I went to Grandma's on Central Avenue because my friends wanted to go. The store is festooned in St. Patrick's Day decorations, which was kind of fun, but also kind of tacky. We debated where the restaurant gets all these decorations, and what they do with them when the holidays are over.

First, I have to give props to the awesome waiter we had. He was cracking us up the whole time. He made the experience very memorable. Otherwise, I am not a fan of the Grandma's experience. The menu and the atmosphere caters to the senior population. Though I have never been to the Cracker Barrel, I am sure it provides a better experience for a homemade meal.

Grandma's is clearly one of those places where you have to know what to get, because some of the dishes are just not very good. For example, the half roasted chicken looked like a very small portion, whereas the meatloaf is a huge portion.

I had the turkey sandwich, and it was a little disappointing. They would not substitute my potato chips for fries. The turkey was a little dry, and I could have used some more of it. But it was real turkey, not processed turkey, so I give them credit for that. The sandwich was $6.95, which is reasonable for what you get.

Grandma's is known for their desserts. I sampled the peach praline pie, which was quite tasty. It was sweet, and gooey and had the right touch of pecan goodness. The serving was not large enough to warrant charging $4.00. One of my friends had the chocolate cream pie, and it was 80 percent whipped cream, which was ridiculous. He left most of it over.

Nothing but Noodles

I went to Nothing But Noodles in Clifton Park. I had the Pad Thai and my girlfriend had a pasta dish. Usually one would think a place that has such a varied menu would not be able to make everything good.

The Pad Thai had the same excellent flavor that one would find in a Thai restaurant. I appreciated the chopped peanuts on top and the lime. However, I felt that they could have put a meat in the dish to make it more filling. There were pieces of egg, which was obviously not real egg. I felt the portion was a little small for the price though.

The Pad Thai and a beverage at Nothing But Noodles is around $10, which is not really a bargain.

Friday's Pecan-Crusted Chicken Salad

I went to Friday's in Clifton Park last night, and I was looking for something different than my usual Cobb salad. I settled on the Pecan-Crusted Chicken Salad, which was listed in the Friday's favorites section. This was one of the best salads I ever had.

The combination of the pecans and dried cranberries make this salad taste really good. The pecan-crusted chicken was also good, though I wish it was served warm rather than cold. The chicken was all white meat, and it was not greasy or over-breaded. The salad is made with iceberg lettuce, which is not very healthy, but it is tasty. I went with the honey mustard dressing rather than the vinagrette, which I thought complimented the salad very nicely.

This is an excellent dish. The first time it came to the table, however, there was hardly any lettuce in the salad. The house side salad had more lettuce in it. I asked the waitress to take the salad back, and she quickly fixed the problem.

For those looking for a salad at Friday's, the pecan-crusted chicken salad is a salad to love.

The Standard

The Standard is a new restaurant and cocktail bar located across from Ruby Tuesday's in Crossgates Mall. It is absolutely beautiful on the inside. The decor gives a modern-day spin on the 1920's.

I ordered the Polynesian salad, because it is healthy and has a cool name. The salad was absolutely enormous. It is built like a sandwich, with several layers of won ton in the middle. It took me a good half an hour to finish the whole thing. I would say the portion is equivalent to or larger than the salads at the Cheesecake Factory.

Though I love the Asian chicken salad at the Cheesecake Factory, I did not like this salad. The only real flaw I could find in it was that the grilled chicken strips were overcooked. Otherwise, all of the ingredients were of high-quality. I appreciated that the restaurant used all romaine lettuce, which is healthier than iceberg. The salad could have used more papaya chunks as a natural sweetener. Also, there were no tomatoes in the salad.

Perhaps I should have ordered something else. The Parmesan-encrusted chicken that my girlfriend ordered looked delicious. Even though I am no fan of Parmesan cheese, the dish looked delicious dish. The chicken breasts were tender, and the angel hair pasta was fresh.

The prices at the Standard are reasonable. My salad was $12.95, which is excellent considering the large portion I got. I will definitely give the Standard another try.


I had dinner at Laney's on Albany-Shaker Road and I must say I like that place a lot. Besides the fact that they have great food, they have huge portions. Huge portions always do it for me.

Laney's has a little bit of everything -- American food, Italian food and sandwiches. The atmosphere is casual but cozy. The restaurant feels like it has some history to it. The parking lot is always crowded, so come early.

I had a dinner entree, which came with pasta and the salad bar. The salad bar does not have as much variety as Ruby Tuesday's, but the ingredients are of higher quality. I do like how they have romaine lettuce, homemade bread and fresh butter. Most salad bars offer only iceberg lettuce and store bought bread.

My entree was breaded cod. I was impressed that the fillet was over a pound. I find that few restaurants give a large portion of something expensive like fish. The pasta was also excellent. The marinara sauce was fresh, and I ended up putting the excess sauce on the fish. Pasta is usually not one of my favorites, but I gobbled it down pretty quickly.

Overall, I really like this place. My dinner was $18.95, which is more than I usually like to spend, however, I felt it was worth it. I got a nice heart-healthy piece of fish. Plus, I dined in a place that was not a chain. I will definitely visit Laney's again.

Ruby Tuesday's

I had dinner at Ruby Tuesday's in Crossgates on Friday, because I could not get into the Standard. I have to say that overall, it was a good experience.

I love Ruby's salad bar, because it has so much variety. I am a big fan of the Waldorf Salad, which is basically apples, walnuts, mayonnaise and sour cream. Some of the other extras this salad bar has are egg salad and sunflower seeds. They also have a variety of dressings with names on the spoons. I appreciate that I know what I am getting.

For my entree, I ordered a blackened fish sandwich with chile sauce, which was fairly good. The fish was moist and the sandwich essentially fell apart in my hands. The fish tasted fresh and was not too greasy. It was a little spicy but I assumed chile sauce would be spicy.

My only dislike about Ruby's is that everything comes on these small rectangular plates. I suppose the restaurant is trying to be unique, however, it is just a way to make the customer think they are getting more food than they think. I got a small portion of fries.

Though Ruby's has bottomless fries, I really did not feel like looking like a glutton and asking for a second portion. I would have preferred one large portion of fries at the beginning. Red Robin also has this bottomless fries gimmick, and to them I would say, "Give me a large portion of fries at the beginning, and you do not need the bottomless option."