I love Center Square and strolling down Lark Street, but when it comes to dining…I wouldn’t sort so many of the restaurants in this part of town into the romantic category. Not too long ago the wine bar on the far end of the street reinvented itself, now named Lark and Lily [200 Lark St, Albany, NY 12210], it seemed promising.
The exterior isn’t too different from any storefront on Lark, but when you go down to the basement space you don’t feel like you just walked down the street. More like you’ve been transported somewhere sultry, in the dimly lit intimate basement space.
Or if you prefer…dine alfresco in the quiet courtyard removed from the busy street, under strings of lights, with murals and sculptures reminiscent of an Italian countryside.
The wine selection is extensive and the shared plates enticing. Start with some warm bread and good olive oil, then decide on which dishes to split.
The menu rotates throughout the season, but during the summer there were Mexican corn cakes which had a crisp exterior and kernels of fresh corn appeared inside with just the right heat from jalapenos, balanced by sour cream. The pan seared jumbo lump crab cakes were so fresh, the sweet flavor of the meat came through, with a zingy citrus fruit, and generous slathering of sauce. The baked stuffed tomato may have been my favorite of them all, filled with a harmonious medley of languostine, my favorite cheese – fontina, celery and onion, creole spices, and panko bread crumbs. It just worked so well together. I promise you, each bite was better than the last, and I was shocked at just how scrumptious this meal was. When it was all over, I almost forgot the sweetest part, we could saunter right down the street back home. A true gem on Lark Street, well worthy of a date night.