Joanne Kates re­views the Broad­view Ho­tel’s new mar­quee restau­rant, the Civic

The new Broad­view Ho­tel’s main floor eatery, the Civic, does meat and fish very well — now let’s up the ser­vice side

Annex Post - - CONTENTS -

Years ago, I had a news­pa­per as­sign­ment to write about a Miche­lin starred chef on the Cote d’Azur.

The chef was Jac­ques Max­imin of Chante­cler in Nice. He talked a lot about what he most loved to cook and the cus­tomers he most loved to cook for.

It was a shock when Max­imin first told me that above all else he adored be­ing asked for a plain roast chicken.

His favourite cus­tomer was the ac­tor Omar Sharif who only ever asked for a roast chicken. Oc­ca­sion­ally Max­imin would slip a few truf­fle slices un­der the skin, but mostly he kept it sim­ple.

He used to say that only the most sim­ple of ex­e­cu­tions showed the met­tle of a chef — and the qual­ity of the in­gre­di­ents. This of course is the true heart of French cook­ing — not, as some be­lieve, ob­fus­cat­ing mat­ters with sauce, but rather ex­pos­ing the ele­gance of per­fect in­gre­di­ents.

Hence my search for a per­fect roast chicken.

So I was ex­cited to dis­cover roast chicken on the menu at the Civic, the new snazzy resto on the ground floor of the lov­ingly re­stored Broad­view Ho­tel. And yes, it is the roast chicken of my dreams. Moist, ten­der, savoury, lovely skin. Per­haps brined? Omar Sharif would be happy. The bird comes with charm­ingly sautéed let­tuce, hen of the woods mush­rooms and a light porcini thyme jus.

The rest of the menu is more work­man­like. Noth­ing wrong, but noth­ing to call at­ten­tion to. Crispy sweet­breads are nicely browned and ten­der, but the dish is un­ex­cit­ing.

Same for mush­room toast topped with a poached duck egg.

The lob­ster main sounds ir­re­sistible. A French classic: lob­ster a l’Amer­i­caine is done in a creamed tomato sauce, in the­ory kept light. This ren­di­tion is not. Its side­bar cel­ery root salad needs some­thing acidic to res­cue it from the slough of bland­ness. Our other fran­cophilic en­trée, duck con­fit, is bet­ter.

The best dessert is Eton mess, a classic riff on English tri­fle, cran­berry and pear pre­serve lay­ered with or­ange-scented bro­ken meringue and clot­ted cream. Less ex­cit­ing is lemon chif­fon pie, a tad heavy.

It’s all good, but mostly merely com­pe­tent. They cook meats and fish well. Maybe we’re a lit­tle sour be­cause the main din­ing room is an el­e­gant re­make of the build­ing’s Vic­to­rian ori­gins, but they sat us in the side room at a ta­ble with a per­fect view of the (dis­tract­ingly) bright kitchen every time its door opened.

Or maybe it was the pro forma ser­vice — hur­ried wait­staff who never met our eyes, run­ners who put items down in front of the wrong per­son at our ta­ble — the things that don’t mat­ter when din­ner is cheap. But when din­ner for two hits $150, we want bet­ter.

So would Jac­ques Max­imin.

Clock­wise from top: The din­ing room at the Civic, a side of roasted heir­loom car­rots and the house cock­tail, the Dingman

JOANNE KATES

Joanne Kates trained at the Ecole Cor­don Bleu de Cui­sine in Paris. She has writ­ten ar­ti­cles for nu­mer­ous pub­li­ca­tions, in­clud­ing the New York Times, Ma­clean’s and Chate­laine.

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