My first and last restaurant review

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Our friends took us out to dinner on Friday night. To the newly revamped Cygnus 27, perched atop the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. Chad then tasked me to share my impressions on my blog. OK…sure!

I should start by saying that I’m bucking any “restaurant review” etiquette because I took no notes during the meal and I have zero experience with conveying such an event to an audience other than to rave to a friend, “Wow, that was a great restaurant. I loved the food. And it had this funky decor. Yada yada yada.” Yes, I’m a writer. Yes, I love food. Love it. But I don’t have much time to compose this entry and I’m too much of a perfectionist not to offer up a disclaimer for its lameness. So there you have it.

And here you have my slightly disjointed review of Cygnus 27:

I’d never been to the original Cygnus before, so I have nothing to compare it to. From what I understand, though, it’s a complete 180 from what was there before. They’ve ditched the whole swan logo from the past and launched a contemporary, celestial-themed dining experience. I’m sure it’s meant to tie in with the restaurant’s lofty position in the GR skyline.

I was first struck by the bar. You round the corner from the elevator bank and it’s hard to miss. It glows. Literally. There’s an opaque marbely exterior that’s lit brightly from within. You can’t help but look at it. It’s a nice touch.

We were led in a circular path by a very slow-walking hostess (who wasn’t my favorite employee of the bunch) to a window table that overlooked the in-progress J.W. Marriott across the street.

I loved the table. I couldn’t tell you what it was constructed of (because I didn’t ask since I didn’t yet know I would be sharing my impressions), but it had a butcher-block look about it. Not in size or width or even weight, but in the pattern of the wood. Each table was topped by a grid-like textured covering and the place settings featured square red-glass plates. It’s a very natural look that managed to be both elegant and down-to-earth at the same time.

The only negative was the glowing sculpture plunked in the middle of the table (see the photo above). I just couldn’t get on board with it. It seemed at odds to me with the natural woods and materials. The feeling was compounded by the fact that the colors continually changed. Red. Pink. Orange. Green. Blue. Purple. Hmmm.

I was also highly disappointed when the very nice waiter came and took away my big square red plate. Then I proceeded to complain to Chad…”Why did they take away my plate? I liked it! What’s the point of having the plate there if they’re just going to take it away?” (Makes you want to dine with me sometime soon, eh?)

Tiffany and I perused the wine list and the waiter recommended a tasty shiraz (I believe it was 6 Sense, but…). The bread basket was filled with goodies, my favorite being the round ones in the photo below. I can not, for the life of me, remember any of the names. But I sampled all of them, believe me!

For appetizers, we chose the lettuce wrap, which you assemble yourself by spooning spicy Thai chicken and crunchy bean noodles into the lettuce leaves, and calamari with red pepper aioli and lemon mayonnaise for dipping. Moon-shaped appetizer plates brought back the celestial thing that I felt had been a bit displaced by the “natural fibers” theme of the table. I think it’s more of a mix, actually. A bit of sky…a bit of earth. That’s my humble take on it.

Scott decided on the sea bass, Chad and Tiffany both selected the New York strip, and I went with the (drum roll, please)…gorgonzola and marscapone pasta topped with pistachios and almonds. I love that they offer small and large sizes so you can be more realistic about your appetite. I chose the small. It was creamy but still tasted light, and the marscapone added a lovely hint of sweetness to it. Delicious! I think I left just a few spoonfuls.

The dessert options were varied and uniquely presented in small parfait glasses. Ideal because you don’t overindulge. I went with the black forest cake, Tiffany had the carrot cake, and Chad picked the cinnamon apple tiramisu. (Scott was being a good boy.) Then we sat and chatted and gazed out at the city lights.

I’d definitely recommend it. Nice atmosphere and decor. (I forgot to mention the attractive square lantern lighting throughout the restaurant.) Tasty food. Great service. And other than the weird table sculpture and the iffy hostess, there wasn’t much to complain about.

Oh, and the bathrooms were pretty cool too. Modern fixtures, frosted-glass walls, and moody lighting.

I thought about toiling over this review and wordsmithing it to death. Instead, I’m just going with the impressions and words that tumbled out of my head two days after the fact. I can say I left Cygnus 27 with the definite opinion that it’s a restaurant worth returning to. If only they’d let me eat from the pretty red plate next time!

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