With Turn, the Ritz-Carlton gives a new twist to the “hotel restaurant”

Chef Richard Arnoldi of the Ritz-Carlton Cleveland refuses to think of his kingdom in conventional terms of a “hotel restaurant,” he said. His point of view is thoughtfully founded, more than a culinary flight.

Arnoldi also holds the title of Executive Assistant Director for Food / Food and Beverage. It’s more than his personal creativity that’s at stake, he said. For Arnoldi, that’s the essence of Excel spreadsheets.

“I am a hotelier, not just a chef,” said Arnoldi. “Gone are the days when the dining room was just a convenience for hotel ownership. What you want is to be accepted in the community, so that you have social and local foot traffic throughout. your space. “

That makes sense, given that roughly 70% of the Ritz-Carlton’s diners are locals, Arnoldi said, quickly corroborating the surprising number.

“We have a lot of people coming out of the elevator from street level,” he said. “We indicate that through OpenTable reservations, through the phone numbers we get when tables are reserved, and customers who don’t sign their room bill, that’s how hotel guests cover usually their bill. “

Some locals are drawn simply out of curiosity. The Ritz-Carlton marquee carries a certain mystique, after all. Also, don’t forget that in the decades leading up to Cleveland’s restaurant renaissance, many of the city’s hotel dining venues ranked among the top destinations of their time: the Kon Tiki at the Sheraton-Cleveland, Marie Schreiber’s Tavern Chop House at Hollenden House, the Keg and Quarter at the Celebrity Inn by Jim Swingos, the French Connection at the Stouffer’s Inn on the Square.

“And if you’re going to a game, what better way than to do a sidewalk valet, go up to our sixth floor to eat, then walk through the mall and head towards the stadium?” Said Arnoldi.

Because of all of this, Arnoldi and his management team were very committed to creating a new concept that Clevelanders would love. This led the property to completely redevelop the property at 1515 West Third St. in the downtown area. Among the never-ending cosmetic updates has been one of the biggest changes – abandoning the ever-popular Muse restaurant and turning the space into a fresh and lively Turn Bar + Kitchen.

Turn is a marked departure from the procession of more conventional venues that the Ritz-Carlton Cleveland has served over the past 20 years.

For years, the hotel’s Riverview Room has served traditional fine dining on the sixth floor of the Ritz-Carlton. Then came a daring gesture: the year 2000 saw the opening of Century, a seafood-themed restaurant created under the direction of famous chef Claude Rodier. Its name, taken from the legendary 20th Century Limited train, was based on the restaurant’s historic location: Cleveland’s beloved Terminal Tower, once the main transcontinental junction. Once again, tradition reigned, but with a vivid glow of the contemporary.

When this space, overlooking the transformed shopping plaza of Tower City, finally closed, the hotel’s formal food court was moved to the sixth floor of the hotel and became a Muse. When Arnoldi took over this place, he met the expectations of a traditional clientele while providing high-end freshness to match the hotel brand. Muse has always received high marks from local and national critics.

As talks about another overhaul began over half a dozen years ago, Arnoldi said, the timing was not right.

“The conversion of the hotel required a lot of architecture, planning and execution,” he said. “We have one of the best teams of owners in the business, and they wanted everything to be done right.

“When the (Republican National Convention) was booked, it certainly was not a good time to tear down walls and blow up elevator shafts. Such a construction brings things to a standstill.”

Once the RNC was completed, the transformation could move forward. Among the procession of structural and cosmetic changes undertaken was the decision to bid farewell to one of the last vestiges of the property of its classic style and replace it with something decidedly rustic.

Note how the name Turn Bar + Kitchen prioritizes the look of the waterer. A massive and contemporary living room, bright with sparkling glass lighting, takes center stage. It’s flanked by an array and a variety of tables – the best, well, to relax, eat, and people-watch.

It’s a good setting for the way we eat nowadays. Granted, many of us still want our three courses, a big protein, some sort of starch or maybe an interesting side dish, and other conventions. Just as often, however, many prefer a few shared platters or a generous sandwich, or opt for dessert.

“We wanted to create a wonderful social environment,” said Arnoldi. “In the past we have had a very formal RC style dining room. It’s refined and elegant, but also accessible – a more lounge / residential setting, all integrated into one space. It is a very dynamic place.

The concept “Turn” was born out of a time when the chef was standing in the middle of what was then a construction zone and he had a little revelation.

“I turned around and said, ‘Over there is the West Side Market. There is AsiaTown. There are all the neighborhoods and the heritage of the city.’

“Everywhere you turn in Cleveland, there is something good to taste. So Turn became the name, and then I started to create dishes that I thought were representative of the city, and I went there. put my own touch. “

You will find a menu as diverse as its urban decor. Selections include sumptuous Polish meatballs drowned in a sumptuous cream sauce accented with wild mushrooms; a mango and citrus arugula salad with a citrus vinaigrette; Thai-inspired Tom Yum Goong shrimp and coconut broth; a beef tenderloin refined with Hungarian paprika and sausage with mustard cream; clever little mini-paczki filled with a hint of raspberry jam and drizzled with cinnamon sugar.

“When you see food as a core philosophy, which appeals to diners and sets the tone for the restaurant, food should be recognizable and accessible, but it cannot stand alone at the center of your menu. On this menu, I make a New York striploin, but instead of the traditional demi-glace or hotel butter from a maitre, I make a roasted eggplant compote: silky with a bit of bite and a touch of acidity.

“At the end of the day, it’s always a great steak and cooked the way you want it to be prepared. You have to be able to fluctuate with what the guest will accept and, hopefully, like – while being really different. “

In the end, of course, it comes back to that original assertion: Hotel restaurants should at least meet the needs of room owners. Some guests will opt for such creativity; others will ask the waiter to “hold the sauce”. Today’s customer has a million different faces.

A hotel dining room is a vital interface between the guest and the hotel property, and, by extension, the city itself. Any manager who fails at this first meeting loses an opportunity to distinguish his property, extend his reputation and retain his clients.

“How do we compete with the Zack Bruells and Michael Symons?” Arnoldi asked rhetorically. “Well, that’s where I’m going to eat. I think we’re all a restaurant community in this town.”

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About Angelita A. Blanchard

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