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Thursday, September 27, 2007

TRADE EVENT: Restraurants at the ROM

The Time and Date: Tuesday, July 17, 2007 5 PM to 7 PM
The Event: the launch of the ROM's new dining destinations C5 (fifth
floor; 120 seats) and Food Studio (lower level; 325 seats).
The Venue: the ROM, in Michael Lee-Chin Crystal section.
The Target Audience: food and wine media. I counted about 60 people,
most of whom I did not recognize. There were a few wine writers, but I
gather that many media were on holidays. In the Food Court, we mostly
noshed and drank and talked to each other, although a brief tour was
promised - did it ever happen? I was there at 5 sharp, and was told
that we were mostly to be in a holding pen until moving upstairs to the
higher level. There was a great display of VQA full and half-bottles on
ice. I wondered when they were to be poured, and I was told that they
were just on display. So was the food: just on display. When the wine
came around, we were not informed of the name of the winery, and the
wait person had to check. This prompted a visit from a publicist, who
also produced a wine list but only after I asked for it. Chardonnay was
confused with off-dry riesling.
The Availability/Catalogue: ten VQA wines are on the wine list. We
sampled two wines plus the one I requested.
The Quote: Bill Thorsell (ROM) and Dick Cattani (Restaurant Associates)
spoke about food at the ROM. Catering will be a big feature, and
members of the ROM are encouraged to support the ROM by having catering
and lounge activities done by the ROM, who would get a percentage of
the fee. Restaurant Associates is an operating division within Compass
PLC, the largest foodservice company in the world. RA manages
foodservices at major cultural museums and galleries, presumably with
the same licensing arrangements.
The Wines: Pelee Island Merlot showed up rather well as a walk around
red, but the Vineland Estates Semi-Dry Riesling was a better quaffer
and went with more of the food, especially the food that was offered
for the first hour and a half. I had to ask to see the bottles since my
servers did not know who the producers were.
The Food: we all sampled upscale fare from C5 (Crystal Five) and
regular fare from Food Studio. The latter samples embraced mini-
pizzette (mostly cheese) and dim sum in a spoon. The C5 offerings
included several seviches (octopus, scallop) and a fantastic grouper
eschevitch (preserved), all served with Peruvian potatoes. Best
offerings included a smokey gazpacho with yellow tomatoes and cheese,
and a striped bass tempura with caviar on its spine. Other dishes - all
pass rounds by wait staff - were mini-burgers on pastry, foie gras
mousse covered in chocolate, and several desserts (mini-custards with
raspberries, mango chocolate tart).
The Downside: it was hard to discover what wines were being served.
Some of the servers did not know their names, or were ill-informed. The
semi-dry riesling was quoted as a chardonnay. Personally, I was
disappointed that only two wines were served. I knew that this was not
a wine function, yet still many wine writers turned up, and I know that
some were disappointed that there were not many more VQA wines to
taste. I had to ask for the chardonnay to be opened, since they
themselves had brought up the name.
The Upside: no Museum admission is required to access either
restaurant. It was a great opportunity to sample what RA can do, to
view the menu and the wine list. It was all extremely well-polished.
The Contact Person:
The Effectiveness (numerical grade): 87.

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