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Bringing Yelp To The Next Level

February 24, 2016

Last night was a late night. Last night was a great night. Next Level at The Ruck won’t be open to the public for another week. But thanks to my job with Yelp, I got to introduce 75 people to the beer and food pairing concept brought to you by the same people who have helped transform The Ruck from a neighborhood pub into something truly extraordinary.

Apparently it’s been a long time coming. The Ruck has a second and third floor that have finally been renovated, after years of planning. It now has a separate kitchen and separate beer lines. That means it has its own menu to go along with its new identity.

Chickens don’t fly. I don’t think they do particularly well with stairs either. So the wings for which The Ruck is famous, are going to stay downstairs. So are the burgers. We got to get a taste of what Next Level is going to put on the menu, and one dish in particular is a showstopper.

You know the bad thing about Yelp events? I can’t drink all the beers. There was an aged Baltic porter from 2012 made by Smuttynose, Kent Falls was represented with the Juicemaker Brett IPA, and Hill Farmstead was on the list with its Double Galaxy IPA. But I had none of those. Given the selection, what I drank could probably be considered a crime.

Here’s the deal. The evening was all about beer and food pairings. So I didn’t want to try another amazing beer that would throw my palate off-kilter. I also needed to stay sharp, so I wanted to make sure to avoid anything too strong.

That’s why I had a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Plus, it’s delicious. And I think that it did the trick.

Next Level will open up next week. You can, and probably should, make reservations. It’s a small space, and the food is going to be presented as composed boards: a cheese board, a meat board, a vegetable board. But I expect you’ll be able to customize a board too. If you see the bone marrow with tartufo cheese as a choice, get that. It’s amazing.

Remember how we were talking about the search for excellent beer pairings? Well, that crisp toast point slathered with a warm, meaty, earthy topping was made even better when washed down with the sweet and rich Aventinus Weizenbock. It was clearly the pairing win of the night.

The fried brussel sprout chips with mustard butter were also a winner. That was paired with the Allagash Tripel. We enjoyed other tasty delights throughout the evening, including a delicious parsnip bisque, and a wide range of cheese and charcuterie.

It was great to work with owner David Gardell, and to hear from chef Rachel Mabb about the food concept and Nicholas “Nuzzy” Nuzzolilo about the beer program. Chef Mabb credits her chef de cuisine Adryanna Washock with the bone marrow. I’m really looking forward to seeing what other fatty, funky, savory delights she has up her sleeve.

Like the downstairs, Next Level will also be vegan friendly. The fried brussels sprout chips was a vegan dish, and it was fantastic.

Much like The City Beer Hall, I’m going to have a hard time deciding whether to enjoy the upstairs or downstairs experience at The Ruck. But these are good problems to have, and it’s great to see another great local place expanding and becoming even better.

Before I go, I just want to make one final plug for Yelp. If you missed this event, it probably means you weren’t following @YelpAlbany on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Official Yelp Events like this one are free and open to anyone in the Capital Region with a Yelp account. Plus, when you have a Yelp account, you should also get the weekly newsletter I curate called The Local Yelp. This week’s is all about good coffee.

Thank god for coffee. After last night, it’s the only thing that will get me through today.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ewan permalink
    February 24, 2016 3:16 pm

    ’twas delightful. The food is accurately characterised as ‘next level’ and Daniel identifies most of my own stand-outs: the bone marrow, the parsnip bisque, and the array of accompaniments to the charcuterie.

    I did not actually rate the beer *pairings* very highly, although the beer selection per se is splendid – sorry that you missed out on the Double Galaxy and the Petrus Aged Red, Daniel. But that can be modulated by the diner: the components are clearly present for excellence.

    Don’t know that I’ll make the trip often – it’s a long way from Glenmont, in Capital Region terms – but for those in Troy, go.

  2. -R. permalink
    March 4, 2016 3:23 pm

    Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is a fine, easy drinking beer on tap, and while I am a huge fan of the Pale Ale on tap, I never drink it from the bottle. Having had a brief discussion with the brewery rep, the bottled version has a slightly modified recipe and a higher alcohol content than the draft, mainly to prevent rapid aging in the bottle.

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