowbox Cafe has become our go to breakfast location.  It is in Slingerlands in a small strip mall.  It is a smaller location, but we've never had problems with being seated or finding parking.  Windowbox has a 'homey' feel to it, and within a few minutes of being there, you can tell that most of the people are regulars.

The review I'm writing is based on our first time there.  We were greeted and sat immediately when we walked in.  Their specials are written on a white board, but often need some basic deciphering (S.O.S. or Rodeo Benedict).  Josie ordered eggs and hash (since she was told their hash was homemade) and I ordered a simple french toast with a side of bacon.

The french toast was the best basic french toast I have had at a diner.  They didn't use any special bread or gimmicks it was just battered and seasoned and cooked perfectly.  My only problem with this dish is that I felt it was overpriced.  I don't remember the exact amount, and they don't have a menu online, but I believe it was around $7 for two pieced of white bread.  The bacon (not pictured) was amazing.  It has been cooked from limp to crispy in the different times we've been there, but it always tastes great and leaves you wanting more.  Josie ordered the eggs (poached) and hash.  Her poached eggs were a bit overdone, but still runny.  She really enjoyed the hash.  The best way I can explain it, is that it was just like the canned version, but used fresh ingredients.  Similar in ratio and texture with a nice crunch.  She has ordered a side of hash every time we have returned.

Service was friendly, but it was our waitresses first day, so it was a little on the slow side.  The biggest downside for visiting Windowbox would be the fact that you feel like an outsider.  Everyone is still polite and friendly, but you feel like you are missing out on a connection that most of the other customers seem to have.  A small price to pay for quality food, and original specials.  Windowbox gets 4 Forks and our repeat business.  (and just as an FYI, the rodeo benedict is eggs benedict with house-made pulled pork on it.  I had it at a later visit, it is one of the best dishes there)

 

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Eggs and Hash French Toast
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View of open kitchen / bar

4fork

cost5-15
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