Saturday, March 24, 2012

Food Review #2

Last Sunday after the 300k, Danny took us to a fancy brunch at the Hotel Sofitel in Redwood Shores. We felt justified after all. It's important to replace protein stores after the ride. We had to use up the gift voucher. And rumor has it there's more to life than Maruchan Instant Lunch (prepared by caring volunteers).

Unfortunately there were more dishes at the buffet than we could comfortably sample in one visit. Return visits might be required! No camera this time, sorry - brain focused on food.

Coffee, orange juice, and champagne. An optimistic start! After riding a bicycle many miles, I welcomed the service. It felt royal. And my toes were warm...

The first pass was definitely breakfast. Both of us gravitated to the eggs Benedict; we were not disappointed. Eggs poached just right (a little too runny for me), sauce rich but in the right proportion, ham good quality. The English muffin offered a solid amount of resistance, as if slowly toasted in an oven. It provided a sturdy foundation for the whole ensemble. We found it difficult to stop at just one of these. Discipline!

Bacon: neither thick nor thin, good quality, cooked to crispiness. Thumbs up! Sausage: lean but flavorful. An assertive spice factor balanced the sweetness of the pork. Also, just salty enough to restore electrolytes.

Danny sped through the first course so he could detour to the made-to-order omelette bar (a secret control?). Ingredients were onion, peppers, ham, and cheese. The result tasted fresh and simple and had "the proper amount of fluffiness".

The second course more closely resembled lunch. Resisting the call of another egg Benedict, I went for smoked salmon with capers and red onion, large cocktail shrimp, and Caesar salad. The salmon, tender and savory, was the standout here. Other salads at the buffet looked fresh but the Caesar's romaine lettuce was ultra dry, to the point of lacking flavor. The answer was a small filet of chicken breast with tarragon sauce on top. Yum! The potato roll had a tender texture but the flavor was so subtle it was  forgettable.

For dessert Danny sampled two different chocolate cakes and a chocolate crepe. All were OK but not worth finishing. Icing on the cakes was only fair. I went with a small slice of mixed fruit tart. The fruit flavors tasted authentic and fresh. The crust was buttery and yielded nicely to the fork.

Since the Sofitel is a French hotel chain, you might be tempted (like us) to head straight for the croissants. Memories of a certain breakfast bar in Ferney-Voltaire circa 1999 danced in our heads. Mountains of pain au chocolat!

Overall the pastries were the most disappointing offering. Perhaps our expectations were too high. But the dough lacked flakiness, indicating the flour-to-butter ratio needs adjusting in favor of butter. This should have helped freshness, as butter is what makes pastries go stale quickly. However, we found that neither plain nor chocolate croissants tasted particularly fresh. Perhaps they had met the oven yesterday, somewhere off-site. We wished we had spent those calories elsewhere.

Afterwards we waddled out to the lagoon for a stroll. Look, a rowing competition under a warm, partly cloudy spring sky. Memories of yesterday's mud, hail, and rain-fest took wing with the fat Canada geese. Voila!

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