72 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016
We went to Olana on Saturday night, the first night that it was opened for the general public. The place is huge, with a large and very popular circular bar area in the front of the house. The large main dinning room was less popular, probably in part due to some weird lighting resulting from a back lighted winter scene which casts a weird florescent lighting pall to the room. The smaller back room was packed, as it is much more intimate, comfortable and far more appropriate for a nice dinner. The banquettes and chairs are bordello red, and much of the décor has a combination of red tones and wood. In additional to the seasonal scenes in the main dining room, there is a large mural of the Hudson River that you will either love or really hate.
The front of the house staff, managers and waiters were very professional, and seemingly well versed. However, the servers and busboys were totally confused and were dressed in mismatched white tops and black pants that seemed more appropriate at an inexpensive Latin American than at a more upscale restaurant.
Hopefully they will quickly fix the main room lighting, and get some training and uniforms for the servers and runners.
What may take longer to fix is a menu and kitchen that seems to have no direction. Part of the menu is Hudson Valley local regional cuisine, and the other part is an interpretation of Italian cuisine. Clearly Chef Al Di Meglio is searching for his own style and while some may like this fusion of two styles, it just didn’t wow us. We sampled both types of dishes and found the duck, rabbit and pork loin dishes not nearly as good as at other top regional places. And the Italian dishes; including burnt orange and duck ravioli, cavatelli with mushrooms, and a Brodetto seafood stew with bulgur (not couscous as listed on the menu), missed the mark and were not up to par with other top Italians. It clear Di Meglio has talent and hopefully he will evolve into a menu that can be executed to perfection by the kitchen staff.
The wine list is being developed according to the sommelier and at the moment is both eclectic and a little weird. It is also very high priced, starting at around $60 a bottle and climbing rapidly into the hundreds of dollars.
We will give Olana a few weeks to iron out the kinks and hopefully allow Di Meglio and the kitchen to find their direction.
Olana - Too Early to Judge