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Valentines Day at Penthouse Catering @ TASTE
5 Course Prix Fixe Menu
$67 per Person, Does not include beverages, tax or gratuity

Spend a romantic evening overlooking the Albany skyline with your love at Taste's Penthouse facilities. Greeted by a champagne cocktail sampler, relax in your partner's company while sampling cuisine artfully designed to be shared and enjoyed. Reservations requested. 518.694.3322 or 45 Beaver Street 

Lobster Bisque
   Apple Cider & Ginger Accents

Mushroom Consommé
   Braised Lamb, Pickled Radish, Baby Greens

Winter Squash Bisque
   Maple Bourbon Syrup, Sage Crème

Taste Salad
   Dried Fruits & Candied Nuts, Pomegranate Vinaigrette

   Roasted Beets, Bleu Cheese, Pine Nuts, Pancetta Vinaigrette

Baby Romaine
   Truffle Cheddar, White Balsamic Vinaigrette, Grapes & Golden Raisins

Seared Montauk Yellowfin Tuna
   Purple & Gold Beet Coulis, Mustard Greens

Pork "Lechon"
   Sweet Ponzu Glaze, Horseradish Celery Salad

Artichoke Ragout
   Sundried Tomato, Winter Greens, Roasted Fennel

New Bedford Sea Scallops
   Cashew Butter, Poached Mushrooms, Baby Bok Choy

Veal Cheeks
   Red Wine & Rosemary Braised, Smoked Tomato Mascarpone Risotto, Brookline

Moulard Duck Breast
   Espresso Date Puree, Roasted Root Vegetables

Oven Roasted Beef Tenderloin
    Sweet & Gold Gratin, Asparagus, Sriracha Demi Glace

Vegetarian "Cassoulet"
   Exotic Mushrooms, Winter Squash, Baby Potatoes, Hickory   Scented Kidney Beans

Chef Inspired Dessert Station
Coffee and Tea Presented Tableside

Thumbnail image for La Serre.jpgThis Valentine's Day, La Serre is offering a prix-fixe menu for couples and more traditional options for those who prefer to design their own meal. Located at 14 Green Street in downtown Albany, NY, reservations can be made by calling 518.463.6056.

Cupid's Choice
$129.00 per couple
Lobster Ravioli with blush vodka sauce
Caesar Salad
Passion Fruit Sorbet
Chateaubrian ~ Roast Filet for two
Selection from Dessert Cart
Fansz Sparkling Rose Toast
Lump Crab & Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail  16
Escargot   Roasted tomato & garlic butter  12
Pâté Maison   Mousse style blend of duck & goose   11
Beef Carpaccio   Truffle oil, lava sea salt   & parmesan  13
Seafood Bisque   9
Caesar Salad   Romaine, garlic croutons, dusted with romano cheese and filet of anchovies    10
Nicolina Mixed greens tossed with lemon herb vinaigrette, portabellas, chevre & roasted peppers   10
Iceberg Wedge Bleu cheese, crispy bacon   10
Hudson Valley Breast of Duck  a la orange 32
Lobster Ravioli   Egg & squid ink pasta, roma tomatoes  in a sage & garlic butter    28
Pomegranate Salmon   Seared, soy scented tangy molasses   29
Wild Mushroom Ravioli Truffle cream, exotic mushroom, parmesan & Taleggio  24
Sliced Tenderloin of Beef & Shrimp Scampi   Filet mignon with jumbo shrimp in roasted garlic butter   39
Chicken Reggiano Panko crusted with parmesan in a creamy sun dried tomato sauce 26
Stuffed Portabella Mushroom Greens, roasted red peppers & imported provolone 24
Classic Bolognese Paparadelle   A blend of pork, beef & sausage, tomato ragu  26

Victory CafeFor Valentine's Day this year, Victory Café offers the following special dinner menu. Price is $26.99 per person. Located at 10 Sheridan Avenue in downtown Albany, NY, reservations can be made by calling 518.463.9113.

