Woah. There are probably some beautiful breakfasts lurking around in my checkered past that I don’t recall, but today’s breakfast is certainly the most beautiful one I can think of in my blissed out state. I’ve been hearing bits and pieces about Wellington’s. They say they’re into sustainably produced food, and they’re interested in local. All these things sound good to me. What I hadn’t realized is the extra added Renaissance Hotel piece and all the corporate moolah that entailed.
So what kinds of beauty? It’s like Gideon Putnam beauty. Remember those unbelievable buffet tables of well-prepared breakfast and lunch dishes in a setting that is just about Roccoco if it weren’t Victorian? The Renaissance hotel, which is at Eagle and State Streets, has been renovated by pulling off all the dismal drywall and other crap that covered over some of the most delicious paneling and molding in the city. So just stepping inside is a wonderful little trip back a century or so. (I would let go of the obnoxious blue lighting at the check in stations, but no one asked me about it during the construction.)
The dining room of Wellington’s has been styled to suit the more modern architectural features of its exterior and it’s done in just about perfect mid-century modern, with irresistible post-modern tweaks here and there. I sat in a booth along the State Street side and was immediately impressed by the view, which I highly recommend. Even though it was a rainy Sunday morning in January I have to say I was put in a spell by looking into the statehouse lawn. Over my right shoulder was the clock tower and carillon of City Hall. I can’t recommend this place for a Sunday breakfast highly enough. Just do it.
Notice how I haven’t mentioned the food yet. It might be the best part. There are the typical eggs, waffles and pancakes with a few standouts. I was ready for something hearty. The corned beef brisket caught my eye as I scanned down the list. The word hash is in the description, and so my muddled early morning mind had a dish of corned beef hash envisioned, with all the typical things that might go on that plate. When the brisket arrived at my table I was taken aback a little bit by the grilled tomato and scallion, fingerling potatoes with scraps of acorn squash, a poached egg and four or so slices of corned beef. I was a little bent out of shape.
Then I began tasting. The urge to describe it as an OMG moment is strong, but it was beyond that. Sitting in a lovely space with this beautifully prepared, simple but intriguing food was uplifting in a Sunday morning special kind of way. Each bite was a new opportunity to blend together the veggies or poached egg or the squash and potatoes with the brisket, which was tender, juicy and flavored with a subtle briny corning like our ancestors never had. The cook obviously knew the precise moment to take the veggies off the grill, just kissed with the right amount of carmelization to bring the flavor to peak. The potato and squash hash had the perfect amount of squash to bring the fingerlings one step forward from nice or good to extraordinary. No sauces were needed. And I'm a person who usually goes out for breakfast specifically to have goopy sauces.
I didn’t think I had my phone with me, so I don’t have photos, but I’m going to be happy with telling you to just go and look for yourself, or check out the photos in Steve's post. My breakfast, which was the most expensive on the menu, with coffee and orange juice, tax and tip, was $30.84 - equivalent to a Gideon Putnam Sunday brunch.
Get a seat with a good view. This is definitely a gorgeous Sunday morning breakfast opportunity right here in our little town and I advise you to take advantage of it as soon as possible and as often as possible.
I would include more links, but they don't seem to have much of a separate web presence from the hotel, and the information about the restaurant is fairly stingy.
LorreBob sez: Sunday breakfast in Albany can be awesome.