by Lauren Mote
As the foodies waive bon “voya”ge to construction, delays and red tape, Voya restaurant finally says “welcome”, and with that one word, over a year of waiting and whimsically unattainable launch dates depart, the industry evangelists are left bustling through the shiny lobby of the Loden Hotel, hanging a quick left, and plunging into the bar where Bar Manager Jay Jones presents them with “Something Pink” – where watermelon puree and bourbon finally meet, and satisfy the most discerning palates. Although the restaurant and hotel had opened about 10 days prior, the company launch party was nothing to shake a fist at.
The taxi door flies open, and I look up to find the valet, with an enormous umbrella to escort me to my canape destiny awaiting inside. John and I approach the host stand, where well dressed and sultry “associates” wait with highlighters to make sure you’re on the list and we are.
Checking out the decor, and trying to take everything in, we turn the corner to grab a cocktail. Seductive burlesque-style dancers parade the various stages around the restaurant, surrounded by onlookers and chewy music. As I suspected, I had Something Pink and John a beer. People watching was of particular interest tonight. Hotel hot shots, mostly the investors and executives partied the night away, as the curious foodies aching to provide media coverage (like me) found themselves following Chef Marc-Andre Choquette’s moves to find the next great canape. Moroccan spiced lamb sticks with a cool mint yogurt sauce instantly satisfies. After a couple of hollowed out cucumber cups filled with spiced tuna, grilled asparagus wrapped in cured ham, and numerous Madelyn cookies, we made our way through the crowd to check out the penthouse suite – after all this is a hotel launch not just a food thing….
On the 15th floor, we are greeted by a busy hallway, shoe cubbies, and complimentary white slippers for guests. Happily, our socks were free from holes and odour… it was interesting to see a dapper gentleman wearing socks reminiscent of the Wicked-Witch-of-the-West with white and red stripes!
This will now turn into a “penthouse” food thing.
Amongst the beautiful furniture, people and decor – lay a shrine of fresh seafood, maintained by friend and Voya linesman Bryan Satterford. In between the mussels and crab claws, Voya Assistant General Manager Carole Morton spots us. Tonight she’s a greeter, an information stand, and a glorified busser, but boy is she ever gorgeous while doing her tasks.
We find ourselves wandering around the large penthouse suite, on to the wrap around patio, pop a Corona, and head back down to the lobby – just in time for another burlesque performance.
There it was….. gleaming in the area set up with fruits and desserts…. the milk chocolate waterfall. And what would we have with said waterfall? Only the finest homemade squares of marshmallows on skewers, and plenty of them. I had officially proclaimed marshmallows as a 6th food group. Delicious.
After a couple of hours, it was time to depart. We waived bon “voya”ge to the party scene, took information with us about the fantastic breakfasts served daily, the lunches and the dinners. The exit was littered with stacks of loot bags. What was inside? Well, not only was there a coupon for a complimentary Something Pink but there would also be a homemade brioche and fruit bun for the walk home.