With the Fall season comes culinary bounty from harvest time. Our group gathered at Zebo’s Bistro in the Cincinnati Marriott at RiverCenter across the Ohio River with hopes of feasting on some of this cornucopia. We got this and a few surprises, too!
Ascending a grand staircase to the sounds of a grand piano, we were welcomed by Dorothy and the Scarecrow, as well as a Pilgrim couple to admonish our worldly ways. Three tables met us with a raw bar, a tempura bar with a trio of sauces, and sushi made to order with fresh wasabi and two kinds of ginger. We enjoyed this wonderful beginning with Egly-Ouriet Tradition Brut Champagne, a crisp flavorful complement to the array of seafood.
In our first dining room we found ourselves in a pumpkin patch decorated with hay bales and various squash. Lightly smoked duck carpaccio surrounded by autumn colors graced our first plates. Tender and light while not overpowering, this was treated with a sprinkle of capers to give a little tart contrast. The featured wine was a 2003 Havens Albariño with bright fruit aroma and flavors. This course was followed with an Indian field salad flourished with a parmesan tuile.
As we left the pumpkin patch and followed the path of hay, we came upon a Jack-O’Lantern on a stump – all made from ice. We cleansed our palates with a trio of raspberry, lemon, and mango sorbet served on a plate of ice sculpted into another pumpkin face where his mouth provided the dish. This chill was slight preparation for the next drama. Suddenly in the next room a piano could be heard and we entered to the Phantom of the Opera singing “Music of the Night” as we were seated. The entire room was draped in black, starting with the ceiling and going all the way to the chairs. Each table had a red rose encased in an ice globe for a centerpiece. We were presented with a serving of Hawaiian sapphire snapper finished with three sauces, shaved baked ginger and foamy shrimp noodles. This great marriage of complex flavors was matched with a youthful and robust 2000 De Montille Volnay Premier Cru.
Next came lamb chops that had been roasted over a fire of bourbon barrel staves. This also came with a trio of sauces arranged to hint again at that grinning visage of Halloween. A 2001 La Sauvageonne Coteaux du Languedoc provided a rustic and hearty conversation with the lamb.
After this the room went totally dark! Then on one wall we could see Lon Chaney on screen in his famous scene where the Phantom is unmasked in all his horror. Finishing with thunder and lightning, we were now bathed in black light and dessert was presented by servers in dayglow Phantom masks. Spiced pumpkin crème brulee cheesecake formed a witches cauldron topped with red and black flame tuiles. As we savored our food we now got a floor show with Dracula on piano, Frankie and his Bride singing, and the Monster doing a bit of stand up comedy. As we finished the evening overlooking the river to a choice of cigars, single malts and fine liqueurs we realized all the bounty of this harvest feast. Many thanks to host Maître de Table Restaurateur Gordy Snyder, Executive Chef Stefan Marcus, and the extended staff of the Marriott!
J.T. Mayer, Vice Chargé de Presse