Inn and Suites, 25 Chapel St., Albany, 436-7747. Serving dinner
Mon-Sat from 5:30. AE, MC, D, V.
price range: $18 (sautéed tofu and vegetables)
to $49 (five-course rijsttafel)
as elegant as it gets
Do I need
to tell you about Yono·s food? His reputation
as one of the area·s finest chefs is well deserved,
reinforced by what·s served at his new venue. I·ll
get into it toward the end of this piece, but let·s
look now at what makes dinner at his restaurant such a completely
satisfying, even uplifting experience.
Widjiono Purnomo is a native of Jakarta, and entered the business
on board the SS Rotterdam, where he met his wife, Donna. Once
in Albany, Yono created the cuisine at the 21 Restaurant before
opening the first of his eponymous eateries in Robinson Square,
where he combined Indonesian and French approaches to cooking,
easing his clientele into a menu we·d now be disappointed
not to find.
a precipitous parting from Armory Center, he found a home
in the new downtown Hampton Inn and Suites, in time for him
to create dining rooms to his specifications. Four distinct
areas emerged: A bistro area, called DP, with an attractive
bar and a menu featuring salads, saté skewers, burgers
and under-$20 entrées; a banquet area, sizeable to
your event; a room specially appointed for dinner meetings
with presentations, and the formal dining room, with a sprinkling
of tables and the kind of attention you·d expect at
has long been a driving force behind the floor at their restaurants,
and now she·s joined by her son, Dominick, who oversees
the tables with the panache of a well-seasoned veteran·freeing
his mom to spend needed time on her signature desserts.
a collision of sorts between a family feeling, with its intimations
of casualness, and the formal approach that lifts fine dining
into one of life·s more pleasant experiences. The result
is a floor that operates with the efficiency of a machine
and the anticipatory insight of a skilled butler.
this is customer empathy. Dining is typically routined, of
course, but it·s challenge enough for some places to
even keep up with the routine. At Yono·s, it feels
as if you·re at a dinner party at a fancy home with
a calm and friendly host. Servers visit the table with frequent
inquiries that never prove intrusive. ·We know you·re
doing well,· they seem to say, ·but we·ll
still try to enhance that experience.·
It·s the kind of floor that anticipates your next course
with the proper silverware. You won·t be asked, ·Who
has the chicken?· And when you·re served the
chicken pistache Alexondra ($21, and named for the Purnomos·
daughter), you·ll revel in the combo of cream and prosciutto,
mushrooms and pistachios that infuses the sauce with a flavor
that doesn·t reveal any boundaries, flowing from one
flavor to the next.
flowers abound, on tables and at key locations around the
room. Large mirrors on one wall have journeyed with Yono and
Donna from one restaurant to the next. Wall colors were chosen
to recall those restaurants, dominated by a soothing blue.
is reflected in every aspect of the room, from the large Yono·s-emblazoned
liners to the handsome coffee cups with which you·ll
finish your meal. And the plate presentations, while not fussy,
are nicely balanced and add to the appeal.
items comprise one of the two large menu pages, continental
fare the other. Steaks and seafood are joined by exotica like
pan-roasted ostrich medallions ($30) and an appetizer of sautéed
alligator in a lemon-caper sauce ($13, and worth a sample,
as my adventurous daughter attested). You can understand that,
while we were tempted by the latter, it·s a pleasurable
duty to explore Yono·s native cuisine.
height of which is rijsttafel ($49), a five-course blowout
that takes you through a kaleidoscope of flavors and ingredients.
Saté you already are familiar with, and the succulent
bits of marinated chicken are available separately ($9). As
is kepiting goreng ($13), an Asian crabcake served with the
just-right combo of a sweet citrus mayonnaise and a spicy
is a soup ($8 separately) in which the flavor of lamb dominates,
in the broth and thanks to chunks of the meat. It·s
billed as a 17th-century pirate soup, and I can believe it,
although the flavor of lemongrass leads me to wonder if those
buccaneers had it very rough.
the component vegetables of the salad called gado gado ($7)
are marinated in a light vinaigrette, they remain subtle of
flavor, and so the addition of tomato and peanut sauce dressing
is restrained so as not to overwhelm the stuff. It·s
a great palate cleanser.
entrée portion is itself a platter of many things,
among them bakmi goreng ($25 a la carte), a noodle-based dish
with chicken and shrimp, and a festival of smaller servings
based on rice and shrimp and more.
Nasi rames ($32) is another multi-course feast, replicating
much of the rijsttafel but less extravagantly. I sought entrée
advice from our server, who insisted that the rack of lamb·iga
kambing bakar bengkulu ($29)·transcends what·s
typically served. And he was right. The meat marinates in
a Pernod-laced vinaigrette, and is served with a coconut-milk-infused
curry sauce. It·s like nothing you·ve ever tasted
touch on the appetizer of roasted, venison-like kangaroo ($18)
that the hardier members of my party sampled and enjoyed,
or the amuses bouches of wild mushroom-stuffed wontons on
a tangy sambal, or the gnocchi with crabmeat we were sent
to quell any possible hunger as our entrées were cooking·but
you know enough. You·re equipped with a foretaste of
what·s now Albany·s finest fine-dining establishment.
Yono·s has landed exactly where it belongs.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
new Farmer’s Market opens on Schenectady’s
upper Union Street on Saturday (May 6), and will
continue each Saturday, 9 AM to 1 PM, through
the end of October. Look for the market in the
parking lot off Woodland Avenue between Union
Street and Eastern Avenue. Initially, the market
will feature herbs, bedding plants, and flowers.
Other locally produced and grown agricultural
items will be added as they become available.
. . . Remember to pass your scraps to Metroland
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very much enjoyed eating dinner at Daniel's
at Ogdens. You review described my dining
experience perfectly. This wasn't the case
with Pancho's. I much prefer Garcia's or
Lake View Tavern for Mexican fare. I agree
that a restaurant can have an off night
so I'll give the second unit on Central
Avenue a try.
yes I miss the star ratings, bring it back.
Second, I haven't had a chance to visit
Poncho's yet, but I especially like reading
would travel to Amsterdam to this restaurant
- it's not that far away. People traveled
from all over to eat at Ferrandi's in Amsterdam.
From his background, I'm sure the chef's
sauce is excellent and that is the most
important aspect of an Italian restaurant.
Sometimes your reviewer wastes words on
the negative aspects of a restaurant. I'm
looking forward to trying this restaurant
- I look forward to Metroland every Thursday
especially for the restaurant review. And
by the way Ferrandi's closed its Amsterdam
location and is opening a new bistro on
Saratoga Lake - Should be up and running
in May. It will be called Saratoga Lake
Bistro. It should be great!
comments about the Indian / Pakistani restaurants
being as "standardized as McDonald's"
shows either that you have eaten at only
a few Indian / Pakistani restaurants or
that you have some prejudices to work out.
That the physical appearances are not what
you would consider fancy dancy has no bearing
on the food. And after all, that is what
the main focus of the reviews should be.
Not the physical appearances, which is what
most of your reviews concentrate on.
A restaurant like The Shalimar, down on
Central Avenue, may not look the greatest,
but the food is excellent there. And the
menu has lots of variety - beef, lamb, vegetarian,
chicken, and more..