Cafe Madison

We found a delicious and inexpensive brunch that we now crave all the time.  Let me be clear that by "found" I mean everyone else who has lived here for the past 40 years (according to the bartender) already knew--we read a lot of advice telling us to go there, and today we finally did.  And by "finally" I mean it took us 2 months.  I'm too hard on us.


Anyway, we've been to a few diners, so there's no shortage of breakfast.  Our Sunday Times in tow, we headed to Cafe Madison post-spin class but pre-Williamstown adventure.  It was pretty packed; I spotted two seats at the bar, asked if we could eat there (sort of knowing the answer), and nabbed 'em.  A girl had just come outside to the doorway to tell her boyfriend that the wait was a half hour, that doubt in her voice about whether he'd want to wait.  Girl, whatcha waitin' for?  We LOVE to eat at the bar.  No wait (or short wait), it's just the two of us, and did I mention not having to wait???  Y'all know I love this tactic.  There wasn't quite enough room to spread out with the paper while we waited for our food (which actually took a while--longer than for the people next to us who arrived later and ordered shortly after us), but we huddled over the crossword puzzle together and made some moderate progress.

 [Strawberry Basil Mimosa?  Can you say T?!?!]

The breakfast specials looked great, but I went for the two + two--two eggs and two pancakes, a variety of choices.  I had apple walnut.  Y'all know I'm not huge on pancakes (usually).  If anything, after a long run I want something eggy + something bready, usually French toast.   But these pancakes were thick and fluffy, and you could taste the buttermilk.  My over easy eggs were a little less done than usual, but not in a bad way.  In all, it was so much food and I could not believe it was only $6.  I felt like a thief.  And I don't want extra toast and potatoes to come with my food--this was more than enough!  I couldn't even finish the last few bites of pancake.  Again, very unlike me, but I was stuffed.

J had the corned beef hash (obviously, one of us had to have it).  I had a few bites and what I noticed was that the hash itself was well done on the edges--it had a crisp.  YUM.  Just the way I like it.  J had a bunch of options for bread, all made in house.  He got cinnamon swirl, and it was so thick and delicious it almost tasted like French toast. It made other toasts feel embarrassed.

After this visit I was crushing on Cafe Madison.  I had visions of going almost every weekend with the same situation repeating itself, delicious and easy.

This past weekend did not play out the same way, so I'm updating this post to share with you.  J joked that Cafe Madison is great....if you have nothing else to do all day.  I joked that I could have finished the socks I just started knitting on size 1.5 needles while we waited.  [Haha knitting joke haha.]  At least five people sitting at the bar hung out there for 20-30 minutes waiting for a table before deciding they'd eat there.  They totally have the right to sit there without eating.  I was just dreaming of our first visit, and wished I could sit at the bar and order food instead of watching them sitting and not ordering food. 

Let me be clear: I'm ok with a wait when I know it's happening.   Remaining at a crowded restaurant is consent to wait patiently with a smile.  But the 15 minutes our hostess told us turned into 40, no space opened at the bar, and after we sat down we ordered within 2 minutes--no need to think.  Our food took another thirty minutes to arrive.  Pancakes, hash, toast, eggs.  And this isn't a place where you get a roll or a muffin.  We were late to pick up a friend at the airport, but beyond that, we were starving.  Starvation and lateness guilt meant we scarfed down our food in about 6 minutes, not exactly savoring.  We paid the bill while cleaning our plates and rushed out.  It's not that I believed the hostess that it would be 15 minutes, it's that I was hopeful that even if the wait was an hour we'd be sitting at the bar in less than 10 minutes. 

Our food was delicious, and for the quality it is dirt cheap.  J's pancakes were well-done the second time, and I liked them better with some crisp.  The cinnamon toast is really a cinnamon bun pretending it's toast, aka awesome.  Service is friendly and coffee is quickly refilled.  I just think that if there's a wait--any at all--and you are really hungry or have somewhere to be in less than two hours, then you need to sit at the bar within 10 minutes or go somewhere else.  Otherwise you will have what I call Delicious Yet Least Relaxing Brunch Ever. DYLRBE.  Which you may notice, starts with DY aka die aka I thought I was going to die because I was so freakin hungry.

P.S. Brunch is 7:30am til 3pm Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. 

Cafe Madison
1108 Madison Ave
Albany, NY

Cafe Madison on Urbanspoon


  1. Wow - those pancakes look amazing! And that toast sounds fantastic! I know what you mean about waiting for brunch though - usually I'm REALLY hungry by the time it happens! But I do love a cross-word while I wait!

  2. Sometimes I'm too lazy to poach my own eggs. We'll see what this weekend brings!

  3. FYI- they have breakfast seven days a week.