When Nord Brue and Mike Dressell began perfecting their bagel recipe with the help of a professional NYC bagel maker in 1983, the bagel was still an anomaly in the food world—it was geographically and culturally still isolated in New York City. Fueled by a desire to change that, the duo opened up the first Bruegger's deli with the hope of eventually introducing the rest of the country to the bagel. Brue and Dressell have since realized their dream, sharing their distinctive recipes and culinary traditions at 300 locations spread across 26 states. To this day, they oven-bake their centerless bread rolls every morning and afternoon, populating counter displays that also brim with daily made breads, Vermont cream cheese, and custom-roasted coffee.
Executive Chef Phillip Smith and his network of chefs still use the original five-ingredient recipe for their dough, which they shape into more than 20 bagel varieties. Because they draw from each region's local recipes and from dialogue and Pictionary games with local consumers, certain menu items may vary from store to store across the country. The bagels are often served with Bruegger's eclectic cream cheeses such as bacon scallion or pumpkin, or as sandwiches with meats, cheeses, and veggies often sourced from local or organic produce. Coffe gets just as much attention, with house blends of 100% arabica coffee.
Professor M. Barley’s bustles with activity every night of the week, from Wednesday night trivia contests to Saturday night DJ dance parties. Amidst the hullabaloo, servers divvy out plates of hearty sandwiches mounded with homemade meatballs, pulled pork, or buffalo chicken. They also transport cooked-to-order 8-ounce burgers, nestled beneath unique toppings such as fried ravioli, guacamole, blue cheese, and fried jalapeños. Beneath the dim glow of hanging lamps and the vibrant gleam of neon signs, bartenders dole out draft beers and mixed drinks. Nearby, rows of flat-screen TVs line the dining room walls, broadcasting the latest sports games and competitive quilting bees. Tabletops scatter on an indoor patio, where breezes drift in through wall-to-wall windows during the summer, and a fireplace blazes during colder months.
At Hokkaido Asian Bistro, chefs work diligently to ensure that each meal is a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds, preparing artistic arrangements of fresh salmon and tuna, crisp carrots and scallions, and sweet-smelling floral garnishes. The menu features savory hibachi dinners composed of filet mignon, lobster, and chicken, as well as adventurous feasts of tuna tartar, oyster shooters, and colorful hand-rolled maki. Guests line up at a sushi bar illuminated with the soft glow of blue neon lighting as they watch chefs skillfully prepare delicate morsels of sea-urchin sashimi or avocado-wrapped Dragon rolls. The bill of fare bursts at the seams with classic Japanese dishes such as teriyaki steak, as well as inventive seafood creations such as spicy shrimp served inside a halved mango, or tuna, guacamole, and tobiko arranged on flatbread and served pizza-style.
Ballistic Shrimp Steamed Seafood serves a menu of fresh, quickly prepared seafood with a healthy twist. Instead of deep-frying their fare like typical fast food restaurants, they steam or boil shrimp, crab legs, and fish to serve alongside fresh vegetables or homemade chowders and bisques. Combo meals allow diners to sample a variety of seafaring delicacies at once including Canadian salmon, Brazilian lobster tail, and American shrimp that spent a semester abroad. The ocean-blue dining room features starfish and seashell accents and offers limited seating at round, high-top tables.
As locks click and fluorescents dim at most conventional restaurants, the night owls at Café 217 hurl howls at the moon: their night's just getting started. Open nonstop from Friday at 5 p.m. to Sunday at 3 p.m. and with late hours throughout the rest of the week, Café 217 centers itself as Albany's nocturnal hideout for party prowlers, third-shifters, and Nosferatu's roommates. Prepared fresh to order, the breakfast menu draws inspiration from the French, though Italian influences pervade the lunch menu, which includes a grilled portobello-mushroom sandwich with roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, mozzarella, and a balsamic reduction. Available at all hours, the dinner menu aims for upscale, as does the interior, where metal trellises with floral designs stud the walls and bright-yellow tablecloths swathe tables. Patrons can dab their faces with bright-purple napkins, which ably conceal blots of wine or Rorschach tests of grape jelly.
Legends Express Car Wash bathes begrimed buggies in a step-ladder of comprehensive car wash services. Starting with the most basic service, each subsequent ride rinse comes with everything offered by the service directly below it, plus more. Start off with a spray wax, rust preventer, and ultimate dry ($5), ensuring your fine fendered friend leaves looking sleek and swimsuit ready. Or, trade up to the protect and shine wash, which comes accompanied by Blue Coral protectant and triple-foam polish to protect vehicles from road salt and all weather elements ($8). Boasting Black Magic tire dressing to varnish the tires, the wheel deal wash ($10) also comes with a rim shine and wheel brightener to ensure a vibrant vehicular visage from any angle. Last but not least, the ultimate wash ($12) offers an extensive and exhaustive exterior expunging, starting with everything included in the wheel deal wash, and then adding a water-busting Rain-X glass treatment, increasing wet-weather visibility by repelling rain, sleet, snow, and all other matter of cloud tears from perambulator portholes.