Our first meal at Creo

Creo exterior

You know, where Mangia was at Stuyvesant Plaza.

After hearing all the hype, we were curious about Creo and figured you might be, too. So we stopped by for dinner last night on the first day it was open to the public.

First off, the restaurant seemed to be running remarkably smoothly for a place that literally just opened. We encountered one or two very minor hiccups, but they weren't anything you wouldn't see at restaurant that had been open for years, never mind hours. This probably shouldn't be a surprise. The management group behind the restaurant has plenty of experience.

Creo's space is warmly modern in a way that reminds us of the West Coast (something about all the wood and subtle Asian influences). We could see it being kind of noisy when full. One weird thing: there are what look like fluorescent lights that ring the main dining space. As the sun went down and the interior lighting took over, these lights gave off a cold, flat light that was not flattering. We understand that this is a "green" building -- and that's great -- but does saving the Earth have to mean bad light?

One other first impression: the prices are actually pretty reasonable (see our annotated receipt). We were happy to see this because it seems like one of the recent local restaurant trends has been to go expensive -- whether it be locally-owned (Brown Derby) or chain (Melting Pot).

OK, on to the food. We stuck more to the appetizers and smaller plates. Some of the big plate entrees looked good, but we figured we'd try them another time.

Small plates

Housemade potato chips with bleu cheese
Creo chips

They were very crunchy and the bleu cheese melted on top of them went along very well. These chips would make a great snack for a group of people having drinks.

Chipotle-glazed rotisserie chicken quesadilla
Creo quesadilla

The chicken was smoky, with a little heat and a slight touch of sweetness. It was fine, but not necessarily something we can't wait to have again.

Risotto hush puppies
Creo risotto hushpuppies

These were technically a "side dish" and not a "small plate." They were also disappointing, which is too bad because we were really looking forward to them. The crust was nice and crunchy, but the risotto on the inside just wasn't creamy enough. We'd pass on these next time.

Pizza

Fig pizza with caramelized onions and balsamic vinegar
Creo fig pizza

We liked this a lot. The figs' jammy sweetness worked with the richness of the onions and the tanginess of the reduced vinegar. We're not totally sold on the crust, though. It was very crispy, which was fine with the toppings, but the crust at the edge was almost a little too hard -- like some kind of tough cracker. On the whole, though, the pizza was very good. And, hey, if you like a really crispy crust, you'll probably love it. We'd get this again.


Dessert

Pistachio chocolate paté
Creo chocolate pate

Chocolate paté? Sure. It tastes a lot like a chocolate truffle loaf, rolled in crushed pistachios and then sliced. It is very rich. The serving was too two slices, which is probably a lot for one person. This is definitely a share-it-with-someone dessert. And you should, because it was really good.


Apple dumpling
Creo apple dumpling

This was a whole, cored apple wrapped in a pastry shell. It was kind of average. But it came with some great cinnamon ice cream. We would have been happy with just a dish of the ice cream. Creo makes its own ice cream and sorbets -- we'd try those the next time we have dessert there.

Our (annotated) receipt:

Creo annotated receipt

The Bottom Line

We enjoyed our first visit to Creo -- and we're happy to have it as an option. We thought it was pretty good for a place that just opened. That said, it's not like we can't wait to go back.

Find It

Creo
Stuyvesant Plaza
Albany, NY 12203

(518) 482-8000

Comments

Glad you liked the food... I would point out however, that the greenest building is an existing building. Tearing down a building to build a green building is a bit of a reach. Afterall the old building ended up in a land fill and all that new stuff created its own carbon foot print one way or nother. ---- going to be generations before we break even on this one...

Back to the food... the cheese covered chips actually sound like something worth exploring

You guys are truly champs - soldiering on with the pizzas!

That chocolate pate looks a lot like a cake I used to make which was basically a loaf of truffle. Good, but oof, my stomach is filling up just looking at it!

Perhaps your disappointment had to do with ordering really boring food. With all the interesting options on the menu your ordered chips, quesadillas and pizza? You need to broaden your horizons if you expect a restaurant review to carry any weight.

better luck next time.

I dream of their avocado/lobster tart...

regarding the chocolate pate'...I'm sure you meant *two* slices....

Bucky, I tried some searching but I haven't found any mention of how much of the existing Mangia material was recycled or dumped. Part of the LEED certification does specify recycling of existing material, though different levels of certification don't require every guideline to be followed. Do you have a link for your info?

I love, love, LOVED the quesadillas. Sorry to hear you weren't impressed.

Thanks for showing us, though, how to eat there affordably.

Did you need a reservation on a Tuesday night?

We had a reservation. There seemed to be a couple of open tables early on, but they were pretty much full by the time we left.

Really, There has to be more to Creo than Bar Food!!. Editors, I demand a recount. No excuses. Don't Palin us!!

In other restaurtant news,

Totem (has been omniously closed for a few weeks) on Lark st was recently sold to El Marachi which has plans to open a take-out only location and close the location on central.

I've been wondering what's up with that place!

Oh No! We LOVE the El Mariachi on Central. Chips/Salsa with a side of guac, 4 tamales, and 2 margheritas and we're set for dinner.

