We all deserve a break from our daily labors from time to time. And what better way to enjoy a respite than a night out with good friends enjoying a good meal?
Such was my good fortune Friday night as Wife L and I dined with Friends W at Alee’s Restaurant in Utica.
It was a winning night all around.
To start we enjoyed a terrific artichoke appetizer that comes mild, medium or hot. Parmesan cheese and select spices cover the wonderfully flavorful artichokes, which we scooped onto crusty bread. For Friend M and I, it was washed down with a Tyskie, a Polish beer that is a nod to the Italian-Polish cuisine the restaurant serves. (There were actually incredible beer specials that night: Saranac Irish Red and Harp for just $2 a bottle. Unusual but very welcome to see that at a fine-dining restaurant.)
My entree was wonderful: a sauteed haddock filet with a bread crumb topping accompained by three perfectuly cooked jumbo shrimp. Very good. My side order, a sweet potato concoction, was the only item left on my plate. It was fine, but not worth filling up on.
Wife L and Friend M both had the rack of lamb, and both declared the meat perfectly cooked and some of the finest they’ve ever had. Really, it was that good. Green beans and a side of pasta complemented the main course. Friend V had chicken parmigiana, a huge tender piece of meat with a terrific tomato sauce to top it off.
The only minor letdown was dessert: a a slice of chocolate decadence cake was a tad dry, and not so decadent.
Alee’s is just off Genesee Street on Elizabeth Street, across from the long-established King’s Auto Sales, whose owner, Mr. M., had recommended Alee’s to us earlier this summer.
We ventured over to Varick Street after our wonderful meal, on Friend M’s recommendation of the Nail Creek Pub and Brewery.
A great bar with a great beer selection (more than 100 offerings), the pub was a perfect place to continue our conversations. The Nail Creek has a good vibe and a long porch, where beverages were consumed and the summer evening enjoyed.
The long beer list includes Saranac entries, of course, with the brewery being just down the road, as well as Delerium Tremens, Browns Rye, S. Tier Cherry Saison, Guinness, Hennepin, and Dogfish Head, to name a few.
Variety is indeed the spice of life.
Happy Labor Day everyone!