Almost universally great food at Universal Orlando

2016 was a very busy year.  A long (but flying by), busy, grinding year for both of us, although unusually draining for me at work.  Consequently, when the date for the plane tickets to Florida that we’d purchased way back at the beginning of the year was finally approaching, I decided we should splurge on a few days at Universal Orlando.  We’ve never been and I wanted to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter stuff they’ve added.univ00 Continue reading

Tried two new restaurants, lost one

I guess you could call this an interesting week, eating out-wise.  Sadly we learned that the City Squire in Schenectady has closed, abruptly.  As in, seemingly out of the blue.  I mean, we were just there.  Typical busy weekend dinner crowd, noisy, busy bar.  You got me, but we’re sad, the food had gotten really good in the past year or so, pretty much worth the few extra bucks that had also been added to the menu.  Their wings were raved about and for good reason.  Great burgers.  Gonna miss that place.

I did get to try that Schenectady institution, Morette’s King Steak House on Erie.

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Eat Up Florida – dining in

Ok, not all of Florida.  More like some nibbles around central Florida.  A couple of bites at some restaurants and some food shopping.  And I tried out a BurgerFi, which seemed like a nice opportunity for a preview since All Over Albany tells us that we can expect the chain to be invading Latham and Saratoga Springs soon.  Let’s start with some sit-downs and the rest will follow in a bit.

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Burger King small order review

Desperate for a quick bite, I succumbed to the hype and stopped at Burger King yesterday on a long drive and tried some of their chicken nuggets.  Let’s keep this as brief as my visit:

They have a lighter, more granular coating than the thick envelope encasing McNuggets.  Way more “chickeny” tasting than McNuggets – more like one of those ‘make healthier nuggets at home!  hint: they’re baked not fried!’ tastes.   They’re cheap.  They’re just not that exciting.  I’m not even going to bother looking up the nutritional info (bad blogger!), they seem marginally healthier than McNuggets.  But I guess if I want homemade taste I’d make them at home and they really would be healthier.  If I’m buying fast food nuggets, I guess I want McNuggets.  These, to me, were closer to Wendy’s nuggets, which aren’t all that exciting, either.

I also added on a cheap bacon cheeseburger because, well, hmmm…why did I?  I guess the fact that I haven’t eaten at Burger King in years made me wonder if they’re as bad as many claim compared to the other two biggies.  It wasn’t offensive, really.  It just wasn’t really anything.  The bacon had some bacon flavor and was nice and crispy actually.  The burger itself was barely noticeable, flavorwise.

It was all just so very m’eh.

At least now I know.

On the road – Alta Restaurant and Wine Bar

A recent road trip to the Berkshire Museum to take in the Ansel Adams exhibit involved a stop in the area for lunch.  Tripadvisor.com pointed us towards Alta Restaurant and Wine Bar, the highest rated restaurant in the Berkshires, located in Lenox.  We got in around 12:30 and were seated immediately, it was pretty empty, but filled a bit by 1:00.

Alta is the sort of place that would fit right in in downtown Saratoga Springs.  They’ve got the whole natural food thing going with a touch of the eclectic, a little more expensive that you think it might cost, and a limited menu allowing them to focus on getting a few things right.  The short review is that, like most of these places, it was pretty good, but nowhere I’d go out of my way to visit again.

First, if you do happen to go when they’re busy and want to have a conversation – well, good luck with that.  With just a few small groups the room we were in was very loud, I can’t even imagine what it’s like on a Saturday night filled with groups pounding down the wine.

The service was attentive but not overbearing.  The food tasted fresh.

We went with the turkey burger with fries and the Paris with fries.  We were warned that the turkey burger would take a while to took thoroughly, which seemed a little odd, but was fine and, yes, it was thick enough to justify the 15 minutes of cooking – I have to think that means they’re not squashing it down and squeezing all the juice out of it – so that’s good.  My Paris wrap was decidedly interesting and I’d call it an OK near-miss.

The menu lists the ingredients as: Ham, Brie, Apple, Caramelized Onion, Romaine Lettuce.  The lettuce was fresh tasting for this time of year, but present in slightly too large a quantity.  The caramelized onion was pretty much useless – I could see it, there was plenty of it there, but the flavor was not.  The apple was thin slices of granny smith, soft and sad this time of year and I had to second guess their inclusion, or even the inclusion of the wrap itself this time of year if they’re to be featured.  The brie combined with ham was a flavor combo that took me a few bites to wrap my tastebuds around, but they did sort of work together (I did find myself wishing the tart crispness of the apple was present to work with them, though).  However, the ham was basically just slices of deli ham piled in a block and the brie was all in a sort of tube of cheese in one part of the wrap.  The wrap itself was a sort of multigrain affair, lightly toasted to lock it together.

The main problem was the same as that experienced with a weak burrito where everything is all spread out so you’re not getting a bite of multiple things, just individual tastes here and there.  It was either a big blob of semi-melted brie, ham, or, most of the time, lettuce.  Unlike a burrito where you can do some twisting and squishing, the toasted, sort of flattened wrap was not flexible enough to allow for it, so I was stuck eating a bit of this, a bit of that, etc.

As usual, I’ve probably focused too much on the negative.  All in all it was pretty decent and, with fries for $11 wasn’t a bad deal.  The burger went over well.  The fries were a mix of hand cut sweet and regular potatoes, just very slightly undercooked leaving them a touch shy of crispy, but they were tasty.  I don’t usually go for sweet potato fries, but these were pretty good.

Given that the vast majority of other top reviewed restaurants were pizza joints and pubs, this was a pretty decent stop.  My wrap, while suffering from weak apples and poorly-thought-out assembly, mostly boasted quality ingredients.  There were a couple of other things on the menu that looked good, also.

So, while I wonder if dinner would be more exciting, I sort of hope this isn’t the best the Berkshires have to offer.  It was a perfectly fine stop for lunch and you will likely be satisfied with a meal at Alta if you’re passing through Lenox.

And sodas were only $2 – a bargain it seems nowadays.