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.
The crunch of cracking peanut shells lends a steady bass line to the din of merry conversation and clinking pint glasses at Broadway Brew Biergarten. Servers in German-inspired dirndls and knee socks flit between hand-built picnic tables, ferrying plates of wiener schnitzel and Reuben sandwiches. Behind the wood-inlaid bar, taps unleash 16 German and Belgian beers, such as Duvel, Hofbräu, and Spaten. Bartenders also uncap 80 foreign and domestic bottled beers without even using their teeth and shake and stir cocktails. To complement meals, Broadway Brew Biergarten maintains a fleet of hookahs ready to unfurl plumes of smoke scented with mint, fruit, and other flavors.
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.