Last Thursday I visited the Casola Dining Room at Schenectady County Community College to be their guest during demo week, where college’s culinary students get a chance to do a trial run of the meal service prior to the restaurant opening to the public for the fall semester. I brought along my friend David, and we enjoyed a Southern Creole-themed lunch.  I won’t bore you with a blow-by-blow of the meal – it was identical to the lunch we enjoyed last fall. We even ordered the same appetizers and entrees that we did previously (I suppose we are both creatures of habit, and neither one of us is inclined to order seafood). The only exception to our identical order was my dessert: I tried the newest addition to their menu Southern Creole menu: Blueberry Corn Cake.

I am a sucker for anything made from corn meal – corn bread, corn muffins, corn fritters, polenta, you name it – so this was an easy decision. And it was as good as I’d hoped. Coarse corn meal baked with fresh blueberries and only a small amount of sugar. Not too sweet, with tons of tart blueberries. I was so excited I forgot to take a picture. Sorry.

As is usually the case, the food is great and the service tends towards the slow side. But, they’re students, so you cut them some slack and enjoy the experience. And take an hour of personal time.

What I found to be the most exciting part of the experience was the conversation we had with instructor Jay Larkin as we were enjoying our desserts and cappuccinos.  Jay told us that the Casola Dining Room is now hooked up with Open Table – the electronic reservation service that you can access either online (at Open Table’s website or through the college’s website) or through their mobile app.  So now, if you don’t feel like playing the 10:00am Reservation Game of dial-busy signal-repeat (and I never feel like playing that game), you can simply search for a table using the handy-dandy Open Table service.  They’re still working out the details (including listing the particular cuisine available for that week), so for now you need to do a wee bit of homework to find out what you’ll be eating (schedule here and menus here).

Reservations will still be available two weeks prior to the date you wish to dine, and the phone reservation line is still active. But at the very least, Open Table will be able to help you secure a last-minute reservation (due to cancellation), or a reservation for an unpopular day/time.

This is a fantastic development for SCCC, since it will place them firmly in the digital age, and help them get more recognition for their stellar culinary program. Kudos to the person(s) who decided to join Open Table!

(Oh, the other exciting thing that happened at lunch was that a table of ladies sitting next to us recognized my voice from my days producing the Don Weeks Show on WGY. It was my own little Wendy Fan Club. So now I’m up to five members, including my mom)