The Hollow – Albany, NY

Outside of The Hollow

On a whim, we stopped in to The Hollow in Albany (79 North Pearl Street) for dinner one Friday evening. We made a reservation online, but the restaurant only seemed about half full.

Inside of The Hollow

The menu was intriguing enough to me, and, if nothing else, the selection of craft beer was enticing.

Table Setting

Inside, the restaurant is decorated with lots of Mason jars. It’s a cute little touch, and something that they take as far as their bar menu. Some of the bar drinks are actually “jar drinks.”

The Hollow Beer List

I decided to start with a beer flight for $10. I had the liberty of selecting 4 tasting portions of everything on their list for just $10. The rub was that all four of my first picks were tapped out. We came up with a few that were in stock, and I was good to go.

Beer Flight

The Hollow Menu

There is really only one appetizer on the menu, so we ordered it (SEARED POLENTA, GRILLED SHITAKE MUSHROOMS, HOUSE-MADE GARLICKY BLEU CHEESE DRESSING – $8). [Aside: it’s a little puzzling that the appetizer menu is so small; it seems like a missed opportunity. Bar + snacks = $$$]

SEARED POLENTA, GRILLED SHITAKE MUSHROOMS, HOUSE-MADE GARLICKY BLEU CHEESE DRESSING

It was a strong dish. The mushrooms were cooked nicely, and the blue cheese helped to elevate the earthiness. The polenta was perfectly shaped, leading me to speculate that it’s not a scratch-made product, but, for the price, the portion was decent.

Salads menu

The salad I selected was their signature salad (ARUGULA, GRILLED SHITAKE MUSHROOMS, SHAVED ASIAGO,
TRUFFLE OIL – $8).

ARUGULA, GRILLED SHITAKE MUSHROOMS, SHAVED ASIAGO,  TRUFFLE OIL

ARUGULA, GRILLED SHITAKE MUSHROOMS, SHAVED ASIAGO,  TRUFFLE OIL

This was not bad at all. Usually, I shy away from dishes containing truffle oil, but I figured I’d give it a shot; it was barely detectable, and added another layer to the shitakes, which were of the same variety as the appetizer. The one thing missing from this dish was a hit of acid, which would have helped cut the richness of the oily greens, mushrooms, and shaved Asiago cheese.

Burger Menu

For my main course, I had The Hollow Burger (FRIED EGG, HABANERO KETCHUP – $10) [Aside: There is also a “Signature burger” (LETTUCE, TOMATO, RED ONION – $9) on the menu; wouldn’t the signature burger be named after the house, aka The Hollow?]

The Hollow Burger (FRIED EGG, HABANERO KETCHUP - $10)

The Hollow Burger (FRIED EGG, HABANERO KETCHUP - $10)

The Hollow Burger (FRIED EGG, HABANERO KETCHUP - $10)

I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as the size based on the price, but the burger patty was considerably smaller than burgers served in close-residing restaurants; the relatively low price was reasonable for the size burger. I ordered it medium-rare; it came well-done.

I didn’t send it back, but when the server came to check on us, he must have noticed that I was a little disappointed and asked if he could fix anything. I was stewing just a little over that and the soggy sweet potato fries that I was served, but I really didn’t want to wait for a re-fire of the dish. So he must have picked up a little of my disdain.

Flavor-wise, the burger is great. For $10, it’s a great deal, and the habanero ketchup is really a great addition to the burger (actually, mine arrived without it and the server noticed and brought me a cup on the side). As far as burgers in downtown Albany go, this one doesn’t have the execution to compete with the better burgers, but since it’s priced 30-40% lower than what I consider the better burgers, I don’t think it’s any travesty.

Issues with execution aside, the experience was positive. I’m a pretty big fan of most of the menu, so I’d be willing to check out some other dishes some time.


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4 thoughts on “The Hollow – Albany, NY

  • Mike

    That’s one thing we suffer from around here….creative, confident chefs…homemade blue cheese? Forget it…this is Hidden Valley ranch dressing country…I think your meal looked decent…I like how you spotted the round polenta…probably came in a plastic wrapper like a sausage chub…I like hearing about all the places you dine at because the originality and regional link to the pub food up there….


    • derryX

      Yeah, it was a perfectly fine meal. There were just a few execution points that I feel could help elevate the experience.

      There’s plenty of non-creative dining around here, in fact it’s more common. I try to focus on things that are within my own tastes and that do a little more than status quo.


  • Amy

    We had dinner at the Hollow for the first time last Friday night. We thought it was quite good and will definitely go back again (if we can find a parking place). My husband had the Hollow burger and I had the Tempeh burger. We both enjoyed them very much and didn’t feel like they were too small. If anything we were glad to not feel bloated from eating too much. And like you said, they were priced just right. Our fries were crispier than yours and we were happy. The only thing we didn’t like was the special house-made bread pudding for dessert. It was mealy and had bits of unpeeled apple in it. But the beer selection and menu were great.


  • sara

    For me Burgers Downtown are #1 City Beer Hall #2 Pearl Street Pub…. Im not too concerned about price point (within reason) I dont eat a ton of red meat so for me a burger has to be “Sara” perfect!!! and I am picky…. Uptown a little my #1 is The GastroPub….. But the the atmosphere has gotten a little annoying as of late…. which sucks since we just bought our 1st home down the street…. That said… Graney’s burgers are excellent!!! If more than 2 staff members could get my order right!!!!
    Here’s my order…. Bacon Cheddar Burger… Burger MR… Bacon extra well done… add Blue Cheese Crumbles under the melted cheddar….Onion and Tomato…. Mayo Mustard Katsup….Not a huge deal? Right?… And yes I am a pita x-waitress, bartender, service manager…. Not too Meg Ryan??? 😉
    And now I need a burger!!!! 😉



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