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Recently reviewed restaurants:

The Vanilla Bean, 521 Troy Schenectady Road, Latham, 782-2326. The excellent bakery is here augmented with a menu that promises more than the kitchen and floor staff deliver. Serving Sun-Thu 7 AM-9 PM, Fri-Sat 7 AM-10 PM. AE, MC, V. **½

Sargo’s at the Saratoga National Golf Club, 485 Union Ave., Saratoga Springs, 583-4653. Wonderful dinner menu with familiar items given exotic touches; try lunch on the veranda or the famous Sunday brunch. Serving lunch Sun-Fri 11:30-4, Sat 11:30-3, dinner Sun-Thu 5-10, Fri-Sat 5-11, brunch Sun 10-3. AE, D, MC, V. ****½

Café Lucia, 90 Church St., Lenox, Mass., 413-637-2640. A Lenox standby, bringing out the best in fresh ingredients served in spare, northern Italian styles. Somewhat hurried during the Tanglewood season. Serving dinner Tue-Sun 5:30-10. AE, CB, D, DC, MC, V. ****

The Prospect Restaurant, Scribner Hollow Lodge, Route 23A, Hunter, 263-4211. Take the hour drive from Albany and enjoy the sunset to a superior, inventive meal. Game and fish and local produce are among the features. Serving dinner Sun-Thu 5-10, Fri-Sat 5-11. AE, D, MC, V. ****½

Sushi Thai Garden, 44 Phila St., Saratoga Springs, 580-0900. A harmonious marriage of cultures, with tempura and sashimi served alongside red curry and pad thai. Try the basil and chili for a terrific sautéed dish. Serving lunch daily 11:30-3, dinner Sun-Thu 5-10, Fri-Sat 5-10:30. AE, D, MC, V. ****

The Cambridge Hotel, 4 W. Main St., Cambridge, 677-5626, A remarkable job of restoration has turned this place gorgeous; innkeeper-chef John LaPosta has made the dining room a culinary triumph. Serving lunch Tue-Sun 11-3, dinner Tue-Sun 5-9, breakfast buffet Sun 9-1. AE, CB, DC, MC, V. *****

Chez Sophie Bistro, 2853 Route 9, Malta Ridge, 583-3538. One of the area’s absolutely finest restaurants, with a menu of classic French fare brought up-to-date by chef Tonya Mahar. Serving dinner Tue-Sat 5:30-closing. AE, DC, MC, V. *****

Golden Phoenix Buffet, St. James Square Plaza, 2309 Nott St. E., Niskayuna, 344-7518. Two hundred items on seven buffet tables, as good as can be expected from chafing-dish fare, but the Mongolian barbecue station lets you make your own meal. Serving lunch Mon-Sat 11-3:30, dinner Mon-Thu 3:30-10, Fri-Sat 3:30-11, Sun noon-10. AE, D, MC, V. ***

The American Hotel, Main Street, Sharon Springs, 284-2105. An inventive array of continental fare served in the elegant surroundings of a handsome hotel in a historic resort town busily making a comeback. Serving lunch Wed-Fri 11-2, dinner Wed-Thu 5-8, Fri-Sat 5-9, Sun 5-7; brunch Sat-Sun 8-2. AE, D, MC, V. ****

Uncle Milty’s Diner, Route 9W, Glenmont, 434-3761. A classic silver diner with a big breakfast and lunch menu along with frequent specials like eggs Benedict, cheese blintzes and potato pancakes. And the burgers are good, too. Serving Tue-Sun 7 AM-2 PM. Cash and personal checks. ***½

Sushi House, 6 New Scotland Ave., Albany, 935-2270. Terrific sushi—some of the area’s best—along with a menu of other Japanese fare (tempura, yakitori, noodles) served in a handsome teahouse setting. Serving Mon-Thu 11-10, Fri-Sat 11-11, Sun 11:30-9:30. AE, D, MC, V. ****

The Olde Kristel’s Inn, 654 Saratoga Road, Burnt Hills, 399-7398. New chef-owner Bill Clark brings back the old Kristel’s traditions with fare such as chicken and biscuits, pot roast, meatloaf and a fancy chicken cordon bleu. Serving lunch Mon-Sat 11-4, dinner Mon-Sat 4-9, Sun 3-8. Brunch buffet Sunday 8-2. AE, D, DC, MC, V. ****

Giffy’s Bar-B-Q, 1739 Route 9, Clifton Park, 373-9800. Grilled chicken and ribs are the specialty, with mixed results: Good chicken, boring ribs. Serving Tue-Sun 11-9. AE, D, MC, V. **½

V & R Italian Ristorante, 136 Madison Ave., Albany, 626-0001. No-surprises Italian fare, nicely done (try the rigatoni cantadina), served in a very attractive dining room. The cheesecake is outstanding. Serving Mon-Fri 11-11 Sat-Sun 3-11. AE, D, DC, MC, V. ***½

