Saturday, November 19, 2011

On the Town in Late Fall

Photograph on the left shows snow on the porch furniture in Syracuse

Photograph on the right shows Lark Street bus stop on a rockin' Friday night

This past Friday, I woke up in Syracuse with snow on the ground. There was more snow coming down, but the day soon cleared up to being sunny and chilly.

Snow in Syracuse is not what journalists call a “man bites dog” story, a story that is so unusual as to attract attention. However, I am mentioning the snow because I got the above picture of it at the hotel. The snow dusted furniture shows how winter is closing in on us. Oh, to be in LA and looking at the San Gabriels!

Once home, we decided to take the bus to dinner, instead of sitting home on Friday night or driving and dealing with drivers in the pre-weekend frenzy.

We left from the big bus stop at Crossgates, our local mall and headed to Justin’s on Lark Street - - in downtown Albany.

The Capital District Transit Authority (CDTA) rotates their drivers. I was pleasantly surprised to see our driver was Dexter Hasberry, who drove my regular bus route last year. Dexter is at once a very skilled driver, keeping a laser-like focus on the road, but also making passengers feel at home. He was particularly helpful and solicitous of young man who came aboard in a wheelchair.

Lark Street, one of the hippest neighborhoods in Albany, has clubs, restaurants and shopping. Justin’s has anchored the southern end of the street for over 30 years. It has recently reopened under new management.

In its new incarnation, the management kept the best of the place and made changes. Jazz is still a big draw and the bar feels like it did in years past. There was a great oldies soundtrack, which is not as sophisticated as jazz but is a lot of fun to hear.

The staff is excellent. On first coming in, I was confused about whether to sit at a table or at the bar. The hostess was very patient while I solved this puzzle.

We ended up at the bar, had drinks and dinner there and met Scotty, one of the regular week-end bartenders. He was attentive and conversational without being overbearing.

In addition to pouring standards, Scotty makes a drink called an “Oatmeal Cookie,” with flaming lemon slices. I will probably not order this drink, but it was fun seeing the drama of the preparation and presentation; the customers who ordered it were happy.

The bus stop for home is on the corner of Lark and Washington, next to the Washington Armory. The place had a concert going and the corner was full of people, in a great mood welcoming the weekend.

Busing it downtown may not work on really cold or inclement Albany nights. However, if the weather is temperate, it’s great to have CDTA do the driving!

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