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“Excellent Manhattan Seafood Chowder, Seafood Pasta, and Creme Brulee”

La Serre Restaurant
Ranked #78 of 696 Restaurants in Albany
Cuisines: American
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Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic
Dining options: Reservations
Reviewed 26 March 2015

Just returned from La Serre for lunch for the first time. La Serre in English means the greenhouse. Worked with Kim, an outstanding server, who was friendly, professional, and accommodating in every way.

Began with a bowl of a Manhattan style seafood chowder that was very flavorful.With it came a nice basket of french bread. The entree of shrimp and crabmeat in a vermicelli pasta was blended very well in a nice lighter sauce and the shellfish were of excellent quality. Even the iced tea was prepared very well. For dessert, the creme brulee was truly a wonderful ending to a nice lunch.

The setting was an elegant one with very comfortable booths with plenty of room, thick carpeting, and very tasteful paintings and wall decor.

Will return again after the opening of the USS Slater on April 1st for lunch. Their staff could not have been more gracious and kind. La Serre is a true gem in the Downtown Albany dining scene since 1976.

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2  Thank Moomus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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35 - 39 of 80 reviews

Reviewed 28 February 2015

STAFF: helpful and excellent staff (all 2 of them), who were very accommodating with the Groupon and didn't mind that we were late for our reservation. They seem to be bearing up well under their clearly rather strained situation, despite all 5 other tables in the restaurant (plus ours) eventually whipping out Groupons. No groans were heard, despite some reviews to the contrary, and I was impressed with their pleasantness and helpfulness.

Negatives:

MENU/PRICE: French name (suggesting a French restaurant), but a mishmash Tuscan/French/old American steakhouse menu with no prix fixe and no real apparent sense of direction or specialization. The restaurant's titular dish (Chicken La Serre) is actually just a basic Italian chicken dish with a French name, which should tell you something. The prices were full-bore upscale ($$$ out of 4): my entree was $30 and my wife's was $24. At this price, you expect a certain degree of consistency and innovation.

FOOD: Unfortunately the food's quality did not bear up to the prices, largely (I suspect) to a loss (or lack) of direction in the kitchen; my bouillabaisse had the correct ingredients and was cooked well, but was badly underseasoned, watery (not brothy), and served without so much as a single crouton or piece of bread. The odor of saffron was also undetectable, a cardinal sin in bouillabaisse. Absolutely not a $30 dish, I am sorry to say, and frankly not even really worth the Groupon price. My wife got the Chicken Limolene, which she apparently liked fairly well, but when pressed admitted that she liked the $12 version at Olive Garden just as much.

DECOR/ATMOSPHERE: The confusion about this place's identity also came out in the decor. While I was hoping for something intimate and romantic, the steakhouse-style leather seats, rich wood paneling and antique brass fixtures could have seemed classy and upscale in the right context: however, they seemed sinister and dated in the overly dim, intimate lighting, like the place was half closed already. Coupled with the nearly empty house (on a weekend night) and the truly inexplicable free-jazz trumpet solo that was blaring through the tinny loudspeakers overhead, the depressing illusion of a mad funeral parlor (as my wife put it) was nearly complete.

TAKEAWAY: I wish this place well, and the staff are delightful, but La Serre is clearly past its prime in a lot of ways and is suffering some kind of identity crisis. I wish them the best and would gladly try them again (at full price) if they made some major changes.

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2  Thank Arshin C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 January 2015

This visit was with our neighbors who have become our friends from our small town - a dual couples date - a party of four.

1st - we were well greeted and instructed where to park. Coats went in the coat room and we were seated.
2nd - the atmosphere is lit but the wood and colors are dark. Everything is quality old school style. All tables are wrapped with fresh tablecloths. It's elegance from another generation that is still pleasing to the present.

The food:
The gals both had salad and the guys had French onion soup. We were all pleased. The salads were a tasty starter. The soup was amazing. It was three levels of cheese, toast, and lots of onions in a flavorful broth. Even though the cheese was quality, I thought, as an appetizer it should have been less cheese but it was delicious & a sizable bowl.
My wife and I had the chicken La Serre as the main course, our friends had steak & mushroom. . . . . that is he had steak and she had portabella mushroom as a dinner. Each came with some added fixings - potatoes/veggie. It was all great. My friend's steak was cooked to his specs, his wife's portabella was flavored with excellence, and my wife & I loved our chicken. Each meal was wonderfully plated. The gals loved their Pino Noir wine that came with the Living Social Deal and the deserts were fabulous, as both couples split a slice of sweet goodness. May I highly recommend the no-flour chocolate pie ?

What I did not like:
The water. We buy our water which is filtered/purified. I could taste the impurities in the Albany water. Additionally, there is a very slight musty smell in the air. I did not yet mention this, to even my wife, as I did not want to bring a downer to all's attention, as I tend to be more sensitive to these matters.
For the great deal we got and how wonderful everything else was, I should have ordered bottled water. On the other hand, for a restaurant of this quality serve straight tap water without their own filtration, this is a change they should consider. I was going to give the rating at 4 stars for this reason. Quality water is huge in my book but with the overwhelming quality of the food, I am gave this a 5 star rating.

Bottom line - this is one awesome place to have completely satisfied 4 unique individuals with such great service and delicious meals.

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1  Thank BillKeal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 December 2014

We look for Groupons for La Serre. It is elegant and exquisite dining. Love it, I will be there this Friday!

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1  Thank GlobeTrotterLady47
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 November 2014 via mobile

My boyfriend & I like to try new restaurants all the time and have been to several fine dining establishments in & around Albany, but have never been so disappointed. This restaurant is tucked away on a side street which we found to be quaint. The first impression was good....a charming, older Albany restaurant with the old wooden charms, sweet flowers on every table, fireplace going and dim candlight... So far, average. We proceeded to order a bottle of wine off wine list & the server came back to us, showed us the wine & proceeded to explain that they only have half a bottle and they will give it to us 1/2 off... Lol. Okay, no biggie... But then we ordered 3 appetizers. The fried oysters tasted like something out of a BJ's wholesale club frozen food section and some still cold in the center. The beef capriccio was nothing to brag about, again the presentation was poor. Lastly, the soup was a seafood florentine In a nice large soup bowl, smelled amazing.... But tasted like salty hot water with tiny bits of seafood... I hope it was seafood! It had no substance. Then... Our entre came.... I got the LeSerre chicken and my boyfriend got the lobster /crab ravioli. The ravioli was over done... Sticky & not at all tasteful... Again, presentation very poor. My chicken came out and was presented wonderfully. The taste was better than anything We had tasted thus far, but again, below average. Our server was friendly and attentive but it is safe to say, we will not go back again. Even skipped dessert!

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2  Thank mattyzgrl68
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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