It Could Have Been Jean-Georges
Here’s a brief quiz on the Twin Cities hotel dining scene (no peeking at the answers at the bottom of the next page): Name the hotel associated with each of the following restaurants:
b) America’s Harvest,
e) Stacy’s Grille.
If you get more than two correct, your score will be well above average.
The point of this test: Most hotels seem determined to disassociate their names from those of the restaurants on their premises. Contrast this with the appellation chosen for the flagship restaurant in the basement of the new Chambers Hotel in downtown Minneapolis, Chambers Kitchen—this despite the fact that the operation is led by world-renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, whose name easily eclipses the hotel’s relatively unknown brand. Indeed, it’s refreshing to see a hotel that has sufficient confidence and pride in its offerings to diners to present them under a unified hospitality banner.
That probably goes a long way toward explaining why this handsome and appealing spot has quickly become a must-try. Vongerichten creates compelling taste combinations and assures that his inspired recipes are consistently executed when he’s not on site. Whether it’s the chicken samosas with their cilantro yogurt dipping sauce or the black pepper sirloin, dishes emerge from the kitchen reliably prepared and bursting with flavor. This is one of those rare places where it seems that everyone who writes about it cites different favorites. Mine include the samosas, the sampling of satays, the superlative spice-crusted striped bass, the succulent roasted chicken with “long” (green) beans, and the passion fruit soufflÃ© with chocolate sorbet.
There have been a few grumblings about the price-value equation and slowness in getting the service up to snuff, but I consider these comments much ado about nothing. Chambers Kitchen belongs on the short list of standout dining venues locally, and it puts just about every other hotel restaurant to shame.
a) Doubletree Hotel Park Place, b) Northland Inn, c) Hilton Hotel Minneapolis, d) Marquette Hotel, e) Minneapolis Marriott Southwest