of the Above
& HOBBS TAVERN
Dove St., Albany, 426-4900. Serving lunch Mon-Sat 11:30-10,
dinner Mon-Sat 5-10. Sunday brunch 11:30-3:30. AE, D, MC,
pub fare and eclectic entrées
price range: $16 (sesame salmon) to $22 (osso bucco)
Here are Italian bruschetta, Indonesian lumpia,
Thai chicken saté, Carribean jerk pork chili—jerk
pork chili? Has culinary fusion come to this?
And where is it leading? To an imaginative creative plane,
or to something diminished by diffusion?
Only one way to tell: “I’ll have an order of the chili please.”
The appetizers, which also include nachos, shrimp cocktail
and, of course, wings, range in price from $7 to $9. A bowl
of chili is $4, and that’s a breadbowl in which it arrives.
And having, as its meat source, jerk-spiced pork means that
this chili has the fire and complexity that the so-named dish
deserves. We’re so used to the wimpy beef-and-kidney-bean
stew that passes for chili in the northeast that we forget
how lively a dish it should be. Here, it’s lively.
Which bodes well for the fortune of Pinto & Hobbs, a six-week-old
eatery that stands in place of the former Bleecker Café. In
fact, I’ll confess that I rounded the corner the other night
thinking it was the Bleecker Café I’d see, and so I immediately
dragged my family within this new place to see what new culinary
direction it may have charted.
the start, we wanted it to be a neighborhood tavern,” says
co-owner Dave Hobbs. “We started with a pub menu of sandwiches
and things, but right away people were asking for entrées.
We have a lot of regular customers already, and a nice dining
room, so we added the entrée menu. And it’s been a big success.”
Hobbs was one of the partners in Franklin’s Tower, the downtown
Albany eatery; he has joined forces with Jessica Pinto, herself
a longtime veteran of area restaurants, to stake out this
new outpost in a location where such a place is needed.
And they have chef Eric Schade helming the kitchen, a talented
fellow whose previous gigs include the kitchens of Carmine’s
The three of them crafted a multipurpose menu featuring the
aforementioned appetizers, as well as salads and sandwiches.
Nothing terribly surprising, but much that’s impressive. A
classic club, for instance, called The Classic Club ($8),
which stacks smoked turkey, roast beef, ham or grilled chicken
with the expected accessories. There’s a reuben ($8), perhaps
the finest of all deli sandwiches; there’s a French dip ($8),
possibly the silliest.
But you’ll also find a grilled veggie sandwich ($7) should
your tastes run to meatless fare, and a Caralina (sic) pulled
pork ($9), for the ultimate meat-eating experience (nothing
is more fundamental as a meat enhancer than smoke). All of
these are served on your choice of bread with chips and a
pasta salad; add fries for two bucks more.
A hearty selection of burgers and wraps completes the standard
menu, which is available throughout the dinner hours as well.
Hobbs is looking forward to soon adding a late-night menu
that will offer food until midnight.
This restaurant always has thrived in warm weather thanks
to its outdoor and quasi-outdoor dining. There’s a patio that’s
fairly open, and a closed-in porch that’s not, so you’re covered.
And while the bar may be the epicenter of the place, the adjacent
dining room gives it its class. Big picture windows overlook
the street; the room itself looks warm and comfortable. Service
was efficient, although we weren’t sitting amid any kind of
a crowd. According to Hobbs, the night after I visited, the
place was packed, which is one of those maddeningly unpredictable
aspects of the business.
One of the regularly featured soups is a smoked chicken and
red pepper bisque ($3.25/$4.50); this is always a test of
the kitchen’s mettle, and sported a delicious flavor well
filled by its stock and ingredients.
Reinforcing the international cast of the menu, dinner appetizers
included Indonesian crab fritters ($10) and Japanese chicken
($9), and it was the latter my daughter selected as an entrée
after starting herself off with the abovementioned soup.
It was a perfect size for her, even allowing her to bring
some of the panko-crusted chicken strips home. Served with
a ginger-soy dipping sauce, it echoed a sushi setup with accompanying
pickled ginger and a spicy wasabi extrusion.
Chicken also featured in one of the entrée specials, which
put large strips of it (not unlike those Japanese chicken
strips) amidst fettuccine and olives in a good marinara, seasoned
with the appropriate Mediterranean feeling.
Listed on the dinner menu are such entrées as lobster ravioli
($17), seafood jambalaya ($18), Dove Street pork chops served
with an brandy apple butter demi-glaze ($17), and a New York
strip with onions, mushrooms and blue cheese ($20) or au
Although osso bucco ($22) is always tempting, I veered in
another direction and ordered the sesame salmon ($16), an
excellent chunk of the fish steak coated with colorful sesame
seeds, sautéed to the right point of doneness, served with
rice and a medley of vegetables.
Although portions aren’t huge, we ate sparingly enough to
walk out with containers of just about everything, and reluctantly
refused dessert, although the items are prepared for the restaurant
by one of the servers.
An urban neighborhood needs a good restaurant to support its
identity; it’s pleasing to see that Pinto & Hobbs is not
only aware of this fact, but also satisfies the need with
a good menu, reasonably priced, cheerfully presented.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
Out for Life takes
place today (Thursday) at participating Capital
Region restaurants (see a full listing of the
restaurants in the ad on page 51). Dine today
at any of these restaurants and they will donate
25 percent of your food bill to the AIDS Council
of Northeastern New York. For more information,
call (518) 343-4686 or visit www.diningoutforlife.com.
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very much enjoyed eating dinner at Daniel's
at Ogdens. You review described my dining
experience perfectly. This wasn't the case
with Pancho's. I much prefer Garcia's or
Lake View Tavern for Mexican fare. I agree
that a restaurant can have an off night
so I'll give the second unit on Central
Avenue a try.
yes I miss the star ratings, bring it back.
Second, I haven't had a chance to visit
Poncho's yet, but I especially like reading
would travel to Amsterdam to this restaurant
- it's not that far away. People traveled
from all over to eat at Ferrandi's in Amsterdam.
From his background, I'm sure the chef's
sauce is excellent and that is the most
important aspect of an Italian restaurant.
Sometimes your reviewer wastes words on
the negative aspects of a restaurant. I'm
looking forward to trying this restaurant
- I look forward to Metroland every Thursday
especially for the restaurant review. And
by the way Ferrandi's closed its Amsterdam
location and is opening a new bistro on
Saratoga Lake - Should be up and running
in May. It will be called Saratoga Lake
Bistro. It should be great!
comments about the Indian / Pakistani restaurants
being as "standardized as McDonald's"
shows either that you have eaten at only
a few Indian / Pakistani restaurants or
that you have some prejudices to work out.
That the physical appearances are not what
you would consider fancy dancy has no bearing
on the food. And after all, that is what
the main focus of the reviews should be.
Not the physical appearances, which is what
most of your reviews concentrate on.
A restaurant like The Shalimar, down on
Central Avenue, may not look the greatest,
but the food is excellent there. And the
menu has lots of variety - beef, lamb, vegetarian,
chicken, and more..