No dining venue is more risky than the hotel restaurant. Before you take a seat you never really know whether the owners are content to exploit a captive audience with mediocre service and mundane food or whether they proudly like to provide guests with a truly special and memorable meal. It can go either way.
Lately, two Sacramento-area hotels have taken steps to help assure visitors and residents alike that their dining needs are being taken seriously.
First, the downtown Holiday Inn Sacramento Capitol Plaza Hotel, as part of a $10 million makeover, restyled its restaurant into the Cypress Grille. In addition to updating the interior design, the hotel has rewritten the menu to focus more on fresh ingredients, regional dishes and an overall "fun and flavorful" cookery, says executive chef Chrissy Lingren. The extensive menu includes appetizers like tempura-battered shrimp, Korean ribs and burger sliders; salads such as grilled duck breast with sun-dried cherries and mandarin oranges, assorted fruits with Gorgonzola, and a salmon Nicoise; and entrees from chicken and dumplings to braised lamb shank, crab-stuffed salmon to filet mignon. The hotel is at 300 J St.
And tonight, a $2-million restaurant addition to the Sacramento Marriott Rancho Cordova - Formaggio Taverna and Patio - has its grand opening. Chef de cuisine David Boswell, a graduate of the Scottsdale Culinary Institute in Arizona who has put in stints aboard the Delta King in Old Sacramento and at Calistoga Ranch in Napa Valley, says his goal in assembling the Formaggio menu has been to be "local, fresh, approachable."
Starters include black mussels and cockles with pinot grigio and fresh chile peppers, a trio of cured meats, and wild-mushroom polenta. Pastas include penne with rock shrimp, caramelized cauliflower and toasted almonds, pappardelle with braised rabbit and aged goat cheese, and orecchietta with braised chicken, chickpeas and white beans. Main courses include pizzas, panini and large plates that range from the traditional (chicken cacciatore) to the modern (salmon saltimbocca).
The hotel is at 11211 Point East Drive in Rancho Cordova, near the corner of Sunrise and Folsom boulevards.