I had an incredibly good meal at dp An American Brasserie, the more casual of the two restaurants in the Hampton Inn & Suites Hotel in downtown Albany. It was made all the more so because it was top-notch for the price.
You know Yono’s, course, the venerable and opulent Continental and Indonesian restaurant owned and run by Donna and Yono Purnomo. I’ll try to consider dp separately from Yono’s, but it’s tricky because, in fact, they share a kitchen and you have to pass through dp’s smart and stylish dining room to get to Yono’s.
Son Dominick’s restaurant benefits from Yono’s by more than proximity. He spent many nights as a child at the hostess stand with his mother, busing tables and learning the business: dp is Dominick’s initials and creation: his concept, his menu, and his wine list, said Yono.
Dominick’s restaurant is not just a more casual version of his parents’; the menu is broader, the atmosphere quite lively and fun, bustling and noisy. And it’s definitely not the lesser of the two.
If you dined at dp for lack of choice, you wouldn’t feel you’d been fleeced. The 10-ounce Angus sirloin burger with fries and pickle is a good value at $9.
Something for all
The starters include wild boar sausage, diver scallops and corn and shrimp fritters. Main plate salads, sandwiches, and a small but exquisitely chosen selection of entrees — mussels meuniere, wild mushroom ravioli, Indonesian stir-fried noodles, hanger steak — round out the menu. With Mom as my dining companion, we agreed the restaurant offered something for everyone.
Dp has six magnificent atrium windows that frame some of Albany’s architectural treasures. As you enter, the bar is under two of those windows on the left, and the open dining room is to the right, leaving a roughly triangular-shaped seating area, with cushioned banquettes and wooden tables. It’s smart and it’s handsome.
The high ceiling makes it look spacious, but I couldn’t help but feel crowded in the area allotted to the tables. Hard surfaces make it noisy. Where we sat near the hostess stand, there was a bottleneck where coatroom, dining room, and corridor converge to create a less-than-elegant traffic jam.
Our server was somewhat inattentive, perhaps overworked, and we often felt overlooked and neglected. But this was made insignificant by the excellence of the meal. Mom said: “Forget all that. The food is outstanding.”
She’s right. Even the bread and butter were terrific: a crusty warm petite baguette served with especially tasty butter.
She started with panko and blue corn crusted calamari ($9) tossed with pickled banana pepper and garlic olive oil and served with two dips: chili garlic and plain mayonnaise. “It’s very tender,” she said. It was beautifully browned and crisp.
I had an excellent house salad ($5) of mesclun greens with chopped tomato, mandarin oranges, and sliced cucumbers with a tangy and sweet sesame ginger dressing. The greens were perfect, the presentation lovely, and freshness and quality excellent.
Mom had short ribs ($16) cooked in coconut milk with lemongrass and lime leaves, a generous and delicious dish. Along with the neatly molded delicate rice and bright vegetables, it was a pretty plate. The seasoning was not overpowering, but added interest to the beef. “It was wonderful,” she said.
Presentation and style are important at dp, impressive but not over the top. I like the plain white dishes that show off the food to best advantage, and the chrome spirals that hold paper cones of freshly cooked fries.
My dinner was excellent as well, chicken Gabriel ($16), medallions of white meat sautéed and served with a creamy Madeira sauce. Imagine sweet wine cooked with rich cream made salty, but not too much so, from prosciutto. It seeped into and enriched the rice, and topped off the caramelized notes of the chicken. And I admired the leftovers I’d taken home just as much the next day.
Here’s where we waited too long for the server. The dining room was humming and Dominick, who had been busy running in and out of the wine room, started carrying out plates.
Dessert was worth the wait, and not only is dp a destination for homemade desserts, the prices here were reasonable, too. Mom had the banana bread pudding ($5) and we can tell you that every molecule of this dessert is absolutely fascinating. I took a bite and the perfectly ripe flavor of bananas took over my mouth. For a moment, that dessert was the only thing I was thinking of. Now that’s good.
My chocolate rendezvous ($5) dessert did that neat trick where the rich sweet part of the cake meets the light mousse in your mouth and makes something in between that is just right. The dark chocolate was a bit too sweet for me, and the mousse too timid, but they balanced each other perfectly. I have got to stop taking my food apart to eat it.
The tab for this outstanding meal came to $75.72 with tax and tip.
“This is a family business,” said Yono. “But dp is my son’s creation. I’m just blessing him.”
dp An American Brasserie
WHERE: Hampton Inn and Suites hotel, 25 Chapel St., Albany. Phone: 436-3737.
WHEN: 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays, 11:30 a.m. to midnight Fridays, 5 p.m. to midnight Saturdays. Closed Sundays.
HOW MUCH: $75.72
MORE INFO: Handicapped accessible. Children’s menu. MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover.