Tuesday, December 4, 2012


       As we walked in to Provence, the atmosphere was immediately inviting. The ambiance was warm. The lighting was dimmed, but the accent lights throughout created just enough light to see your menu, your date, and the rest of the restaurant, without forcing a focal point. The service was very friendly, as well as family friendly, which is always a plus when you have a soon-to-be 4 month old in tow. The wait staff was light-hearted, friendly and knowledgeable of the language, but did not make those lacking in their French feel inadequate. Our particular waitress, Lauren, was above and beyond in her practice of customer-service; always had a genuine smile, and was ready to give us what we had come for: A "as genuine as Albany, NY can give you," French experience.
       I ordered a French 75: Champagne, gin, orange liqueur. It was something new to me, but that is what the Internet called for when "Authentic french cocktails," was searched. The bartender mixed it up well, so I would assume, as it was light, refreshing, aromatic, and delicious.  It would work very well as a summer cocktail, or in place of a morning mimosa. DJ ordered his cosmopolitan. He stresses his garnishes often and was a bit miffed that his orange cosmo was served with a lime this time, but none-the-less, "Very yummy. Aftertaste especially." It was strong but I have to believe him when he says it was tasty because I did not even get the chance to see his typical, scrunched up nose face when he sips on any alcoholic drink.
       We ordered the escargot for an appetizer for 3 reasons: 1- It is a known French dish, 2- it was recommended via the virtual world, and 3- personally, I really wanted to compare it to an escargot dish we had a previous restaurant, (which will be reviewed at a later date when we refresh our memory of D.P.'s.). The dish was extremely flavorful with the garlic and pesto that stood out, which was delicious at first, however, even after brushing my teeth, snail breath was horrible even hours later. The dish gave two very distinct textures. The snail itself was not chewy and it had a consistency somewhere between clams and salmon. There was a deep-fried crunch topping of sorts, that balanced out the texture of the snail. Seemed traditional, light and a refreshing taste.
      The dinner menu offered an array of meats, however, due to having only one option for each, it was a bit sparse. The menu was readable and fits simple, elegant tastes.  In some fine dining, the portions do not seem to fit the cost, however, the taste makes up for it: This was not the case for Provence, as it lacked the taste. The duck was thick, tough, and offered only one texture, verses where other duck I have had was both crispy and meaty for example, this was not. The cherries did compliment the taste well, as the rest of the dish was a job to eat, as it was not particularly "yummy." The  scallops were cooked perfectly with a slender crunch on top, soft and buttery throughout. The sauce however was bland and did nothing for the dish itself.
      As the night rolled in, so did the customers. The crowd was of a mature nature, mainly men and women in their 40s to their 70s. The attire I call "casual money," as cardigans and khakis seemed to be the normal attire, but the more expensive brands.  The jazz music was soft and fun at the same time, and  gave way to the crowd becoming a little rowdy, or maybe they all were sipping on their French 75s and cosmopolitans as well.
Appetizers: B-/ B
Drink: A-/ A-
Main Course: C / B
Atmosphere: B+ / A
Service: A/ A
Price: $25 +/- Not enough bang for your buck/ Good quality, not quantity 
Overall Experience: B- / B+ 

Canard Aux Cerises (duck breast with brandied tart cherries)
Coquille Saint Jacques (diver scallops) 
Lower level (where the jazz music plays)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Angelo's 677 Prime

