With downtown brunch plans at a hot new spot dashed by an hour wait, I had to switch to “plan b” for a family meal. The Shore Room at the Renaissance Hotel was right around the corner and had been recommended, so off we went.
My favorite pint-sized, seafood-loving twins were in tow, so we started with a prawn cocktail ($11) with “atomic horseradish sauce” and an order of crispy calamari ($11) with spicy marinara and lemon-mint aioli. The six large shrimp were pretty standard, boosted by a seriously potent cocktail sauce my New England mother-in-law would have loved. It was like a punch in the nose, you want to do again and again. The modest portion of rings and tentacles was fine, the sauces so-so. One boy asked of the not-so-spicy red stuff, “Is this ketchup?” None of us thought much of the aioli, so we were happy to have plenty of atomic action.
The boys ordered breakfast, one choosing a pair of over-easy eggs with home fries, thick cut bacon, and toast ($11), the other entranced by the promise of espresso-caramel pancakes ($12). Everything on the egg plate was fine, though spuds were sparse—perhaps to make room for blood orange garnish. The espresso ChocoRocks from local confectioner Kimmie’s Candy entertained, but they were out of the caramel variety; chocolate chips were an odd substitution with maple syrup. The espresso whip was more a tasty mousse, and the short stack was oddly stretchy and difficult to cut with a fork.
An order of chicken fried steak and eggs ($15) with country gravy, home fries and a biscuit looked pretty good, but wasn’t great. The home fries were more plentiful than on the other plate. The over-medium eggs were spot on, and the large biscuit fluffy. But the gravy was paste-like and bland. And, sadly, the meat was tasteless, over-breaded, over-cooked and burned in spots. A knife and a fair amount of patience were required.
My daughter arrived a bit later, and it took nearly 20 minutes to place her order in a not-busy room. Still, she received her single smoked salmon benedict ($8) with little delay when we finally caught someone’s attention. An overdone poached egg was perched atop an English muffin with arugula, tomato and a smattering of fish—slathered with pesto hollandaise. It took some digging to taste the smoke.
I’d heard the place spotlights Mediterranean fare, so a lamb gyro ($15) with kalamata olive, bell pepper, tomato, red onion and house tzatziki was in order. The sauce was tart and chunky, but the meat was so bland, the rest of the ingredients had to pick up the slack. My friend got creative and chose corned beef hash for her side ($4 extra), with yukon gold potato and chopped arugula. It was really fantastic, with great flavor and texture. A plate of this with eggs might be the best thing on the menu.
I ordered a wild boar burger ($15) with black garlic aioli, brie, mushroom, caramelized onion and arugula, substituting fries/salad for a cup of tomato bisque ($3 extra). The soup hit the comfort mark. I was a little surprised by the diminutive size of the sandwich, and all those fancy ingredients would have been equally delicious without the pig. The burger was maybe a quarter of a pound, dry, unseasoned and the least interesting component. Maybe an hour wait would have been the better bet for our outing. I doubt I’ll be back to try the pricy dinner menu.