“The only way to get vegetables at a diner late night is to order the omelette. A feta cheese and broccoli omelette.”

Lisa Loeb

EDIT: City Dining Cards are no longer available.

I was so excited to get an offer from City Dining Cards to try out a bunch of cards from the Capital Region deck and talk about the kinds of restaurants they have. The way they work is that you get a deck of Tops-CityDining50 cards and each one represents a different restaurant. If you spend $30, then you get $10 off of your order. Sounds great! Especially because going out to eat to dinner with friends, we can usually spend $30 pretty easily and it narrows down where you’d want to eat in the whole “I don’t care, where do you want to eat” debacle.

My goal was to use every card before they expire December 31st, 2015 but I’m going to be honest with you, that’s nearly impossible. Not only do I not go out to eat that often but when it comes down to it, $10 off of $30 gets expensive if you’re spending it every week. It’s a great idea in theory and as for the cost, all you have to do is use 3 for it to pay for itself but don’t expect to use them all. My favorite part was that these cards were restaurants I know in the area and restaurants I’ve wanted to try. The downside, it seems as if City Dining Cards has transferred its focus to an easier to organize app but after downloading it today, realized it’s not yet available in our area but oddly, on their website don’t still offer the cards as an option. This leads me to believe they’re fading them out in the 2016 edition.

The first restaurant I went to with the cards was Top’s American Bakery and Grill (351 Duanesburg Rd, Schenectady). Tops-1I’d never been to Top’s so I didn’t really know what to expect. The whole feel is very diner-y. I tried to go online to check out their menu ahead of time and it’s a broken link so the whole thing was a huge surprise to me. To start, I ordered brushetta from the appetizer menu. We tried to plan out the price of our meal to be more than $30 which is really difficult in a diner. The brushetta was really good. Everything tasted fresh, the bread wasn’t soggy- it was a great decision. Those Mediterranean flavors were perfect.

For dinner I got a kind of veggie burger that was supposed to come with a salad. The salad on the side of the plate was just kind of thrown together. It was just a huge chunk of lettuce with onions and a tomato thrown on top. Really messy. The burger itself was pretty disappointing too. The patty was really thin, especially compared to the huge roll it was on so I ended up not eating the bread. Taste-wise, it wasn’t terrible and cooked well. I was upset though that no sauce came on the burger and they didn’t tell me ahead of time. A heads up that the burger was plain would’ve been nice because then I could’ve ordered a sauce but it was hard to get a hold of a waitress after our food was delivered.

For a diner, it was okay. The food was solid, the establishment was nice, the building is a lot bigger than expected. I’ve heard that for breakfast their menu is amazing and Tops-2that’s usually when I go to diners anyway so I’ll give them a try in the morning next time and see if anything is different. In regards to the City Dining Card, it was difficult to use. I told my waitress about it when we got there, handed it to her and she didn’t know what to do about it. She called a manager and it seemed as if he didn’t know about it either. It seemed strange to me that no one knew that their restaurant had a coupon out like this and what to do with it. We ended up with a packaged cookie to-go for dessert which I did really enjoy later so though the experience was just okay for the most part, it did end on a delicious, chocolately high note.