On Monday I had the privilege of sampling a full dinner at The Knotty Deck and Bar, the American restaurant at the Renaissance Hotel at the Arboretum in Austin with my friends Monique, Mark, and Shveta.
When I think “hotel restaurant,” my mind immediately jumps to small, dry burgers served on stale buns, with a (completely tasteless) garnish on the side….but it’s placed on a fancy plate and you’re given a cloth napkin, so you’ll be paying $34 dollars for this hunk of meat and freezer fries.
But I’ve been noticing a shift in the hotel culinary scene… Last month when I was eating at The Hyatt Regency’s new restaurant, I thought the same thing: this isn’t the same “hotel restaurant” we saw ten…nope, even five years ago.
The Knotty Deck and Bar went through a full renovation two years ago, including an addition of a luxurious deck overlooking the Texas hill country. The food is seasonal and locally sourced, coming from farms in nearby Texas towns. The team at Knotty Decks goes so far as to have their own garden behind the hotel, a beehive for making their own honey, and a massive personal smoker.
Executive Chef Chris Degweck walked us through each menu item, course by course. I’ll be candid with you and say that I walked into this tasting with low expectations, but I was excited about a night spent with friends. However, I left completely blown away by the culinary experience! Chef Chris and his team put incredible thought and care into their work at Knotty Deck. For the past two days I’ve been thinking, “is this the new normal for hotel restaurants?“
When I asked Chef Chris the same question, he responded with a resounding “yes! ” In a city like Austin that has a booming restaurant scene, the competition is fierce. If you bring anything less than your A-game, you can’t expect hotel guests to eat at the restaurant, even if they’re craving a night in.
With about 100 new restaurants opening each year in Austin, hotel restaurants can no longer afford to be “just ok.” But now, my question is this: are they even surpassing some of the big, trendy restaurants in Austin?
Start with the Tex-Mex Charcuterie plate of local & regional cured meats & cheese, grilled bread.
Must-try menu item: Wild Boar Spare Ribs: broken arrow ranch, bulgogi bbq, cucumber, local radish salad, citrus vinaigrette
(Maaaaybe the ultimate hangover food?) Knotty Fries: pulled pork, picante aioli, fried farm egg, grilled spring onion.
I believe that the hotel culinary scene is stronger than ever. My prediction is that these restaurants will soon be destinations for Austin residents and tourists, not just a place for hotel guests to eat.
What are your thoughts on this?
Thanks for stopping by today! Have a great Wednesday. 😉