Brunching about: City Beer Hall

City Beer Hall exterior 2015-May

By Lauren Hittinger

Lauren has set out to survey a handful of brunch spots around the Capital Region for a short series. Got a suggestion for a place to check out? Email us, or drop the suggestion in the comments.

To me, brunch is the ideal meal. Depending on your wishes, brunch can be a sweet breakfast or a savory lunch. You can drink alcohol in the early afternoon without judgment. And it's perfectly acceptable to brunch with your best friend as well as your grandfather.

One of my favorite brunches in this area is at City Beer Hall in Albany, where a range of people come to enjoy the best meal of the week. (Because it's brunch.)

And the good news is that your first drink is included.

Food

The brunch menu at City Beer Hall periodically changes, but it leans more heavily towards breakfast options over lunch-centric items.

City Beer Hall greek scamble

The menu is not exceedingly large -- it had 15 items on my last visit. Egg options spanned two benedicts, two types of omelets, and a couple scramble options. The sweet selections on this particular day were just two types of French toast. For those looking for lunch meals, you could choose between a burger, chicken sandwich, and pulled pork. I was happy to see more than a few vegetarian choices (examples: a veggie omelette and a quinoa & bean salad), and things that varied from health-conscious to indulgent. Most entrees are between $13 and $16.

I ordered the Greek Scramble, which was pleasant and savory. The flavors of eggs, feta, and tomato meshed well together, and the portion was just perfect. I particularly liked the crispy and delicious home fries that dominated half of my plate. My date ordered the Chocolate Decadence French Toast, which was unfortunately not quite as good. The flavors were fine, but the bread was a little too soft, which left the French toast's texture lacking "meatiness." It was almost as if the bread were too fresh. While one of our dishes was a bit off this time, in my experience that's an exception to the usual standard.

City Beer Hall Chocolate Decadence French Toast

Booze situation

I hope you're sitting down for the good news on drinks. Included with your entrée price you get one beverage, as well as endless coffee. For most people, their brunch beverage of choice is a mimosa or Bloody Mary. But you can also choose a beer, screwdriver, or juice. I think that's a fabulous deal.

The mimosas were about 50 percent orange juice and 50 percent sparkling wine, which created a balanced drink that wasn't too sweet, but also wasn't overly alcoholic. The Bloody Marys, I'm told, were not overly spicy, but had a little kick from the horseradish.

And you don't have to stop drinking after your included drink is empty. During brunch you can also order from the large beer selection or the full bar.

Ambiance

City Beer Hall inside seating 2015-May

The vibe at City Beer Hall is bustling and hip. The place is normally busy, and on-trend music fills the interior. Although there's a certain hipster vibe, there are a wide variety of types of customers, from young families, to baby boomers, to 20somethings.

Most of the interior seating is comprised of long tables with benches, so you may be sharing your space with other parties. Outside seating is now open for the year, but keep in mind that much of it is uncovered, so wear your sunscreen. Once seated, the service was very speedy and friendly.

City Beer Hall outside patio

City Beer Hall offers brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11 am to 3 pm. There's often a bit of a wait for a table, so consider making reservations in advance.

Ideal for...

I heartily recommend City Beer Hall for brunch to almost anyone. That said, this brunch is ideal for catching up with friends, or rehashing last night's shenanigans over eggs and coffee.

Lauren Hittinger writes about shopping, crafting, and living well on a small budget at The Thrifty Ginger.

Find It

The City Beer Hall
42 Howard Street
Albany, NY 12207

Comments

It's great here. Try out Umana!

Nice food, nice atmosphere inside, but the patio is odd, tables set up for about 20+ people. picnic tables were butted up against each other and you kinda had to sit with other parties. Not able to have a private convorsation. We sat at one alone, just 2 of us, at the only picnic table off to the side, but our feet were in a huge puddle of water. The service was not that great. Took a long time on everything. Including the coffee that was about 8 feet away from us , they walked by it and 5 min later they filled it up for us. Id go back but if its stll the same id boycott. Biergarten has a good breakfast that isnt well known about. Try that sometime very family friendly for brunch

Try Umana, and of course, Rock N Roll Brunch at The Low Beat once a month.

City Beer Hall's prices have gone up a bit (remember when bacon was included w/ french toast instead of an extra $4?), but it remains a solid deal for brunch with a drink included. The coffee could definitely be better.

As for other places to try: Iron Gate, Cafe Madison, The Shop

Good choice for a series, I wish I had thought of it ;)

The Iron Gate Cafe on Washington Avenue has a pretty good brunch also.

The chicken and waffles aren't bad either -- but I find it annoying that half the beer list (more or less) is excluded from the brunch special.

I would definitely recommend visiting Creo' in Stuyvesant Plaza for your "Brunching About" column. They offer bottomless drinks, and the food is delicious!

Please add Illium Cafe in Troy to the series!!!

I appreciate that I can get brunch at a bar there, makes solo brunch not so awkward.

Olivers in Scotia/Glenville

Great idea for a series. I'm pretty sure I saw Lauren brunching this past weekend in Troy...

Places to check out: Iron Gate, Cafe Madison, Jake Moon, Umana, Wolff's Biergarten, TALA, Carmen's, Illium Cafe (no longer doing brunch on Sundays), The Whistling Kettle, B-rad's Bistro, The Shop

Best series ever. I volunteer to help you research!

There are much better brunch places than City Beer Hall. Articles like this make me wonder. I have a friend who is asked to write reviews of food establishments for a journal, but the friend is not allowed to write anything negative about the experience. I'm hoping for better.

Both locations of Garden Bistro also serve brunch.

"bustling and hip" lol

Just had a comically horrendous experience at City Beer Hall. Food, as always, was wonderful. But my goodness, the service. Slow, incorrect, inattentive, combative. Just awful.

Strongly recommend that you review New World Bistro, especially if you haven't been. Sunday brunches are phenomenal!!

So sick of people calling places "hipster"!!! I can rant about this all day. The term has NO descriptive value. It dilutes a place's goal from having a considered and discerning eye to the typical stereotype as a "shit hole with bespectacled patrons" depending on the person reading it. If you want the reader to grasp how you feel about it, instead of calling it hipster, why not try - young people hang out place, patrons are most commonly wearing xx and xx, alternative R&B is playing in the speakers, quirky named beers are on tap, ETC. TIA!

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