Friday, October 29, 2010

Hotel Dining

When I was a kid, the only reason we ate at a hotel was we were staying at Howard Johnson and kids ate free. Now, hotel restaurants are destinations in and of themselves, and on a recent trip to Boston, we ate at Henrietta's Table in The Charles Hotel, but we weren’t even staying there.

The market focused restaurant, which has a large outdoor patio in warm weather, relies on local farms to supply it with produce. So the huge salads are an excellent way to start a meal. Try the simple ‘native’ greens with a lemon vinaigrette or the spinach salad, with blueberries, goat cheese and spicy maple pecan vinaigrette. The latter is a bit sweet with the berries and maple, so I tried it with the lemon- much better. There is also smoked salmon over greens, with a potato wafer and a retro iceberg lettuce (but an heirloom variety) with blue cheese dressing.

I am always happy when a menu offers more than a token vegetarian pasta and no other veggie choice. Here, there is no pasta on the menu, but you can have an entree of roasted carrot, squash, celery root and spinach with quinoa, white beans and farro. This changes seasonally, but when I had it, it was a festival of flavors, each offering a delicious morsel.

You can also create your own vegetable plate from sides: we tried the roasted beets, wilted greens, butternut squash puree and Brussels Sprout. Or get the appetizer of grilled Portobello, with blue cheese but without the bacon vinaigrette, and add some other sides: roasted root vegetables, roasted or mashed potatoes.

Seasonal drinks also offer vegetarians a place at the table; instead of trendy bacon infused drinks, find a Dilly Bean Martini with beans, or the Pepperoncini Martini with pickled peppers. Don’t try to say that five times after a drink or two.

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