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Cake and Beer at the Museum

April 6, 2016

Mostly, the food scene in the Capital Region has improved during my time in the area. When I arrived there was no place to get a reliably good cappuccino, nobody had a grassfed burger on the menu, and our most expensive restaurants were proudly serving farmed Atlantic salmon.

Those days are gone. Huzzah!

Of course, there have been some notable steps backward. All Good Bakers is gone, Bread and Honey has recently closed up shop, and Mahars, which paved the way for our current excellent beer culture, lost its footing and is now just a memory.

I’m sure for some the shuttering of Saso’s is still a sore spot. Pasquale’s made the best thin crust pizza this region has ever seen, and nothing has passed it yet. But for me, the most tragic of all the closures was when Crisan ceased operations of its Lark Street cafe.

Hopefully by now you’ve heard the good news.

Crisan’s cafe is back in a new location. It’s better than ever before. It has more seating and now provides savory food from chef Ric Orlando. Oh, and Crisan is now teasing us with even more delicious treats on Instagram.

The new home of the cafe is within the Albany Institute of History & Art. You don’t need to pay admission to the museum to visit the cafe on the second floor.

That said, admission is free from 5p to 8p on the first Friday of every month. It’s free every Thursday from 5p to 8p. And Saturdays in 2016, admission is just $2.25. Kids under six are always free, so there’s really no excuse to not check out the other museum in the heart of downtown Albany.

The Albany Institute is even having a fantastic beer event on April 16. I went last year and really enjoyed myself. For the sake of full disclosure, Yelp is a returning sponsor. So if you want to win free tickets, there will be some announcement of a giveaway later this week. Maybe I’ll see you at Hudson Valley Hops.

If you are a morning pastry person, the cafe opens at 10a Tuesday through Saturday, and noon on Sunday. Monday is a day off. Many of my favorite places seem to be closed on Monday. Harumpf. I’m starting to think it’s some kind of conspiracy.

Last week I found myself downtown and dropped into Crisan’s new location for the very first time. And while it may take a little bit of adjustment to get used to all the space and the savory food in the case, it’s still very much the same Crisan. The gelato is back. The pastry case is full of treats, both decadent and ever-so-slightly less decadent.

I went for a slice of vegan chocolate and raspberry cake. I figured that it could be a special treat on my stupid diet. Luckily, I don’t care about carbs. Probably I should. But I’m allowing myself small little cheats.

And this little piece of cake totally made my day.

Just like how many years ago Crisan’s hot chocolate and golden brioche cheered me up when I was feeling blue, it’s amazing how a beautiful little treat can bring some much-needed joy into life.

Maybe that’s why I like Crisan so much. Maybe it’s not because it’s a bakery, but rather a fountain of joy. Regardless, I’m looking forward to getting in there and having a full lunch. Or maybe now that there are more tables, it will become a better place to sit with a laptop and do some work while picking at a croissant?

Sure, croissants aren’t on the diet now. But I don’t plan to be eating like this forever. And dreams like these can keep me hanging on to hope for the future.

Either way, I’m thrilled. The cases are filled. It’s time to get your joy on.

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 6, 2016 12:41 pm

    OMG yes! We went on Sunday and ate many treats- chocolate croissant, hazelnut biscotti, spinach/cheese croissant, macarons, and got take-out cake for dessert at home. They don’t seem to sell gelato by the pint there, but you can get pints at Honest Weight & one other place that escapes me.

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