Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Food Glorious Food!

Hey Readers! 

We have quite a treat for you today. The General Manager of the JW Marriott in Grand Rapids has written an incredible blog for us today about the hotels swanky restaurant; my mouth waters just reading it. George Aquino gives a detailed look at the wonderful assortment of foods on the menu and also a little insight into his brief P-90X stint. He will have you laughing and feeling hungrier than when you started reading. I also love the title he picked (probably because I happened to be cast in the musical "Oliver" when I was in third grade- I know you just loved this random fact). Okay, enough about my brief Broadway debut, I'll hand it over to George:

"I recall starting on the widely popular P-90X exercise program in late October last year. For five weeks, I was so focused on getting in shape that my routine of dinners and wine tastings were put off to the side in lieu of doing push-ups and painful abs exercises at six in the morning.  After forty days of crunches and protein shakes, the holiday season came and my P-90X program suddenly came to a screeching halt.  And just as fast as Tony Horton could say “X,” I was on every holiday party list in the city, indulging myself in pork belly and prosecco as if the rapture was about to scoop me out of my gourmand’s state of affairs.

Ahh, the holiday season…don’t you just love this time of the year? Sure, it gets overwhelming at times, but look at the alternative. Sitting at home eating ramen while watching re-run’s of Bristol Palin’s epic dance performances aren’t exactly fun either. I’ve learned from last year that I cannot possibly attend every holiday party. I needed to be selective as to which parties to attend.

Ba'hn Mi Flatbread
As a hotelier, I also host my share of holiday lunches and dinners for friends and clients. Fortunately, I do not have to go too far for my restaurant of choice to entertain my guests. The JW Marriott’s restaurant is a terrific choice for holiday celebrations. While people unfamiliar with’s menu might be intimidated by the luxury surroundings of the hotel, the restaurant itself offers an array of lunch items under $10.00. The addicting Tempura Tuna Roll with Fireball Sauce ($9) has been the restaurant’s most requested item for lunch since the hotel opened in 2007. Add the Portobello ($9) and the Cheesy Pesto flatbread ($9) and you’ve got yourself a winner for a starter for your office holiday table. High five -you’ve just elevated yourself from the copy room to office hero with that selection. Need I say more, but the Apple and Pork Belly sandwich ($10) is to die for. It’s served with arugula, pickled vegetables and bacon mayo. Yum! For the vegetarians out there, offers the Ginger BBQ Tofu sandwich ($8) on whole grain bread. Of course, chef de cuisine, Joel Wabeke, can also make you any dish you’d like to accommodate your food allergies and dietary requirements.

Crispy Pork Belly
For dinner, the Fall Beet Salad with stilton, gingered golden beet, pickled red beet, endive, smoked pecan and banyuls vinaigrette ($8) is my wife’s favorite while mine is the Salad Lyonnaise with endive, smoked bacon, truffled onions and a farm egg ($9). The Miso Glazed Sable Fish with wild mushrooms, green lentil, spinach and mushroom broth ($25) is an excellent choice for a main course. My daughter, Margaux, swears by the Seafood Mac and Cheese with lobster, scallop, able, cauliflower, seafood mornay and tarragon ($29). However, if there is one item on the menu that really stands out as’s signature dish, then order the RR Ranch New York Strip with warm Dijon potato salad, market vegetables and horseradish butter ($29). This steal is deadly delicious and account for 45% of our entrée sales in the restaurant.

Dancing Goat Cheesecake
Let’s not forget dessert for the Dancing Goat Cheesecake with chevre, plum caramel and candied macadamia nut ($7) is the perfect combination of creamy and sweet with a crunch to last you through your drive home. The chevre is from Dancing Goat Creamery in Byron Center, just a short drive south from the hotel. You’re definitely eating local with that order. The Flaming Fury Peach Cobbler with Michigan peaches, sweet biscuit and vanilla buttermilk gelato ($8) is literally the hottest dessert this holiday season.

Your holiday get together wouldn’t be complete without some holiday delights from’s 40.4.40 wine list. This list of 40 wines for $40 was created so you don’t have to resort to ordering the second cheapest wine on the list! Hey, we know everyone has a budget. So here you go and splurge a bit by ordering three bottles. Start with the Schoenheitz Cremant D’Alsace Brut NV. This French sparkling from Alsace is a nice alternative to her sister sparklings from Champagne (and a fraction of the price). The Kloovenburg Chardonnay from Stellenbosch, South Africa is the creamy with light hints of butter. A perfect match for the Seafood Mac and Cheese. Lastly, order the Oberon. Not the Michigan beer but the Cabernet from Napa. It’s big, bold and guaranteed to catch your guest’s attention when you order it out loud. “One Oberon for the gentleman wearing the ascot, please.”

And for those of you who do like to order the second cheapest wine on the list, you’ll be glad to know that both valet and self parking is complimentary if you dine in . Call us generous.

Salad Lyonnaise
So you’ve made it through the first three weeks of December without a hitch. You’ve managed to only move one buttonhole on your belt (whew), and it’s finally time to slave away with that holiday turkey, ham and the myriad of side dishes your wife wants you to make for her mother. Forget about it! Who has time for that when you’ve been busy entertaining clients all month long? Celebrate Christmas by reserving a table at for your family. Our Christmas Brunch is served from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM and dinner is served from 5:30 to 9:00 PM. In addition to our standard weekend fare of made-to-order eggs, waffles, bacon, sausage, fruit and breakfast potatoes, to name a few, is also offering Maple-Basted Ham with Orange Glazed Carrots and a Roasted Breast of Turkey with sage turkey gravy, whipped potatoes and brussels sprouts. Brunch is $30 for adults and $15 for children 12 and under.

To appease our non-buffet patrons, dinner is served a la carte featuring our menu with two additional holiday fare: a Slow Roasted Brisket with caramelized onion gravy, brussels sprouts, whipped potatoes and a Maple-Glazed Ham with creamed greens, whipped potatoes and a pear ginger relish.

Mixology Lounge at
Finish of your month by having your New Year’s Eve dinner at While the thousands of people gather in the “warmth” of the city’s New Year’s Eve toast at Rosa Parks Circle, enjoy a glass of warm scotch as you watch your family enjoy a year-end-meal, compliments of your hard work this past year. Tuck your kids in your hotel suite by 11:00PM and head down to the hotel’s Global Pachanga New Year’s Eve party in the International ballroom to finally welcome the new year. As you watch the ball drop, you can finally start thinking about Tony Horton and his evil P-90X routine. Okay, order some burgers from room service at 2:00 AM since you’ve worked out quite an appetite from all the salsa dancing. Hold the mayo. Push-up’s begin in a few hours."

-- George Aquino
General Manager- JW Marriott

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