Saturday, December 15, 2007


Tuesday was the GF's birthday. A celebration was in order.  In August she had taken me to XIX, the Park Hyatt's re-done version of the Bellvue-Stratford's Founder's Restaurant.  In August the food was wonderful, the sunset amazing and the service solicitous.  So it seemed that a return for her birthday was in order.

XIX (pronounced nineteen) is named for its placement on the hotel's 19th floor.  It's probably better known as a quiet, rather elegant cocktail spot for the folks who occupy the commercial space below or visit the upscale hotel above.  On none of my visits has the dining room been particularly busy.  This may have to do with the circuitous route that you have to take to get to the place, going up an elevator 19 floors, wandering through corridors and rooms and past the bar before finally being seated.

Or maybe people have gone there, had our waiter Chuck serve them, and decided never to go back.

The food was very good.   I had three Melpeque and three Raspberry Point oysters to start.  They were fresh and wonderfully flavorful, but had been inexpertly shucked and had were still attached to the shell in places.  The GF ordered her usual calamari, which was lightly battered, crispy and tender at the same time.  The dipping sauces are nothing to write home about, (Homemade cocktail sauce is usually more than unmixed ketchup and horseradish.  I guess they meant make it yourself cocktail sauce) but the  appetizer course was moderately successful.

A word about the cocktails.  This place us known as a good bar with well-made libations.  I ordered my usual winter drink, an old-fashioned,  I got club soda with a splash of whiskey, a ton of bitters and a cherry.  No sugar, no orange.  Drinking a club soda and bitters is definitely an odd experience.  The GF's apple martini was well-received if the shortest we saw at our 3 stops that night.

For dinner I had the recommended "clay pot," a  medley of seafood in a coconut milk and lemon infusion.  The flavors were intense and unexpected in the cold of December, and the seafood was prepared perfectly.  One large scallop, two mussels, a lobster claw and two pieces of snapper was $34.  The GF had veal cheeks that were exceptional.  Surrounded by root vegetables and a massively flavorful reduction sauce, the veal was tender and without a hint of fat.  They were far better than the Monk's Cafe version.  The portion size was very nice for $28.

All in all this would have been an excellent meal if not for Chuck.  He alternately glowered at us or ignored us.  I was left to hear abut the specials from his recitation at the next table.  Luckily runners brought us good bread and kept the water glasses filled or we might have had to get it ourselves.  When the appetizers where served, he hovered nearby , stopped table side for a moment, grunted and moved on.  Yes Chuck, everything here is fine, thanks for asking!

He wasn't a bad waiter.  I watched him give very good service to the table next to us.  He just didn't like us. Can't say what was up about that, we were properly dressed, had reservations, they knew it was a special occasion.   He was enough of a distraction that we skipped dessert and coffee. We didn't let it spoil the night, but maybe if you go you should think about specifying another server.

PS - I am definitely NOT allowed to talk about the fact that the GF is totally hilarious after 3 martinis!

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