by DUNCAN CRARY
TROY – One of the city’s most popular brunch spots reopened last weekend after a two-week break with new specials and old favorites.
Carmen’s Bistro, serving Cuban-Spanish-American cuisine, is located at 198 1st St., in a quiet neighborhood three blocks south of downtown and the Russell Sage College campus.
“September 15 through October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month and traditionally our busiest time of the year,” said Carmen Gonzalez, Executive Chef of Carmen’s Bistro. “We are happy to be able to reopen in time to celebrate.”
In addition to favorites such as Huevos Flamenco, Empanadas and Cubano Sandwiches, Carmen’s Bistro is introducing the following new specials:
• Corn omelette, a mildly spiced omelette with three eggs cooked with fresh sweetcorn from Reeves Farm in Baldwinsville, Vidalia onions, fresh tomatoes, and herbs and spices;
• “Can’t Be Beet”, a homemade lemonade, two thirds of fruit juice, like all Carmen’s lemonades, naturally sweet with no added sugar Contains, among other things, beet, cherry and blackcurrant juices.
• Sangria smoothie with a variety of fresh fruits including: watermelon, strawberry, banana and yogurt along with wine.
Carmen’s is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Meals can be served outside when the weather is nice and always inside in the sociable bistro style of Lewis, a master carpenter, with a counter carved from a giant ailanthus tree.
Despite being fully vaccinated and exercising great caution, Gonzalez tested positive for COVID-19 after caring for a child who also tested positive.
Although CDC guidelines recommend waiting 10 days after symptoms have subsided, Gonzalez and her partner Jim Lewis decided to keep the restaurant closed in order to thoroughly clean the room and add some paint.
“This is also a great time for new guests to discover our charming little place,” said Lewis. “Take a look at the farmers’ market and then come and see us.”
Both Gonzalez and Lewis note that the pandemic has put their restaurant under stress for the past two years, with the same issues other restaurants in the area are facing, but they are determined to stay in business and be part of the Troy community to be.
Flan returns after the weekend (October 9th & 10th)
One of the most popular products for those with a sweet tooth is the flan, a traditional Cuban custard based on a recipe made by Gonzalez ‘aunt Matilda. At Carmens, the traditional delicacy is served as a dessert and also incorporated into a special French toast mixture.
“Our Hispanic customers rave about our flan and cubano sandwiches, which they often say are the best they have had since they left,” said Lewis. “We’ll have the flan back in two weeks.”
Carmen Gonzalez is Cuban / Puerto Rican. She cooks the food she grew up with, which she tried with relatives and friends in Spain and the islands. It’s a mix of Cuban, Spanish, American, and more. In Carmen’s Cafe, all dishes are freshly prepared with healthy ingredients. Vegetarian options are always available.
Carmen’s Bistro also offers dairy-free and gluten-free meals.