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.
Specializing in daily-made cookies, brownies, and scones, Bake For You instills confectionery creations with local and organic ingredients, free-range eggs, and smooth Vermont butter. Cookies ($18 for two dozen) come in six fanciful flavors, including traditional tongue pleasers classic chocolate chip or old-fashioned oatmeal cookie, and free-spirited savorers can succumb to Bake For You's signature white-chocolate-chip butter cookie, which erupts with dried cranberry bursts.
Lee and Barrye Cohen have been roasting and brewing fresh beans into caffeinated elixirs since 1976, when they first began expanding horizons with then-unheard-of espresso and cappuccinos. Using the same trusty vintage coffee roaster they used back then, they continue to roast aromatic gourmet beans. They brighten mornings and afternoon slumps with traditional coffee or energize lattes, mochas, and chai with rich espresso. Chefs cook up a menu of updated classics daily with local farm-fresh eggs and housemade sauces, stacking egg sandwiches with andouille sausage and deli sandwiches with pit-baked ham.
On select evenings, melodies and spoken words can be heard emanating from the Troy location, which hosts an open-mic night where local artists play music or slam poetry books onto the floor as guests sip cocktails and wine. The Cohens are proud of their local roots, and give back the loyalty they've received by frequently donating to local charitable causes. Daily Grind also has an online store, which outfits kitchens with loose-leaf teas, cappuccino machines, and gelato machines from brands such as Baratza, Gaggia, and Nemox.
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.
A native of Jakarta, Executive Chef Yono Purnomo polished his culinary techniques under the tutelage of noted chefs including Master Chef Fritz Sonnenschmidt, a dean of the Culinary Institute of America. Yono developed his own style of blending Indonesian dishes with a continental smorgasbord that encompasses global flavors, grabbing various accolades along the way. Along with his wife, resident dessert artist Donna, and son Dominick, GM and sommelier, Yono works to provide a dining experience that has been praised by Gayot and Fodor's. He augments the standard menu, which features exotic blends of lemongrass, coconut milk, lime leaves, and dragon-mouthed sambals, with nightly rotating features. And the 12-foot wine loft offers 700 selections that embody the tastes of 20 countries. The opulence of the wine selection and cuisine is mirrored in the revamped 19th-century townhouse replica where diners feast. With just 15 tables, each set with custom-made china, the intimate space stretches beneath tin ceilings and flaunts bronzed mirrors and original woodwork. The focal point of the dining room is a large crystal chandelier above a rich mahogany service table. It's here where a professional, friendly service team has catered to guests for nearly 30 years.
Named for Herman Melville, Melville’s Mug celebrates the esteemed author with walls the color of the deep sea and a pair of carved, wooden whales. Fair-trade and organic coffee blends from Capital City Roasters top the café's burnished counter, as well as freshly baked pastries illuminated by the soft glow of pendant lights. The kitchen staff prepares a light menu of deli sandwiches, which diners can enjoy at a cluster of round, wrought iron café tables.