- Category: Restaurant Reviews
Tesoro Italian Restaurant in Guilderland is located in 20 Mall on Western Avenue. When you walk in, the restaurant is broken up into the bar area to the right, and the formal dining room to the left that curves into an "L" shape.
Brian and I have been to Tesoro on many occasions and have always had a consistent experience. So, this time, we came to review. We started with a fresh Caprese Salad (homemade mozzarella), and homemade Arancini for appetizers. For entrees, I ordered the Veal & Shrimp Oreganato special, and Brian ordered the Homemade Cheese Ravioli special.
Service was fast, efficient, and friendly, which it's always been in times past and we were glad it still remained consistent. The appetizers were out of this world. The Caprese was fresh, light, enjoyable, and artfully done. The arancini had my mouth watering. It was to die for. The risotto was full of flavor, which was only complemented by the house marinara. I enjoyed these arancini more than the ones we had at Johny's. This was the burst of flavor I wished those had had.
Our entrees arrived, and there were mixed reviews but more positive than not. My dish was spectacular. The veal and shrimp were cooked perfectly, and the wine and sherry sauce was delightful. The penne (though not homemade) was cooked to a perfect al dente. My only critique would be that the tomatoes added nothing to the dish. All of the flavors stood up so well, and were so perfect together, that the tomatoes were basically the 3rd wheel to the party.
Brian's homemade ravioli special was done perfectly. The homemade ravioli had wonderful texture, the tomato cream sauce was nice and mild, and the cheese filling (I believe it was ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan) was very tasty. The problem was with the value. For $21.50, the dish had only 7 pieces of ravioli. While this may be debatable for some, Tesoro's Lobster Ravioli is also $21.50 and comes with 7 pieces as well. The Lobster Ravioli, and the Cheese Ravioli, are priced the same, for the same quantity, in the same sauce. I find that to be just ... wrong.
Aside from those critiques, Tesoro is a spectacular dining experience with wonderful food. While we're sure to return again, we'll probably think twice before ordering ravioli.
|Veal & Shrimp Oreganato (Special)
Cheese Ravioli (Special)
- Category: Restaurant Reviews
La Empanada Llama is located on Picotte Drive, next to a strip mall, off of Whitehall Rd. in Albany. The space has only just opened, but features the culinary fare seen most often at the Troy Farmer's Market. The space itself is pretty sparsely furnished. Even the drink case had ten items, when its capacity is easily 7 times that. The decor was 'okay,' decorated with llamas of varying heights, and cloth tables. The problem with cloth tables is actually keeping them clean as they're turned. The empty table we sat at had a few food pieces scattered about.
Since La Empanada Llama is most known for their empanadas, I decided to order an assortment of Beef, Mexican, and Cabbage w/Chorizo with a side of Rice and Beans. Brian ordered the Apanado de Pollo dinner. Now, according to the menu, Brian's dinner comes with "a choice of Rice and Beans or White Rice, and a side of Plantains, French Fries, Mashed Potatoes or Chickpeas with Greens." Based on how the menu read, Brian wanted White Rice and Mashed Potatoes. He was told that it's actually Rice, Potatoes, or Fries, and Plantains or Chickpeas. This is not what the menu says, but we adjusted and ordered Plantains. For dessert, we ordered the Nutella Banan, and Dulce de Leche (without coconut) empanadas. To top it off, we also ordered two Chicha Morada soft drinks.
First and foremost, the service was horrible. Our food came out in parts, one empanada here, two more there, a side dish here. It took at least ten minutes of this before Brian even saw his entree. We weren't told that silverware, which is actually wrapped plasticware, was on the counter behind us. The one person actually at the front of the house was prone to vanishing for long periods of time, on top of having to multi task with the phone, customers walking in, and servicing other tables, which delayed service overall even more. Also, all of our food came in ready-to-go containers.
My savory empanadas were very underwhelming. The actual empanada shell itself was perfection. It had amazing texture and chew, and was cooked flawlessly. The fillings, however, I found to be on the bland side or just not done well at all. The beef empanada, with rice, corn and raisins inside was just bland. I had maybe one wonderful bite out of the entire thing. The Mexican empanada, with guacamole, beef, and refried beans inside had so much refried beans that the main inside texture was just mush. The cabbage and chorizo empanada had spice, but very little flavor outside of that. I was expecting so much flavor, and felt as if the fillings were dulled down instead.
By contrast, Brian's chicken was immensely flavorful. The two chicken breats were marinated so well, flattened, lightly breaded, crispy on the outside and so juicy and tender on the inside. This was the flavor I was searching for with the empanadas. It was hiding in the chicken! That chicken was jam packed with awesome. Likewise, our dessert empanadas were to die for. The dulce de leche was warm, creamy, and sweet. The Nutella had the perfect blend of chocolate to hazlenut flavor with the soft cooked bananas mixed throughout.
