We Did It Again . . .
had meetings. And more meetings. And mass e-mail exchanges
to continue the discussions of tough categories. Finally,
we had hundreds of Best Of entries written and edited and
ready to go—and we shipped our annual (and largest-ever) Best
of the Capital Region issue (July 22) off to the printer.
And then we slept.
When we woke up the next day, we discovered what we discover
nearly every year: that despite our best intentions to get
it all exactly right, invariably, a handful of winners we
had agreed upon somehow got lost in the shuffle and never
made it into the issue. So here they are:
1225 Western Ave., Albany
402 Broadway, Saratoga Springs
A repeat winner. We love the coffee, the specialty coffee
drinks, the wide selection of fine teas, even the hot chocolate.
We love the fact that there are more than a few brews on at
any given time. We love the relaxed, hip ambience in both
locations; in fact, we’d love to just hang out there and read
and drink cafe au lait all afternoon, if only our jobs would
allow. Speaking of which . . . we’d love to have an Uncommon
Grounds across the street from our offices. Whacha think?
Suburban Coffee Shop
Delaware Ave., Delmar
As a rule, suburban café is an oxymoron, but the exception
is Perfect Blend in Delmar. Along with the espresso, fancy
pastries and a very light lunch menu, this shop is up-to-the-minute
with power and wifi for your laptop. Most important, the place
is kid-friendly, an ideal meeting spot for mothers desperate
for some adult conversation over a cappuccino. Live entertainment
on Saturdays, open mic on Sundays, back room with fireplace.
Lark St., Albany
There’s nothing wrong with Albany. It’s a fine place. Many
of us live here. That said, if you want to have a glass of
wine in Albany and feel like you’re not actually in Albany,
stop by Antica Enoteca on Lark Street. Step through the basement
door, and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Europe.
An amazing selection of wines, cheeses and desserts are served
in an intimate brick-and-wood space. (Even though they’re
going to expand, we’re betting it stays intimate.) And in
the winter, there’s a cozy fire in the old brick fireplace.
Tube Cycle Shop
Madison Ave., Albany
We love the Down Tube. It’s the place to go when you need
a bike, or anything else you might possibly need in regards
to riding. There’s an excellent selection of bicycles and
accompanying merchandise in stock, and if you don’t find what
you’re looking for in the store, the super-friendly staff
are more than willing to help you order what you need out
of one of their catalogues. They have a full-service repair
shop in which they’ll give your bike a complete spa treatment
(your bike will be sure to thank you with its high-quality
performance) or just a little tune-up here and there. You
can even take classes right in the shop to learn how to care
for your bike, change your tires, etc.
Sean Rowe is a musical workhorse, to say the least. Not only
does he hold down regular gigs in just about every corner
of the region, but he also manages to find time for various
one-shot affairs everywhere else. He’s a one-man band with
a deep, soulful sound that manages to fill every corner of
a room, so it’s no surprise that he’s in such high demand
these days. Scan the crowd during the initial moments of his
set, and you’ll probably see a host of surprised looks, all
wondering how a guy like Rowe can create a sound typically
associated with grizzled blues wailers and Motown legends.
In a scene crowded with garage-rock hipsters and hardcore
headbangers, Rowe provides a much-welcomed alternative.
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