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Emily L Gets Cozy

February 21, 2019

We’re in the doldrums of winter. It’s feeling like we’ve entered “The Unlocking” although technically that is still over a week away. But regardless of the calendar date, the coldest, most brutal part of winter is now behind us.

Which doesn’t mean it’s going to get warm anytime soon.

The good news is that the Capital Region is particularly well suited for long cold winters. We have amazing snow plows, vast quantities of road salt, and marvelous neighborhood taverns. For the most part, these are long standing institutions with a bar on one side, a dining room on the other, where you can warm your bones with hearty food and refresh your spirits with an adult beverage or two.

Today, we have a guest post from Emily L who has just discovered the joys of these cozy dining rooms. But I have the feeling she’s not quite keenly aware just how deep a well she has tapped. And at the end of her post, she asks a question which I think FLB readers are very well equipped to answer.

Cozy Restaurants in the Capital Region
By Emily L

It’s cold. I am always cold. I usually wear two pair of leggings under my pants every day to keep warm. This time of year, it’s hard to get me out of my massive pile of blankets to go out to eat. Between disappointing eggs benedict and a hectic work schedule, we have been opting to do more dinners out recently than brunch affairs. But winter calls for a different type of restaurant.

In the midst of below freezing temperatures and snowstorms, I want to go someplace warm and cozy. Upstate New York excels in this type of dining experience. There are a number of restaurants with tightly packed tables, wood-paneled walls, fireplaces, and serving delicious filling beers. Friends and neighbors run into each other and everyone is a friendly mood. Every town seems to have at least once place thats offers this dining experience. Some recent finds include the Tipsy Moose, the Charlton Tavern, and the Rustic Loft.

Cozy Spot

This time of year, I don’t want modern with cold metal and uncomfortable but trendy dining chairs. I want the wooden chair with big arms that has been used for the past 20 years. I want cooks who have been making the same warm soups, meats, and classic dishes for years. I don’t want to be rushed. I want to sit and enjoy the meal which is what these restaurants offer.

Do you have other suggestions for me of restaurants that excel in this “cozy” dining experience?

One of the things I think is so interesting is that many of our nicer restaurants have adapted tavern foods, with a more upscale flair. For example, while I still haven’t tried Ric’s wings at New World Bistro Bar, I hear good things. Lost & Found isn’t a tavern, but it is all about deeply comforting foods and delicious beers.

But these aren’t the places Emily is looking to find. She’s looking for things like Ralph’s and The Fountain. However, here’s the deal. I know she’s looking for places, answering the question as asked is insufficient.

While all of our neighborhood taverns are special, there are typically one or two things each one does best. So when you answer her question, please include your favorite dishes at each place.

Because at Ralph’s the best thing on the menu is their mozzarella sticks with melba sauce. And my favorite pizza is the one with double pepperoni. But you have to ask, and pay for, double pepperoni, because a regular pepperoni pie just doesn’t have enough topping coverage.

The Fountain is best when you know what toppings to get on the pizza. I never loved the place until I went with Josh K and he ordered a pizza with eggplant and meatballs. Those specific toppings made this pie something special for me.

At Joe’s in Cohoes, you have to get the Utica greens.

Now it’s your turn. What is your favorite neighborhood tavern, and which dishes should Emily L order there to fall madly in love with the place? I can’t wait to hear what you’ve got to say. And I’m sure Emily is eager for your input as well.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Jen permalink
    February 21, 2019 2:03 pm

    Fine, it’s not a neighborhood tavern, but by far the coziest place I have been in Albany so far is The Olde English Pub.

    • February 21, 2019 2:07 pm

      That’s a good one. Totally counts in the spirit of the question. But what do you order to fall in love with the place?

      • Jen permalink
        February 21, 2019 2:13 pm

        Soup! I’m a vegetarian so I order the welsh leek & potato soup. But you could probably go with whatever soup and it would be good. Or, if soup isn’t cutting it, a (vegetarian or non) pub burger.

  2. Fuddley permalink
    February 21, 2019 4:29 pm

    Blessings Tavern in Colonie is being rebuilt after the fire. Looking forward to the comfy tavern fare they had previously.

  3. February 21, 2019 4:34 pm

    Lanie’s Cafe if you’re looking for giant portions of veal, grandmotherly decor and one of the last salad bars in the area. If you sit near the fireplace it’s stifling.

  4. February 22, 2019 11:22 am

    On your summer “death march” wings tour, I found that Washington Tavern had the best wings and also exactly the big chairs and cozy ambience Emily is looking for. You just need to go early, before the college students arrive and turn it into a vomitorium.

  5. llcwine permalink
    February 22, 2019 11:27 am

    Tugboat Tavern in Cohoes on Bridge Street just east of 787. The Cajun Shrimp and Sausage brings the spice and everything nice. The fish and chips is an enormous portion of perfectly battered haddock that is never greasy, and their wings are excellent especially for those that like sauces different than the norm. Great food and waitstaff….

  6. Kathryn D permalink
    February 22, 2019 11:54 am

    If you don’t mind going for a little bit of a drive Man of Kent out in Hoosick Falls sounds like exactly what you’re looking for. The atmosphere is cozy and the staff and patrons make you feel at home. As far as what they do best it’s hard to say because I’ve never been disappointed with anything I’ve had there, but I do recommend the onion rings. Best I’ve had, but like I said can’t go wrong no matter what you get there.

    • Brian S permalink
      February 24, 2019 11:58 pm

      I second this. Bit of a drive but worth it. OBI in Saratoga also works well.

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