A Capital find at the Sutton Place Hotel
By Christopher Thrall
I'm baffled. There is a mystery to be found on the second floor of the Sutton Place Hotel. The luxurious décor lays claim to colonial elegance. The menu-full of dishes that Dad would love-has breathtaking touches of modern flair. But the prices are far too low for fine dining. Capitals, what kind of restaurant <b>are</b> you?
My wife and I gave up on finding free, street-level parking downtown after 6 pm and drove down under the Sutton Place Hotel one frosty evening. As we stepped from the parkade elevator into the lobby, I gaped.
An open courtyard spread before us beneath huge skylights, the busy Central Park Lounge on the main floor surrounded by carefully groomed plants and raked white sand. The lounge was home to the Thursday and Friday chocolate buffets: $16 included a glass of wine or highball, a crepe station and all the decadent desserts you could inhale. The last Thursday of each month features live jazz.
Gazing up at the undressed concrete walls of the lobby, I could see the restaurant looking out over the atrium from the second floor. Well-dressed but comfortable patrons sat at rosewood tables scattered across the Louis XIV carpeting. I lost track of the number of tables, but crisp white linens and candles graced each one.
Our friendly maitre d' left us with the brief but nicely styled menus. Tantalizing appetizers ranged from $8 to $14 for Mesclun greens and P.E.I. mussels, while tempting pastas topped out at $18. I was especially drawn to a pumpkin barley risotto with asiago cheese. Prices lower than I expected continued into the entrées, none of which passed the $30 mark. Though the fare was pretty standard-including salmon, steak, duck and lamb-the finishing touches were not. Pomegranate molasses graced the salmon, and vanilla bean sweet potato mash was served beside the duck: the Capitals kitchen wasn't afraid of either innovation or modern flavours infusing their conservative cuisine.
The smoky Shiraz coursed over my taste buds as I looked up through the skylights at the lit windows of nearby buildings, forming an urban constellation against the night sky. Our pretty server quickly delivered slices of warm bread with three different types of butter, followed immediately by my salad. While I can't say I noticed much difference between sundried tomato and the garlic butter, the pat of pesto was primo. My salad was fresh, crisp and bursting with flavour.
The main course was timed perfectly, arriving just as I set down my salad fork. I took another sip of wine and dedicated the next twenty minutes to savouring every bite of the tender, yielding meat. By the end of the meal, I left half the rich, creamy risotto (though none of that delightful meat) as I requested a decadent flourless chocolate cake to finish. The result wasn't so much a cake as a dense, dark-chocolate fuelled fantasy that I will remember for a long, long time.
With drinks, tax and tip, a three-course dinner for two set us back $120. When I consider the style of the hotel's restaurant and culinary skill in the kitchen, that price just blew me away. The final bloom on the rose: when we finally drove away, I discovered that parking underground in warm safety only cost three bucks!
Capitals, whatever you are, you are definitely going to see me again.
10235 101 St.
<b>Tel:</b> (780) 441-3031