Roasted brussel sprouts and mashed butternut squash was the selling point for lunch at the Drake Hotel. I haven't eaten the bitter green orbs in months, and I missed them. I indulged in 3 consecutive days of Happy Belly Time for Winterlicious—a food event where over a hundred restaurants have a prix fix menu, showcasing their sumptuous food at a reduced price. The Drake Hotel was one of our destinations.
I expected a lavish hotel with tall ceilings and moldings along each corner and arch, but I was wrong. The setting was rather a piece of contemporary art itself. A turquoise wall, loud orange and black vintage wallpaper on the another wall, mirrors rusting at the back side. Ceiling lights covered with coral reef shaped material to dim the dining room. “In/Out” printed outside the kitchen doors, always swung open by busy servers. Climb up the staircase and spy a bust of a large man with his back facing you. He is balding, as evidenced by his pepper gray hair--it's strange and just out of place.
It's an odd setting when all the elements are added up, I'm sure there's a reason but I just don't know. I can only reason what I eat.
My hands shook as I eyed menu, I was hypoglycemic, absolutely famished, I had skipped breakfast for this meal. I chose Caesar salad with garlic croutons and anchovies, followed by grilled skirt steak with mashed butternut squash and roast brussel sprouts (!!). And finally New York style crumb cake with pear and ginger compote.
The Caesar salad was lacking crisp and freshness, but the croutons were excellent, garlicky without being too overpowering, and I kept digging for more croutons beneath my bed of lettuce. The skirt steak was pretty awesome, a huge slab of meat running with juices and topped with tangy Montpellier butter. The brussel sprouts were roasted with charred bits, my favorite way its made. The main course lasted us nearly an hour just to finish. We were talking, sipping coffee and mimosas, admiring the adorable little girl with the fedora, and trying to get the waiter's attention to pick up our empty dishes.
When dessert finally came, my jaw was exhausted from the meat chewing exercises. I was bulging full but determined to finish what I started. Yet its such a shame to finish the meal with a disappointment. There was nothing “New York” about my New York style coffee cake. It was rock hard. It should be renamed Gobi desert style sand cake. The pear and ginger compote was mediocre, and lacked any sort of syrup. The cake begged for a sauce to soften the texture. On the bright side, my companion's apple strudel came with homemade milk and honey ice cream. Now this was worth loosening my belt for. It was fresh, creamy and not throat-achingly sweet. We ordered 2 extra scoops which came 10 minutes later, we oohed and ahhed and dove headfirst into our new and improved desserts.
Winterlicious you have been fun, I enjoy going about town eating and critiquing. When the snow melts away and the grass is greener, I look forward to wining and dining for Summerlicious