El Tovar Dining Room (Grand Canyon AZ)

Yet Another DID Place?

First visit: August 20, 2012

El Tovar

Dr Jane in the Park

Dr Jane in the Park

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a condition in which a person displays multiple distinct identities or personalities (known as alter egos or, simply, alters), each with its own pattern of perceiving and interacting with the environment. In this review, I will use a journalistic trick of anthropomorphizing El Tovar and its kitchen in an attempt to try to understand some strange, and somewhat bizarre, experiences that I along with my dining companions found on our two visits to El Tovar. Our dinner was less than satisfactory. By morning for breakfast, a hinder alter emerged, and the meal was treally fine.

View from our El Tovar room

View from our El Tovar room

El Tovar Hotel, the premier lodging facility at the Grand Canyon, opened its doors in 1905 and was most recently renovated in 2005.

In the past, the Hotel has hosted such luminaries as Theodore Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, Western author Zane Grey, and many others.

Today, El Tovar retains its elegant charm. Located on the Canyon rim, it features a fine dining room (open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner), lounge and curio shop with newsstand. El Tovar offers its guests Concierge and room service and is a Registered National Historic Landmark.

Dining Room

Dining Room

It features a majestic dining room constructed of native stone and Oregon pine and traditional in decor and ambiance. The El Tovar dining room and hotel is built perpendicular to the rim, so a few tables offer a canyon view. The Canyon room also offers great views of the rim.
El Tovar Dining Room accommodates seating for 211 and the bar seats 60.  Window seats can be requested in either room, but are not reserved or guaranteed. There is also outdoor seating available on El Tovar veranda, which serves drinks and appetizers. The dining room menu blends regional and classical flavors while utilizing contemporary techniques. The El Tovar Dining Room is considered the premier dining establishment at the Grand Canyon.

Is the food any good? Yes and no.

The Dinner Alter

The menu seemed promising. Little did we know that the promises were to be broken.

House Salad

House Salad

El Tovar House Salad

Baby Organic Greens, Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives, Sliced Red Onion,
topped with Toasted Pine Nuts, Goat Cheese and served with a Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Perfectly ordinary. I have had better in greasy-spoon diners. I also had a bowl of what they called gumbo that was decidedly undistinguished. Not worth a photograph.

Black Angus Filet Mignon

Black Angus Filet Mignon

Hand-Cut, Natural Black Angus Filet Mignon Au Poivre

Served with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Seasonal Vegetables.

This was the only passable plate of the entire evening. It was cooked correctly, but the sauce left much to be desired. Too salty.

Natural Pork Chops with Toasted Cumin Dijon Cream

Natural Pork Chops with Toasted Cumin Dijon Cream

Natural Pork Chops with Toasted Cumin Dijon Cream

Served with Fingerling Potatoes and Seasonal Vegetables.

This dish was a total failure. I asked for the pork to be finished medium rare, and it came to me hard and dry. Almost too tough to cut, and chewing it was a chore. The sauce was quite unremarkable, too. {Sigh.}

Penne with Shrimp

Penne with Shrimp

Penne with Shrimp

Not much  can go bad with a penne dish, unless the pasta is overcooked and mushy. To make up for this oversight, the kitchen undercooked the shrimp, which left them cold, tasteless and crunchy. This is an easy dish to prepare correctly. The kitchen certainly failed this test.

 

Roasted Half Duck with Sundried Cherry Merlot Sauce

Roasted Half Duck with Sundried Cherry Merlot Sauce

Roasted Half Duck with Sundried Cherry Merlot Sauce

Served with Roasted Poblano Black Bean Rice and Seasonal Vegetables.

The description sounds enticing. But don’t go there.

This is the most poorly prepared dish that I have had in many years.  The duck was severely undercooked, and raw in the center. Neither I nor Stephanie could cut it with a steak knife. Maybe a machete would have helped, but I doubt it. The photograph below shows the result of several hacks at this unfortunate duck. Absolutely inexcusable.

Inedible and mistreated duck. For shame.

Inedible and mistreated duck. For shame.

Our diffident waiter made us  wait more than forty-five minutes for the subpar entrées.  We expected better.

The Breakfast Alter

Well, for breakfast we got better. Much better.  A different (and kinder) alter showed up.

Blackened Trout Breakfast with Eggs

Blackened Trout Breakfast with Eggs

Blackened Breakfast Trout with Eggs

Served with Two Eggs any style, Breakfast Potatoes and Choice of Toast, Bagel or English Muffin

Better than anything we had for dinner the previous evening. The trout was spicy and perfectly cooked — tender and moist.

 

Belgian Waffle

Belgian Waffle

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chip Belgian Waffle

Served with Vanilla Whipped Cream.

Put peanut butter, chocolate, and whipped cream on a nicely done waffle, and any kid would be happy. My niece, Susan Grace, certainly was. So was I, amd I’m not a kid anymore. Except when you put this dish (or the pancakes below) in front of me.

Think Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and you will be close.   

Polenta Corn Pancakes half-gone

Polenta Corn Pancakes half-gone

Polenta Corn Pancakes

Made with buttermilk and served with Served with Honey Pine Nut Butter and Prickly Pear Syrup.

This is among the very best breakgast dishes I have had in the past few years. The pancakes are great — tender, not mushy or dry, and quite delicious. The real hit of this dish is the honey pine nut butter and the prickly pear syrup. Wow.

This dish almost made up for our mistreatment of the previous evening. I would go out of my way to eat these marvels again.

El Tovar is a very beautiful place. Before dinner, sit outside on the long patio and enjoy a beverage of your choice and maybe even some snacks.

Did this breakfast atone for the terrible dinner> Not really, but it is nice to know that the kitchen has a delightful alter. Which one will you get? YMMV. Certainly worth a try.

El Tovar Dining Room

Serving Plate (928) 638-2631 

Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon Vlg
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023

Website
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View the dinner manu
View the junch menu
View the breakfast menu

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One Response to El Tovar Dining Room (Grand Canyon AZ)

  1. S M says:

    We ate about 3 years ago there. It was really good. This time, not so much.

    They had a Special with “tender pork loin and barbecue sauce” that was awful. The meat was literarally shoe leather tough, I’ve never had such tough pork loin. We should have sent it back and didn’t, my guest couldn’t get through half of it. It was disgusting for 32 bucks, I couldn’t believe it.

    I had the trout, and it was overcooked and if you like trout, you know the worst thing that a cook can do is cook it too long, it completely spoils the taste. It was pathetic. I’ve had better trout from Cracker Barrel, by far, for 1/4 the price. This is supposed to be a fine restaurant, well they really need to fire the cook.

    The appetizer portions were TINY except for the French Onion soup which was very good. For over 10 bucks each for appetizers I expect more.

    The desserts were excellent and the only really good part of the meal. It was a $200 meal for four people. I don’t complain about price much when I go out to eat, and I’m an excellent tipper, normally 30% plus. They got 10%.

    I cannot recommend this restaurant. We should have sent the pork and the trout back but I didn’t want to cause a scene with my guests, we were there on vacation.

    We ate at the Bright Angel lounge the night before, and it was excellent, what I’d expect.

    Do not bother with El Tovar. Seems the hype is more important now than a fine meal.

    One should never have to leave a so called fine restaurant with a WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT?? experience.

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