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.
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 savory, slow-braised short ribs, Lover's Leap pork belly, or grilled filet mignon and the envious stares of nearby diners. Those who prefer their meals via sea can indulge in the halibut filet accented with salsa verde and summer couscous salad or salmon elegantly laced with asparagus butter.
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.
Based on the numbers, one might think every member of The Sports Grill staff boasts 20/20 vision. Twenty televisions line the bar and the dining room walls, surrounding guests with the sights and sounds of sports broadcasts, and 20 available draft beers lubricate team trivia night on Tuesdays. Meanwhile, the aromas of slow-cooked ribs, grilled steaks, and spicy jumbo wings mingle in the room and give a brief olfactory preview of the menu's diverse offerings. The cooks effortlessly forge a variety of Angus burgers and familiar comfort foods, but they round out the menu's pages with items such as house-made kettle chips, sizzling fajitas, and the perennially popular crab cakes. The Sports Grill also maintains an expansive outdoor patio, presenting reprieve from the sensory stimulation inside—where there may even be rainbows emanating every hue of beer.
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.