Appetizer (Choice of 1)

  • Spinach leaves, pine nuts, dried cranberries tossed in a zesty dressing
  • Lobster Salad Cocktail served in a cocktail glass with a wedge of lemon
  • Cucumber Appetizer Cups filled with lobster salad and a lemon wedge

Entrée (Choice of 1)

  • Baked Salmon with cucumber cream sauce, red potatoes, snow peas and julienne carrots with a lemon vinaigrette
  • NY Strip Steak house seasoned and grilled to your liking, served with mashed potatoes and asparagus
  • Chicken Marsala served with mashed potatoes, snow peas and julienne carrots with a lemon vinaigrette


  • Apple Dumpling served with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce 

Looking to add a little something fun and fashionable (and affordable) to your wardrobe with a stop in one of Downtown's newest retailers - Fashions Unique!

Previously located on Delaware Avenue in Albany, shop owners Charlie Mae Shipmon-Gardiner and James Gardiner say the move to Downtown was a great business decision and they look forward to providing an "elegant look for consumers at reasonable prices."

Located at 153 South Pearl Street, the shop features purses, jewelry, clothing and more. Stop in and see for yourself and stay tuned for more news and photos from Fashions Unique.

Open Monday - Saturday 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Like them on Facebook:

Fashions Unique store.JPGFashions Unique accessories.JPGFashions Unique clothes.JPG 

I love this time of year. It's a time to take a deep breath after the bustle of the holiday season. It's a time to regroup. It's a time to clean out the office fridge. And it's a time to reflect on the year's accomplishments and look ahead to the next year. 

This year, our agency accomplished a lot! 

We firmed up our calendar of events, and can now say definitively that we host seven annual events on Central Avenue--making this one rocking street. The public can visit us any time--and we really mean that--but events like "Drawing Up Central" and the annual "Scarecrows on the Avenue" contest represent a great time to come to the Avenue and see what our businesses have to offer. We also launched "ArtTV" this year, an innovative public art program that shows artists' work inside five busy bus stations on Central Avenue. 

We also got a lot of press. And while I never tire of seeing my own name, "Confidential Sources" come up in the news, what I really get excited about is seeing "Central Avenue" pop up on my Google News Alert. That happened a lot this year, with stories on everything from our restaurants to Westgate Plaza, proving that Central Avenue is one dynamic, happening place to be. And as if to shore up that point, we welcomed a bumper crop of new businesses to Central Avenue this year, including:
  • Jacqueline's Dominican Style Beauty Salon, 132 Central Avenue
  • Champy's Jamaican American Cuisine, 56 Central Avenue
  • Irie Vybez, 313 Central Avenue
  • Parkside Apartments, 260 Washington Avenue
  • Posigen Solar, 997 Central Avenue
  • Nicolas Morales State Farm Agency, 142 Central Avenue
  • The Low Beat, 335 Central Avenue
  • New York State Preservation League Resource Center, 44 Central Avenue
  • ATAX, 979 Central Avenue

This year, we continued to plug our businesses, seeking out opportunities to raise awareness about the district's diverse offerings both on and off-site. We printed another 1,000 copies of the Central Avenue Dining Guide, which we distributed at visitor destinations across the region. We also took our goody bags, packed with materials from our district businesses to conferences and expos across the region. We also coordinated with restaurants and grocery stores to provide samples of our food to several dining events, giving people one more reason to visit Central Avenue the next time they're eating out. 

This time of year is also a time to plan for the future. 

In 2015, we can look forward to several new programs on Central Avenue, including An International Affair, a new dining and cultural series presented by the International Center of the Capital Region at The Linda, WAMC's Performing Arts Studio. The first, which will focus on Japan, will take place on April 23, with subsequent evenings focusing on India, Kenya, and Brazil. 

We will also launch a re-branding campaign for our arts and entertainment district. While many of you have probably noticed the increasing number of cool things taking place around Quail and Central -- witness, for example, "Sunday Funday" and "Rockin' Brunch" events at The Low Beat, or "Food for Thought" film screenings and "Nitty Gritty Slams" at the Linda, or "Word Fest"-related events and world-class blues acts at Pauly's Hotel -- we will be looking to really push that more into the public eye this year. 