Sad :(

We went up to "Totem" on the night of Lark Fest for some sushi and found that the place has closed. The same people were running the business but they were selling Panini's and Sake... but no more sushi.

Totem lost their sushi chef and switched to a weird menu that was all over the place -- Asian crab salad, bruschetta, $30 lamb chop -- and all prepped by the bartender. They also converted the tables to a "lounge" space. That was the beginning of the end. I think they closed two weeks later.

Yeah, Totem went lame real quick! Their sushi was key.. and what were all those couches about anyway? Regardless, I think Mariachi will do well in that location.

Joe, there's still the Mariachi's on Hamilton. Stop in when Brian's tending bar and you won't be disappointed.

> Stop in when Brian's tending bar and you won't be disappointed.

But make sure you don't invite B to your place after that, or you *will* be disappointed.

I just got off the phone with the Washington Ave El Mariachi. The manager said they don't have any plans to move to Lark St.

Sebastien, that goes with out saying; you'll be disappointed anytime you invite me you your place. Disappointed and French.

Wait, Sebastien is French?

I thought he was Canadian...

No, I would sign Sebastien'eh, that goes without saying.
Also, you just broke my heart.

That being said, there *actually* seems to be a few people who think you can gain French citizenship by being born in some part of Canadia. This is not true. You end just plain Canadianan, with antlers in your crib. As opposed to cheese.

went to creo yesterday for lunch. they were jammed.

atmosphere: very cool building. nice angles. great natural light during the day. 9/10

service: very attentive and while you get your own server, everyone seems to help out. 8/10

*admittedly, we weren't dressed to impress, but, and maybe i'm way off here, but i think we may have been shuttled into the back of the restaurant where there were others in old jeans and sagging faces. when we left, the room you look at from the door looked much "smarter".

food:
1. lobster avocado tart. they kill the lobster in the fryolator. minor disappointment. 6/10
2. tuna tostada: very good. the seafood is why i go to mcguire's and i wish there were more raw or mostly raw options here. this, other than the $26 tuna entree was all i saw. 8/10
3. duck confit on green salad: ho-hum. duck thighs tend to be tough, and these were no exception. 6/10
4. sesame chicken on green salad: glad they went with the thigh meat and not the breast. too many little fried noodles. 7/10
5. duck risotto with cherry tomatoes: this was the star. creamy. duck was super-tender. nice portion. good bread-as-sponge juices. delicious. 9/10

food: 7/10

total bill: ~$75 before tip. this is lunch, after all, and lunch shouldn't cost $45. that said, we ate a lot. 6/10.

other: unfortunately, we were seated next to the drink station ("one advantage to sitting next to the drink station is that your drinks get refilled quickly!" our server reminded us.) one disadvantage that she failed to point out was that we get to hear all the other servers bitch about the number of waters and iced teas they need and the fact that there are no lemons. 4/10

overall:

atmosphere: 9/10
service: 8/10
food: 7/10
price: 6/10
other: 4/10

i'm going to olympic-style here and toss out the high and low and give creo a 7. i think it is better than 90 percent of the restaurants in capitalland, but it is very ambitious volume-wise if it aims to compete with mcguires or 677.

I have noticed some concern about demolishing of the old building. Reusing a building is the most environmentally friendly thing to do assuming it is an option. It was not. The original building was 52 years old, poorly built, inefficient and leaking like a sieve. It had reached the end of its' lifecycle.

The vast majority of the building was diverted from the landfill via auctioning (equipment, fixtures, seating, etc.) and recycling the building materials to the maximum extent possible.

The Veal and Wild Mushroom meatloaf is amazing!!!
As is the Key Lime.

the pasta with mushrooms was superb

I really liked Creo.

My boyfriend and I went and had a really decadent lunch on Saturday. What we ordered:

Appetizer:
Grilled polenta, wild mushroom ragu, fresh mozzarella & garlic cream. $10
This was delicious a perfect portion for us to share and really was quite complex. The ragu was not to heavy and the mushrooms were perfectly cooked. The polenta was soft without being mushy and stayed together well when grilled.

Salads:
Field green salad $5
Very good balsamic vinaigrette dressing and crouton. There was also three very large quarters of a plum tomato surrounding the plate.

Caesar & shaved parmigiano reggiano $10 (for the bigger one)
My boyfriend loved the dressing and thought that it was very tasty. I would have liked the dressing cut up a bit but it was alright to have to cut it yourself.

Pizza:
Caramelized onions, figs & balsamic reduction $13
I loved this and so did my boyfriend. It was so delicious and complex especially when you were able to get all of the flavors in one bite. There was lots of wonderfully sweet fresh figs all over the pizza and it was not greasy at all. The crust was nice and crisp though i do understand the idea of the cracker type crust towards the top of the pizza. Being that figs are probably my favorite food this was completely up my alley!

Dessert:
Creo’ triple layer mud pie $8
This was tasty and because it was ice cream it did not feel as heavy as a pastry or cake would have been. It was the perfect ending to a meal that we are still talking about every day.

