Cayenne Restaurant
1100 Broadway Ave.

Seattle, WA 98122

Let me admit to a bias I have:

I am wary of restaurants based in hotels. If they are not lacking in quality, then they are overpriced for the food you are getting. I am sure some of this has to do with growing up in western Pennsylvania, where second-rate restaurants were found at the various Holiday Inns and Howard Johnson’s throughout the area.

So when I found out a new Mexican place was attached to the Silver Cloud hotel on Broadway here in Seattle, my old fears began to haunt me. “No!” I decided. “I will not let the hotel bother me! I will rate the merits of their food on their own!, I will not be afraid of this place!”

Sadly, my fears were warranted.

I probably would have been less disappointed had the place not set their standards higher than your typical Mexican restaurant. But by attempting to serve an “upscale” Mexican cuisine, they may have been aiming at at target that was difficult for them to meet.

For example, the appetizer entitled “Salsa trio” was not a bad idea… simply chips with three different types of salsa (traditional, tomatilla, and a tasty pineapple/habanera concoction) that would have worked if the chips had not been stale, indicating that these chips were not made on site (as they are at other places throughout the city).

Also missing the mark was the chilled avocado soup, which was completely lacking in any avocado taste, or even the slightest hint of cilantro (which the menu promised). Instead, it carried a peculiar metallic taste which suggested that the soup was canned.

Things looked up only slight for the main courses. The Mole Poblano was a disappointment I suppose, as I had difficulty distinguishing any unique tastes in the mole itself. The chicken was a tad dry, and was not helped by the mole at all. Much better was the Dos Equis Carne Asada, which was basted in Ancho chile butter and served with Drunken Beans. The Beef was moist and tender, and the Dos Equis Marinade gave it a deep oaty undercurrent, which wasn’t bad. It wasn’t drop-my-fork-oh-my-god-is-this-delicious good, but I was not unhappy with it. However, the Drunken beans did suffer from “heat lamp” dryness, which was only saved by the broth from the Carne Asasda.

The Mexican Torte was not too bad. Eating a hot chocolate cake, topped with whipped cream while sitting in a cream base of chocolate, cinnamon and peanuts was certainly nice, but not groundbreaking. It did add to my impression that the management set high standards for the place, but compromised on them when they almost reached them.

And that’s what makes this place such a disapointment. It could have been better. Certainly the menu indicates that they wanted to do something different and unique. But they settled for adequacy (and below in some cases) in their execution. The place has over looked the little details. Certainly there are cayenne dispensers on each table, which is cute, but unnecessary. Had they provided an ice tea that wasn’t over steeped, I would have been better pleased. Even their breakfast of poached eggs over corned beef was a disapoinment. I don’t care where you cook, poached eggs need to be runny, even if only a little.

It’s the overall disapointment of the place that makes it so hard to recommend. There’s really no reason to come here, especially when they are charging between ten to twenty five dollars for their entrees. There are simply better places to eat in Seattle.

Which brings me to why I have my bias against hotel restaurants. They have a built in clientele due to their residents. They may never get repeat customers, but they don’t have to. Someone new will always be checking in. There’s no need to provide better food…just adequate.

So new people may be trying this place. But I won’t.

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