If I were to recommend La Empanada Llama, I'd say order take-out. You get the same containers, and better service. I wouldn't order the savory empanadas, because (outside of the shell), there's really no flavor. The perfection of the Apanado de Pollo has me intrigued as to how their other meal entrees would taste, and I would definitely order the dessert empanadas again.
|Apanado de Pollo
Rice & Beans
Inga's Diner is located on Fuller Road between Washington and Central. From the outside, it looks like it is falling apart. Missing shingles, siding in disrepair, overall not a place that you'd really want to visit for food. Inside shows recent work done to fix it up a bit, but it still needs work. But most importantly, it is clean inside.
I asked for a recommendation from our waitress, and she recommended a special they had that came with eggs, pancakes and bacon. The pancakes had a nice golden brown on them, but they were a little rubbery, I would guess they came from a store bought batter. Eggs were cooked well, but lacked any seasoning, and the bacon had a strange aftertaste to it, but was the perfect amount of crispiness (probably not a word, but it works)
We also ordered french toast with bacon. Again, the bacon had a strange taste to it. The french toast was made with standard white bread, but was thoroughly battered, so it was thin, but had a nice flavor to it.
Service was friendly and prompt, which raised Inga's Diner from a 2 Fork rating to a 3.
|Breakfast special (part 1)||Breakfast special (part 2)|
|French Toast with Bacon|
- Category: Restaurant Reviews
Grandma's is located on Central Avenue, closest to Fuller Road. Most people know Grandma's for their pies. Our visit, however, was for breakfast which they serve until 11AM.
The decor of Grandma's is just horrendous. I'm sorry, but it is. It takes the "granma's house" cliche and just does bad things to it. The carpet is beyond dark, and doesn't match the curtains. The chairs don't match, and there are decorations strewn for several holidays gone by (July 4th, Easter, and Christmas most noticeably), and that's not mentioning the random couch in the dining room.
If you can get past the decor, the food is "okay."
I ordered Cinnamon Swirl French Toast with Bacon, and Brian ordered the "Granny's Special" with scrambled eggs, and sausage. It took longer to actually put our order in, than it did for the meal to arrive.
My French Toast dish was skimpy to say the least. It was almost as if I had 3 end pieces on my plate. I'm glad I didn't order the short stack. The flavor was "okay." Nothing special, but passable. I attribute that to the flavor of the cinnamon swirl bread (what little there was on my plate). The crust was also very hard. The bacon was just this side shy of being jerky, and had very little salty bacony flavor.
Brian's dish was better executed. The sausage was cooked perfectly, and was flavorful. The eggs were cooked very well, but lacked any sort of flavor. The potatoes were perfectly tender, but unevenly seasoned and came with a boat load of onions that weren't described anywhere. The toast, though, was buttered well. Which, while it sounds like that shouldn't be a highlighted thing, we've found that very few establishments do this.
Our waitress, while nice, was very slow. It took a while for her to come to the table. It took a while for our beverage orders. It took a while for the check, and she left before even bothering to tell us to pay up front.
A very mediocre experience overall.
Cinnamon Swirl French Toast w/ Bacon
- Category: Restaurant Reviews
Wolf Road Diner is located at 219 Wolf Road, near Albay Shaker Road. The decor is classic diner, that's clean and done tastefully well.
In our breakfast visit Brian ordered the Sausage & Cheese Omelette with a side of Fries, and I ordered the French Toast with a side of Bacon. Both of our meals were on their "Specials" menu, which came with juice and coffee.
Brian's omelette was absolutely amazing. He'd asked our waitress what she would recommend, and her omelette recommendation was spot on. The sausage had great flavor, the eggs were cooked perfectly, and they didn't skimp on the cheese which just kept oozing out when you cut into the omelette. The fries were perfectly cooked, crispy on the inside and tender on the inside. Plus, they were seasoned so well that ketchup was not necessary. In fact, ketchup took away from the flavor of the fries. Even the toast that came with the special was perfectly buttered.
My dish, sadly, was not a success. Even though my French Toast was made with homemade Challah Bread, it did nothing to make up for the fact that the batter had no flavor and was nowhere near being soaked through. Actually, one slice had more flavorless batter than the other slice. The bacon was just "okay."
Service was spectacular. The juice glasses that came with the specials were small, so our server brought out two glasses. Our waitress was friendly, conversational, and knowledgeable. We didn't feel neglected, nor did we feel rushed. She was wonderful.
I'd recommend Wolf Road Diner, and even return, but for their amazing omelette. Just don't order the French Toast!
|Sausage & Cheese Omelette w/ Fries
French Toast w/ Bacon