Last Friday, I was invited to take a look at Hotel Zaza’s Dragonfly’s relaunch. Gone is the dark decor and in its place is Fornasetti wallpaper, light hues, and clean lines. Also gone is chef Grant Morgan and in his place is chef Dan Landsberg (most recently of Tillman’s Roadhouse). Only on the job for about six weeks, Chef Landsberg explained that he wanted to create dishes that were a nod to the past but were very contemporary.
We sampled deviled eggs with Tobiko caviar, Hoison barbecue baby-back ribs, Wasabi potato wontons (a play on potato skins), and brisket bacon sliders, which had cheddar and bacon mixed directly into the meat. My guest could not stop raving about the sliders. He vowed that he’d return and just order a couple plates of those. The Wasabi potato wontons were fun and packed quite a spicy kick (a trend we’d see a few times throughout the dinner). And while I love deviled eggs, I realized that I should only order them when I’m in the mood.
We then had a sampling of salads—we tried the Roasted Cashew Asian Chicken Salad; Asparagus Salad with chervil, frisee, Portobello, and truffled fingerling chips; and the Whole Leaf Caesar Salad with baby romaine, Parmesan crisp, and white anchovy oil. I found the Asparagus Salad to be a bit too salty, which made my next bite (the Caesar Salad) seem dull. But the chicken salad was perfect, and again, delighted at the end with a punch of spice.
Our next course, the entrées, consisted of the Bay of Fundy Salmon, the Roasted Pork Tenderloin (which the chef explained had an Eastern preparation with a Western presentation), and the Comida, which is what the kitchen’s eating. I adored the Bay of Fundy dish. The salmon was cooked perfectly, and the garlic spinach and the toasted orzo hit all the right points on my taste buds. If you get the pork, ask for extra sauce. It was sweet but again with a nice spicy kick at the end. (It’s aptly named Sweet N Spicy Sauce.) Friday night’s Comida was fish tacos. Very simplistic in its approach, the tacos didn’t delight quite as much as the other dishes. (But to be fair, I’m not a big fish taco fan).
Then we had my favorite part of any meal: dessert. I love Chef Landsberg’s approach to dessert. It’s playful yet extremely satisfying. We tried the Afternoon Snack and Who Put Their Peanut Butter in My Chocolate. The Afternoon Snack had a house Hoho, a baked Twinkie, and a sugar cookie with butterscotch pudding. This dessert did not overwhelm in its sweetness, and it was the perfect dish to split to end the evening. Also, who doesn’t love a dish that makes you nostalgic?
Then we got to the second part of our dish, which was peanut butter mousse stuffed inside a chocolate bundt cake, which is then covered in fudge sauce (don’t forget the smear of candied peanuts and peanut butter and the milk shot). I love when peanut butter and chocolate are combined. And while the dish was extremely rich, I could not stop eating it. If you’re lacking in self-control, do not order this dish. But if you don’t listen to me, you won’t be disappointed.
One of the most pleasant portions of the evening was maitre d’hotel Chas Martin. It’s obvious that he not only loves his job, but loves his customers. And while I’m no connoisseur of wine, my guest was very pleased with Martin’s pairings. One of the most interesting wines we sampled was the Canada Vidal ice wine. Martin patiently explained that ice wine is created by freezing the grapes. Then when they’re frozen, the juice is drained from them thus getting a very concentrated flavor. I have never tasted a sweeter wine in my life.
One of the most pleasant changes to Dragonfly is the restaurant’s ability to put tables out around the pool. With the perfect weather we’re experiencing, I can imagine nothing better than occupying one of those seats and blowing my diet with the chocolate and peanut butter dessert. But first I have to work off Friday night’s dinner.