Part of the funds that paid for this dinner came from a $50 gift card I was randomly awarded at Steve Barnes’s Table Hopping Anniversary Party in October. I am indebted to all who were involved, specifically Steve and the gracious owners of Yono/dP, who donated the prize.
If you dig back, you can watch me bite into places that have “Bistro” in the name or description. It’s a trend I really detest. The food being served usually doesn’t match, and the offenders are usually operating in a much more pretentious manner as far as the food and presentation go.
dp is An American Brasserie, which, by definition, is supposed to be more formal than a bistro, but still relaxed. In a brasserie, the food should be more in line with what you get at fine dining. I am still learning about semi-upscale and upscale dining.
dp is located at 25 Chapel St. in Albany, NY. If you search for that result, the physical address is a Hampton Inn and Suites. Yeah, dP is a restaurant that is in the hotel. dP’s big brother, Yono, an upscale fine dining experience touted as Albany’s only four star restaurant, resides at the same address. It is literally a room away from dP.
I usually pick what I will order before I get to restaurants. I checked the menu, and had my heart set on a $25 burger with foie gras on top. My dreams were smashed after All Over Albany tweeted me a link to Daniel B’s impression of the burger as amassed last year. I had to come up with a new plan, because what am I going to say about a burger that has already been dissected by someone I know? (Not that I think I’d necessarily come to the same conclusions he did.)
It was not difficult to regroup and find some other options. I basically wanted to do starter then salad then entree paired with wine and a dessert, room permitting.
I made a reservation for 7pm on a Friday evening, and arrived five minutes prior to the reservation to find the table ready. There was a popular party sitting right next to our table, and the chef, Yono, was chatting it up with this party. He even pulled out my chair to allow me to be seated. That was so sweet of him.
After verifying everything I wanted was on the menu, I chose a starter, wild boar sausage ($7), vintage port wine sauce, wild mushrooms.
This was a delicious way to start the dinner. The sausage was cooked nicely, and the port jus with wild mushrooms had a hearty earthiness. It was difficult not to ask for more warm pretzels (presented for free on the table) to wipe the plate clean.
Those of you who have been paying attention know I’ve been trying to get to the bottom of the origin of the Cobb salad for a long time now. It supposedly originated at the Hollywood Brown Derby; I visited the Albany Brown Derby, which ironically is feet away from dP, and they didn’t have a Cobb salad on the menu. Well, dP has a Cobb salad on the menu ($10), and, damn it, to rub it into the Brown Derby, I ordered it.
This was a bit of a departure from my expectations for a Cobb salad. The chicken was slightly tough, and the boiled egg was slightly overdone. The dressing was nice, but having the power to apply my own, as people usually do when they apply their own dressing, I over applied it to my portion. But hey, at least they have a damn Cobb salad on the menu, Brown Derby!
When our waitress cleared the table, I asked for a recommendation for a drink pairing with the item I selected as my entree. Now, take a break from reading this and read over the menu. Focus on the right side, and try to figure out what dish I ordered. I’ll wait…
That’s right, I ordered the “World’s greatest General Tso’s Chicken” ($16). Clearly, the person who put the menu together was having fun, but I wanted to know whether this was a substantiated claim or whether they put it there ironically.
After checking at the bar, the waitress returned with the recommended wine pairing, Haart Piesporter Golotröpfchen, a riesling wine ($10).
I cannot do a description of this wine enough justice. It was served at the perfect temperature, nicely chilled, and was sweet and not dry. After a few sips, my dinner arrived.
The presentation didn’t wow me, but I don’t think it was supposed to. The taste, sadly, didn’t wow me either. It was good. The chicken was overcooked and tough, but the sauce was sweet and spicy (but not too spicy). I have certainly had worse General Tso’s chicken. World’s greatest? Um. no. [Don’t get the impression that I hated it. It was good, but it was $16 General Tso’s chicken in a semi-fine dining setting.] It is unbelievable how great a companion the wine was to the dish; white wine with chicken is brilliant, and a sweet wine with the sweet and heat in the sauce worked.
While I was eating, I watched a steak get delivered to a neighboring diner, and I realized that this is where the restaurant shines; the steak looked absolutely perfect. Next time, I will steer free from the buzz words.
For dessert, we shared the banana bread pudding.
Slight issues with the presentation aside, this dessert tasted deep and intense, and was a great way to end the meal.
I would say I had a decent experience at dP. The relationship with our waitress started a little rocky, but, as the restaurant started to thin out, we warmed up to each other. The food that I tried had some definite peaks and valleys. Being that the food for Yono is presumably being crafted from the same kitchen, my expectations may have been a bit high (the verbage “world’s greatest” certainly didn’t help), but the one thing I can say is that the ambiance and the food nails the “brasserie” classification perfectly. “Bistro” owners take note – your restaurants are trying to be brasseries (and missing the mark).