Aside from enjoying our room we dined three times during our local vacation. Here's where we went/what we had.
The Bite, Afternoon Snack
Once we were settled in room 1500 Sarah and I went down to the 4th floor for a late afternoon snack at the Bite. I've been there for a drink the week before (great Bloody Mary, btw) but this time I tried a couple different things. Sarah ordered rum and Coke to drink while I went for their blueberry and mango smoothy. The thing arrived in a tall, thin glass nearly filled to the brim (and re-filled by the bartender with what remained during blending) and topped with a fresh sprig of mint. The drink was tart yet sweet with plenty of chunks of the included fruit most of which were small enough to get through the straw without jamming. We also ordered up some fries topped with a light gravy and feta (I think) cheese. We nearly cleaned our plate which obviously meant we didn't like it at all! ;)
El Gaucho, Dinner
We called the concierge and had reservations set for a late dinner at El Gaucho. They arranged for a shuttle so we could just enjoy our evening sans driving. We entered the darkened restaurant, checked our coats, and waited briefly at the bar while our table was prepped. Each person we interacted with made sure to wish Sarah a happy birthday (even though I'd only made mention of this once when making my hotel reservation a week before). The hotel even had an order of the beef diablo sent over to our table. The pieces of an 8oz tenderloin were swimming in a heavy cream based sauce accompanied by a few points toasted bread. Sarah and I also started with a couple drinks. She sipped down a beautiful and sweet Starry Night and I, of course, tried their Bloody Mary. Guess I should do a Bjornson-esque round up of local Bloody Mary's something soon. As long as I don't drink them all in one night I'll be good. ;)
Next course was Caesar salads for the both of us. Our server rolled a cart over and put it all together table side. He started by making the Caesar dressing then artfully mixing in the greens with fresh pepper, Parmesan, and crutons baked up that morning.
For the main course we had to try what El Gaucho is best known for: steak. Sarah had the 12oz New York medium and I hear zero complaints from her. Conversation pretty much stopped with me as well while I savored the 16oz Peppercorn New York perfectly cooked medium rare with fresh pepper cooked on that kicked me just enough to make it interesting. Though no sides come with the steaks we opted to add in some asparagus. What can I say but well done, El Gaucho. Though nearly completely full from our afternoon snack above and the previous two courses I nearly made it through all 16 ounces.
As if this weren't quite enough, our server let us know that dessert was on them so we accepted their generous offer and decided to have another dose of table side service in the form of a bananas foster. Again, our server returned with a cart upon which he prepared, from scratch over a flame, caramel and bananas served with two scoops of fresh, vanilla bean ice cream. A lake of smooth, warm caramel was the best I've ever tasted and combined almost too well with the soft banana.
Our bill, in the end, with a couple drinks on top of everything was about $200. Tack on only another $25 for the starter and dessert we didn't pay for. The warm, sophisticated atmosphere, the bustle of a busy night, and the friendly demeaner of the staff help round out an experience that I'd definitely recommend for that special occasion with that special someone. Though not actually a part of the Murano, hopefully you can see how seamlessly our El Gaucho dinner plans fit with our stay at the hotel. I highly recommend this combo to anyone.
The Bite, Breakfast
We again returned to the Bite for breakfast the next morning. Perched near the skylight ceiling windows a warm glow permeated every table. Sarah had their coffee (Starbucks beans, which she doesn't prefer) and I started with a glass of fresh squeezed tangerine juice -- tart but mostly sweet and a beautiful shade of golden yellow. Thanks to the tangerines that sacrificed themselves to make this wonderful start to the meal. Nearly still full from food the day before, Sarah went light with a couple sides for breakfast while I forged ahead with a Belgium waffle. It came topped with homemade heavy whipped cream and strawberries. I drizzled some not-too-thick syrup in each of the gridded depressions in my waffle and re-filled my belly to start the day.
Though no menu seems to be online (yet) the Bite is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week and is open to the public. We'll definitely return to try so more treats and maybe see if we can convince some friends to try it out with us. If you park on 13th you can take the entrance next to the pavilion and the Bite will be just to your right as you walk in.
More to come on the art and the hotel itself.