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Olana

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Miss Kittee Feb 24, 2008 01:55 PM

Okay- I think I am a bit early on this as I think Olana just opened last night- but Chowhounders won't disappoint me, I'm sure.... so, anyone been? Olana, the house (in Hudson,NY), is one of my favorite places so I am very eager to hear of Olana the restaurant. Will be in NYC in mid March and am interested in booking if it seems good.

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  1. Martin_Chamois RE: Miss Kittee Feb 24, 2008 03:09 PM

    We went to Olana on Saturday night, the first night that it was opened for the general public. The place is huge, with a large and very popular circular bar area in the front of the house. The large main dinning room was less popular, probably in part due to some weird lighting resulting from a back lighted winter scene which casts a weird florescent lighting pall to the room. The smaller back room was packed, as it is much more intimate, comfortable and far more appropriate for a nice dinner. The banquettes and chairs are bordello red, and much of the décor has a combination of red tones and wood. In additional to the seasonal scenes in the main dining room, there is a large mural of the Hudson River that you will either love or really hate.

    The front of the house staff, managers and waiters were very professional, and seemingly well versed. However, the servers and busboys were totally confused and were dressed in mismatched white tops and black pants that seemed more appropriate at an inexpensive Latin American than at a more upscale restaurant.

    Hopefully they will quickly fix the main room lighting, and get some training and uniforms for the servers and runners.

    What may take longer to fix is a menu and kitchen that seems to have no direction. Part of the menu is Hudson Valley local regional cuisine, and the other part is an interpretation of Italian cuisine. Clearly Chef Al Di Meglio is searching for his own style and while some may like this fusion of two styles, it just didn’t wow us. We sampled both types of dishes and found the duck, rabbit and pork loin dishes not nearly as good as at other top regional places. And the Italian dishes; including burnt orange and duck ravioli, cavatelli with mushrooms, and a Brodetto seafood stew with bulgur (not couscous as listed on the menu), missed the mark and were not up to par with other top Italians. It clear Di Meglio has talent and hopefully he will evolve into a menu that can be executed to perfection by the kitchen staff.

    The wine list is being developed according to the sommelier and at the moment is both eclectic and a little weird. It is also very high priced, starting at around $60 a bottle and climbing rapidly into the hundreds of dollars.

    We will give Olana a few weeks to iron out the kinks and hopefully allow Di Meglio and the kitchen to find their direction.

    http://martinchamois.blogspot.com/

    3 Replies
    1. re: Martin_Chamois
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      rrems RE: Martin_Chamois Feb 24, 2008 03:58 PM

      Thanks very much for the review. I have also been waiting to find out how it would turn out. I guess I will wait until I hear that they have gotten their act together. Particularly disturbing is that the wines are so expensive. I hate when the wine prices are way out of proportion to the food prices, which is too often these days.

      1. re: rrems
        LIWineGuy RE: rrems Feb 25, 2008 09:49 AM

        Word is they will be adding New York State wines to wine list including some Hudson Valley and Long Island wines. As such, prices SHOULD be in high $30's to mid-$40's range.

      2. re: Martin_Chamois
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        Miss Kittee RE: Martin_Chamois Feb 24, 2008 05:38 PM

        Thank you very much for the informative post. I guess I will see if the news is better closer to my trip. Post again if you return and find things improved!

      3. Martin_Chamois RE: Miss Kittee Feb 25, 2008 03:54 AM

        You may still want to make a reservation as many of the opening day/week issues will be fixed over next two weeks. As we wrote, Chef Di Meglio's menu and preparation may strike a favorable note with your tastes, despite the fact it just didn't work for us.

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          ajr524 RE: Miss Kittee Feb 25, 2008 02:16 PM

          I was there saturday night as well. I agree that the lighting is a major problem in the main dining room, but I disagree with the food review. I think it is fusion of regional dishes with an italian flavor. I had the risotto with king crab, sea urchins & black truffles. For dinner I had the stuffed rabbit. The risotta was excellent with a blend of flavors from the crab and well cooked risotto. The stuffed rabbit was tender and very flavorful. As well, the portions are controlled and neither of us left stuffed. For dessert with shared the banana napoleon and it was good. Seemed like a banana cake and banana mousse layered between chocolate pieces. On a final note, they are giving 15% off the bill this week to get people in the door, so it might be worth checking out.

          4 Replies
          1. re: ajr524
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            rrems RE: ajr524 Feb 25, 2008 03:31 PM

            Can you give me an idea of the prices? It sounds great but I would like to get an idea how much it will cost, and menupages does not show prices. Thanks.

            1. re: rrems
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              ajr524 RE: rrems Feb 26, 2008 11:39 AM

              Two people, one app, 2 entrees, 1 dessert, 2 drinks - about $130 (w tip and 15% discount.

