Saturday, June 14, 2014

Anthem Food Review

(Not so) Mighty Mo

Forget Me Not?

As the saying goes, "The more things change, the more they stay the same." Not necessarily true at Anthem, one of four new restaurants at the majestic new Marriott Marquis (Seriously, you have to see this hotel... It's spectacular.) Sadly, the same can't be said for the food, and (surprisingly) the service at Anthem... a concept that looks good nostalgic on paper; but one that appears in need of some serious changes.

Look up "old school" in any dictionary; and odds are, there's a photo of me under "click here for more." I couldn't wait to try Anthem... So much so, I stopped by on June 12th to check it out. Perhaps it was too soon; as I encountered a myriad of mistakes, one wouldn't expect at this price point.

Orange Freeze

Before we tackle pricing, let's discuss the dining area... a sweeping room that says casual and upscale (an odd combination) at the same time. I asked the hostess for a quiet table (the restaurant was more than half full) and she obliged with a table for six in the back... all for me. Color me impressed. Speaking of colors, I'm not a big fan of Anthem's color combos (too many) but it's obvious they're trying to channel the once "mighty" Hot Shoppes.

Hot Shoppes was famous for many items; and Anthem salutes a few of them, including the Mighty Mo and Orange Freeze. The latter costs a staggering $17, and includes a relatively small, unimpressive double-patty burger with fries in place of onion rings and a tiny container of watery cole slaw. I received no explanation for the fries (I can only imagine they were out of onion rings) but they were cold and tasteless, to boot. The aforementioned cole slaw was good for one bite, and a mayonnaise chaser (hence the term "watery.")

As for the burger, there's sadly nothing mighty about it. Honest to goodness, you could find equal or better at Wendy's (and no, that's not a compliment.) I specifically asked for no cheese; but that request apparently fell on deaf ears. The Might Mo sauce? Russian dressing, I suppose... certainly nothing memorable. The patties were small and well-done, with almost no flavor. Diner food, at it's best worst most average.

Thankfully, the Orange Freeze remains the show-stopper it always was. I'm only 45, but even I remember this tasty concoction with reverence and fondness. At five bucks, it's probably the best deal on the entire menu.

Service was slow and spotty, a far cry from what I remember at Hot Shoppes. It's a shame they couldn't hire some of the folks who used to work there. I literally sat at my table for almost 15 minutes, before my AWOL server returned to deliver my check.

The concept doesn't seem to fit such a beautiful, modern hotel. You wouldn't stick Johnny Rockets inside the Four Seasons, would you? It's still early; and I can't imagine the Marriott will sit on its hands, if changes are necessary. I'll be back for breakfast (the All-American buffet costs $24) and I hope to post a more positive review. You can't just snap your fingers, and recreate a legacy. Here's hoping the Marriott Marquis keeps trying.