Pearl’s, 47 Railroad St., Great Barrington, Mass., 413-528-7767. Steaks, fish and game are the offerings, with superior items ranging from meat loaf and fried chicken to spit-roasted duck and venison sausage. Serving Mon-Thu 5-10, Fri-Sat 5-11, Sun 5:30-10; brunch Sun 11-3. AE, MC, V. ***½

Malt River Brewing Company, Latham Circle Mall, Latham, 786-6258. Excellent beer and a varied menu are highlights of this comfortable eatery, where you can have a religious experience if you ask for the spicy version of the award-winning chili. Serving Sun-Mon 11:30-9:30, Tue-Thu 11:30-11, Fri-Sat noon-midnight. AE, D, DC, MC, V. ***½

Olde 499 House, 499 Second Ave., Troy, 238-0499. A revitalized local landmark with a wonderfully gracious staff and a classic steakhouse menu enlivened by the talent of youthful chef Brian Hinckley. Serving Tue-Sat 4-10, Sun 4-9. AE, MC, D, V. ***½

Jake’s Round-Up, 23 Main St., South Glens Falls, 761-0015. An eclectic approach to Southwestern fare, served in a fun-to-look-at emporium of different dining areas. The Pancho Villa quesadilla combines chipotle pork, dilled Havarti and asparagus! Serving Mon-Wed 4-9, Thu noon-9, Fri-Sat noon-10, Sun 2:30-9; Sun brunch 10-2. AE, D, MC, V. ****

O’Leary’s Pub & Grill, 153 Mohawk Ave., Scotia, 382-8909. Pub fare with lots of sandwiches, hot and cold, and even vegetarian items. The burrito el grande will fill you for a week, and for only $7! Serving Mon-Thu 11-9, Fri-Sat 11-11, Sun 4-9. AE, CB, D, DC, MC, V. ***½

Sergio’s Italian Restaurant, 780 Route 9, Saratoga Springs, 583-8877. Family-style Italian dining, which means you should bring a bunch of friends and share the large portions. Serving Wed-Sat 5-10, Sun 1-9. AE, CD, DC, MC, V. ***½

Lake Ridge, 35 Burlington Ave., Round Lake, 899-6000. Former Olde Dater chef Scott Ringwood offers fine dining at reasonable cost at the former Sweet Nothings building; try the pork rack or the duck breast for fresh takes on old favorites. Serving lunch Mon-Sat 11:30-2:30, dinner Mon-Sat 5-8:45. AE, MC, V. ****½

Chia Bob’s Bistro, 1036 Crane St., Schenectady, 386-2200. An intimate, friendly spot in which to relax and enjoy a meal presented with the flair of excellent home cooking. Filet mignon for traditionalists; quesadillas, quiche, even hot dogs and burgers are available. Serving dinner Wed-Sun 5-1. AE, MC, V. ***½

Daniel’s Café and Restaurant, 144 Washington Ave., Albany, 694-5320. Impressive mix of continental and Israeli fare, with bold flavors and sharp service. The Greek baked salmon in phyllo is a knockout. Serving lunch Mon-Fri 11-3, dinner Mon-Sun 5-10. AE, CB, D, DC, MC, V. ****½

Great Bay Clam Co., 2149 Doubleday Ave. (Route 50), Ballston Spa, 885-0583. Solid, unsurprising seafood served fried, broiled, baked—you name it. Steaks, chicken and pasta as well, with daily specials that tend to be more interesting. Serving Tue-Fri 11:30-9, Sat 4-9, Sun 12:30-8:30. AE, D, DC, MC, V. ***

The Raindancer Restaurant, 4582 Route 30, Amsterdam, 842-2606. An old-fashioned steak house with chicken, pasta, and other such items, and a generous salad bar with dinner. Serving lunch (light fare) Mon-Sat 1-10, Sun 1-8; dinner Mon-Sat 4:30-10, Sun 1-8. AE, D, DC, MC, V. *** ½

Ali Baba, 2243 15th St., Troy, 273-1170. Terrific kabobs, and the $5 durum (wrapped) kabob is the best gyro in the area. Wood-fired oven pizzas, casseroles and more at great prices. Serving Mon-Sat 11 AM-2 AM. AE, D, DC, MC, V. ****

The Springwater Bistro, 139 Union Ave., Saratoga, 584-6440. Excellent food and eager service in a casual setting with formal food; the menu changes daily, but try the lamb shank when it’s available. Serving dinner Wed-Mon 5:30-9:30. AE, DC, MC, V. ****½

Pat Russo’s Dugout, 43 Main St., So. Glens Falls, 793-9560. Dine amidst vintage sports memorabilia and enjoy selections from a wide-ranging menu of Italian and continental fare at great prices, with a legendary wine list. Serving Mon, Wed-Thu 11:30-10:30, Fri 11:30-11:30, Sat 3:30-11:30, Sun 11:30-10. MC, V. ****

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