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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The City Beer Hall

Ms. Garlic and I are big fans of the City Beer Hall, which with the highly regrettable pending closing of Mahar's will be the best general beer bar in Albany.  It has an excellent rotating selection of taps and very good pub food, as well as a solid brunch.   There's also a decent-mini pizza that comes free with every beer (although we weren't given the tickets this visit and had to ask after our second round, which had never happened before.)

In a constructive spirit, however, I feel compelled to note that there were a couple of glitches at our last visit that are probably worth noting.   First, although we arrived around 8 with full table service still on, we waited at least half an hour without one of the servers (who were taking orders from all of the surrounding parties, including a couple who came after us) so much as looking in our direction.   We gave up and just ordered ourselves from the bar, as often happens when table service is ongoing and you order from the bartender without sitting at the bar, our tab got completely screwed up.   Since the servers have always been friendly and efficient when we've had service, I'm guessing this is an issue with how the tables are allocated between the servers.  The seating area consists of old beer-hall style long benches and tables (an idea, I must admit, I prefer in theory to practice) that when the bar is busy often accommodate multiple parties, and a couple times in my experience servers don't seem to be clear who's responsible for what or miss new people coming in.

Another bit of consumer advice is that when it comes to cocktails, be careful.  Our friend had the special tequila cocktail, which was very good.   Since I didn't really feel like a second beer for whatever reason and the bourbon selection was good, this tempted me to order an old-fashioned.  This...did not go well.   Rather than the orange rind at most added as garnish to the classic cocktail, there seemed to be a muddled orange in it, which gave the drink the texture of orange juice with extra pulp.  Worse, there seemed to be one of those fruit mixes that taste vaguely like four artificial fruits and not quite like any single one added, completely swamping the taste of the bourbon with an unpleasant taste.   I would probably advise sticking with the special cocktails or keeping it to straight drinks if you're not a beer person.   

It's a terrific place overall -- come for the excellent selection of beers, and try the Brussels sprouts and the wild boar schnitzel over spaetzle. Hopefully the lapses in service will get straightened out.

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