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Georgian Room Dinner


I mentioned two days ago that it was our 24th anniversary and that in three hours we would be having dinner in the Georgian Room of the Olympic Hotel. (The Fairmont Olympic, to be precise, but the Fairmonts and Four Seasons come and go, while the hotel is forever the Olympic.) We were married at the hotel, and though we had regularly eaten anniversary dinners there over the years, our last such dinner until this week was five years ago. I’m back with the restaurant report.

We arrived for our 6:45 reservation and were shown to a table just a little past the doorway. The room was nearly empty, so I figured we could have our choice of seats, and this wasn’t it. I asked if we could sit at one of the banquette tables, and I wanted in particular to sit at the same table where we had breakfast last February 15, after we had stayed overnight in the hotel. It’s in the far right corner, with the back to the window and the street, taking in a view of the full room with its high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling mirrors, floral arrangements, and giant breakfront on one wall. She showed us another one, but then offered the desired one, and that’s where we sat. Mind you, it’s a bit of a nuisance to sit side by side in a bench seat that makes it difficult to sit up straight. I would have been more comfortable in a chair. But this way we could both share the view of the room. Neither of us had to watch the traffic going up 5th Avenue. And of course we could be next to each other.

You can study the menu with us. We decided while we read it to start with some sparkling wine from California and ordered a glass each. Then we asked about whether the souffle should be ordered early. This prompted our waitress to offer us the dessert menu so we could compare the alternatives to the white and dark chocolate souffle and the souffle of the day, an orange and chocolate concoction. When the waitress returned, we were ready to order, starting with dessert.

I forgot about the bread. On our diet, we hadn’t been eating much bread in recent weeks, so this was a treat. Warm sesame seed bread was put on Gail’s bread plate by the bread and water attendant, and I got the same bread with poppy seeds. Between us he put a tray with four butter pats. The yellow one was plain butter; the green was sage; the orange was garlic; and the brown was balsamic. They were all fun to try, but I ended up returning to the plain. Also on the tray were little slivers of flatbread with herbs.

We both had the “Organic Greens and Sprouts: Artichokes, Asparagus, Cured Cherry Tomatoes” as our appetizer. Excellent. Then came an amuse, a cherry soaked in something I don’t remember, with balsamic vinegar and with a tiny parmesan cracker inserted. Also excellent. And suddenly, before we knew it, out came our main courses.

Gail had ordered the “Seared Scallops: Crisp Potatoes, Melted Young Leeks, Bacon Butter Sauce” and I ordered the “Roasted Lamb Chop, Smoked Lamb Sausage Grilled Walla Walla Onion, Prosciutto Whipped Potato, Minted Lamb Jus.” We had also ordered two sides: the peas and the asparagus. But something was wrong. For one thing, one of the two sides didn’t look like a vegetable at all. It looked like “Garlic Butter Poached Massive Prawns,” and massive they were. The waiter, whom we hadn’t seen up to that point — he was dressed differently and was probably a captain or some higher-ranking title — took it away instantly. That gave me some time to stare at my entree, which was the biggest lamb chop I had ever seen. And with no bone. In fact, it kind of looked like a big slab of steak, a filet. And where was that sausage anyway? Something more was wrong. We waited patiently, and then the captain appeared from the kitchen, racing over as if on a mission. He had clearly realized that much more was wrong than just the prawns. He announced that we had the wrong order and took everything away. Gail offered to keep her scallops, but he said we should get our dishes at the same time. The dishes disappeared, only to re-appear two minutes later, as far as we could tell in the distance, at another table.

The captain came by after that to chat with us, talking about his need to use his glasses, how embarrassing a mistake it was, and assuring us we would get our food soon. That was just a warmup. He talked for 5 minutes. He’s from Austria. He had worked at La Bernardin and Daniel in New York and reflected on how crazy it would get at times when things were busy, which they sure weren’t two nights ago at the Georgian Room. The easiest mistake to make in those busy times was to refresh wine glasses with the wrong wine. And by the way, he had hurt his shoulder over the weekend playing basketball with his son. Pleasant fellow. And entertaining. But soon he was off, and a few minutes later our proper dishes appeared.

Eating was painful. So many wonderful items to choose from. What to eat first? What to save for last? The lamb sausage was small, easily eaten in one bite. A large bite, yes, but I could have eaten it in seconds. Instead I kept cutting it into tiny bits to make it last. The chop was superb. I had a mix of peas and fava beans that was an absolute delight. And the prosciutto whipped potato was so good I couldn’t bear to eat it. My first potato in weeks. There was a potato skin wrapped around it to form a cylinder, out of which the mash rose from beyond the cylinder to a cone-shaped top. After two small tastes, I decided to leave it for the end. And then there were our sides, more delicious peas and five asparagus stalks. Not too much of anything; just enough to make every bite count. Gosh it was good.

Then our souffles. Souffle is Gail’s favorite dessert. Not mine, but I knew if I got something else, I’d spend the whole time staring at hers and wishing I had it. I figured life would be simpler if I just went along. And I’m glad I did. They were perfect. Except that there was too much air, too little stuffing. I know, that’s the nature of the beast. Still, I could have eaten more.

Next a long delay. I assumed they would bring some final little tidbit, mini cookies or truffles or something. But nothing was forthcoming for quite a while. Then, when our initial waitress appeared from the kitchen with a plate that had two glowing candles, I knew this was it. The plate had what the after-dinner treat — some jellies and a truffle. But also, written on the plate in chocolate glaze, were the words “Happy 24th Anniversary.” We blew out the candles and had what might be the best jellies I ever ate in my life. Guava, passion fruit, and mango.

The whole meal seemed like one giant tease, so many dreamy flavors, but not enough of any of them. Maybe we shouldn’t wait five years for our next visit.

No visit to the Olympic is complete without a walk up to the balcony to peer into the Kensington Room, our wedding site. We fulfilled our duty, but there wasn’t much to see, since the room was locked and the lights were off. Plus, curtains cover the windows between the balcony corridor and the room. I’m tall enough to look over them if I stand on my toes, which I did, but all I could see was a big table set up for a meeting the next day. (I just remembered, I wrote a post in February about our Valentine’s Day stay at the Olympic, focusing mostly on our evening at Jazz Alley, but the last part mentions our breakfast in the Georgian Room and our visit to the Kensington room. Unaccountably, I gave the room the wrong name, the name of the adjacent room. I’ve just fixed that.)

Next year’s our 25th! We haven’t started planning yet. Should we have a party at the Olympic? Stay tuned.

Categories: Food, Restaurants
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