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Canyon Ranch Grill (long review)

c
chef4hire Jun 1, 2009 03:13 PM

Just spent the last 6 days eating at the hotel restaurant and could not have been happier with most of the food. I was really amazed by the meals we had, so much so that we did not eat at any other restaurants while we were in Miami.

We usually average two good meals a day and fill in the rest with grazing. I'm happy to say I limited the grazing to nuts and fruit for the entire stay. OK...we did have some cheese popcorn but it was calling me....

Here is how we ate:

We enjoyed the dinners the most. Lots of seafood and tropical fruits. The standouts were littleneck clams in saffron broth, crabcakes with english pea puree and sauteed rapini, yellowtail w/favas and the coconut dusted mahi. After discovering boniata I may never go back to regular old sweet potatoes

Grilled caesar salad was an experience. I had multiple orders for dinner one night and still stayed under 500 calories. It was a simple grilled wedge of romaine, light & lemony caesar dressing and a slightly poached egg in a crouton "basket" that just blew my mind. After spending so many years in kitchens I just never thought to grill the salad! So good.

Average dinner price (2 apps, 2 entrees, 2 sides, 2 desserts & 2 or 3 glasses of wine) was around $120. I thought dinner was a good value.

Lunches were not as exciting and I found them to be rather small. Tiny sandwiches were inventive but not enough to fill us up. Salads were good but I felt like I needed something carby to round out the meal. The soups were tasty but the selection did not change from lunch to dinner. Also, it seems that slaw comes with everything. There was a real lack of choice in the sides department regarding lunch.

The standout for me was a simple grilled cheese w/tomato soup. Earthy bread toasted super crisp, sliced heirlooms and gruyere made up the full sized sandwich. Herb infused tomato soup was great for dipping purposes. Thinner than a cream soup but thicker than a broth with clear tomato flavor. Very good.

Average lunch price (2 apps, 2 entrees and a shared dessert) was around $45.

We had breakfast on 2 days. I got the American twice because it was the best value on the menu and there was plenty to share with my husband. All of the other entrees seemed small so I knew he would be hungry - letting him finish my "too big" breakfast seemed easier than convincing him he needed more than one entree.

Everything seemed alacarte on the breakfast menu, which drove the price up a bit. The New Yorker (bagel, lox, onions, cream cheese) consisted of 1/2 a sprouted hemp bagel, about 3 ounces of quality nova lox and maybe 2 tablespoons of cream cheese. Great if you need a lox fix, bad if you're hungry. The American was your general room service type of breakfast elevated to greatness by including a small fruit plate, organic eggs, chicken sausage and big, chunky, herbed breakfast potatoes. This meal did not come with toast which we ordered on the side. I also doubled up on the potatoes and sausage (for sharing purposes).

Average breakfast price was $55. Expensive. We did not order beverages with this meal as there was an in-room pot with excellent coffee.

Beverages were an issue for me. Iced tea $5 or $6 a glass? $10 coffee for two? $14 rum and coke? Gimme a break already. Yes it's an expensive hotel, yes we can afford it, NO we don't like being ripped for an ounce or two of rum and 8 ozs of soda.

All of the sodas are hand mixed, old fashioned affairs. Really interesting flavors and light on the sweetner (agave nectar is the natural sweetner of choice here). I love iced tea and these are all full of fruit and herbs and are totally delicious. The smoothies are probably worthy of professional athletes in training. I just cannot bring myself to order a $12 banana shake.

Best beverage was the watermelon mint iced tea. Like a mojito without the kick...but I didn't seem to miss the kick. Pricey at $6 bucks with tax. Crazy drink prices I just can't get past.

Would we go back and try to stick to the healthy diet plan? Absolutely. I would probably try to make time for 3 meals a day and order less at each meal. Or stick to a late breakfast and earlier dinner. I would definately stock my beautiful room with tasty beverages and healthy snack options from the publix accross Collins.

We did not buy the inclusive (european) meal plan as it did not include most beverages and seemed a little high to me. After doing the math we saved about $150 paying for our own meals.

Finally, we noted that there were not many locals enjoying the healthy cuisine. I urge you all to make a trip to North Miami and just try dinner once. If I had this resto near me I know I would go at least once a week. Even my fried shrimp po boy lovin' husband admitted that he felt super healthy and lost 3 pounds while we were gone.

OK...now I think he wants Popeye's for dinner (first night back to NOLA and all that) so I have to run! Happy eating!

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  1. Frodnesor RE: chef4hire Jun 1, 2009 03:23 PM

    As one of those locals you mention, we did go once and I did enjoy it ->
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/581753

    A recent New Times review suggested they had dumbed down the menu, though it doesn't sound like it from your description.Though we did enjoy it, we've not been back, as it was somewhat pricey for what you get. The kids loved the home-made sodas. After having had consecutive dinners of pig's trotter and a steak, I may be ready to go back.

    www.foodforthoughtmiami.com

    3 Replies
    1. re: Frodnesor
      c
      chef4hire RE: Frodnesor Jun 1, 2009 09:11 PM

      thanks for the link...I searched this board before I left and somehow missed your post

      it was really empty and I couldn't figure out why- the hostess admitted they hadn't acquired a local following yet- I was kinda sad about that because I feel like I would go all the time if it was driving distance

      I hope you make it back soon~ please give us a report if you do!

      if you go again please report back so we can see if they're keeping up the good work!

