Caffe Vero is a quintessential coffee shop

Today, I went to Caffe Vero on 260 Lark Street in Albany with some friends.  It is located in between the flower shop and Bombers Burrito Bar.  I am very impressed by this coffee shop.  The only drawback is that there is not more room inside for people to sit down. 

My girlfriend and I got to Caffe Vero on Sunday at 10:30AM.  Caffe Vero has a tiny storefront, so we almost passed by it.  Inside, the atmosphere of Caffe Vero is very inviting.  Obviously, a lot of work has been put into the interior of the store.  The store boasts all-wood floors.  On the left-hand wall is pictures of coffee, and on the right hand wall is art work for sale.  There is a series of smalll round tables spread around the restaurant. 

As you enter the restaurant, the counter lies in front of you.  The menu at Caffe Vero is very simple.  Caffe Vero is not like Starbucks, where you can choose from maybe 40 different coffees and teas.  There are less than 20 drinks on the menu at Caffe Vero, and perhaps 10 choices of pastry.  There are no breakfast sandwiches, or deli sandwiches. 

Though Caffe Vero does not have a large menu, everything that they do have appears to be very good.  I had the apple struessel muffin and a iced Jasmine tea.  The apple streussel muffin was home made and contains many chunks of apple.  It was moist and delicious.  My only regret was the fact that it was not a little bit bigger.  The iced jasmine tea was also excellent.  It tasted sweet and crisp.  It was not overloaded with ice like the Dunkin Donuts iced drinks.  A 16 ounce cup of iced tea is $2.00, which makes it a little cheaper than Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts.

Unfortunately, I did not have the coffee because coffee is too strong for my stomach.  However, the coffee did look delicious.  Caffe Vero does coffee the way I would imagine Starbucks did coffee in the early days.  The baristas are in control of the french press, so they brew the coffee according to their expertise. 

Caffe Vero is a wonderful coffee establishment with a warm atmosphere and great drinks and pastries.  My only wish is that the restaurant be a little larger and have larger tables so that larger parties of people could get together.  I imagine Caffe Vero will have a very large fan base in Albany. 

The Side Door Cafe is not just a bar...

My girlfriend and I both live in Guilderland, so we both spend a lot of time on Western Avenue.  That being said, I pass by the Side Door Cafe on 1656 Western Avenue at least twice every day.  I had often gone in for drinks on the weekend to listen to Mark the Shark host karaoke. 

The Side Door Cafe is a bar first and a cafe second.  The bar can seat around twenty people and on the wall there are at least five big screen tv's.  It has a very comfortable atmosphere.  A nice mix of middle-class people of all ages sit at the bar.  Past the bar, there is a separate dining area with about ten tables.  The dining area does not have a dedicated waitress -- one of the bartenders doubles as the waitress in the dining area. 

My girlfriend and I decided to head over to the Side Door Cafe to try the food.  The food is definitely above average, though not spectacular. 

The first time we went, I wanted to eat something relatively healthy, so I had the buffalo chicken salad.  I got a fairly large portion consisting of two large handfuls of romaine lettuce and a sliced fried chicken cutlet dipped in buffalo sauce.  It was quite tasty.  My girlfriend had the grilled chicken sandwich with pasta salad and she also enjoyed her dish. 

The second time we went to the Side Door, my girlfriend had a rough day, so she wanted to get a beer and something to eat.  We ended up sharing the chicken quesadilla.  The chicken quesadilla was wonderful!  First of all, it was huge, probably ten inches in diameter.  It was wonderful, gooey deliciousness.  I am not much of a cheese eater, but I definitely enjoyed this quesadilla.  The quesadilla was stuffed with chicken and an assortment of cheeses.  It came with a small cup of salsa and sour cream, standard fare.  On a scale of 1 to 10, I rate this chicken quesadilla a '9.'

I would definitely go back to the Side Door Cafe.  It is conveniently located and has a comfortable atmosphere.  Next time, I would like to try the pizza.