Olana Dinner Review (long)
I had a very good dinner at Olana last night. First off let me say whatever service problems they had in the past have all been resolved. The service we had could not have been better. The waiter was very nice and took our wine order, offering to bring the bottle for a taste first since my friend was unsure about which wine to select.
The bread were warm tiny little rolls with a choice of olive, onion, sourdough and raisin. I had the olive which was excellent. I think it had rosemary in it too and the sourdough was good as well. Two kinds of butter, plain and another with an herb of some kind that I did not try. We had 1 app, 3 half orders of pasta, 1 entrée and 1 dessert. The amuse bouche was totally unmemorable and I can’t remember what it was. We had the striped bass tartar with grapefruit gel on top, very good and mint with lamb sausage tacconi first (my favorite dish), then came the veal cappellacci (very hearty and too salty for me) and burnt orange and duck ravioli (2nd favorite dish) and then the roasted rabbit which was very good with white beans and a vegetable underneath (great combo of ingredients). Dessert was the chocolate crepes with soft melted chocolate wrapped inside and ice cream on the side (delicious and totally decedent). They also served a small complimentary chocolate fondue with two pieces of homemade marshmallow, some small cookies and chocolate macaroons. It was a very good dinner.
I can be a waiter and busboy’s nightmare because of the way I like to order, loving variety; I always order lots of apps and maybe an entrée or two depending on how many of us there are. We always share everything and it is not always easy to figure out what to bring when, but this waiter was great and so were the busboys. He made some suggestions based on my preferences and questions and suggested what two items to bring out for each course. It was perfect. During each of our 2 courses of apps, sharing plates were brought and the entrée was pre-split in the kitchen and was presented nicely to us. We had a wonderful 2 ½ dinner. We were not rushed at all and bread was offered to us in between all 3 of our courses. Check was not brought to us when dessert was cleared as they could see that we were still chatting. I asked for it about 20 minutes later and it was brought immediately. All in all, I will definitely be back and recommend this restaurant.
In terms of the décor, the lighting was fine. I did not notice anything weird which another poster mentioned. My friend commented that it was a club like atmosphere with the banquettes and big red shares at all the tables. I was fine with it. When compared to Ilili the last place we had dinner, he liked the atmosphere better there. I have no preference since they were both nice and I always want to go to a new place. It was not busy and the maitre d did a very good job at spacing the occupied tables so that there were no two adjacent occupied tables. It is a good place to have a relaxing and quiet dinner.
I went to Olana last friday and had a very satisfying meal in one of the most spacious and comfortable setting in a new york restaurant in recent memory.
First impressions were favorable as we took in the lush red interiors and the very spacious settings. Its refreshing to be eating out in the city and actually have ample space between you and the neighbor for a change. While respecting the restaurant’s namesake is the upstate estate of an artist known for the Hudson River style, I still don’t get the illuminated murals done in the style he helped popularized. It looks like cheesy stained glass and just isn’t very attractive. The oversized stuffed chairs and the blood red banquettes were however.
We ordered a bottle of sauvignon blanc from a well priced wine list and started with housemade rolls (4 types, good flavors but a little cold) and an amuse bouche of very subtle goat cheese flan with dollops of asparagus puree. Appetizers were really strong on the whole. I was charmed by my pasta, thin squares of pasta dough sandwiching a mint leaf between each pair, dressed in a light lamb sauce that drew inspiration from Morrocco. The chestnut crespelle stuffed with ricotta and mushroom was at once rich and earthy yet tangy at the same time. A must order. One of the daily special was a poached duck egg oozing rich creamy yolk over leeks and some other seasonal vegetables, more rustic than any of the other dishes. A tartare of some sort is de rigeur, and Olana’s version was a delicate seabass shaped in a disc and swimming in a pool of grapefruit juice. Less acidic and more sweet. Yummy and refreshing.
We all agreed that entrees were not as satisfying as the appetizers. I liked my slow roasted halibut perfectly flaky and delicate in a saffron and mussel jus that had just the tinge of minerally and musky mussel taste. They also topped the fish with some sourish flavored salt and anise that had a refreshing bite to it. The rabbit dish stuffed with foie gras, almonds and apricots was a revelation, but not in a "wow its amazing" way, but "wow it tastes like cantonese roast pork, char siew" way. The other entrees was the pork tenderloin, which was fine, a little more standard than the other entrees and a tad dry, and the duck ravioli.
We finished off with 2 desserts, a rich meyer lemon creme brulee with almond biscotti and ice cream and a very attractively presented strawberry and chocolate napolean with rich gianduja ice cream. The napolean consisted of white chocolate discs layered with a spongy, chocolate mousse like filling that was ingeniously surrounded by a ring of strawberry mousse, so subtle that it took me until my very last few bites to figure that out.
Along with the check then came a small pot of molten chocolate with mini macarons, chocolate pinwheels and housemade mint marshmallows that were pillowy soft and lovely dunked into chocolate and equally good eaten alone.
The evening would have been perfect but for some issues with respect to service, which was attentive in general and helpful. We got some wrong utensils but remediated that with switcheroos amongst ourselves, because you cannot cut through pork with a fish knife. The maitre’d was also seriously confused by our request to split our bill with a mix of cash and credit cards. But they are but in their second month of service, and given the experience, this is definitely a place to return.
Big thanks to all who made suggestions for me!
As prix fixe menus go, it's certainly not a bad deal, but we just order a la carte and share tastes. The prix fixe menus are tasting menus, which means the portions are smaller, so 4 small courses are more than the average 3 courses a la carte. If you want to sample more dishes, and have the choice of what you want to order, you could order more than 3 courses but maybe split 2 of them, or just order different dishes and share tastes.
Just got back from dinner. Unfortunately, they ran out of rabbit before I had a chance to order, so I had the halibut. Ethereal and delicious. The flounder was also exceptional, as were the pea soup (new on the menu) and a pasta with merguez sausage and mint (also recently added). Panna cotta and rhubarb strudel were great. All in all a delightful dinner. I'm happy to see they are getting quite busy. I just hope they don't get reviewed too soon or it may become impossible to get in.
Thanks for the review. It was great to read your impressions of the dishes. I will be going there tonight for the second time and have already thinking about what to order. I had pretty much decided on the rabbit for the main course, and now I am sure that is what I will have. I'll report back after.