      1. re: chef4hire
        o
        onthelam RE: chef4hire Jun 3, 2009 07:46 PM

        And I was the other local who posted and enjoyed it! We live within walking distance and have gone there for lunch from the beach and had dinner there with friends. We've always enjoyed it, and have had the "where are the locals" discussion with some of the staff. I think one problem is that the place is so off the radar and unobtrusive, people forget about it. Add to that the fact that it is pricey, and for us another issue is getting seated - every time we go there's a prolonged interrogation at the door, after they find out you aren't a hotel guest, asking for all your info - pleasantly, but who wants to stand at the hostess station and explain yourself when you just want dinner? Everyone's always lovely, but it is a drag.

        1. re: onthelam
          c
          chef4hire RE: onthelam Jun 6, 2009 07:24 PM

          you know...I thought about that interrogation thing and I think it may be that some hotel guests buy an inclusive food package- and they're probably trying to figure out how to bill (drinks are not included) we did get a bit of a questionnaire when we were seated the first couple of times

          I'm not sure why I cant find the posts on my own...will search again

          thanks!

    2. l
      lync0091 RE: chef4hire Jun 1, 2009 04:44 PM

      Just booked my stay there for next week. Can't wait. I've heard some mixed reviews, but am excited to find out for myself. Do they have a changing menu or is it usually fairly consistent?

      2 Replies
      1. re: lync0091
        c
        chef4hire RE: lync0091 Jun 1, 2009 09:33 PM

        the menu did vary but not greatly ~ two or three entrees would come off and then pop up again 3 days later...the soup changed every day but was the same for lunch and dinner- drove me crazy

        every night has a "ranch classic" which are favorites from Lenox and Tucson and there was a section labled "simple eats" which is the canyon ranch standards (grilled salmon/chicken or steamed veggie basket or brown rice)

        and they do have the mongolian bbq sauce, which is a favorite of mine

        I did not review the desserts as I am a pastry chef and I just can't be objective. Personally I thought they fell short. I even asked if they had an in-house pastry chef and they did say he was full time - he would not make it in my kitchen.

        Stick to the ice creams/sorbets and cookies.

        Actually- I made the best dessert of the trip by ordering chocolate chip cookies, vanilla ice cream and of course the fudge sauce...ice cream sandwiches dipped in hot fudge is a winner every time

        enjoy the Aquavana and please report back on your dining experience!!

        1. re: chef4hire
          l
          lync0091 RE: chef4hire Jun 7, 2009 12:49 PM

          Had a great experience at Canyon Ranch. Little did I know that the night I chose to go down was the same night Miami was going to get killed with storms so I can't really report back on the atmosphere, etc as there weren't many people inside. I must say I was happy with the food at the restaurant. The drinks, small plates and entrees were spot on, though the accompaniments were lacking in flavor.
          We started off with the Poblano Pepper with Shrimp and Goat Cheese. The portion was small, like we expected, but the flavor was extraordinary. The spiciness of the pepper combined with the creaminess of the goat cheese and the citris flavors of the shrimp combined well - this was our favorite dish of the evening. You must love goat cheese though, as it is the first thing you taste when you bite into this dish.

          We opted for the Sustainably Caught Chilean Sea Bass ($24) and the Austalian Lamb Chops ($24) for our main courses. The Chilean Sea Bass was served in a spicy pineapple broth and cool Key Lime cucumber. It was served with some sweet potatoes. The fish was served perfectly. It was simple, yet flavorful and the fresh ingredients came through. The potatoes were lacking and didn’t have much flavor to them. The other dish we tried was the Austalian Lamb Chops, due to our server’s recommendation. Once again, the meat was done to perfection - juicy and melted in your mouth. There was a match made in heaven with the fruit relish that it came with, though the roasted plaintains were chewy and tough and were the only thing we left on the plate.

          We skipped dessert so I’m not sure how they are, but I didn’t feel like I missed out.

          The food won't satisfy your craving for rich food, but if you're looking for fresh, healthy cuisine, you are sure to find it here. If you'd like to look at my full review, check can check out my blog: http://southflorida.dinemag.net/resta...

      2. g
        gfr1111 RE: chef4hire Jun 7, 2009 07:44 AM

        I have not eaten at the Canyon Ranch Grill. The lack of locals, however, can be determined. Canyon Ranch is known as an expensive western weight loss resort.

        You just said in your review that: (1) portions are small; (2) prices are high ($55 for breakfast!); (3) the food is dietetic; and (4) the food is delicious. I suspect that 1,2, and 3 turn enough people off so that they never get to #4, especially since diet spa/resort places are not usually known for their good food. Thanks for the tip, though. The place sounds interesting.

        1. dbarnard RE: chef4hire Jun 8, 2009 06:29 AM

          Thanks for the review! I tried that grilled romaine thing that you mentioned- wow was it good! split a romaine in half, doused it with olive oil, and grilled it on the BBQ until lightly charred. What could be easier? Phenomenal!

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