7.31.2009

Five Star Stay!

The Waldorf Astoria opened a new hotel in New Orleans this month. The Roosevelt Hotel, "Originally one of the South’s first grand hotels” underwent a $145 million restoration, which “has returned The Roosevelt to its place as the premier luxury hotel in New Orleans".

I didn’t really know the history of this hotel, so I decided to do a little research. Apparently, the hotel was built by Louis Grunewald, a German immigrant, and it opened as The Grunewald in 1893. In 1908, 400 rooms were added, and in 1923 it changed to the Roosevelt in honor of former president
Theodore Roosevelt. It was the Roosevelt for 40 years before it was acquired by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts in 1965. It remained The Fairmont until 2005, when it was damaged by the storm. And today, the Roosevelt returns. It just re-opened July 1st and as it is (re)new, they are having marvelous summer deals. And, thankfully for me, it is a Hilton partner, which means not only do I get to enjoy a beautiful hotel, but I get points for staying there! Double score. So I decided to go and check it out.

It’s very nice, all done up in gilt and brocade with wide hallways and high ceilings. The staff is nice but not snooty; the rooms are tastefully done and the towels are the softest I have ever used. There are a few kinks that they need to work out as a new hotel – there were still tags on some of the furnishings; the refrigerator still had it’s EnergyStar sticker on it; There is only one trash can and it was not in the bathroom. But the soap leaves you smelling like lemon all day long and the sheets make you want to skip work and sleep all day.

A few more interesting facts: A suite on the 12th floor of The Roosevelt was (corrupt?) Governor
Huey P. Long’s residence when he was in Louisiana. When the hotel was The Grunewald, it was home to The Cave, which is considered by some to be the first nightclub in the United States. The Fairmont was known for the Sazerac Bar and the Sazerac Room for the finest dining. So yesterday, we went to find out if it lived up to its fame.

Firstly,
Sazerac is a cocktail made from whisky, bitters and absinthe. It is purported to be the first cocktail in the United States (a lot of firsts here today!) We had to have one, since we were in the Sazerac Room. It tasted to me like slightly licorice-tasting whisky. Not too bad though. See below (taken from Wikipedia)

TypeCocktail
ServedStraight up; without ice
Standard garnish
Lemon peel
Standard drinkware

Old fashioned glass
Commonly used ingredients
1 1/2 ounces
Sazerac Rye whiskey
Three dashes
Peychaud's Bitters
One sugar cube or
simple syrup
1/4 ounce
Absinthe
Preparation
One old fashioned glass is packed with ice. In a second old fashioned glass, a sugar cube and 3 dashes of Peychaud's Bitters are muddled. The Rye Whiskey is then added to the sugar/Bitters mixture. The ice is emptied from the first old fashioned glass and the Absinthe is poured into the glass and swirled to coat the sides of the glass. Any excess Absinthe is discarded. The Rye-Sugar-Bitters mixture is then poured into the Absinthe coated glass and the glass is garnished with a lemon peel.
Notes
Originally, the Sazerac was made and served in an
egg cup called a coquetier.

Next was dinner – we came for the
Foie Gras and it did not disappoint. My second favorite was the surf and turf, which was cooked to perfection and flavored just enough. Dessert was bread pudding, which had fresh fruit and a little bit of vanilla ice cream. All in all, it was a wonderful dinner. The waiter was nice, not in your face, but there when you needed him. There was a live “band” (one man) which was pleasant and not too loud.

So, overall, the Roosevelt has it all – class, charm, history, nice sheets and great dessert to boot!
Five stars really does mean five stars!

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