The rumblings heard from the direction of Clayton may have been at the Ritz Carlton. Changes are afoot in their restaurants. I went to a press meal at the Grill last week, and found several things worth remarking on.
Certainly I never thought I'd be nodding approvingly while eating a kale salad. Chic often doesn't do it for me, and kale often leaves eaters resembling cows with cuds. Tender, small-cut kale, goat cheese, almonds, heart of palm, an occasional strawberry and orange segment, all this with a citrus dressing - it sounds like something for The Ladies Who Lunch. But it was very good, and any sweetness was under absolutely strict control. I don't care for sweet salads, but I liked this. (When I said this aloud, another attendee replied, "I do like them, and I like this, too.)
Two entrees also were noteworthy, uncommonly tasty versions of menu warhorses. Salmon filets are gently hot-smoked and served with a smoked tomato coulis, a surprise to the tongue and a party to the palate.
The other entree was chicken. Let me preface this by saying that you haven't lived until you've heard a French chef, here the estimable Damien Faure, pronounce the words "beer can chicken". Yes. The chicken is moist and flavorful and the rub Faure has created is an assertive one. Here's hoping it doesn't get dumbed down lest it offend a very cautious diner.
They're throwing out the white tablecloths and encouraging people to order the way they want to - all appetizers, dessert first, just forget the fancy protocol.
And there's rumors of outside dining coming by next summer for the Ritz.
The Grill at The Ritz Carlton
100 Carondelet Plaza, Clayton
Credit cards: Yes
Wheelchair access: Good
Smoking: No, but cigar lounge next door