Kabul Night


I’ll venture to say that the vast majority of Schenectadians are unfamiliar with the cuisine of Afghanistan. I know I certainly wasn’t when I saw an ad for Kabul Night one night before the movie at Proctor’s.  I was intrigued.

Kabul Night sits on the corner of Union St. and North Broadway.  There is a good sized parking lot next to the building for restaurant patrons.

The building is painted a cerulean blue and gold café curtains hang in the large front windows.  When I spotted a camel peering at me over those curtains, I knew this would be my kind of place.

Step through the entranceway and you are transported to an exotic land. Gold tablecloths and slipcovers over the café chairs give the room a sumptuous feel. The walls are painted the same soothing blue and are adorned with artifacts from Afghanistan. An elaborate child’s festival costume trimmed with extensive beadwork, a small hand loom with the beginnings of a colorful wool blanket, and some maps and photographs set the scene.

I was greeted warmly by the owner, Karima Rasoully, and made myself comfortable while I perused the menu.  Being completely unfamiliar with the food, I decided to sample a variety of items.  Some of the names and descriptions of the dishes sounded like Indian cuisine and some more Middle Eastern.  I was to discover that just like Afghanistan is geographically located between those two areas, so the food has elements of both. Continue reading

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More Perreca’s

Perreca’s Bakery at 33 Jay St. in downtown Schenectady, has been the place to get the best Italian bread in Schenectady since 1913.  In November 2009, Maria Papa, granddaughter of the original owners, opened up a café next door to the bakery and the customers have been streaming in ever since.

Go through the front door at 31 Jay St. and you enter into a compact space with clean lines, an exposed kitchen and floor to ceiling windows which let in lots of light and a people watching view of Jay St.
At breakfast and lunch, you order at the counter, choose a seat a one of the 5 booths or 9 tables and your food will be brought out to you. Full table service is at dinnertime.

Breakfast choices include: eggs any style served with Perreca’s  great bread, pancakes and French toast made with buttermilk. Add on bacon, ham or sausage. Continue reading

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Top’s American Grill

Top’s Diner has been a fixture on Rotterdam’s 5 Corners for decades. It was the place to go for a great breakfast, sandwiches and burgers and comfort food like meatloaf dinners and fried chicken.
The original diner was torn down a few years back and a beautiful new restaurant was built. Now billing itself as “Top’s American Grill” , a new, exciting menu has joined with the familiar diner staples to offer something for everyone.
Open 7:00 am – 10:00 pm Sun – Thu and 7:00 am – 11:00 pm Fri and Sat, it is one of the few places to get food later in the evening.
The new building reminds me a bit of a Grecian temple, smooth white marble and Doric columns. Maybe the columns are Ionic, I never could tell the difference- no matter, the building is pretty.
You enter through large glass doors and come upon the hostess station and the large dessert display case.  More about those later.  Fair warning – SAVE ROOM.
You have your choice of generously sized booths or tables for four.
Off to the left is the large bar area. All clean lines and black counter. About a dozen high black chairs flank the bar as do 3 large screen TVs.  The liquor selection is extensive – no matter what you poison, they are sure to have it here. Continue reading

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Mr. Wasabi Japanese Restaurant

The first word that came to mind when I entered Mr. Wasabi was soothing. The claret colored walls made the dining room cozy, shady & quiet. It was a welcome counterpoint to the noisy, hot and humid day outside on Union St.  Abstract artwork in shades of purple and green hung on the walls and soft Japanese pop music played in the background.
I was immediately greeted and seated at a small table near the front window. There are larger booths along the right side of the “L” shaped dining room.

Mr. Wasabi serves familiar Japanese dishes such as sushi, sashimi, teriyaki, katsu, soba noodles, tempura, full hibachi dinners and for a little twist, Pad Thai, sautéed noodles with seafood and veggies that is the national dish of Thailand.
There are 5 soup selections from the traditional miso ($2) to seafood soup ($6) with shrimp and scallops. Half a dozen salad choices include, green salad ($4), seaweed salad ($6) and seared pepper tuna salad ($8). Appetizers ($4 – $8) include edamame, gyoza – Japanese dumplings, harumaki – Japanese spring rolls and crispy calamari.
The choices for sushi and sashimi run from a la carte ($4-$7 for 2 pieces) which include: tuna, yellowtail, eel, salmon, mackerel, fluke and more.
Rolls and hand rolls range from $4 for cucumber to $11 for a rainbow roll which is crabmeat, cucumber and avocado toped with tuna, salmon and whitefish.
All the “American” named rolls are available: California, Philadelphia, Miami, Hawaii and Alaska.  I often wonder if Japanese people visiting the USA for the first time think of these as American food.  I guess it is… how many people in Japan do you think eat avocado in their sushi???

There are also 15 “Signature Rolls” ($11 – $15) with names such as “On Fire Roll”, “Do the Mayo”, and “Out of Control”.

Hibachi dinners which include 2 shrimp appetizers, miso soup or salad, vegetables and white or fried rice range from $15 for vegetable to $24 for lobster tail.

Since I visited in the afternoon, I took advantage of one of the lunch special that is served Mon-Sat 11 – 3:30.
The lunch box specials include: miso soup or salad, California roll, shumai and rice with your choice of vegetable, chicken, steak, salmon or shrimp served teriyaki, katsu, curry or hibachi style. ($8 – $10)
I was in the mood for sushi so I opted for the Maki Lunch. 3 rolls of maki with soup or salad for $11.
I started with an order of gyoza ($5). 6 pieces of well-seasoned pork in delicate wrappers, perfectly fried. Not a bit greasy.
The salad that came with my lunch was crisp romaine lettuce with thin cucumber slices and standard ginger dressing.  Refreshing but not anything you don’t get at any Japanese restaurant.
The maki rolls were perfectly shaped and had just the right balance of rice to fish. This allowed the flavor of each individual fish to shine through.
Everything was fresh and the service was quick and efficient.
I will definitely be back.