     For over a year now, every night on my way to work I would glance over at a tall building that gleamed with bright red numbers "677," and my imagination would take over. The desire was always there and the wishful thinking  lingered.  I wanted to play dress-up. I wanted to experience a "real" steak, one that was cut just right and prepared not for anyone but Sierra. I wanted to know what it was like to be fancy. Well, the time came and the evening had arrived to fulfill my culinary inquisitions. It was my birthday, and my lovely brother and sister-in-law treated me.
    I did play dress-up and wore a lovely, floor-length red dress. Among the suits and ties of men, it was a bit shocking to see jeans and simple button-ups, but at the same time, it was a relief. It showed to me that nobody there were rich and fancy snobs, which judging by the prices on the menu, I expected. It had a casualness that I did not expect, however, my formal attire did not stand out like a sore thumb either.
     DJ and I sat at the bar and ordered very reasonably priced drinks, a mojito for myself and the signature DJ cosmopolitan. They were served with a very helpful and friendly attitude and delicious. A typical cosmo, well presented with an orange garnish.
     We were seated in a lovely dining room, a little more compacted than expected, yet comfortable. The piano player allowed music to be listened to, or simply just heard in the background, depending on your level of conversation. The atmosphere was very dim and that came with a plus and a minus. The lighting made it seem as if our table was one of only a few, my view was of my family and no others. It created an intimacy of sorts....until you opened the menu. The lighting caused a need for neon-like menus, that when opened, lit up very brightly. It caused a distraction, as I am one to flip my menu open and shut until I actually place my order.
     The server was very knowledgeable of the menu and was appropriately upbeat. She warned us of portion sizes and suggested that at least two people share a side, as to not outdo ourselves and filled us in to the house favorites on the menu. The menu was simple, readable and to the point, but not lacking variation. It as more of a "build-your-own" experience. Our appetizers were a wonderful start to what was to be a mouthwatering meal. The calamari was light and uplifting. The texture was not chewy, nor greasy/soggy. The hint of lemon was just that; a hint, that complimented the dish well. Roasted cherry peppers came along, which were equally as yummy. The appetizer that I chose were the  Surf and Turf Tempura Rolls. The center was a hearty portion of steak, lobster and cream cheese, but none of which were overbearing. The outside had a toasted taste of sesames and poppies, which lightened the dish and gave it a nutty taste and crunch.
     Now, for the reason I had dreamt of this day for over a year; my main course. I had done my research ahead of time about the cuts of steak. It was a pretty easy choice for me, as I was not worried about fat and more concerned about getting the most taste in my once-in-a-lifetime meal. Well, at least my first 677 Prime experience. I ordered the cowboy steak and did not hold back there, I also ordered from a side menu of toppings; The Oscar, which is a saucy combination of chopped blue crab and bearnaise, served over a bed of asparagus. The portion lasted me 3 meals. The steak melted in my mouth. The tastes were like none I have ever experienced and the texture was juicy, meaty  (but not too chewy) and rich. My mother ordered the same cut of steak, but without a topper, she was equally as satisfied and did not regret her choice of "going naked,' as I would call it. Each dish was accompanied with a side of garlic that was roasted so well, that it was able to be picked out by each clove and either eaten as is, or spread on some bread with ease. The "Yum-factor" was almost as high as the appetizers. DJ went a different route and ordered the sea bass. The dish was cooked to perfection, able to be cut wit such ease, it was like cutting through warm butter. Portion size filled me up to a perfect level. The truffled edamame puree was light, fluffy and paired exceptionally with the sea bass itself.  Our sides that we all split included the hazelnut brussel sprouts which were the best I have ever had. They made a vegetable that I do not particularly like, into something that I craved with each passing bite. You could feel each layer of each brussel sprout unfold in your mouth. The hazelnuts gave them a wonderful, soft crunch and a warming taste. The lobster risotto was good but I would not suggest ordering it. It had a simple Velveeta-ish taste to it and kind of stuck together in a mush. Although I forgot to try one, the parmesan and white truffle oil steak fries were a hit to some but DJ can't seem to remember what they were like, so they must not have left that great of an impression on him. On the contrary, my brother, who has ordered them in the past, wanted them again, so that speaks for itself. They were very large and could be split by 3 people. 
    With all this said and done, I would suggest this restaurant without a doubt. If you are not feeling a sit-down dinner per se, I did see steaks being eaten at the bar and the bar menu does offer and caviar deviled egg that I would like to taste-test. The restaurant was a wonderful place to  feel fancy without the stereotypical snob-like attitude and of course encounter the art of steak.

Appetizers: A/A
Drink: C+ /B
Main Course: A/ A-
Atmosphere: B- /C+
Service: B+ /B+
Price: Steaks= $$ however, all other dishes were more reasonable, especially since you will be sharing them.
Overall Experience: B+ /B+

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Grand Opening: Thought for Food Blog

     Novice is an over-statement when it comes to my culinary background. My experience; limited. With this very bluntly said and upfront, now let's get something else out there; I love food. Food is art. The creativity behind a new dish, the chemistry of the medium, the presentation of the product and the skill of the chef all come together to tingle your taste buds, make one smile, and warm the soul.

            My name is Sierra. I am 26 years of age and recently had my first miracle who was given the name Slater Thomas. I graduated with a B.S. in Psychology and plan on continuing my education at a later date. I have always eaten more than my fair share, however, I balance it out with a good metabolism and fitness spurts. I always dreamt of having a man in my life to take me out to upscale restaurants and learn about food and drink through experiencing them first hand. Although I am the one taking us out, I am very lucky to have found the person who enjoys the fancy side of dining with me and even better, talking about the food, drink, ambiance, service and overall experience of the restaurant.  D.J., I believe, is lucky to have me as well to have had introduced him to these dreams and treat him to these meals. D.J. will be adding his commentary every so often, his thoughts will be posted in ORANGE. Thought for Food is a blog from an average-Joe(ette) that just so happens to enjoy the finer tastes that life has to offer. I enjoy cooking, but maybe more so, I enjoy when the professionals take me a whole new place just by their food they serve. This blog is not intended to attempt to teach about food, nor is it even probably a useful tool for those more accustomed to fine dining. It is simply from a girl who loves food to all of my fellow average Joes(ettes). Ratings will be given in these categories: Appetizers, Main Course, Drink, Service, Ambiance, Price and Overall Experience. My partner in crime, DJ, will also be giving his ratings for each of these, as stated earlier, they will be in orange. We will each give our Thoughts on Food, a recommendation and more than likely, a "CAUTION," every now and again.
            This blogging experience is new, so forgive me in advance if I take a while to get used to it. Another snag in this blog is that many of the places we have dined at and plan on reviewing, we did so way before the blog-plan developed. I can look at this pessimistically, that I have to jog my memory to give a better description of my experience at these fine venues, or I can turn my frown upside-down and just use it as an excuse to revisit each of the establishments for round number two. It delights me to look at the situation that way, as I get to jog my memory of what I ordered once upon a time and my thoughts on it, as well as create new memories with delicious (and even not-so delicious) food.
           My most recent endeavors being Angelo's 677 Prime and Provence, will be fresh in memory and posted relatively soon. However, in these up and coming weeks/months, I will be revisiting these restaurants, for a refresh, as I do not want to give only half of a review based on memory: Albany Area-  Blue Spice, Cafe Cappricio, Chez Mike, Creo,DP's, New World Bistro, Sage Bistro and more. In the Saratoga are- Chianti and Tiznow will need a revisit, however, Lake Ridge Restaurant will most likely be the first blogged from that area.
          I would love to post every week, however, with a newborn and a shallow wallet, once a month seems more realistic. I am excited to finally begin this adventure and I hope that my audience plays an interactive role and posts their commentary, as well as challenges us to a new place to review. I would be delighted to be your food-test-dummy.