Saturday, August 11, 2007

Something New...August 2007

Back to trying new foods. While enjoying a media lunch this week at the famed AAA 5-Diamond 1913 Room at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in downtown Grand Rapids, I went out on a limb and gave rabbit a try -- after first starting out with Celeriac Creme with Maple Popcorn, which is featured in the cookbook (p. 135).

The Saddle of Rabbit "au Vin" -- with double smoked bacon, spinach and caramelized pearl onions. It was absolutely mouthwatering. Very tender...moister than chicken or pork, with an amazing reduction sauce drizzled around the plate. The lunch serving featured three small rolled pieces of rabbit, which was just the right size to leave me satisfied (although if a second plate had been set in front of me, I would likely have continued eating just because it was that good!).

I finished with the largest serving of Creme Brule that I have ever seen...topped with strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. I couldn't only eat half (having had my fill on the earlier courses) but it paired perfectly with a hot cup of coffee.

The 1913 Room has won many awards and honors, including Grand Rapids Magazine "Restaurant of the Year" seven times in the past 10 years, and recently "Restaurant of the Decade." In 2002, it was awarded the AAA Five Diamond rating, the first and only in Michigan. We've redefined fine dining with succulent main courses, inventive desserts, artful presentation, and exceptional service. Settle into the opulent Louis XVI surroundings and treat yourself to the chef's tasting menu for a meal you're sure to talk about for years.
Madsen has been Chef deCuisine at the 1913 Room since 2002, but has been with the Amway since 1998 -- working both at Cygnus and Bentham's. I was amazed to learn that he was self-taught. I also was informed of the intensive training sessions that all servers at the 1913 Room go through...and was impressed with the professionalism and knowledge of the pair of servers who took care of us (especially considering they appeared quite young for such an esteemed restaurant).

The media lunch was in celebration of the release of the new Savor Michigan Cookbook, published by Wilderness Adventure Press and co-written by Matt Sutherland of Traverse City. The 1913 Room is one of 35 restaurants featured in the book. Chef Christian Madsen is also one of the featured chefs at the Epicurean Classic (September 13-15), which is a co-creation of Matt Sutherland's. A handful of media were on hand on Friday, August 10 to sample some of Madsen's work and to hear first hand from Sutherland about the cookbook and classic. There's no doubt that everyone thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere, cuisine and culinary expertise of the 1913 Room kitchen and dining room staff.

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