Hallmark distances itself from three Crown Center restaurants.

Divorce, Italian Style 

Hallmark distances itself from three Crown Center restaurants.

One long-circulating rumor in the restaurant community is that the Hallmark empire's dining division, Culinary Concepts LLC, has rarely -- if ever -- made a profit from its three Crown Center establishments: Milano, Crayola Café and Golden Harvest Bakery. Last week, Culinary Concepts handed over the trio's management duties to the Hyatt. Culinary Concepts did, however, keep control of the lunch-only Patio restaurant inside Hall's (where lots of Hallmark employees eat) and The American, reportedly much beloved by the Hall family.

Crown Center still owns the other operations, but the cost-conscious Hyatt now manages them, which has some fans of Milano and its talented young chef, John Korycki, worried.

"You know what will happen when the Hyatt takes over," said a reader who called me all in a tizzy. "They'll dumb down the cuisine and put spaghetti and meatballs on the menu."

So what? After visiting Milano last week, I think Korycki's menu needs a kick in the asiago. Yes, the chef deserves kudos for his creative combinations and for using regionally grown ingredients. But many of his dishes are visually dreary (the predominant color is brown), the prices are intimidating and the lower-level dining room is still noisy and ugly.

Korycki was vacationing the night I dined there, and I overheard one server tell another customer, "We've got a Hyatt chef in there already making changes."

Not so, says Brendan O'Connell, Hyatt's assistant food and beverage director. He says he doesn't see any big culinary changes for Milano. "Chef John does a great job," he says. "We may tweak the menu a bit along the way, but we like the way it is."

I certainly liked the seared scallops appetizer with the truffle vinaigrette, but I was underwhelmed by potato-filled ravioli topped with a slow-simmered wild-boar ragu. It was a pleasantly hearty dish, but the meat sauce looked exactly like canned chili. The grilled ribeye with gorgonzola sauce was fantastic, though, and an excellent buy for such a generous cut. Still, I winced at the bill.

For all its posturing, Milano has never established a real identity. It's not as sophisticated as nearby Lidia's or as robustly Italian-American as the original Garozzo's, a quick cab ride away. Culinary Concepts never knew what it wanted the place to be: a Sophia Loren or a Madonna.

It might actually take someone with meatballs to turn the place around.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Charles Ferruzza

Latest in Fat Mouth

Facebook Activity

All contents ©2014 Kansas City Pitch LLC
All rights reserved. No part of this service may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of Kansas City Pitch LLC,
except that an individual may download and/or forward articles via email to a reasonable number of recipients for personal, non-commercial purposes.

All contents © 2012 SouthComm, Inc. 210 12th Ave S. Ste. 100, Nashville, TN 37203. (615) 244-7989.
All rights reserved. No part of this service may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of SouthComm, Inc.
except that an individual may download and/or forward articles via email to a reasonable number of recipients for personal, non-commercial purposes.
Website powered by Foundation