I enjoyed a wonderful afternoon at the Troy Music Hall last weekend with Carol Jantsch of the Philadelphia Orchestra playing tuba with the Albany Symphony Orchestra. I never imagined the tuba could be so amazing (so now I think she's in fact a superhero, too). Despite pressure from the large lady to my left, who was very nice, and the hard seat which aggravated me even more, it was an amazing concert. I closed my eyes and let it take me where I wanted to be, and, my friends, that was to be a light dinner at Lucas Confectionery, just a few skips away, following the performance.
We had a reservation for 5:30, but it wasn't needed. I couldn't help wondering why this place wasn't packed with post-musica artsy-fartsy doctors and lawyers. It doesn't look like much on the outside, and maybe those regulars have their routine and Lucas wasn't on their radar yet. Zena, Goddess of Fire, and friends, ventured in.
We asked to be seated with feet on the floor; many of the tables in the front of the house had barstools, so they put us on the end of a long table in the "garden", which was absolutely lovely. Twinkly lights, exposed brick, rough hewn tables, little candles, simple unmatched small plates and napkins - very homey and romantic.
I ordered a glass of Sauvignon Blanc (Loire Valley, France, $8), Jag asked for a glass of the Chardonnay (from Split Creek in Napa, $9), and FF wanted a glass of Nine Pin Cider Signature Blend (a six ounce pour, $4). The menu was mostly wine and beer (uh, yes, I get it, it's a wine bar). The food offerings were really just nibbles, including a short list of cheeses (many noted prize winners), charcuterie, a few dips, and small dishes like salmon with cabbage and caper aioli. There wasn't a whole lot on the menu that was fresh, or vegetable, or fruit for that matter.
Our evening repas was slow in coming. I was a bit hmmmmmm'd that we were already being asked for a second drink order when our food had yet to hit the table. It finally started with a slaw of shaved brussels sprouts flavored with horseradish and hazelnuts, a bright, tasty salad with a touch of sweet and salty to even out the bitterness of the raw veggies. We were hungry, and managed to put away a little bowl of sliced baguette in record time, but the friendly staff were quick to offer more. The bread was chewy and tasty and not too crusty and a must under everything we enjoyed that night.
We ordered 3 for $13's: 3 charcuterie items and 3 cheeses. These included the Country Pate from Three Little Pigs (Washington D.C., I think) - holding your attention with an intense porky goodness, herbs and onion in a spread that wasn't at all greasy; the Finocchiona from Molnari & Sons, a fennel salami that could only be described as smooth and mellow; and Smoked Duck Breast (also from Three Little Pigs) - tender and delicious. Our cheeses (each a 1.5 ounce portion) were the Middlebury Blue from Blue Ledge Farm in Salisbury, VT (with a side of candied walnuts), which I thought was slightly rubbery, stinky, grainy then smooth, and really quite delicious; a tart and creamy Cremont goat and cow cheese (Websterville, VT) topped with sweet, crunchy cocoa nibs; and Invierno, a raw sheep and cows milk hard cheese from Vermont Shepherd, this one sided with candied ginger. We tasted and talked and smiled and gushed. Delicious. Every bite was worth savoring - special, divine, memorable.
What I can't understand, with bread and cheese and wine and spreads and pickles and dips and smoked fishes abounding, why Lucas isn't offering anything a bit more substantial to it's guests, like a gorgeous sandwich creation. Me thinks they are more intent on liquor sales, but I could be just being bitchy, which happens, even to superheroes. But the food WAS amazing, and I intend to return.
Make a date at Lucas. Put it on your radar. If you love to nibble on a few guilty pleasures and sip on a nice glass of wine, then trust me, you won't be disappointed.
A light meal for three, including 5 drinks, came to $76.68 including tax plus tip.
Zena, Goddess of Fire
PS: Lucas is not a good choice if you are avoiding coffee, sugar, alcohol, gluten, meat, salt, or dairy. Just saying.