Sherman's Food Adventures: The American Grille

The American Grille

Photos of The American Grille, RichmondNow before you point out that we were in Richmond once again, my mom's birthday required a kid-friendly place where we could enjoy a decent meal.  I went back to the well and decided on another hotel restaurant.  Now, there once was a time this would translate into culinary anti-creativity, but hotel restaurants have come a long way.  Many are balancing the need to provide safe, predictable food and the desire to be more adventurous.  Our restaurant of choice this time would be the American Grille in the Vancouver Airport Marriott (photo courtesy of TripAdvisor). One of the main contributing factors to this decision was because I had purchased a couple of Travelzoo coupons.

For myself, I had the Braised Beef Brisket Sliders as my appie.  This was definitely a share plate as it would be difficult for someone to eat this and have a main course (unless you're Mijune that is).  The beef was moist and well-sauced exhibiting a combination of sweetness and spice.  The coleslaw was crunchy and not over-dressed.  I really liked the herb bun as it not only stood up to the wet ingredients, the herbs added another layer of flavour.  Viv had the Moules et Frites which featured a white wine reduction with garlic, onions, tomatoes and chives.  We found the broth to be buttery and full of red onion essence but little wine flavour.  The mussels were plump and cooked nicely, however, the frites were not really frites and didn't mesh well with the dish.

My mom had the West Coast Dungeness Crab Cakes which were deep fried.  Personally, I much prefer pan-fried, but these were crunchy and not that greasy.  There was a good amount of fluffy sweet crab and very little filler.  They were not shy with the salt which could've been balanced off with some acidity.  Although the remoulade could be easily mistakened for tartar sauce, it really wasn't. I think by calling this a "causal" approach to crab cakes would be the best description.  Trying to not duplicate any appies, my dad settled on the Crispy Crab Spring Rolls consisting of dungeness crab and mango.  These were served piping hot while the grease was kept to a minimum.  Again, the chunks of crab were fluffy and sweet while the veggies were crisp in addition to the sweet mango.

For my main, I went for the Danish Baby Back Ribs for some reason.  I usually do not order ribs from non-rib joints and this was another example.  Obviously, the ribs were parboiled before being grilled and sauced.  Hence, the meat was tender, yet dry around the edges.  The sauce was predominantly sweet.  Again, the fries were pretty generic, but crispy.  Viv had the Smoked Sable Fish with fingerling potatoes, caramelized onions and veggies in a honey miso glaze.  We thought the fish was prepared properly as it was moist, fatty and flaky.  It was only lightly smoked.  As for the sauce, it was too sweet and strangely too salty too with a touch of acidity.  We weren't huge fans of the onion as it had no impact.

My dad had the Bouillabaisse which included cold water prawns, halibut, salmon and mussels in a tomato broth. Although the seafood was plentiful, the fish was overcooked.  As for the tomato broth, he thought it was lacking in punch where it was very mild.  Not a bad bouillabaisse, but not memorable either.  On the flipside, my mom had the best dish of the night being the Oven Roasted Rack of Lamb.  No, you are not seeing double in the picture.  That my friends, was one serving.  For $28.00, we all felt it was a fabulous value.  Now value is one thing, but what about the execution.  Thankfully, this was a fairly well-prepared dish too.  The lamb was cooked a beautiful medium-rare and was really moist and juicy.  It was served with overly dense gnocchi, vibrant veggies and a rich natural jus.

For the kiddies, they ordered off the kid's menu.  My son had the Chicken Strips and Fries.  We liked the fact that the chicken strip was house-made with a crispy panko coating.  Being white meat, the strips weren't exactly super moist though.  Maybe brining the meat first could've helped.  As for my daughter, she had the Fish & Chips. The fish itself was moist and flaky, but it suffered from far too much batter which was thick and doughy.  On the positive side, the batter was crunchy.  The side of tartar sauce had a strange resemblance to the remoulade that went with the crab cakes.  With the coleslaw being the same as the one in the sandwich, it was crunchy and nicely dressed.

Off to dessert, we all shared the Apple Strudel and NY Cheesecake. We found the apple filling to be overly mild.  There was little in the way of tang and sweetness.  However, the ice cream went a long way in helping the cause.  The pastry was flaky and light.  As for the cheesecake, it was rich and heavy.  We liked how it wasn't too sweet where we could taste the cream cheese.  So remember at the very start of this blog post where I lamented the hotel restaurant of the past.  Well, I believe that the American Grille is a modern version of the traditional hotel restaurant.  The food is safe and not overly imaginative, yet at the same time is serviceable.  Most, if not all the dishes were fine, but not overly memorable except for the lamb. Bottom line - the food is pretty vanilla aimed directly at the unadventurous hotel guest.

The Good:
- Safe food
- Rack of lamb has to be one of the better values in town
- Service is attentive

The Bad:
- Not much deviation from the regular here
- I wouldn't consider it fine dining, rather elevated casual fare

American Grille on Urbanspoon


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