Mr. Wasabi 1671 Union St. 518-388-9222
Mon-Fri 11:30 am – 10:30 pm
Sat         Noon – 10:30 pm
Sun        Noon – 10:00 pm
Major Credit Card Accepted
Free Delivery within 3 miles with a $15 minimum order

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News About Shalimar

All you Shalimar fans please note:

The Clifton Park Shalimar is closed this week for some renovation work.

They will reopen next week. By June 11, 2011

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Ambition Cafe

Ambition Café has been a cozy refuge on Jay St. for the past 11 years. Whether you come in for a mushroom omelet breakfast,  hot soup and a burger for lunch or a pre-Proctor’s light supper, the coffee is always fresh, the food delicious and the staff friendly and welcoming.
Walking through the door you enter a long narrow room with booths along the right hand side. The walls are adorned with vintage album covers and a post completely covered in bottle caps. Mid way down on your left is the bar and register where you can order items to take out. Proceed all the way to the back room to flop onto the big, comfy sofa or nestle into an easy chair.
I’ve eaten at Ambition Café so many times over the years it would be difficult to single out any one meal so I’ll tell you some of my favorites.
First and foremost is the coffee. The coffees used at Ambition Café are all fair trade and there are many different blends available. My absolute favorite is the Zimbabwe blend which is only available on Thursdays. Other blends I like are: Cubano, Italian Roast, Sumatra, Cinnamon Hazelnut and Mudslide. There are many more.
For you traditionalists, the house blend is a nice medium-bodied Columbian coffee.
Oh, and the price… get this, a LARGE 16 oz. cup of this terrific fair trade gourmet coffee will set you back….$2.00
That’s right. Half of what you’d pay at a national chain which shall remain nameless and unpatronized by me.
They also serve espresso, cappuccino, lattes and several specialty coffee drinks with and without alcohol.  Try the “Nutty Irishman”, cappuccino with almond and Irish cream syrups or the “Little Italy, espresso with Sambucca.
Ambition Café does have a full bar so there are also all kinds of specialty drinks-Chocolate martinis anyone – a selection of wines and cordials – anything your little “it’s 5:00 O’clock somewhere” brain desires.
Now that you’ve wet your whistle- on to the food. Continue reading

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Taj Mahal Indian Restaurant

If you’re in downtown Schenectady and craving Indian food, the Taj Mahal is the place to go. The location has been an Indian restaurant for over a dozen plus years but the current owners have been operating it for the last three.

My friends and I visited at lunch time recently and we were greeted warmly by the owner.  Little has changed in the décor over the years. There are a few tables as you come in the door.  The buffet area is in the back of this first room.  Go through a doorway and there are about ten large tables in a second room. There is also a wide screen TV on the wall which plays Indian music videos at a low volume level to entertain you while you eat.
My friends and I availed ourselves of the lunch buffet which at $7.99 included the buffet items, bread and tea.

The buffet consisted of: Continue reading

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Anthony’s Canalside Restaurant

I had heard of Anthony’s Canalside Restaurant and seen their ads so on a recent beautiful day after I had an especially grueling workday; I decided to drive out to Rotterdam Junction to sit by the canal, enjoy watching the river and have a good meal.
Alas, I was mistaken on all points.
The front of Anthony’s faces a very short, dead end street.  You enter the restaurant and have the choice of going to the left for the “take-out” section or going to the right into the dining area.
I walked into an empty dining room, was immediately greeted by two waitresses, and I asked to sit at a table overlooking the canal. The ladies looked at me as though I were crazy. There are six tables in this dining room and the ones by the window overlook the street. Why on earth would I think I would be able to see the canal?
I sat at a small table in front of an old-fashioned stove that was set in a brick fireplace.  The light pine wood paneling was pretty and I peaked through a doorway to see more tables and a nice-looking bar area.
The menu consisted of pizzas, sandwiches, pasta, several kinds of parmigiana and burgers all in the under $15 price range – most under $10. Continue reading

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The Pentagon

Closed February 2012

The Pentagon Restaurant is located on the wide stretch of Erie Blvd. just in front of GE. There have been several restaurants at this location dating back to the early ‘70s, but I have never eaten at any of them. When the Pentagon opened in late 2009, I said we’d have to visit because I had a coupon that gave a free meal on my birthday.  Alas, we had other plans that year and I never got around to trying it out.
A few weeks ago, a friend mentioned how good the Pentagon was and I decided to venture forth, by myself, and try it out. Continue reading

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Cella Bistro

Cella Bistro was named the Capital Region’s Best Bistro by “Where the Locals Eat 2010” and after a recent lunch excursion there, I can certainly see why.
The outside door seems a little off-putting but once you enter, all is casual elegance. There is a beautiful dark wood bar and polished wood floor.
We were greeted immediately by the hostess and seated near the bar where we had view of the large blackboards where the daily tapas selections are shown.
For those who may not know, tapas, a Spanish tradition, are small plates of appetizers which are usually consumed with a cocktail. There were many choices available at Cella Bistro including: a plate of olives, a plate of cheese- many varieties to choose from, warm mixed nuts, asparagus, clams and several others. The plates are $2 – $5 a piece and are served 5:00 pm to closing.
The lunch menu offered soup ($6), burgers ($9), sides ($4), and sandwiches ($6-$14) with the subheadings of: Pig, Cow, Bird & Fish and Plant. Continue reading

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