It might be time to stop saying, "Not your typical hotel restaurant." So many hotels are stepping up their game and serving as homes to chef-driven restaurants that don’t in any way need to rely on hotel guests for the majority of their business.
Kimpton Hotels are famous for super-cool digs and equally hip eateries. The Hotel Monaco in Seattle is no exception. Its downtown location makes it perfect for an out-of-town getaway or even an in-town staycation. And it offers all of the Kimpton perks, from free bikes to loaner goldfish, complimentary wine hour, free morning coffee and tea, and roomy rooms that are equal parts chic and comfy.
It also offers a killer restaurant with a dedicated and creative chef at the helm, Jason McClure, who has been at Sazerac since it opened in 1997. He was a line cook back then and worked his way up to executive chef. Those who know Sazerac call it McClure’s baby.
And McClure isn’t the only thing that’s been around since the restaurant opened. So have some of the top menu items, including catfish, gumbo, and the Ooey Gooey Chocolate Cake.
I started out my lunch with a selection from the ample appetizer menu, choosing Medjool dates en brochette with smoked bacon, goat cheese, and balsamic; crispy "truffles" made of Yukon Gold potato, truffle cheese, and truffle aioli; and cast-iron cornbread served with molasses seat salt butter.
I love dates. But I really love dates when they are wrapped in bacon and stuffed with cheese. These are delectable. The "truffles" are like nothing I have ever tasted — crispy, light, and perfectly "truffle-y." Suffice it to say, I love almost anything "truffle-y." And the cornbread was sweet and rich and had just the right balance between dense and light.
For my entrée, I opted for the catfish with a side of their hand-cut fries. Luckily I opted for the smaller size, 3 ounces, which looked way bigger when it was served. To my mind, it would be been plenty big for a dinner portion as well.
The fish was served on whipped potatoes with carrots, baby spinach, cabbage, red and green peppers, and onions gracefully balanced on top. The entire dish is surrounded by a delectable sauce of brown butter, shallots, jalapeño, Tabasco, Worcestershire, lemon, chicken stock, and parsley.
It was a stellar combination of flavors and textures that I can definitely imagine myself craving in the not too distant future. There’s something about tender fish, crunchy vegetables, and soft potatoes all in a flavorful broth that just screams comfort food perfection. And the hand-cut fries were an ideal dipping device for all of the bottom-of-the-bowl goodness.
There are times when I find myself avoiding certain restaurants because they are housed inside a hotel. But it’s time to let go of that dated notion because Sazerac is one restaurant that hotel guests and locals alike would be crazy to miss.