Wine Bar and Bistro on Lark- Albany

This week we traveled to Albany for my New York State Bar swearing-in ceremony.  Consistent with her normal practice, my mom had researched several dinner options for us for the eve of the ceremony, and she suggested that we try The Wine Bar and Bistro on Lark.  It had received very good reviews on several websites, and the menu looked very enticing.IMG_2416

The entrance on Lark takes you down from the street to the basement where you are immediately greeted by low candlelight, unique maps of the places from where the restaurant gets its wine, and of course racks of wine bottles.  We elected for back patio seating, which has a very European cafe style with low handing strings of light-bulbs, lattice wall decor, wall fountains, and even a wall mural of a vineyard.

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We arrived just in time for one round of Happy Hour drinks.  I was in a very white wine mood, so I ordered a glass of Vermentino, Sella & Mosca “La Cala” (2011 Sardegna, Italy).IMG_2417

The waitress described the wine as similar to a Pinto Grigio but more fruity and still dry.  It was just right – refreshing, light, and just the right balance of flavor for me.  Mike ordered the Boulevardier which is Bourbon Whiskey, Campari, Italian Vermouth.  It was not especially our favorite.

When my mom arrived, we chose a bottle of Carmenere, Santa Rita “Reserva” (20011 Rapel Valley) for our dinner.  I do enjoy Chilean wine, and this was quite good.IMG_2431

There were so many items on the menu that sounded amazing, so we decided to order a selection of small plates to try as many as possible.

First, the cheese plate.

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From left to right, we received one soft cheese, called Oma, one medium cheese, called Camenbrie, and one hard cheese, the name of which I have forgotten.  All three were cow’s milk cheese, and it was so wonderful to try three different consistencies.  To accompany the cheese were apple slices, house roasted nuts, and apricot preserves.  AMAZING.

Second, the charred beet salad.IMG_2421

The beets came with frisee, oranges, ricotta, and a chimichurri vinaigrette.  The beets were beautiful, the ricotta was so creamy, and the chimichurri sauce was dynamite.  The waitress told us it was made of parsley, cilantro, and lots of garlic.  We scraped up every last bit with our bread.

Third, sautéed escargots with garlic herb butter and grilled baguette.IMG_2422

This was slightly less traditional, in the sense that the escargots had already been extracted from their shells, but it was still very delicious.  I really enjoyed the crusty bread.  The menu says they are cooked in butter, but we felt that the dish seemed lighter than we would have expected, and we wondered if in fact they had used olive oil instead.  Nevertheless, a solid escargots dish.

Fourth, roasted bone marrow with hot pepper jelly, pickled cucumber, and grilled baguette.IMG_2423

This was quite a sight to behold.  Usually when we have an occasion to eat bone marrow it is because we are eating osso bucco (veal shank) and we use tiny spoons to scoop out the marrow from the center of the bone.  This dish provided much easier access to the rich buttery marrow.  We scooped it out onto the baguette slices, and they just seemed to melt in our mouths.  The pepper jelly provided a perfect complement that was not overpowering, but added a sweet and spicy kick to the dish.  Wonderful, and very much a delicacy.

Fifth, lamb bolognese with penne and Grana Padano.IMG_2424
Once again, I found myself presently surprised to be enjoying a lamb dish.  This bolognese was really a beautiful sauce.  And the pasta was al dente.  And there was so much delicious cheese on top.

It needs a close-up.IMG_2427

And here’s another shot of the bone marrow flowing out onto the baguette.

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This was certainly a delectable treat!  Anyone visiting Albany should definitely visit this restaurant.

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