In 2014, we created a new brand for this mini-district, and in 2015, we will launch that brand, complete with a signage, programming, and streetscape enhancements. 

Stay tuned. We can't wait to make this year great! 


When it comes to decorating for the holidays, there's nothing as dazzling as the collective creativity of youngsters. Each year, the Central Avenue Business Improvement District works with elementary students from Blessed Sacrament School, Brighter Choice Charter School for Boys, Brighter Choice Charter School for Girls, and the Albany City School's Montessori Magnet School to craft stars for Central Avenue's Shopping District.

This year, students decorated 800 stars to grace the fences at the district's west end, including those in front of Westgate Plaza, Hannaford Plaza, and ShopRite Plaza.

photo 5.JPG

"We love this project because it harnesses the creative talents of so many, and provides an opportunity for businesses and residents to work together to beautify the district," says Anthony Capece, Executive Director for the Central Avenue Business Improvement District.

At Brighter Choice Charter School for Girls, the students painted stars during the after school program. Each student worked hard to make sure that the stars were completely covered with paint. "The scholars were so enthused about painting that they didn't even realize they had paint on their hands and faces! They loved the idea that others would have the chance to enjoy their creativeness," says Sheyla Escoto, Afterschool Program Coordinator.


"This is the third year Brighter Choice Charter Schools has participated in the Star Program and we love it!  The students are excited to decorate the stars, and are thrilled when they are able to see them up on display for the city to see," says Jada Schmidt, Visual Arts Educator, Brighter Choice Charter School for Boys. "This program helps give them a sense of pride in the work that they create because they are able to see others enjoy it all season!"

Each year, this project gets bigger, and it simply wouldn't be possible without the additional support of our generous "Star Sponsors": Hannaford and ShopRite. We also want to express our appreciation for our "Star Student Supporters": American Glass Company of Albany, Honest Weight Food Co-op, Hudson Valley Community College, Danker Florist, Lexington Vacuum, and Northeastern Association of the Blind at Albany.

"The holiday season is a special time of year, when generations of children have experienced the joy of creating and sharing art they made by hand," said Hannaford Community Relations Specialist Amy White. "Hannaford is thrilled to be part of realizing this holiday tradition, as part of a program that our Central Avenue supermarket associates and customers can enjoy."

"As a member of the Central Avenue community, Hudson Valley Community College is pleased to support this effort, which not only helps celebrate the holiday spirit but also the creativity of Albany's elementary school children," said HVCC President Drew Matonak.

"All of us at NABA appreciate the work that the Central Avenue BID does throughout the year, but we especially like participating in a holiday event that shows off Central Avenue and includes our neighbors and the creative work of so many children," says Christopher T. Burke, Executive Director/CEO of Northeastern Association of the Blind at Albany.

Tracy Abbott, co-owner of American Glass Company of Albany said the project is a great way to get children involved in the neighborhood. "Obviously, the CBID has done a lot to upgrade the way Central Avenue looks, and this is a nice way to get the children involved in that effort, and in the larger community," Abbott says.

The stars and holiday garland will be hung on the fences in front of Hannaford Plaza, ShopRite Plaza, Westgate Plaza, Monro Muffler, and Mavis Discount Tire through the first week of January. Please stop by and see these students' beautiful work.

It's not every day you're inspired to call something hauntingly beautiful, but The Secret Garden at Capital Repertory Theatre easily achieves it.

Centering around the tragic events of a young girl (Mary Lennox, played by Brittany Ross) and the chaos she endures early in life - and that which she initially inflicts on others - the secret garden.jpgplay is set in 1906 India and England. A time when cholera has taken a massive toll on the population, it is death and life that both threaten to tear distant family members apart and bring them together.

In the play's early moments, Lennox suffers the loss of her parents and is quickly swept away to her uncle's (Archibald Craven, played by Cole Burden) manor in North Yorkshire. Throughout the performance Ross physically and emotionally maneuvers easily from moments of elation to righteous indignation directed toward her cousin and uncle, among other people.

