677 Prime

I had an excellent evening at 677 Prime (677 Broadway, Albany, NY). Albany John and I were guests of some generous benefactors, and the night marks one of the highlights of my dining experience.
I’d never managed my way over to the Prime before this trip. The interior was very warm and open, with cozy and personal seating arrangements. A few chandeliers here and there, and warm lighting throughout.
Coat checking is done by the hostesses upon checking in, and one can sip a few cocktails at the bar. If a party is small enough and feeling casual, one can dine entirely at the bar.
Once seated, service was very friendly and accomodating. Seats were comfortable enough to sit in for several hours, and far enough to feel like there was a bit of breathing room while still being cozy.

On to the food.

Our party ordered some seafood platters ($28 per person) to start. A large bowl filled with pellets of ice and topped with a variety of seafood: Lobster claws and tails (half-tail per person ordered), crab claws, crab meat, raw oysters (one per person), raw clams(one per person), shrimp, and a lemony granita of some sort. There was also a trio of seafood sauces – remoulade, a pineapple-sriracha kind that Albany John really enjoyed, and cocktail.

I showed remarkable restraint in not wolfing down just about everything in front of me. The shrimp were very large, but I find chilled shrimp to be a little muted in flavor, so this wasn’t the highlight of the array for me.
The clams that night were a bit pungent for me- I wonder if they were cherry stones?
The crab claws were sweet, and I could have eaten several hundred of the tiny delights.

The crab meat was sitting in a dish, and – yum. Might have been better than the claws because they were a bit warmer than the crab claws that were sitting directly on the ice, or because it was very easy to pluck a large chunk of sweet crab meat out of the bowl.

The lobster tails were halved, and a tasty specimen of lobster tail. No complaints at all . The only complaint to have about lobsters is when they’re brutally overcooked and inedible. These tails were more than edible.
Lobster claws are probably my favorite part of the lobster, and the meat was perfectly cooked and sweet. If you can’t tell, I usually eat most of my seafood hot, and I still think I prefer lobster hot over lobster cold, but that is like saying “Oh, I like my caviar with creme fraiche” or “Oh, I like my caviar with blinis”. Is either preparation going to be a deal breaker? No way.
The highlight of the platter were the oysters, though! I’ve had raw oysters a few times and have never been a big fan of them. A bit too intense and slimy for me. Albany John is okay with them on occasion, but never really goes out of his way for them. But these oysters. They were lightly sweet, delicately sized, and now I’m a raw oyster convert. Oh, Prime, how could you?
The only minor flaw with the platter was that the raw oysters and clams each had several small bits of shell fragments in them. I could understand it happening once, but nearly all of the oysters and clams had tiny bits of shell in them, which was unexpected for a restaurant of this caliber. It was a bit awkward at times to be dining and have to fish little fragments of shell out of my mouth after chomping down on it. But that said, I’d order oysters at the Prime again without hesitation.

We also got an order of Bacon “Steak” ($9). Two thick slices of bacon with caramelized apples and cornbread. I had a nibble of the bacon. It was fine – tasted like thick ham to me.

Albany John got the Heirloom Beet salad ($12), which means I had a few bites, too. It was adorably plated. There were some arugala greens on the side. A few of them were wilted, but they seemed like more of a decorative afterthought to the main attraction – Yellow and red beets with soft feta cheese and pistachio brittle. Great combination overall. The beet side was tossed lightly in a tangy vinaigrette, while the greens were naked. Interesting, but it worked.

At this point, I think you can tell that I forgot to bring my camera. I was a bit sad, but trust me, the food and company more than made up for it, and has me looking for a reason to return for an equally decadent dinner.

On to the main courses! Albany John got the 14 oz Certified Angus Beef All Natural Never Ever Steak ($48). A bit of a mouthful, but quite enjoyable. No hormones, grass fed – happy beef. He ordered it Au Poivre, and true to its name, it came out coated in black pepper. He ordered medium rare, and it came out about medium. We’re thinking it sat for a bit of time while waiting for other dishes in our party, since our waiter had originally advised us that steaks come out rarer than expected. Still, quite enjoyable. The “au poivre” sauce was wonderfully rich and flavorful, and the beef quite tender for a strip steak, especially one that was grass fed.

I got the 22 oz USDA Prime Cowboy Steak ($45), which is a bone-in ribeye. I’m a huge fan of ribeyes, and this was quite a treat. I ordered it rare, and it came out beautifully cool on the outside. If I ever want a black and blue steak, I’m coming back here. The char was great on the outside, if a bit heavy on the blackening seasoning (just a touch overwhelming for the beautiful steak – next time I’d ask them to only season one side, or only char it half as much). I expected the steak to be rare only in the deep center given the dark exterior, but it was rare almost entirely throughout. Outstanding. For an extra $10, I added shaved truffles on top of the steak. The combination was deliciously deep and rich. Lightly cooked beef + truffles? Meaty intensity. I was pretty much in heaven. And there was plenty of fat on the outside of the steak. It was lovely.