              1. re: rrems
                Martin_Chamois RE: rrems Feb 26, 2008 12:46 PM

                Two people: two appetizers, two appetizer sized pastas, two mains, one bottle of merlot - discount + tip = $210

                1. re: Martin_Chamois
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                  rrems RE: Martin_Chamois Feb 26, 2008 02:07 PM

                  Thanks, MC and ajr. Sounds reasonable. I've reserved for next week.

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              rrems RE: Miss Kittee Mar 5, 2008 06:49 PM

              Three of us had dinner at Olana tonight and it was absolutely superb. First a delicious amuse of smoked fish(can't recall exact description). Appetizers were lobster, pappardelle with rabbit, and risotto with crab, sea urchin and black truffles. Our main courses were delayed, so they gave us an extra course, the crespelle, which was truly amazing. The main courses, monkfish osso bucco, beef filet with bone marrow dumplings, and grilled berkshire pork were heavenly, We shared the banana napoleon for dessert, and it too was exceptional. Nice petits fours too. They are still giving a 15% discount on food, and the wine we ordered, a Bandol, was a bargain for just over $40. The atmosphere is elegant, with well-spaced tables and the most comfortable chairs I have seen in a restaurant in years. Subdued noise level, and a really good attitude on the part of the staff made this a memorable meal. We will be returning.

              2 Replies
              1. re: rrems
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                idia RE: rrems Mar 8, 2008 10:11 AM

                rrems: You are my hero. You have my taste and I shall be making a reservation within the next coming months thanks to you.
                That beet salad is one of my favorite things on a menu so I will definaitely be looking forward to that one.
                Do you happen to know if there is a panna cotta or bread pudding on the dessert menu?

                1. re: idia
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                  rrems RE: idia Mar 8, 2008 10:44 AM

                  I'm fairly certain there was no panna cotta, and I don't recall a bread pudding but not 100% certain. There were also a few differences between the menu on Menupages and the actual menu. Maybe with any luck they will have a working website soon. If not you could probably ask them to email the menu to you.

              2. t
                tastydan RE: Miss Kittee Mar 8, 2008 03:55 PM

                The good part: On a busy Friday night in a neighborhood emerging with packed happening restaurants, it's easy to get in here. The bar area is deserted. There are a few reasons for this.

                The decor is shockingly ill conceived. Attractive tableware and spacious seating in comfortable chairs are not sufficient to distract one's attention from the large backlit illuminated "mural" panels that dominate the room. The decor screams mid-level Chop Suey restaurant.

                The service was comical.

                After introducing himself and giving us the menus, our waiter disappeared. After trying to attract the waiter’s attention, someone who we believe might be the sommelier asked if he could help us. We inquired about a wine and made a white wine selection. He said he would have the wine brought to us. Then he also disappeared. Someone brought us some warm breads; the olive bread and onion bread were both quite good. After about 10 minutes, our original waiter arrived and asked if he could help us with anything. We told him that we ordered wine and were waiting for it. He took off looking for it, and about 5 minutes later appeared with the sommelier (?) and our wine. My dinner companion commented that it was good but warm. Our waiter poured us each about a 1/4 inch of wine and said they'd put it on ice for us. Then he and the wine disappeared.

                My companion got up and went to the bathroom. Someone came and folded his napkin. My companion reported that he was directed to 3 doors. One door was labeled "handicapped", but it also read "out of order." The other two doors were unlabeled, something we see they got a violation for a few days ago. How hard is it to print a temporary sign?

                On his return, my companion caught someone's attention and pointed to his empty wine glass. The busboy (?) asked if we wanted some wine and we told him that we had a bottle and would like to know where it was. Quite pleased with himself, he returned fairly promptly to show us that across the aisle from our table, our wine was sitting in a stand on ice. There was dead silence for a few seconds..... and then I asked if I should get up from my chair and pour myself some. He said he would bring the wine closer. My companion suggested that perhaps he could pour it for us. He did.

                Service did not get much better after that. The food was fine, but they really need to train the staff better. Some elocution lessons for the wait staff would help as well.

                2 Replies
                1. re: tastydan
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                  idia RE: tastydan Mar 8, 2008 04:22 PM

                  Oy!
                  I think I'll give it a wait n' see.
                  It sounds promising but too many kinks need to be addressed it seems.

                  1. re: tastydan
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                    rrems RE: tastydan Mar 8, 2008 07:30 PM

                    I'm sorry to hear about the service problems. We didn't have any, and the only problem was as I mentioned the kitchen was slow to get the main course out. It may have made a difference that we were recognized by some of the staff from another restaurant, so they were particularly attentive, but it did not appear that any other tables were having service issues. Anyway, this is why they are still giving the 15% discount. Every new restaurant needs some time to get everything in sync. As far as decor is concerned, I agree the murals seem a bit odd, but realize that this restaurant is named for Olana, the home of Frederick Church, the most famous painter of the Hudson River school in the 19th century. The murals are paintings of the Olana property and views from it. So it all fits in with the theme. I can live with that.

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