Tuesday, September 3, 2013

On top of the Amway... Cygnus 27

This past Saturday, 8/31, Mel and I went out in celebration of my completion of my Master's Degree. It was my choice where to eat, so I thought we should try Cygnus 27 after having been to SixOneSix, Bistro Bella Vita, Leo's, and Ruth's Chris. Its at the top of the Amway Grand Hotel glass tower and offers great views of Grand Rapids. The service was good and it is an attractively decorated, fine dining restaurant. It offered some little touches not seen at other restaurants such as the bread basket and sorbet between courses. I'll go through the dinner then offer my views after.

They started by bringing out a basket of four types of bread; a crispy flat bread, a multigrain roll, a roll with olives in it, and a thing of three little rolls attached to each other. They also brought out butter and a roasted pepper spread. All the bread was of high quality and the red pepper spread was outstanding. It was a nice little hold over until the appetizers came out.

For her starter, Mel got the Duck Rangoons. They were wonton wrappers stuffed with a ground duck breast with some soy sauce, ginger, and tomatoes. It had a nice duck flavor and it was smart to grind the duck instead of using shredded duck. There was a little bit of heat in the duck as well, but it was just enough to make the tongue tingle a little. It was served with a togarashi aioli. Togarashi is a Japanese spice blend that usually contains some ground chili pepper, different peppercorns, and some ground sesame seeds. Other ingredients may also be present. It added a great flavor when combined with the rangoon and worked well to slightly cool the heat from the duck. At the same time there was a nice spiced quality in flavor that just worked. A very nice small plate that we would order again.

I ordered the Hot 'n' Spicy Octopus. For once a dish with "hot" or "spicy" lives up to the billing. In this dish was jalapeno pepper with the seeds in to bring the heat. I, being a chili head who loves heat, would have liked even more heat. But this was good as it was. Also in the dish was carrots, shallots, garlic onion and possibly lemongrass. I wanted to try this plate because I have wanted to try octopus for a while. In this dish they stir fried it with the veggies and then finished with a soy sauce based sauce. I also detected ginger, some sweetness in it and possibly some sesame. The octopus was slightly on the chewy side, but managed to stay out of the overcooked-it-tastes-like-rubber zone. The veggies were cooked really well and remained crunchy.

 Between the starters and the entrees we were served a palate cleansing lemon sorbet. It was just a small spoonful but it did the job. There was a refreshing lemon taste without being too acidic. It also had a great texture. It was a nice little touch to the dinner.

 For my entree I ordered the herb crusted lamb chops with potato cake, poached yellow beets and broccolini, and tawny port sauce. Here is where the dinner started falling flat. First off, I ordered my lamb medium ( I was thinking medium rare but Mel didn't want to see it too red), so I was expecting the lamb to be a little pink. It was grey, meaning it was overcooked. It was still juicy, but not being able to properly cook the lamb to order was disappointing, especially for how much I paid for it. Also, that was the smallest rack of lamb I have ever come across. It was like four little inch wide pieces of lamb that came off the bone I was actually able to put in my mouth.  The taste was good, and the herb crust really went with the lamb. But the fact the lamb was overcooked and as small as it was was disappointing. The potato pancake was tasty and well seasoned. The veggies were cooked well and avoided the dreaded mushy vegetables. The tawny port sauce was ok. It tasted under reduced to me. It had that slightly metallic taste that occurs during the cooking process between fresh wine and perfectly cooked and reduced wine reduction. It went well with the lamb, but I thought it clashed when combined with lamb and potato cake. I was extremely disappointed with this plate. Maybe it is the fact that I have now eaten at some great restaurants, including a Michelin three star restaurant, that I feel so unhappy with this plate of food. But if I pay nearly $40 for a plate of food it needs to be near perfect in taste, presentation, and technique. This was not. I don't feel the value for what I paid was there.

Mel ordered the Amish BBQ Chicken. On the menu it says it is a grilled chicken breast brushed with bbq sauce, on a Belgian waffle, finished with a orange bourbon glaze, with pickled vegetables. First the veggies. The veggies were pickled, which in and of itself is not bad. The problem came when all of the pickling liquid on the veggies pooled at the bottom of the bowl. Mel didn't care for the veggies, which is fair enough. It was like a sweet pickling liquid. But since it was a bowl it sat in the bottom. The chicken was overcooked and slightly dry... with the bone in. Which should not happen. It wasn't just Mel who thought it was dry either. I tried some too and it was on the dry side. Unacceptable.The bbq sauce was lacking as well. So Mel basically had an overcooked, grilled chicken breast. No bbq sauce, no real glaze. The only good part was the waffle. The waffle was perfectly cooked and the right consistency. The glaze soaked into the waffle and created a syrup like effect with the waffle which was nice. Again though, the entree was a huge let down. When paying this kind of money near perfection in the dish is needed. This wasn't the case. If the plating was different and not in a bowl, that would have helped. Also, more bbq sauce and glaze was needed on the chicken. Finally, the chicken should not be overcooked at this level.  

 For dessert Mel ordered the chocolate sphere. Unfortunately I couldn't get a before and after pic. This is the after. It comes out as a chocolate sphere which was filled with a flourless chocolate cake and raspberry marshmallow. The server poured over a warm chocolate ganache and the sphere implodes on itself. It was chocolate decadence to the extreme. Mel likes chocolate. But this was chocolate overload. It needed some fresh berries or something acidic to cut through the chocolate on chocolate on chocolate. Or maybe some salt or chili pepper or something. It also needed some texture. The marshmallow had some raspberry flavor but the flavor wasn't very intense and the texture didn't stand out. But it was a good dessert. With a little tweaking it could be great. Especially for the chocolate lovers. I do have to say, the presentation is impressive.

I ordered the vanilla bean creme brulee. This was perhaps the best creme brulee I have ever had. The sugar was brulee'd nicely. The berries added a nice lightness and freshness that went with the vanilla and the slightly bitterness of the sugar. On top were some shortbread cookies that were also very good. They were buttery and crumbly and soft. It was a nice touch. The custard was perfectly cooked and the vanilla was prominent. It had little vanilla specks visible in the custard. This was the best dish of the night for me. Everything went together and was balanced and was cooked well.

Despite the good starters and dessert, I have a hard time recommending Cygnus 27. In fact, at this point, I cannot. The errors committed on the entree's were too great; especially when paying the amount of money each dish costs. The value is not there. Like I said before, for the price, the food needs to be of a higher than standard quality. This is more so at a fine dining restaurant. It just was not the case. The small plates were good and priced reasonably. I think the best value would be to order a couple small plates and dessert. I just can't recommend Cygnus though for a night out. I would gladly recommend SixOneSix, Ruth's Chris, or Bistro Bella Vita over Cygnus 27 in a heart beat.

No comments:

Post a Comment