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Restaurants, Food Culture, and Lists

September 28, 2017

Lists. So many lists.

One of these days I need to talk with you all about the recent list from the Daily Gazette about the best apple cider donuts in the region. Their poll was interesting. But I’m not really concerned with the results and how far off it is from the findings of the Tour de Cider Donut. But the story did identify donut places which were off my radar. And at this point, that is just confounding.

The other big newspaper made another big list. The Times Union posted the Capital Region’s 50 Essential Restaurants. Usually, I hate these things, because they are awful. But this year’s list included some off the beaten path places, making it a decided improvement on previous attempts.

There is actually one list I look forward to reading every week. It comes out on Wednesdays. And that is What’s up in the Neighborhood on All Over Albany. It’s a list of interesting stories about the region, written by local bloggers.

This list has been getting smaller over the years as people give up writing blogs for other pursuits. But some of us persist. Some of us even persist writing about the Capital Region after we move away. And AOA picked up such a post from Greg K. which just so happens to contain yet another list.

Greg, for those who don’t know, used to be the pastry chef at Peck’s Arcade. He is a great talent, and I’m still sad that he’s gone. But I’m thrilled he’s still contributing to the discourse of food and culture in the area.

On Humbling Attempts, Greg put together his own list of 50 essential restaurants of the Capital District, which to him help define the current state of the local food culture.

And I love it.

His list contains taverns, fish fry, mini hot dogs, and specifically calls out the mozzarella and melba at Scubbers (which is my second favorite after Ralphs). It includes places which have been around for a long time that were pivotal in laying the groundwork for an elevated culinary culture like Yono’s and Cafe Capriccio. He has hole in the wall Mexican and Chinese places. There are plenty of Italian delis and diners. And there are a bunch of places that involve eating after a night out of drinking.

But it also includes the newer crop of creative chef-driven restaurants that are pushing the region forward like Peck’s Arcade and The City Beer Hall.

More than the names on the list itself, what really stuck with me was Greg’s short commentary on each of the places. And I find myself in agreement with most of it, including some controversial positions about the tomato pie being better at Civitello’s than Perecca’s. He calls out the bitterness in the sauce at Gus’s, but has grown to love it. Loves the breakfasts at Famous Lunch.

I feel like somehow Greg and I may have been separated at birth.

Which isn’t to say that I agree with everything on the list. I do think that New World Bistro Bar deserves a spot on there, especially since it really helped to pivot the area into where it is now. But I think that may have happened before Greg moved back to the region. So he might not appreciate exactly how essential that place was.

Part of me wants to build my own list. But list making is always a painful exercise. And listicles always make me feel dirty. Instead, I’m happy to offer commentary on others. Especially when they are excellent.

Thanks to Greg for putting this together and for keeping the food culture of the region close to his heart, even if he has left us for greener pastures.

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 29, 2017 5:11 pm

    Don’t you like being part of the “7 and 7” list?

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