Hotel Paradox’s Solaire Restaurant stages pre-opening dinners to introduce locals to menu
On Sept 5th and 6th, before the debut of Solaire Restaurant + Bar in the brand new Hotel Paradox, a few test dinners were held for a select group. The purpose of these meals was for Chef Ross McKee and staff to make sure everything from service to food was in line for the official opening. Those invited to attend ranged from family and friends of the staff to business leaders, city officials, VIPs and media contacts.
On the evening I attended, my guest and I spotted other food writers, a weekly magazine editor, Chamber of Commerce officials, a downtown association official and a representative from Shakespeare Santa Cruz.
Upon arrival in the dining room, we took in the subdued color scheme of our surroundings and felt immediately relaxed by the simple yet elegant décor. Hotel officials, including Food and Beverage Director, Michael Blecman, and F and B Outlets Manager, Guy Freshwater, stopped by to greet and welcome us.
From our first glass of wine and throughout our entire meal, the attentive wait staff was on the spot. We were offered a few menu choices in each course and found our waitress to be knowledgeable about both the wines and the food. Short critique sheets arrived after dessert for guests to state likes, dislikes and suggestions, and to supply an email address for restaurant updates.
Chef Ross, thrilled to be given latitude to buy from local organic farms and wineries, chatted with us about the menu. He marveled that when he decided at the last minute to add some colorful broccolini to one dish, all it took was a quick trip to the Farmer’s Market. The wine list is at least 90% local, including vintages from Bargetto Winery, Beauregard Vineyards, Burrell School Vineyards & Winery, Hunter Hill Vineyard & Winery, Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyards, Storrs Winery, and Poetic Cellars Winery.
Last, but not least, Gus Siggins, Assistant Food and Beverage Manager, took us on a private tour of the rest of the hotel, providing out-of- the-ordinary facts about the banquet rooms, pool area, exercise room, business center and guest rooms. He shared that the ballroom can accommodate 350 people for dinner and 450 for a meeting.
Tony Eichers, Hotel Paradox General Manager, said, “The test meals at Solaire Restaurant + Bar went really well and we are thrilled to be officially open. We were pleased with all of the positive feedback we received and appreciate the constructive feedback on what the team can improve on as we were getting ready to open. Chef Ross and the entire staff have worked extremely hard to get Solaire to where it is now and we are beyond excited for locals and travelers alike to experience the new restaurant here in Santa Cruz.”
Andrew Freeman, President at Andrew Freeman & Co., hospitality consulting agency, says, “We are extremely excited about and truly believe it’s what Santa Cruz was missing! Our team worked very closely with the Solaire team to plan and execute a few test meals last week in anticipation of our official opening on September 7th. It’s encouraging for Chef and staff to see what’s working and what needs a few tweaks. We also worked with the entire Hotel Paradox team to plan the official Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on September 19th, as well as the Grand Opening Party on September 22nd to celebrate the opening of the entire property.“
As for the food, everyone we talked with while table-hopping around the dining room agreed that it was superb!
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