Upon her arrival in England, Mary is described as bland and sour, only starting to warm up to her new surroundings once she discovers the gardens. It is the secret garden, though, that is the catalyst for her emotional evolution. In her effort to find the key and door to the overgrown garden, she embraces the bedridden Colin, works to aid in his recovery and fights for the manor's future.

Characters who have died are a near constant presence on the stage, dancing between reality and dreams (at times literally), singing out to their loved ones. Most heard and addressed is Lily (Mollie Vogt-Welch), the mother of Colin and wife of Archibald.  Vogt-Welch and Burden boast astounding, heart-wrenching voices. As the depressed Craven, Burden cries out to Vogt-Welch so achingly well it feels less like you're in the heart of downtown Albany and more like you're privy to an opera.  Matching his talent is the angelic voice of Vogt-Welch, who has in fact performed at the Metropolitan Opera.

For their parts, both the garden and Colin are spoken of far more frequently than they are secret-garden.jpgseen, but each has an indelible roll to play. In fact, the garden is hardly seen at all which places the focus less on the blooming flowers and more on the blossoming characters.
There is, as you've come to expect at TheREP, an immense amount of talent on stage and behind the scenes. In The Secret Garden each cast member, even those who grace the stage only momentarily, leaves a mark on the audience.

With sweeping, beautiful choreography and songs you can't help but have an emotional reaction to, The Secret Garden is not to be missed. Consider it Capital Repertory Theatre's gift to the Capital Region, and the perfect addition to the holiday season, a time when we look for the best in ourselves and others. 

The Secret Garden runs through December 21, 2014 at Capital Repertory Theatre, 111 N Pearl Street. For performance schedule and ticket information, visit
photo 2 (1).JPGThis year, Small Business Saturday will take place on Saturday, November 29--and the Central Avenue Business Improvement District is encouraging everyone to shop small at our participating local retailers: Central Florist,One-Eleven Boutique, Earthworld Comics, Rolf's Pork Store, Honest Weight Food Co-op, Blue Note Record Shop, Center Square Wine & Spirits, Morris Men's Shop, and Danker Florist. 

Small Business Saturday is a national event, sponsored by American Express, aimed at driving business into local and independent businesses the weekend after Thanksgiving. Started in 2010, it has quickly become one of the busiest shopping days of the year, taking its place alongside Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Customers who use their American Express credit card on that day at participating businesses will receive 
photo 3 (2).JPG
up to three $10 statement credit on purchases of $10 or more for up to $30 in statement credits per registered card. 

Don't miss this great opportunity to support the independent and locally owned stores--and to find unique, one-of-a-kind gifts including:

  • Stunning fascinators 
  • Custom-made handbags
  • Gourmet sausages and wursts 
  • Designer mens' shoes and clothing
  • Rare records
  • Gorgeous flower arrangements and greenery
  • Comic books and graphic novels, featuring all your favorite heroes and villains
  • Organic and local groceries and household items
  • Designer stationary and calendars
  • Wine, and spirits for the eggnog
  • And so much more! 
Plus, just for the occasion, all of our participating retailers will be bagging up your goodies in custom-designed canvas shopping bags courtesy of American Express. 

Each holiday season is busier than the last, and this year is no exception. We are partnering with several community organizations and businesses to celebrate the holidays--and our office has a bit of Santa's workshop feel these days.

Over the weekend, we mounted our holiday banners and lighting. For us, these snowflake bedecked banners are the first sign of winter and the ensuing holiday season. We love to see the decorations go up because we know the season will bring traffic into our businesses, and new visitors to this street!


When it comes to bringing traffic to the street, there's no better program than Small Business Saturday, November 29. Each year, we try to highlight our small independent businesses that participate in the holiday shopping program sponsored by American Express. This year, our office is distributing canvas shopping bags, doormats, balloons, pins, posters, and of course, pet bandanas, all provided courtesy of American Express. We will also be advertising participating businesses through social media.

