I had all sort of fun recipes planned for this weekend- including my entry for the Royal Foodie Joust- but I ended up having to go into the office on Saturday which threw me off. Then today was so gorgeous that I just couldn’t bear to go grocery shopping; I did yard work instead (there are some tulips popping up in my front garden and my lilac has buds…so exciting!!) Anyway, since I have no new recipes to post I thought I would do a restaurant review for any of you that may ever end up in the Albany area.

gingerman_cheese(photo of Ginger Man cheese courtesy All Over Albany)

The Ginger Man is quickly becoming one of my favorite restaurants. It’s a pub style, so the atmosphere is relaxed (dressed up jeans are fine), but its classy enough to keep the riff-raff out. It’s very small, so reservations are a good idea. If you don’t have them, its not usually too long of a wait for a table though.

The one thing that keeps us coming back (besides their excellent selection of wines by the glass) is the cheese plate. This comes in two sizes, each containing three selections of cheese, fruit, and breads/crackers. Don’t get the large unless you’re with a ton of people- its huge! We got the small last night with Dubliner Irish Cheddar (a classic), Stilton (one of my favorite cheeses- you’ll see more of this later this week), and their specially blended Ginger Man cheese (I would marry this cheese if I could- a soft, spreadable blend of provolone, cheddar, Monterrey jack, and horseradish). The plate came with a really nice selection of perfectly ripe fruits- ranging from strawberries and melons, to pear and pineapple. We’ve gone here before just for wine and cheese, but last night we decided to do entrees too.

I got the braised lamb tacos. The menu describes these as braised lamb served in Manchego cheese “shells” with fresh avocado and tomato and finished with a mango chutney. They. were. awesome. The shells were basically cheese that was cooked until crackly and then formed into a shell shape. So good, but it did take a few minutes to get the hang of eating them without making a mess. The lamb was cooked perfectly and the avocado and tomato were super fresh. The chutney was very light, but added the perfect sweetness. All in all this was an amazing dish. The flavors were really complex, and I thoroughly enjoyed every last bite. In an attempt to be “good” (or as good as I could be after all that cheese!) I opted for the chickpea salad instead of the fries. Good choice!! This was almost like a German potato salad, but with chickpeas- really lemony with a hint of ginger and some thinly sliced radishes for crunch. Ill be trying to make this at home soon, for sure!

My husband got the “Crispy wok fried 1/2 duck with a honey soy butter sauce, cornmeal waffle and fresh vegetables.” He was nice enough to let me have a few bites and it was awesome! The skin was extra crispy and the inside meat was moist and fell easily from the bone. The sauce was sweet without being too sweet, and complimented the duck perfectly. The vegetables looked like they were nicely cooked, and he ate them all so they must have been good! He said the waffle was ok, but wasn’t anything special. I didn’t get a taste of it, but it was a Belgian style waffle and I thought it was an interesting and fun choice to compliment the duck.

This was a top-notch meal, and with the total tab (including 2 beers and 2 glasses of pinot noir) coming in at under $100, I really couldn’t ask for more. If you ever find yourself in the area looking for a nice meal, I couldnt reccomend the Ginger Man more.