No matter how hard he tried, Kevin Brown couldn't shake the chef's hat. After years of working in restaurants and hotels throughout Connecticut and New York, he finally decided to leave the kitchen for good in exchange for a family-friendly job at GE. Once he retired, though, the siren song of the professional kitchen beckoned to him again, and he purchased a Cajun catering company. In no time, Kevin Brown was back in the kitchen at Café NOLA, which stands for New Orleans, Louisiana.
As both the chef and owner, Kevin devises a menu that spotlights the distinct blends of herbs and spices that characterize Cajun food. As a result, the kitchen churns out alligator bites, crawfish nachos, and crab cakes, as well as sandwiches with a Southern influence, such as the NOLA club and a grilled portobello sandwich. Honey-stung fried chicken served with cornbread makes stomachs grumble from across the room, and étouffée, a house specialty, sails out to guests accompanied by dirty rice. The beignets aren't the only sweet thing around the place—live entertainment occurs up to five evenings a week, running the gamut from tarot-card readings to zydeco music.
Located on the glistening shores of the Mohawk River, just over the bridge to Schenectady, The Waters Edge Lighthouse Restaurant allows patrons to partake in its waterfront ambiance year-round. Amidst the warmth, charm, and relaxing fire-side dining options, the restaurant has become a favorite with Capital District patrons for nearly a decade, earning praise from publications such as Metroland and Capital Regional Living Magazine for having some of the best dining around.
Apart from the view, what has wooed customers are tempting options such as fresh seafood and steaks, in addition to a variety of daily food and drink specials to please the most discerning pallets. These dishes feel right at home in the restaurant's elegant dining room or, on warmer days, on the outdoor patio that overlooks the river and the boats moored to the docks.
The first IHOP—the dream of founders Al and Jerry Lapin—opened in 1958 in Toluca Lake, California, and was originally dubbed the International House of Pancakes. Since then, rapid expansion has led to myriad milestones across the company's colorful history, from introducing its modern IHOP acronym in 1973 to its 1,000th restaurant opening in Layton, Utah, in 2001.
Today, the company stands strong with around 1,500 locations across North and Central America, each one an enthusiastic dispenser of pancakes, french toast, and tables constructed entirely out of bacon. Though IHOP is known as a bastion of breakfast, it also stays open during the day and into the evening, delivering lunch and dinner as well.
Amid the hustle and bustle of Ottimo Pizza's kitchen, a brick oven blazes with baking pizzas, footlong calzones, and Italian breads. Chefs adorn circular and square crusts in whole-milk mozzarella; layer subs with housemade meatballs, premium steak, or crispy chicken breast; and slather wings in savory and sweet sauces. In the casual dining room, decor pieces nod to the restaurant's heritage, from a mural of an Italian countryside to a portrait of the Roman emperor Tiberius made from the same macaroni he used to toss at offending plebes.
The chefs at Bangkok Bistro not only prepare dishes, such as pad thai and a rainbow of curries, they also plate up roll after roll of inventive sushi creations. The Schenectady roll marries crab, spicy tuna, and baked salmon with fried onion, eel sauce, and spicy mayo, whereas the Facebook roll showcases crab, cream cheese, asparagus, and roe. Bento boxes come neatly packed with appetizers, teriyakis, and salads and platters of fried rice come spiked with ingredients such as pineapple or basil leaves.
Starting at 8 a.m., Marcella's Family Restaurant opens its doors for a breakfast service that features fried eggs, sides of bacon, and pancakes straight from the griddle. As the day progresses, the kitchen leans more on its Italian roots, preparing baked ziti, veggie pizzas, and chicken parmigiana. Elsewhere on the menu, customers can find American favorites including subs, wraps, and burgers.