Thursday, August 11, 2011

“I’m Not a Doctor…

but I play one on TV.”

“Remember that phrase from the mid-1980s Vicks 44 commercials.... There were two versions of that commercial that I recall—both with soap opera actors (a quick web search reminded me the actors were Peter Bergman of All My Children and Chris Robinson of General Hospital). Both actors said that famous line, ‘I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV,’ and consumers everywhere were expected to think that acting like a doctor on a soap opera gave them some kind of special authority to recommend an over-the-counter cough medicine. Looking back, the only surprising thing was that it worked” (

My version of that famous line is “I’m not a rich person, but I play one in exclusive hotel lobbies and restaurants.” Places that I could never afford to stay in, but where I can practice the art of languid lobby lounging. Places like the Old Faithful Lodge in Yellowstone, the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite, and the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco.

I first developed this skill in Watch Hill, RI, an exclusive shore community of multi-million dollar summer “cottages.” We could afford to neither stay there nor eat there but could afford a glass of iced tea at a sidewalk umbrella table looking out on the Atlantic Ocean.

If one adopts the right degree of hauteur no one will guess that you don’t belong. (Travel Tip: Usually there are public restrooms on the lobby level.)

So, while I can’t afford the $150.00 to $200.00 a night for a room at the Stanley Hotel, lunch I can afford. Online reviews of the Cascades Restaurant at the Stanley prior to this year tended to be somewhat negative, but a March 2011 online article stated: “’New menu, new ambiance, new feel,’ is what the new head chef John Ruane said about his new position at the Cascades Restaurant. ‘I think it’s about time that the Cascades Restaurant gets its own reputation to stand alone as a restaurant that is known by its own name and not simply known as the Stanley Hotel Restaurant’” (

At the Stanley, you have three choices of dining area. You can sit on the outdoor dining patio and bar under orange umbrellas by a water-fall (left); you can sit in the bar with its magnificent bronze-colored pressed tin ceiling (see yesterday’s blog entry); or you can sit in the “white table cloth” formal dining room. We chose the latter and were directed to what is called the Wine Room—a small alcove with a table for four.

The lunch menu was not long, but did offer adequate choice. Appetizers include boar quesadillas, smoked salmon, crab cakes, and what they call dry wings. Soups are seafood chowder or French onion. Salads include Caesar, Cobb, and house greens. There is a list of hamburgers and a portabello sandwich. Among the entrees were trout filet and chicken papperdelle with vegetables and morel mushrooms.

Chuck started with a bowl of seafood chowder that came adorned with a puff pastry biscuit. I can’t fault the quantity of seafood that the bowl contained along with potatoes, onions, and carrots. But I did think that the bacon used was too smoky for the mild seafood and overwhelmed all other flavor.

His entrée was the Hunters Meatloaf, a mixture of boar, elk, and buffalo and wrapped in the same smoky bacon to add moisture. Here the bacon was a good foil for the slightly sweet game. The meatloaf came with real mashed potatoes (with some lumps to prove it), and the potatoes and meatloaf were swathed with savory red wine-based gravy. And the accompanying vegetables were crisp tender and, as you can see, artfully arranged on the plate.

I chose the Seafood Mac & Cheese Gratinee, and all I can say is “marvelous.” Elbow macaroni were combined with lightly cooked fresh asparagus, crisp whole shrimp, succulent scallops, and sweet lump crab meat. This was bathed in a rich and slightly lemony cheese sauce and topped with buttered bread crumbs. This was not your college days Kraft Dinner. This was mac & cheese for grown-ups. I have had good variations of this honored comfort food before, but none as good as this.

We debated whether to order dessert, but we both were too full to consider more food. Had it not been for the excess of bacon in the chowder, this would have been a 5.0 Addie lunch. Still, it earns 4.0 Addies and our best of luck to the new kitchen team.

No comments: