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Ritz-Carlton's Corporate Chef Discusses Their New 'Bar Experience'

May 1, 2009 at 4:04 PM | by | ()

Today, Ritz-Carlton hotels across the country are launching their totally re-vamped "Bar Experience." That is, every bar and lounge in every Ritz-Carlton across the naysh will now feature new bar food and cocktail menus that are conducive to hangin' with friends, offering up cooler, more modern cocktails and a brand new selection of gourmet small bites meant to be shared.

Among the 30 fresher, cooler bar snacks available starting today (each property features a selection of these 30 in addition to some local specialties): brie and parsley risotto balls, smoked salmon and arugula egg rolls, chilly water lobster flat bread and calamari in remoulade sauce.

Earlier this week (before the official launch party for the new menu last night at D.C.'s Degrees Bar), Ritz-Carlton's Corporate Chef George McNeill, who headed up the project, took some time out to chat with HotelChatter.

McNeill told us that the new Bar Experience is part of a long-term, large-scale food and beverage initiative across the chain that's meant to reinvigorate and reposition the brand, eliminating the "illusion of rigidity" the chain may have given off in the past, "creating a nice environment where you feel comfortable" in the bars and lounges.

With the change in the economy, McNeill felt the change in social behavior — people were going out in groups, looking to unwind after work — warranted a little bit of an adjustment to keep up with the times. These days, people most certainly aren't looking for anything stuffy.

He says, "when you're at a bar, the one thing you dont want to do is drink without eating — and we wanted to provide the kind of products in our bar that allow for social gathering." The food on the new menu is light fare and it's all about share-able plates; you know, so the first person who gets to the bar can kinda feel comfy ordering for everyone.

Oh, and in terms of price points: McNeill says, "Ritz wanted to break away from the image of everything being so expensive" — they're really trying to draw people away from the idea that the place is stuffy, and the prices on the new bar menus reflect that.

The idea here is to make sure Ritz stays current and relevant; that they're changing with the environment.

McNeill's three personal faves on the new menu? He's partial to the "guy food." That is, "Mini Black Angus Sliders, Brie, Parsley, and Risotto Balls, and the Sea-Slated Twice-Cooked Steak Fries." Um, is it happy hour yet?

Again, the new menu launched today, so swing by your local Ritz-Carlton bar and let us know what you think of the new munchies.

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