Upon entering, one cannot help but gawk in amused wonderment at the
ceiling. Gray-brown, cave ceiling wavy-bumpy, with hundreds of
“stalactites” dripping. ... no other DP8 restaurant can boast such
immediate ambiance. It was cool, or retro, or innovative, or
in-keeping-with-Howes-Cavern, or 60s-ish, or…. ok, done with that.
The menu is humungous, bordering on a good diner combined with a
sports bar & grill combined with a basic fine-eating establishment.
Twenty appetizers, half a dozen soups, half a dozen salads, pizza, fifteen
sandwiches & paninis & wraps, ten styles of burgers, and five to
ten entrées each in the chicken, seafood, Italiano, beef, pork &
lamb, and seafood categories. Whew!
We finally settled on:
==>sea bass special, chili-Thai
glaze (Mark & Don: good fish, fresh, we thought; tasty & ok
topping; fresh mashed potatoes, I think, although Mark ordered a baked
potato; and a so-so vegetable medley)
==>baked lobster tail with blue
crab stuffing; choice of baked, mashed or fries (as accompanied all the
dinners); veggie medley (Joyce & Deb T: lobster was ok-good, a bit
dry; stuffing – ehh; both liked the mood-light candle that served as the
==>fried shrimp (Chay: good; five
large shrimp, with fries)
==>sausage & chicken al forno
(Kerry: ok, an experimental try for him; large portion, enough for doggie
==>herb chicken Italiano: chicken
with mushrooms, eggplant, tomatoes, herbs & spice (Julie: good; doggie
bag big enough to feed family of four)
==>beef Wellington (Deb K: very
good, tenderloin cooked right, pastry done right)
All of this came after a rare splurge of appetizers,
the sizes of which could have almost served eight for dinner. We ordered:
==>bruschetta: a heaping twelve
inch plate with five five-inch slices of bread, drizzled with oil and
garlic (did I say garlic!?), surrounding a heap of tomatoes, onions,
herbs, garlic that had an enjoyable “bite”; the “crispy” in the
menu’s bread description never happened, but we liked it anyway.
==>spinach-artichoke dip: another
twelve inch platter, with a bowl of baked creamy dip, with a heap of
tri-color corn chips (and not the “crispy baguettes” on the menu
==>bubbly seafood dip—a combo of
lobster, shrimp, and crab, baked in cheese, served on another twelve inch
platter, with the chips instead of the menu’s baguettes
(Many of us strained to pass the plates around, attesting to the weight of
I think the knowledge that dinner came with soup or
salad bar caused throwing caution and responsibility to the wind as we
kept piling up the appetizer order.
The dinner accompaniments
==>the roasted tomato bisque with
smoked gouda filled a hefty
mug-bowl that Kerry, Deb K, Joyce, and Don enjoyed;
==>Mark, Chay, Deb T, and Julie
opted for the salad bar, a rare occurrence (the bar) in the modern setting
but it fit Caverns Palace. (The last salad bar we could remember was at
Laney’s, a long-ish time ago.) And it was a nice, basic-good bar, with
bread to be sliced, greens, two pasta salads, a potato salad, and another
half dozen bowls of choices to make
Then, the siren call of dessert wailed
but half of us were sated by this time:
==>pass – Mark, Deb K;
==>coffee – Joyce;
==>Sambuca – who else?;
mousse cake – Don: an average cake but good enough to end the evening;
Julie liked it
brûlée – Deb T: ehhh, a good try
– Kerry: good, warm, drizzle of caramel
For DP8, we had enough choices for a suitable DP8
dinner; and if one wanted only a sandwich or soup some night, CP is a
worthy casual choice.
The wine list was a bit more varied
than one finds at most places (and with very modest mark-ups, also). Our
first bottle was a Zacharias Vineyard 2010 Ambelo-Phos (Greek Red - 90%
Assyrtiko), and Mark ordered a Casa Larga NV Cab-Merlot (a Finger Lakes
wine). (Tim, you best hustle back, a bunch of people are getting practice
being wine stewards!) Both were good choices for the five red wine
drinkers. A couple sodas and a beer filled the list.
Our waiter, Jen, was
very good – convivial, attentive, friendly, assertive (in a good way),
and strong (had to be with the weight of the plates).
Ambience (once you
adjusted to being in a cave—ok, only the ceiling) is a modern, airy
feel, aided by the surround-a-mid-wall bank of windows overlooking Howes
Caverns’ hillside visible across the valley, with the classic lettering
still writ large enough to read even a half-mile away.
CP’s main entry feeds you toward the greeter, with the bar twenty
feet beyond, a salad bar just a few feet away to the left, with booths
along the roadside wall, banquettes along the back wall not already taken
by the bar, and then two rooms visually separated by décor and a large
door frame. We occupied the whole center of the left-hand room and it was
heaven for us. (The right-hand room, we learned later, as seen in the
photo, was a double row of booths.) Although most of the middle section
was full, our end room was solely ours, even though another fifteen seats
We sat four on the side, with three wider-than-usual tables placed
together, graced with fiber mats, a place setting wrapped in a paper
napkin, and a “centerpiece” of an unlit votive candle, a salt and
pepper shaker match, and a small bowl of sugar packets. Sturdy chairs were
comfortable the night-long. A synthetic wide-board floor assemblage was
mostly not noticeable. A lot of brown, dark brown, and cave
pictures/representation comprised the interior color scheme.
Lighting in our room was recessed, creating a cave-ish effect on
the wavy ceiling, and the same was true for the booths and banquettes in
the main middle room. However, lighting of the main room, running down the
center peak, was created by clusters of four hanging semi-globular lights,
each with its own rod, of different levels, of different colors, reminding
us of floating sea urchins, each cluster about fifteen feet part. It
was… nifty ....
We asked for water around, and out came glasses and two pitchers of
ice water, set on the table for us to pour. In fact, even the wine bottles
came opened, but corked, and we poured as we needed. Classy-diner-ish.
Noise level, even with white noise in the background, was as quiet as any
place we have been, and much appreciated. Perhaps, it was the ceiling
absorbing the noise.
The bill came to $85 per couple, a darn good deal for the gobs of
food we ate, including tax, drink and tip.
The evening had started at the Teator house, where
three cheeses awaited (everyone learned quickly which was the jalapeno),
along with salsa and taboule waiting for the blue chips, a small plate of
cooked shrimp with red sauce, and cauliflower and broccoli with some ranch
Of course, the change of cast of characters smacks the Karneses and
Teators, but the Notars and Quinns filled in quite capably and
congenially, making for another enjoyable evening. So, we spent about five
minutes speculating what the “southerners” were doing, based on phone
calls, emails, and Facebook.
Conversations drifted from Z’s memorial (and Chay’s and
Kerry’s part in it), a little more about Z, a cool weather week behind
us and ahead of us, retirement, the enormous pressure to retire exerted on
Kerry from two “unnamed” sources, school stuff, Princeton Plan, more
DE stuff as we drove past it, Christopher, the Quinn “kids” and
challenges, Africa & Bridget, Julie’s work, Deb K’s work, not
bicycling, Kalli and cats, Julie’s rescue dog efforts, Niagara Falls
& Notars, Canadian Niagara wine, silly wine sales laws, Nathan and
house, Hurricane Irene, Schoharie and how many houses were dark when we
drove through, golfing, HS baseball season, retirement (again, but not for
Julie, for a loooong time).
Thank you, Mark and Joyce, and Kerry and Julie, for rounding out
the “8” this evening, and we original, home-anchoring 4 look forward
to catching up with the traveling 4 and our usual ways in April.