We are students and chose to splurge on ourselves and enjoy a really nice lunch on a Saturday afternoon. We spent about $50 dollars prior to tip. Our waitress was very helpful and knowledgeable without being intrusive. We really enjoyed the atmosphere and it is a beautiful restaurant inside an out.

This is slightly off topic but I'm wondering if anyone has tried Brown Derby? I have plans to take someone there soon for their birthday but I haven't heard a lot about it. I'm tempted to change our plans to Creo since it seems everyone has had a positive response overall.

I went to Brown Derby last night for a work dinner. It was pricey. The service was great. The food was mediocre.

The $10 mozzarella appetizer mentioned all sorts of flavors and avocados. It was just three thin slices of tomato and two slices of mozzarella. It was a good way to taste the four seat salts they serve you (weird but good), but otherwise, yawn.

I got the filet. It was good. My colleagues got the ribs and while the meat was great, they didn't touch their sides. Some sort of onion stuffed with spinach. Didn't work.

The deserts were just bad. I got the rocky road cheesecake. It had no flavor. There were bits of marshmellow on the side, but were totally unattached and a little stale. My colleagues for the chocolate souffle and the butterscotch sundae. The sundae got decent reviews.

All in all, I felt it was overpriced for what it was. At least the sides were interesting, but with that comes scary or bizarre sides. I probably won't volunteer to go back with work, and would save my money and hit up McGuires or Yonos instead on my own for a special occaision.

On the actual topic, I cannot wait to get to Creo!!!

A week later, I've finally gotten to Creo!

All in all, I would go back.

First impressions:
It was hopping, but we had a reservation and were seated right away. It was chilly. And it took a while to get a cocktail list (we were ready for a martini!).

I ordered the grilled vegetable salad (small). One of my dinnermates ordered the large, and I couldn't tell the difference. I dont know what was actually grilled. It just seemed like a regular salad in a thick dressing. Probably wouldn't order it again.

The tart was as great as it was at McGuires. Lots of avocado. Delicious fried lobster. Tangy sauce. I loved it and was happy for some bread to get the rest of the sauce.

One dinnermate got a salad with duck confit, and truffled popcorn. It didn't exactly gel, but she liked it.

I felt like overall there were gaps in the service, like if someone ordered soup and an appetizer for their meal, they decided to bring it out at the same time.

Desert was a tasty chocolate ice cream cake. It was fine.

All in all, I was pleased. It was no McGuires, and now that I accept that, I like it. It was noisy, and packed. You couldn't expect the same attention as a cute 10 table restaurant. But the food was tasty and affordable. My share for two cocktails, salad, tarte, shared desert, and tip, $50.

We dined at Creo last Thursday. We did have a short wait for our table. Had nice drinks at the bar (Gimlet, Cosmo) My wife loved her Cosmo. The service was very attentive and our food arrived in a timely manner which did surprise us a bit because they were very busy. Food was fab. Two items I would like to mention though that I don't see brought up.

1. Our bartender gladly transferred our check to the dining room. I don't like establishments that refuse to honor this basic request. She just hit a couple buttons and said "you're all set". She did not miss out on a tip.

2. Our waitress was able to process our credit card while at our table. My credit card never left my sight. With all the concern regarding credit card fraud and stolen card #'s I was very pleased that Creo offers this technology. It's the only restaurant that I know of that has it.

If you go to Creo, the Mud Pie is a must.


I agree with the other comments that you kind of missed out by ordering bar food...and I'm wondering if Creo was suffering from new-restaurant jitters. My fiancée and I just tried Creo tonight, and I have to say that it was one of the best dining experiences we've had in the capital district. The food was superb, the service was attentive, and the décor is lovely. I won't miss Mangia.

We had the special risotto (nicely creamy and cheesy, served with medium-rare duck with what I believe were brandied cherries, perfectly cooked lamb with some sort of parsley pesto, and a chèvre croquette -- 9/10 overall) and a couple of appetizers. By the way, the risotto arrived already split onto two plates for us since we mentioned to the waiter that we were going to share it.

The appetizers were:

* Fried squid (including lots of tentacles) in nicely spicy kung pao sauce, on a bed of frizzled rice noodles over a balsamic reduction (!). Delicious -- my only complaint was that the squid wasn't quite crispy enough. 8/10 -- and they served it with chopsticks.

* Eggplant with 5 cheeses (kind of parmigiana-style, fried in tomato sauce). This could easily have been run-of-the-mill, but it wasn't -- the cheese blend appeared to include smoked mozzarella and gorgonzola, as well as the expected provolone and parmigiana (kind of guessing from the taste). The tomato sauce was just right, as were the texture and flavor of the eggplant. 9/10.

For dessert, we had the chocolate paté. I would have liked something with a coarser texture (as I had expected from the use of the word "paté" rather than "cake" or "truffle"), but ohmygod it was delicious (with blackberries and a hint of nutmeg)! 10/10. My fiancée had the "toddler toddy" (steamed milk with honey and cloves), which complemented the paté beautifully. Dinner came to $64 -- not bad for all that -- and it was just the right amount of food for the two of us. We'll be back.

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