CAPITAL DISTRICT Scrimshaw Restaurant at The Desmond Hotel got a summer make over that was 30 years in the making and, according to new Dining Room Manager Frank Rivera, diners seem to approve.
“On a dollars and cents side of it, we’ve seen our check averages go from about $45 per person, pushing toward $70 a person now,” said Rivera. “We’re getting a return on the investment we’ve put into the room.”
Besides aesthetic renovations that enhanced the dining room’s already elegant atmosphere (fine crystal, crisp linen, fresh flowers, warm candlelight, model ships and sailing paintings reminiscent of a sea captain’s home, energy efficient lights that off a softer glow), new Chef de Cuisine Stephen Fratianni thinks he knows the other reason diners are satisfied.
“I go out into the dining room at least once an evening and speak to some of our longtime guests … and everybody I’ve spoken with absolutely loves the changes and thinks the food is fantastic,” said Fratianni. “I’ve actually had a few tables that I see almost once or twice a month.”
At the end of August, Scrimshaw reopened and unveiled a new menu and wine list, as well as a market seafood page that changes monthly. Fratianni said after consulting with his executive chef and executive sous chef, all were in agreement that Scrimshaw favorites must be preserved, but with a twist.
“There were a lot of classics on the menu we wanted to keep; stuff that’s been keynotes here for a number of years,” said Fratianni. “We had to figure out how to make some items innovative but also maintain respect.”
That means staples like prime rib, veal oscar and Chatueaubriand are still around, but with Fratianni’s special touch.
Another change that Rivera said lead the renovation plan is tableside service.
“We have tableside prep for certain menu items. Wait staff went through 20 hours of intensive training … learning to carve a rack of lamp tableside or prepare a Caesar salad tableside,” said Rivera. “There’s a whole generation of diners that have never experienced tableside service … we had to step up our game by reaching into the past and putting a great polish on it.”