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200 Lark St.
Sunday, January 2, 2011 ■
Power brokers hunt high life after hours
BY STEVE BARNES SENIOR WRITER
5 Angelo’s 677 Prime
high-ticket steakhouse. ■ Who goes there: Lobbyists and other expense-account types, senior elected Republicans and staff, people who want to be around them. ■ What they order: Vodka martinis, scotch, $45 primegrade steaks, $144-a-pound wagyu beef. ■ What you should order: Appetizer specials, 7-Hour Cherry Pepper Pork, slider burgers.
■ The scene: Swanky, big-city,
Sure, deals get made at the Capitol — but it doesn’t have a liquor license
22 Clinton Ave.
6 The Brown Derby
an army marches on its stomach, as Napoleon famously contended, then the fuel and lubrication of governmental machinery are food and drink. When the state Legislature and its attendant constituencies are in town, much of their supping and quaffing is done in Albany restaurants. Below is a political guide to some restaurants in New York’s capital that are frequented by those connected to the business of the Capitol. Given that the city of Albany alone is home to upward of 200 eateries, not counting fast-food places, any such list is by definition subjective as well as incomplete. And you can be sure the arrival of a new administration could bring fresh favorites into focus or revive some forgotten names. But if your sport or inclination is to spy on those in politics when they’re in their second-most-natural habitat, here are a few places to look.
2 The Wine Bar and Bistro
■ The scene: Rustic basement space with brick walls and multiple fireplaces. Tiny bar. Adventurous fare grounded in bistro spirit. ■ Who goes there: Younger staffers, occasional elected officials, more Democrats than Republicans, Capitol press corps (a tableful of reporters once held a conference call with the governor’s office from the Wine Bar). ■ What they order: Any of dozens of wines by the glass. ■ What you should order: Whatever delectable whimsy Executive Chef Jason Baker has come up with that afternoon.
influenced contemporary food. ■ Who goes there: Younger staff and elected officials of both parties. Former Senate Democratic Majority Leader Malcolm Smith and Pedro Espada Jr., whose betrayal of Smith during the 2009 Senate coup cost Smith his leadership, once dined there on the same evening — on opposite sides of the room, of course. ■ What they order: Cosmos, Veal Mallozzi, Boston Style Lobster Pie. ■ What you should order: Derby Clam Tower, Utica greens.
■ The scene: Stylish and sophisticated, Italian-
7 DP Brasserie/Yono’s
25 Chapel St.
Northeast corner of State and Lark streets
■ The scene: Elegant big-city dining and bar. ■ Who goes there: For the early and middle years of this past decade, McGuire’s was the see-and-be-seen destination for lobbyists, lawyers and other expenseaccounters and their guests. Press corps not infrequent. Quieter lately, but still a reliable spot for moneyed classes. ■ What they order: Lobster, steaks, chops. ■ What you should order: Seared and chilled tuna, calamari fra diavolo.
662 Central Ave.
1 Caffé Italia
■ The scene: Classy hotel bar/elegant Old World dining room. ■ Who goes there: Abundant lobbyists and others with state business who stay in the adjoining hotel; younger staffers; elected officials from both parties; lawyers, lawyers, lawyers. ■ What they order: Broad array of interesting wines by the glass and spirits. ■ What you should order: Broad array of interesting wines by the glass and spirits, kobe sliders.
and food rooted in Calabria. ■ Who goes there: Fans of hearty Italian fare, Republicans. ■ What they order: Eggplant or chicken Parmigiana, veal Sorrento. ■ What you should order: Eggplant or chicken Parmigiana, veal Sorrento or saltimbocca.
■ The scene: Old-school Italian atmosphere
10 Sheridan Ave.
■ ■ ■ ■
8 Victory Café
The scene: Casual bar and dining room. Who goes there: Republican staffers. What they order: Pizza and beer. What you should order: Pizza and beer.
Northwest corner of State and Lark streets
night bar ■ Who goes there: Younger staffers, anyone who wants a late quaff on Lark Street but feels too old for Bombers or Café Hollywood. ■ What they order: Risotto, drinks. ■ What you should order: Meatball Parm at 2 a.m.
■ The scene: Traditional Italian and late-
74 State St.
9 Bistro/Bar at 74 State
■ The scene: Clubby second-floor bar overlooking the foot of State Street. ■ Who goes there: New York City types in town for the day or night; lobbyists, lobbyists, lobbyists. ■ What they order: Finger food like chicken wings and shrimp rolls. ■ What you should order: Interesting finger food like duck quesadillas and lamb keftas.
N. Manning Bl
42 State St.
10 Jack’s Oyster House
ston A ve.
Lark S t.
Partrid ge St.
6 7 8
Nor t h
■ The scene: Old-school Albany refreshed with recent expansion/renovation. ■ Who goes there: Veteran elected officials from both parties. ■ What they order: Manhattan clam chowder, calf liver with bacon and onion. ■ What you should order: Foie gras slider on French toast with gooseberry coulis.
2 4 3
Chestn ut St. r St.
30 South Pearl St.
11 Dale Miller
Empire State St. State Plaza
South Pearl St
City of Albany
cotlan d Ave
Times Union Center
State Museum & Library
contemporary dining room, 13th-floor event spaces with unparalleled skyline views. ■ Who goes there: Democrats, Democrats, Democrats — from David Paterson to junior staffers. ■ What they order: Steaks. ■ What you should order: Monthly tasting menu.
■ The scene: Stylish conservatory-style bar, elegant
Delaw are Av
49 Grand St.
12 Café Capriccio
Town of Guilderland
Wes t ern
Stuyvesant Plaza, Guilderland
■ The scene: Stylish bar and dining room with abundant suburban parking. ■ Who goes there: Senior appointees and staffers who live in Guilderland, the people who want to meet them. ■ What they order: Cocktails in suave glasses. ■ What you should order: Lobster-avocado tart, duck chili. ▶ Steve Barnes can be reached at
■ The scene: Cozy, clubby basement dining room with separate bar. ■ Who goes there: Fans of rustic Northern Italian and Mediterranean fare, Democrats. (One of its staples, Beans & Greens Passanante, was created at the request of Greenwich Village liberal Democrat William Passannante, who served from 1954 to 1990 and brought in heavy hitters of all stripes.) ■ What they order: Pasta, Beans & Greens Passanante. ■ What you should order: Pasta, Beans & Greens Passanante, Eggplant with Four Cheeses (this dish has inspired direct homages at a minimum of four other area restaurants).
454-5489 or by e-mail at sbarnes@ timesunion.com. Visit his blog at http://blogs.timesunion.com/ tablehopping.
PHOTOS BY LUANNE M. FERRIS/TIMES UNION AND TIMES UNION ARCHIVES. MAPS AND PAGE DESIGN BY TYSWAN STEWART/ TIMES UNION
180 Madison Ave.
13 Hill Street Café
Republicans. ■ What they order: Beer, burgers, pizza. ■ What you should order: Sober? Grilled turkey Reuben. Less sober? Cajun wings. At 2 a.m. and/or unsober? Fries with cheese, chili and cheese, or gravy.
■ The scene: Neighborhood pub/sports bar. ■ Who goes there: Anyone seeking late-night eats,