My mom has tried to coordinate breakfast with me at Cafe Madison for a few years.
One of the main problems I have with Albany is that there are a multitude of great destinations, but with too much distance between each. Of course, Albany has the Lark Street end of Washington Park (with Daily Grind, Bombers, El Loco, Magnolias, to name a few), but I’m not comfortable walking more than a few blocks down Madison, Western, Washington, or Central Avenues. That reminds me, I need to visit Bomber’s new location in Schenectady…
Having said all of that, Albany has wonderful restaurants and, after my experience this morning, Cafe Madison is definitely on my list. We arrived around 10am, the downstairs was half-full, and we were seated within a few minutes. Downstairs, there is a bar that runs the length of the room, a few tables in the front, and two-person booths along the other side. There is also a small area upstairs with tables for larger groups. The room has a warm atmosphere and seems to effortlessly combine the coziness of a coffeehouse with a slight trendiness. Our waitress was friendly, efficient, and had a genuinely cheery disposition. I had forgotten how those characteristics (and particularly the latter) should be typical of servers, but today was a nice reminder that there are still a few.
My mom knew she was ordering the oatmeal raspberry pancakes before we sat down. I decided on buttermilk pancakes with blueberries and a hot chocolate. The hot chocolate was what I’d expect for a standard breakfast cafe — hot chocolate mix with canned whipped cream — although it was a perfect temperature!
The oatmeal raspberry pancakes were delicious. Slightly more dense and less crumbly than flour pancakes, the oatmeal created a consistency that was surprisingly pleasant. The combined flavors of oatmeal and tangy, sweet raspberries made think of a dessert-like meal appropriate for breakfast (minus any guilt!). They are heavy, though, so next time I’ll probably order two pancakes (instead of three) and a side of fruit.
The blueberry pancakes were cooked perfectly — very lightly crisped on the outside and soft on the inside — and were a medium thickness. The blueberries, folded into the batter, were plump and fresh. My one critique for the pancakes was that they could have had more blueberries, but regardless, the taste was delicious.
Leaving around 11:30, the downstairs was completely full for and the upstairs was steadily gaining groups of three and four people (including a few trios of two adults and a child). The Cafe is open every day of the week for lunch (breakfast and lunch are on the same menu) and dinner. Menus can be found on their website. The dinner menu and drink selections are all very tempting, so I hope to visit again in the evening.
Our total (for a hot chocolate, three oatmeal raspberry pancakes, and three blueberry buttermilk pancakes) was just over $15.
Cafe Madison, 1108 Madison Ave, Albany, NY