This year, as in years past, we are working with elementary schools to decorate Central Avenue's Shopping District for the holidays. Students from Blessed Sacrament, Brighter Choice Charter School for Girls and Brighter Choice Charter School for Boys, and Albany City School District's Montessori Magnet School will decorate 800 paper mache stars for our Star Student Holiday Program. These colorful stars will be mounted on green garland that hangs from the fences in front of ShopRite Plaza, Westgate Plaza, Hannaford Plaza, Mavis Tire and Monro Muffler, alongside banners with holiday messages from the sponsors. It's a wonderful way to showcase the students' creativity, and each year we are impressed by the work they produce.  

We also constructed a gingerbread house for the Homeless and Travelers Aid Society's ninth annual Home Sweet Gingerbread Home Contest taking place at Crossgates Mall in Albany. On Saturday November 9, the gingerbread houses, created by some crafty businesses and not-for-profits in the area, were displayed at the mall near Burlington Coat Factory. While onlookers checked out the sugarcoated creations, there were performances by The Voorheesville School Bell Choir, The Golden Notes A'capella Group, and Sydney Worthley, a young local artist. The winner of the contest will be announced on November 20, 2014 at HATAS's winter gala, Evening in Winter Wonderland at Taste in downtown Albany from 6pm-8pm. They will auction off the gingerbread designs, reveal the winner, and distribute their prizes. Tickets for the event can be purchased for $75.

This is the third year the Central Avenue BID participated in this artistic event, making us 1 of 19 other businesses, which is the largest amount the event has ever hosted.

Stay tuned for more holiday preparations from the Central Avenue Business Improvement District. These elves stay busy!

IMG_2955.JPG     Happy Autumn everyone! The Lark Street BID wanted to bring in the new season by updating Albany on what we're doing! Overall, LarkFest 2014 was very well received and attended, with awesome musicians and vendors who helped make it a huge success. The Albany PD and the clean up crew were tremendous; the remains of the festival were completely gone by 9pm that night- THANK YOU!! 
     Our latest endeavor is the 7th Annual Halloween Party at the Washington Park Lakehouse with Chris Pratt! This awesome event will be held on Friday, Halloween night from 9pm-1am.  If you buy tickets online before hand, they are $25 and automatically go on the guest list; if you buy them at the door, they will be $40- this includes an open beer/wine bar, along with a fun, spooky Halloween atmosphere. We love having this party at the lakehouse- there is no better venue or location around! Please note- COSTUMES ARE REQUIRED!! Buy your tickets today on Eventbrite
     Starting in November, we will be in full gear getting ready for our annual Winter Wonderlark and Santa Speedo Sprint, our favorite holiday gathering every year! There will be more information to come, and vendors will be able to apply on our website after Halloween. 
     Last, but not least, the Lark Street BID is actively looking for a new Director! The job post and description can be found here, and all resumes can be sent to as soon as possible. We are so excited to find the perfect new addition to our team, and continue to grow in the right direction. 
                                HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

The Albany Buzz Bloggers:

Downtown Albany Business Improvement District

Exciting Entertainment. World-Class Dining. Exquisite Art and Culture. Luxury Residential Opportunities. Since 1996, the Downtown Albany Business Improvement District (BID) has worked in Albany's central business district making a direct impact through three core initiatives: business development, marketing and quality of life. From assisting developers to realize unique residential spaces to working one-on-one with business owners on their marketing plans, the BID is on the street day-in and day-out, ensuring that downtown Albany is the premier Capital Region destination for businesses, employees, residents, and visitors. Learn more about the BID at or .

Lark Street Business Improvement District

Lark Street is the vibrant heart of Albany, and known as "the village in the city" offering a one-of-a-kind experience for residents and visitors alike. From shopping to dining to nightlife to the arts, Lark Street has it all for a Live-Work-Play lifestyle. The cobblestone streets and beautiful brownstones evoke the feel of neighborhoods in New York City and the many events such as Art on Lark and LarkFEST draw thousands of visitors to this unique community and keep them coming back. :: Your Official Guide To Albany NY & The Capital Region

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