We also got some sides to share. The mashed potato trio ($15) was made of lobster, truffle/wild mushroom, and another one I didn’t really manage to try. Heh. I didn’t pull much flavor out of the mashed potatoes, but I was also eating a wildly flavorful main dish, which could have been why.
Creamed spinach ($9), was true to its name and creamy, and the spinach greens were still intact. Yummy – no overcooked mush here!
Grilled asparagus with pecorino ($9) was a very dainty serving. It could have easily served as a side for one. But they were cooked just the right amount and were tender without being too firm or too soft.
We also had a few bottles of red wine. I’d meant only to have a glass to be polite, but my very generous hosts were, well, very generous. I had a few glasses of a Cape May red and a 1995 Ridge. At least I think it was called Cape May. I’m not really sure. We had the Cape May when we were first seated through appetizers and dinner, and once we started our entrees we switched to the ’95 Ridge. I think the Ridge was called “Monte Bello”.
Okay, I’m terrible with wine names and years and such, but these were amazing. The first wine was jammy and pretty darned sweet for a red. It went surprisingly well with our seafood appetizers and I’m pretty sure it goes well with anything.
But that Ridge… oh my gosh. It was a bit richer, thicker, and was even sweeter than the Cape May. I am probably doing them a disservice in continuing to describe either of these fine wines, but jammy smooth barely even cuts it. It’s like it lightly stuck a little bit to my tongue to linger around and be delicious.
I found both wines to be even more enjoyable on their own, as opposed to sipped right after having a bite of food, so I tended to have water after a bite of food, followed by wine. They were just phenomenal that way!

We finished up dinner with a tasting of liquor and dessert. We got a tasting trio of … I think it was cognac. They were really tasty. I think it was Remy Martin – VSOP, XO, and 1738. One was a 17something (it was a date – like I said, I’m terrible with names) and I really liked that one out of all three. Tons of vanilla and caramel notes, and went down really smooth. Albany John got one of them on the rocks, and bleck – way too many rocks for me! Albany John usually has one or two cubes to open up the flavors when he has a whiskey or scotch, but only mentioned “rocks”, so on the rocks it came. I think whatever it was we drank would be great with a bit of water to open the flavor up a touch more, but on the rocks really muted the flavors. It was really fun to have it neat and on the rocks to compare – such a huge difference in flavor!

For dessert we split some carrot cake ($12) and trio of chocolates. The carrot cake was huge! I think it was about 7 or more layers! It rivals Jo Jo’s carrot cake, that’s how awesome it is (although I’d have to eat a slice of each of them side-by-side to tell for sure, hee hee). Soft yet rich frosting, fluffy and moist cake studded with raisins and nuts. Great ending to the meal.

The trio of chocolates was comprised of a flourless chocolate cake, mousse, and swiss roll. I’m not a big chocolate fan, but these were impossible to resist. The flourless chocolate cake was just dense enough, the mousse ephemerally light, and the swiss roll pleasantly creamy. A lovely way to end our meals, and they were all the perfect temperature. Just a hair cooler than room temp – not chilled to death in a refrigerator or anything.
Dinner at The Prime was definitely one of the best meals I’ve had out in 2010, and Albany John and I were quite happy were were invited out as guests of our hosts. It was a lovely evening overall – the pacing was drawn out enough to allow plenty of conversation, and completely unrushed.
But you guys know that if I ate dessert, it means I wasn’t able to finish all of my entree…

I found my battery at home and couldn’t resist snapping a few pictures of the leftovers I brought home. Don’t those truffles look great?

Beautiful beef, fabulous fat, terrific truffles. I don’t think I could ever have enough truffles.

  1. Bacon steak *drool drool drool*
    now I'm imaging dipping it into good red wine

  2. Sue Rock said:

    Oh, my. I've eated at Prime at Saratoga National, and that seafood platter is wonderful. I enjoyed the shrimp, but loved the lobster.

    That steak looks scrumptious.

  3. JMP said:

    I love raw oysters and cooked clams, but raw clams are just too much for me.

  4. JMP said:

    Also, I'm sure our friend Daniel B. will chime in here, but the 1995 Ridge Monte Bello is, I believe, predominantly Californian cab sauv. So if you liked that, you might want to give some of other California cab sauv blends a chance. Me, I tend to think a lot of the Californian reds are just too, well, big? I really am into Spanish and Portuguese wines these days – lots of tannins.

  5. You rang?

    I can't even begin to tell you how pleased I am that AJ has had her eyes open to the wonderful world of red wines that aren't sticky sweet.

    She's just been drinking the wrong stuff. There is a lot out there that doesn't cost $100 a bottle that is ripe and jammy.

    California is a great place to start.

    The Ridge Monte Bello is mostly Cab Sauv, but it would technically be classified as a Bordeaux blend (there is Merlot, Petite Verdot and Cab Franc in the bottle as well). That is not to say that AJ should rush out and look for the wines of Bordeaux.

    It's amazing what 15 years can do to soften a big CA wine.

    But I wouldn't advise running out and looking for California Cabs or Merlots. We should go to All Star together and talk to one of their people.

    I'm thinking some nice jammy blackberry Zinfandells could hit the spot.

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