Albany >Food & Dining > Justin's
301 Lark St, Albany, NY | Directions 1221042.652851 -73.767495
Mon. - Sun. 11:30am - 1am
Neighborhoods: Arbor Hill
a lark street icon in decline, indeed – After having dined at Justin's for dinner and brunch on average once a month each for the five years I've lived in Albany, I will no longer be doing so.
My recent dinner at Justin's was more like a trip to Hooters than a the comfortable quality experience you advertise and I had come to expect. The table waitress (in the bar area) was wearing a shirt that exposed her breasts so entirely that when she put my plate down on the table, I actually saw her nipples. It was disgusting and totally unhygienic--surely a violation of health code for any place other than DiCarlos. I realize this kind of cheap tactic makes for better tips from college boys, but I had faith that Justin's catered to a far more upscale crowd than that.
I used to recommend Justin's to new residents and out-of-town guests. I will no longer be recommending Justin's nor dining there again myself. Truly disgusting.
Justin's used to be my go-to place for jazz, but I've heard that they will no longer be hosting jazz after March, so even that will be gone.
Must be jazz fans – I'm a regular customer as well as a musician who occasionally plays at Justin's. Some people think it's "too noisy when the band is playing." Well, the dining room turns into a jazz club after 9:00pm, they even charge cover. That means people are there to listen to music while they dine/drink. If you are not a jazz fan and would rather talk than enjoy the music, it's not the place for you.
Despite that I go there frequently and am friends with most of the wait staff there, I'm rating it low, because I do think the services are poor and quality of food is very inconsistent. The wait staff are snobs. If they are busy, they ignore you and don't even apologize for not being attentive to the customer. Like I said, I'm a customer and a musician, so they know me pretty well. You would think they would treat me well, but NO. When I go in as a customer, they ignore me and I end up standing there for a very long time or seating myself. Even if I say "I'm starving, I'd like a menu" right when I enter, it takes 15-20 min for them to bring me a glass of water and a menu. If this is how they treat a regular customer and a friend, I can't imagine how they would treat other customers. The food can be very good, but also can be very bad. Some of the "signature" dishes that they've had on the menu for years you would think they have special recipes so that they taste exactly the same time after time. But, they tend to taste different every time, which I don't think should occur.
Justin's is a hit-or-miss place. Hope you get lucky and have a good experience if you go.
DON'T GO EVER! – Just don't go - don't waste your time and money. We went on a friday night...upon entering, waitresses breezed by us without asking if we were being seated or helped. After walking through the restaurant to find the manager, we were told to "seat ourselves." A dippy waitress finally came to take or orders after we finally recieved menus from another not-so-thrilled to be there waitress brought them...Some $9, oily taco chips and drinks later, we recieved our entrees. Ropa vieja (classic cuban dish) and jamaican chicken - we knew by looking it wasn't going to be the best - but don't judge a book by its cover, right? WRONG! Both entrees had frozen corn and peas slopped on them. The ropa vieja was like wet cardboard, and the j erk chicken had salty, unidentifiable brown mush slathered on it; salty to the point where it was inedible! One bite, and we called the "happy waitress" over, and asked here to take them back. After speaking to the manager, she said "the chef is excellent" and that these piles of mush were there "signature dishes," although the menu said nothing of the kind, and were told "i guess its just not YOUR style - no apology. We paid the FULL PRICE -$70 - without eating the entrees or being compensated. RIDICULOUS - do not go and waste your money on defrosted veggies and slop, coupled with unhelpful service!!!
exceptional staff and jazz – I have been dining at Justin's for years, and I love it. They are as much a Jazz club as they are a restaraunt. if you are in to dining and talking only, I suggest getting there by 7 ( the music starts at 9 or 9:30) They serve great food until 1 A.M., and the staff is so professional and polite. I'm sorry that there are some negative reviews on this site,,,I have never experienced anything but exceptional food, service, and music there.
As a side note. I don't think that people should complain about not being able to talk over live music, I feel that the people who are there to experience what the jazz musicians have been working thier whole lives to offer should complain about the loud talking.
This is a special club, but obviously not for everyone. If you are into amazing live Jazz however, this is THE place to go.
Great music, terrible service, mediocre food – This must be the only restaurant where the waiter will ask customers to leave without dessert and without finishing their wine, since the customers are sitting in another customer's favorite table and the music is about to start. After such an approach we decided to pay the bill (over $100), leave, and never come back.
Lark Icon in Decline? – My meal of 12/31 marks a low point in seven years of dining at Justin's. Overall, the fixed-price menu seemed obviously optimized for profit over culinary ambition. This experience diverges greatly from what I have come to expect at Justin's. The execution of the meager offering was poor, and included a beef wellington blanketed in wet puff pastry, and lobster tails soaked in some kind of salt water jelly. The non-existent value of the menu was set in stone at the start of the evening. I can only hope that the poor execution was a function of the late hour (10:45) and the staff's preoccupation with the impending new year.
I emailed the owner and received no response.
great food, but you're packed in – The food at Justin's is GREAT! However, the Savoy dining room is cramped; you cannot get up from your table without practically sitting on your neighbors' table (and I wear a women's size 6-8, so I'm not abnormally large). Also when the live band is playing, forget trying to have a conversation; too loud. I suggest sitting on the bar side where there is a little more elbow room. Some reviews suggest the prices are high; I suggest you get what you pay for. The prices are proportional to the quality of the food and the service.
Complex, imaginative New American dishes served in an inviting, laid-back Central Square haunt. – In Short
Two steps below street level, this noisy basement bar teems with Central Square locals. In the dimly lit Savoy dining room, these same locals mix with in-the-know diners from around the region. Chunky Provincetown seafood chowder is a staple, but most of the ambitious menu changes seasonally. A quesadilla, stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms and goat cheese, is topped with basil pesto and drizzled with sweet balsamic syrup. The crispy vegetable risotto cake in a semi-spicy carrot sauce is topped with braised spinach, grilled asparagus and a portobello mushroom.
Mmmmm Mmmmmm Cha-Ching! – Darn good food at Justin's. You've also gotta love the atmosphere; it's quiet and romantic and they often have live jazz playing. It is pricey, but well worth it - they have a large selection of wines and a constantly-evolving menu. Don't be afraid to try something new here, because it's all good. I never thought I could be so enamored with red cabbage and squash, but even that was great! My favorite staple: Ropa Vieja (shredded beef with green olives & onions in a tomato-based sauce), with black beans and ginger rice. I might go back to Albany just for that!
OUTSTANDING! – The best restaurant in all of Albany. GREAT food and GREAT service; how can you go wrong?!
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