a GLITZY restaurant vs. a GREAT meal
I've been a bit lazy about posting this, but it has been percolating in my mind for a few months. Looking back at 2011, I've had many fine meals. Some were memorable mainly because of the convivial company; others for a combination of food and setting. But in my book, you cannot have a fine meal without truly good food.
With friends and friends of friends, we feasted on peerlessly fresh fish in Otranto, Italy. We tried the northern Alabama tradition of white barbeque sauce at Big Bob Gibson's in Decatur, AL. It wasgood on the chicken, less so on the pork, but DO NOT miss the coconut pie![http://www.bigbobgibson.com/main.htm] . We were delieghted to find Cotton Row [http://cottonrowrestaurant.com/menu/] in Huntsville, AL and discover that "new South" food is not only to be had at Restaurant Eugene [ http://www.restauranteugene.com/] and Empire St. South in Atlanta!
But the best meal I had was in March, at Root 246 in Solvang, CA. [ http://root-246.com/] We started with Blood Orange Margaritas. I had the blue cheese souffle with apples & peanuts to start and the Mascarpone and Parmesan cheese dumplings, braised Artichokes, Purple Kale, Pistachios. It could have been a wierd mess, but it was just pitch perfect! Hubby had fish (Arctic Char??) and we drank a Margerum Grenache. Almost a year later, I still think of that meal.
Another thing that makes it stand out is that we ate 2 days later at the Stonehill Tavern at the St. Regis Monarch Bay (Dana Pt.). Big time scene in a posh hotel. Important looking. Flawless service. I cannot remember what I ate. (Maybe beef???) Only thinking at the time that it was not that great. We ate with an old friend, so the company was excellent. But why a place like that cannot manage to serve a memorable meal is a mystery.
St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point, CA 92629
420 Alisal Road, Solvang, CA 93463
Good to hear Root 246 in Solvang is getting its groove back. I think it got a little lazy a while back and offered items that were not greater than the sum of their parts; but with your description it sounds like something otherworldly and beyond the sum of its parts is what they are not putting in front of people again.
jaybeck, with a few exceptions, I have found that hotel dining rooms just don't seem to hit the mark. I'm talking high end hotels, of course. Is the emphasis just someplace else where there is a larger profit to be made? After working with hotels for several years, I know that the B&F has far less wiggle room than say the room rate.