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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.
Times Union food critic Cheryl Clark didn't mince words when describing the Illium Steak Wedge salad at Illium Cafe, declaring it "a revelation." Tossed with the salad's bacon, toasted almonds, fried goat cheese, and bleu-cheese dressing were "the most tender, flavorful medallions of beef I've enjoyed in a while."
The salad is one of the many dishes lovingly crafted from local and organic ingredients by the cafe's resident chef, Marla Ortega. Alongside salads, her lunchtime feasts spotlight innovative sandwiches, such as quesadillas filled with seared scallops, bok choy, and local cow's-milk cheese infused with black truffle. That spirit of experimentation remains for breakfast, when Marla mixes seared wild salmon into omelets and pairs banana-and-macadamia-nut pancakes with banana-infused whipped butter.
An entire menu of coffee drinks complements Marla's cuisine, running the gamut from gourmet roasts and frappes to iced drinks, which are made with coffee beans harvested from icebergs. The Times Union also praised the café's elegantly decorated dining room for its "gorgeous woodwork," which complements its painted tin ceiling, pull-down glass windows, and landscape mural.
The word "homemade" stakes out more than its fair share of territory on Bootlegger’s on Broadway's menu. Slaw, potato salad, macaroni salad, stuffing, artichoke spread, marinara sauce—chefs whip up all of these in-house to accompany meals and fill sandwiches. They also make pizza by hand and grill 10-ounce lean ground beef, turkey, and veggie burgers, which diners can order topped with everything from slow-roasted pulled pork to bleu cheese crumbles. Thirty-eight beers on tap from breweries such as Brooklyn and Red Hook help wash down each bite, and occasional live musicians and DJs encourage patrons to dab their mouths in 5/4 time.
D.P. Dough’s extensive menu sports an appetite-sating array of unique calzones, tasty wings, and fresh wraps. Before setting into a bready entree, conquer a feta- and olive-laden greek salad ($6.48), or bulk up a saucy moustache with an order of baked wings ($4.63 for six). Each of D.P. Dough's calzones ($6.48 each) is as unique as a snowflake's mix tape: the A'wakin N'Bacon rises and shines with scrambled eggs, bacon, and mozzarella, and the lunch-ready Barbecue Steak overflows with steak, mozzarella, american cheese, and zesty sauce. The mozzarella- and garlic-accented Eggplant Zone buddies up with the broccoli-, mushroom-, and ricotta-filled Veggie Zone to fill the exclusive center of Venn diagrams charting vegetarian tastes.