By Anne DesBrisay
The last time I picked up a fork at the Novotel Hotel, it belonged to the hotel restaurant called Trio. That was 2008, the small dishes were called “pleasure plates” and they were largely disappointing.
So what a pleasure to report how things have changed at the Novotel, which is now home to The Albion Rooms.
This is a quick noon-hour story, but as the menu at lunch and dinner is the same, my lunch — a truly luscious Caprese salad topped with a rare treat — could be your evening meal. If it’s still on offer, that is.
Tomato salads are good things to order right about now, but this one was particularly well thought through and prettily presented on a live edge bread board. It began with tomatoes in full September glory. Then instead of churning out the usual dobs of goat cheese, there were rounds of milky burrata, that decadent cream-filled take on traditional mozzarella made from the richer milk of the water buffalo.
On top, basil leaves, sharp rings of pickled shallots, a few turns of the pepper mill and some crunchy sea salt. And then, to crown it all… shaved white truffles. You could smell them coming from 30 paces away. What a treat! Piedmont white truffles for lunch! They brought the forest floor to the slab of wood, an earthy-wet scent helped along with a judicious drizzle of oil.
There were other bits and pieces to our lunch — a “shooter” pressed sandwich; the house’s “thrice-cooked chips” with smoked salt and parmesan; and a bit of chef Stephen La Salle’s beetroot cured salmon, very delicious, with pickled red onion, smoked capers, and a thick smear of tart crème fraîche.
But it was the caprese that lingers on. If they’re still shaving white truffles on September tomatoes at the Novotel’s new Albion Rooms, put down your pen and run.
Cost: The tomato salad was a steal at $12.
Open: Daily, from 11 a.m. to midnight (and until 2 a.m. weekends)
The Albion Rooms, 33 Nicholas St., 613-760-4771.