Yono’s – Albany, NY

Normally, a derryX Dines experience starts with me wanting to try a place, then going to the place, paying for food, taking representative cell phone photos, and going home and eventually writing about the experience. This was a little different. I was invited to eat at Yono’s as part of a work function with a client and some coworkers. So that takes care of the normal disclaimer that I didn’t pay for the dinner. I also didn’t take any pictures (deal with it).

We met for dinner around 6PM on a Monday. Actually, I was coming from a bit farther away, so they had gotten there earlier and waited for me. When I arrived, after the man who brought me a menu recognized and identified my cologne, my colleagues handed me the wine list and tried to get me to pick a wine for the table. I was reluctant to do so, and I stressed that Yono’s has master sommelier, Dominick Purnomo, who I thought would be able to fit our table with a wine. Unfortunately, our server informed me that Mr. Purnomo was not on site that night, but was happy to select a wine for us.

I got a chance to look over the dinner menu and specials of the day before thinking about wine. As we thought about dinner, a young man came around with a tray full of freshly baked pretzels and breads baked with herbs. When I noted that the pretzels were the very same pretzels served with a delicious dijon mustard across the hall at the more casual brasserie, dP, the young man offered to bring us some of the mustard. It was still delicious!

Everyone at the table was ordering a starter or salad, so I figured I should do the same. I settled on “Nasi Goreng,” A Traditional Indonesian Fried Rice with Chicken, Beef Tenderloin, Pork Tenderloin, Shrimp and Vegetables, Feather Ridge Farm’s Hen Egg Omelette Julienne ($15 for the appetizer portion).

As I ate this dish, I had to make believe I wasn’t in a fine dining establishment. It tasted extremely good; however, there were some minor flaws that made this dish very non-fine-dining. The presentation was the first thing that surprised me. The dish was served in a very nice dish, but the rice wasn’t set nicely on the plate. Some technical skills were also lacking as the omelette julienne was a fair bit wider than julienne, and the knife cuts through were incomplete, leaving a large accordion of a thin omelette; the same things were true of the snow peas that were on the plate. Ignoring these almost inconsequential details, the dish was delicious. The meats that were in the rice were not overcooked, and the very exotic mixture of flavors was very pleasant and interesting. I finished the dish.

Based on what everyone at the table ordered as a main course, our server recommended a chardonnay from California. I can’t remember the vinery or vintage, but it was very good. Everyone at the table was very pleased with the wine, and, since I did the first taste, I remarked that it was surprisingly balanced. It wasn’t very heavy, but also had enough body that it paired well with my main course.

I ordered a dish of filet mignon topped with foie gras. It was served over a mashed potato and with an intense, rich red sauce. I don’t remember much more of the description of the dish, but it was on the specials list on June 25 (I cannot find any information online). I also remember that it was listed at $49.

The presentation of this dish was much more indicative of a fine dining experience than the starter. The potatoes were smeared diagonally across the plate, and the filet (ordered medium rare, the suggestion of the house) nestled along the bottom corner of the potatoes. A seared piece of foie gras (approximately 7 mm tall) was placed atop the filet, a medley of sauteed vegetables (carrots and mixed squash) were placed along side of everything, and a small nicely piped dollop of the red sauce was placed at the bottom right of the plate.

The dish was not served as warm as it should have. It’s important to rest a nicely cooked filet, but everything on the plate was well on the way to getting cold as it was served. The thinner portions of potato were room temperature by the time I got to taste them. I thought the seasoning was lacking in the potatoes; they were nice and fluffy, though. The filet was also light on the seasoning and was cooked a little past medium rare but not quite medium. The meat remained tender which is a testament to the quality of filet. The vegetables were very nicely cooked aldente, not at all mushy; the seasoning of these was perfect. The red sauce was a little interesting. I can’t for the life in my pick any flavors out; I do remember not using all that was given, mainly because I enjoy the flavors of good beef and foie gras as unadulterated as possible.

Some of us decided to take it a step further and order coffee (espresso for me) and dessert, and I am very glad that I did. The dessert menu is crafted by Donna Purnomo, wife of Yono. Everything sounded really good, so deciding on dessert was tough. I finally settled on the Kentucky Bourbon Nut Pie served with Villa Italia Zabaglione ice cream ($10). Actually, before I ordered, I had to ask the server what exactly was meant by zabaglione ice cream. As far as I’m concerned, that’s like “frozen hot chocolate,” since zabaglione is usually served warm. Because of my stubborn confusion on this matter, the fact that I wanted the pie was lost, and they originally brought me just a glass full of this zabaglione ice cream.

Once the clarification was made, it didn’t take long for a nice warm piece of the bourbon nut pie to emerge from the kitchen. And it was glorious. The pie was served fairly warm, and the filling in the pie was gooey. The mixed nuts atop the pie were crispy, and the under crust was just thick enough to notice in every bite. The flavors of the filling and nuts were insane, but the crust was absolutely special. I can say that I will never forget the flavor of the crust, especially since the outer crust was the last thing I ate. The other desserts at the table looked equally impressive.

I feel like my first experience at Yono’s was a very positive one, much more positive than my first experience at dP (linked above) [side note: the quality of this experience at Yono’s has motivated me to revisit dP.]. The service was also beyond stellar.

Between my experience, what I saw and tasted, as well as other buzz I’ve seen in the local media, I can definitely see myself sitting down for a tasting menu one day.


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