Search “Hotel Restaurants” and almost every heading will use the descriptive of “BEST,” have you wondered why?
First of all, the properties being reviewed in this category are not family tourist, economy business or cookie cutter “big box” mega hotels. They are instead, sophisticated, intellectual, posh, trendy, and comfortable, service oriented well designed operations. These operations are multi layered and carry a sense of accomplishment and pride in the atmosphere and amongst the staff and of course the guest. Often times the restaurant is the showcase and exemplifies the sense of accomplishment and pride of the entire hotel. As service philosophies, culinary trends and interior design change and grow the hotel restaurant can be the driving force to higher standards and success.
The grand Hotels of yesteryear from the Waldorf to the Ritz are where the finest dinners and accomplished service were experienced. Restaurants were home cooked style meals or possibly a steak. The best chefs of Europe and in particular France were recruited throughout Europe and then to North America to serve the finest of cuisines in the finest hotels to the refined guest and local patronage who expected nothing less than the best. Most notably “Escoffier” known as the King of Chefs and Chef of Kings was a founding contributor to Ritz Carlton and then the Cunard Line.
In the heart of the Gilded Age when society and wealth would come to have different meanings the age of the “Great Restaurant” was born. Establishments like Delmonico’s where people like Diamond Jim Brady could experience fine food with pomp and circumstance but not judgment, would be the new trend.
There were many similarities between the hotel dining and these fashionable restaurants. Each had fine imported wines and the freshest seasonal foods available. Both catered to the rich and famous and were places to be seen by those who were watching. Both had kitchens larger than the dining rooms. Last but certainly not least, both had as much staff as they did guests. Truly, it was a grand age in food and in service.
As in all things, economy drove changes and greater profit margins could be had by offering fine dining or a variation there for the rising middle class. Chefs, Head Waiter’s and Sommeliers started to open their own restaurants and made them affordable by making them smaller. This, combined with the end of the privileged and Edwardian age changed hotel dining in a significant way.
Flash forward to airline travel, an intricate interstate system and suburbs…The finer hotel restaurants would be in the finer corporate hotels to be visited by the business executives. Still, there was a perception of dining at “an upscale” hotel restaurant and many people would frequent these on special occasions or the Saturday night out. However, as locals became more infrequent and costs grew the hotels started to model their restaurants and the novelty wore off. Now only the flagship properties could boast a fine dining experience and this was often for marketing the entire chain.
Flash forward again, through the education of wines to the public, to modern food trends and fine dining without wearing a tie. The day of Hotel Dining is/has returned and the mystique is not that different from so many years ago. The new ambience, educated traveler/foodie, and a less pretentious atmosphere make a perfect combination for hotel dining in today’s modern age.
Fine Dining at Rosso, in a fine hotel; Hotel Sorella Country Club Plaza…An inviting doorman points to the waiting elevator that will take you to the top floor. Across the chic lobby under the mediation blue chandelier, murals and ivory white back drops and you notice a relaxed sophistication. Contemporary adult alternative music speeds you to the 7th floor and beyond the impressive wine display. The room opens to Bar Rosso, an inviting lounge with knee high cocktail tables with designer wrap-arounds. From this vantage you are overlooking the sphere shaped bar of red and black with a California spa pool on the terrace…perfect for a cocktail before dinner, please take your time.
Will you be dining with us tonight or enjoying small plates and wine? The atmosphere is incredible, un-rushed and deserving with a glass fireplace separating the lounge from the dining room, innovative comfortable furniture and a view that is arguably the best in the city. This is to be enjoyed in a single reflective moment, a romantic date night, a celebration of friends or with a new associate. Visiting a local hotel restaurant can be as exciting and satisfying as a weekend jet setting.
The menu is an interpretation of modern Italian Mediterranean with a taste of Northern California and a respectful nod to local and trends. The Chef uses sustainable ingredients, supports the regional farmers and hires apprentices in order to play it forward. Health convenience choices, dietary requests and focus on fresh, seasonal, local ingredients from start to finish.
If fine dining in restaurants and Hotels had similarities they now also have differences. Hotel Dinning does not change with trends or become locked in because of them, instead they evolve. A first time guest is as important as a longtime regular, your comfort is important. Relax and enjoy yourself, no rush, the table is yours for the evening.