Diners at Legends on Pearl dig into a menu of juicy burgers and fried appetizers as sports coverage buzzes on several large flat-screen TVs. After patrons go to bat with the golden spears of fried pickle ($6), oven-baked bread slices and fearless foam fingers can take a swan dive into the gooey salsa queso of a fondue bowl ($8). The ranch-seasoned cowboy burger ($10) stacks a juicy, half-pound patty with bubbling pepper jack and crispy onion rings, and the Draft Pick cheese panini ($7) gives grilled cheese a facelift with a choice of fillings such as mozzarella and crumbled blue.
Backed by the 60-piece human melody machine of the Johann Strauss Orchestra, conductor and violinist André Rieu enchants audiences with an evening of swooning in seats and dancing in the aisles. A violinist since the age of 5, André radiates his lifelong love of classical music to the audience with celebratory renditions of beloved pieces. As Rieu interacts with the audience, the air fills with kaleidoscopic balloons, lilting tenors and sopranos, and special surprises, which may include a John Philip Sousa séance or an explosion of confetti fired from tubas.
Chef Mark D. Graham crafts menus at taste that showcase culinary techniques honed over more than two decades in the kitchen, including several years working as the sous chef at the Palo Alto Spago under Wolfgang Puck and Michael French. It was time well-spent—his menu presents inventive New American cuisine that led the Times Union to declare the chef's vision as being "bright, creative and precisely tuned...Graham isn't shy about crafting a menu that tempts you to try favorites of his you may have forgotten about or never sampled to begin with." Carnivores can delight in the grilled lamb chops or feast on Heather Ridge Farm chicken wrapped in bacon and the envious stares of nearby diners. Vegetarians also have plenty to celebrate, whether its the polenta with braised fennel and olives praised by the Times Union for being "a truly Mediterranean melange" or roasted acorn squash enhanced by brussels sprouts and king oyster mushrooms.
From lunch until late at night, Blue 82's contemporary lounge fosters delicious moments of synesthesia. Bartenders artfully decorate glasses by pouring bold strokes of specialty drinks such as bright green-tea martinis or Cha Cha mojitos with hints of raspberry, mimicking the green-to-magenta fade of the illuminated wall behind the bar, which doubles as a stoplight for overaggressive segway riders. More than 15 varieties of scotch add distinguished flair to evenings spent on a velvety sofa, and the tunes of live music or those spun by weekend DJs permeate aural canals with mellifluous sustenance. Slider burgers wedded to bacon and Boursin cheese or chicken flatbread pizza with sweet-and-spicy brazilian mustard treat palates to comfort food augmented by gourmet overtones, like a Stephen Foster melody played on a Stradivarius violin. The eatery also presents daily specials, and induces or nurtures merriment by hosting parties.
In the 1940s there were two places to spot Babe Ruth: knocking homers out of baseball parks around the country and knocking back cold ones at Albany Baseball Club meetings held in the upstairs room of what is now Franklin's Tower. Chefs commemorate his frequent appearances with their Babe Ruth Bubby Burger, a Swiss cheese- and bacon-topped patty that diners can eat with two hands or whack into their mouths with a bat. Burgers are one of many American-style items on Franklin Tower's massive menu, which includes grilled cheese sandwiches with homemade pesto and wraps with grilled chicken breast and homemade Caesar dressing. Wine, beer, and whiskey wash down each feast, which unfold in a dining room that maintains the building's 1920s atmosphere with art deco flourishes.
Chef Chad Konopasek and Sous Chef Daishawn Wade share a taste for the flavors of New England. Each of the seasonally inspired dishes at Potters Restaurant at Sterup Square is filled with northeastern charm, whether it’s the organic Berleberg cheese from Berle Farm in Hoosick, the fresh Vermont vegetables, or the handmade Bennington pottery upon which they’re served. The restaurant’s menus reflect the changing of the year, spotlighting parmesan-crusted salmon and double-battered fried chicken with homemade gravy in the summer, and hearty stews and Vermont mac 'n' cheese in the winter. While an outdoor patio shelters patrons beneath umbrellas and mood-setting firefly orchestras whenever seasonally appropriate, Potters Restaurant's interior treats guests to carpeted flooring and a toasty stone fireplace year-round.