Go to the Flaming Pit
location for this year's Dinner with Mr. Restaurant Sweepstakes
was the Flaming Pit located in the chic Hanover Marriott in Whippany.
The sweepstakes winners won a full weekend of fine dining that included
dinner Saturday night at the Flaming Pit, an overnight stay at the
Hanover Marriott, and brunch Sunday at Ye Olde Salad Bar.
all started at seven Saturday night. Mr. and Mrs. Restaurant met
Lionel and Diana Trilling in the beautiful open atrium lobby of
the Hanover Marriott where overhead, picturesque old fans drove
the air in sullen wise. Greetings were exchanged and everyone proceeded
to the dramatic entrance of the Flaming Pit. As the group was seated
Diana told of her surprise when she was selected as the sweepstakes
winner. Diana added, "I don't know what Lionel keeps in our
refrigerator, but it makes everything taste funny." Lionel
and Diana were extremely gracious winners and a friendly couple.
Right away everyone had no trouble having a good time.
the Flaming Pit mixed drinks are a specialty. Take-home mugs depicting
Japan act as a fine remembrance of the occasion. Some of the specialty
drinks include the Banzai Blossom--a very tasty blend of eau de
vies, and Red Parrot--a robust blend of rums with tropical juices
traditionally enjoyed by plantation owners in the tropics. It was
the Japanese Bastard that Diana, Mr. Restaurant, and Mrs. Restaurant
chose to order. The menu described it as "a Heady Bastard concoction
that will erase all memories of a spurious past. In fact, it will
erase all memories." Certainly the group was daring.
restaurant also features other authentic Japanese drinks such as
sake, a traditional favorite that Lionel, with unexpected authority,
chose, plum wine, and Japanese beers (Asahi, Sapporo, Kirin, and
enjoying their drinks in the blue light that fell from a cellophane
coconut, Mr. and Mrs. Restaurant got to know the Trillings better
and were impressed by what a nice family they have, including a
bird and an iguana. They have two children, Knight, ten years old,
and Danielle, thirteen years old.
is an extremely gifted young ice hockey player. Lionel mentioned
that he, too, played when he was in high school. Like father, like
appetizers Lionel and Diana ordered the combination appetizers for
two. It included skewers of tarred and feathered filet mignon with
house steak sauce and frizzled leek. "Delicious," repeated
Diana again and again. Mrs. Restaurant had an order of jumbo Indonesian
shrimp topped with spinach and crabmeat stuffing wrapped in puff
pastry in a pool of rice wine Sicilian blood orange buerre blanc.
Mr. Restaurant had clams.
entree ordered at the Flaming Pit includes shrimp or scallops with
ginger sauce, fresh field greens with oriental dressing, soup, rice,
vegetables, and green tea. Everyone at the table enjoyed the miso
soup, a flavorful blend that includes fish stock, tofu, and water.
Families of more than one hundred persons pay a special, proportional
excitement revved up when it came time for the main entrees. This
is when the highly skilled Chef Rollo Whitehead comes to the table
and entertains while he prepares your selections. First a Mikado
fried rice was prepared. Everyone was dazzled as Chef Whitehead
chopped and diced everything in sight. Onions were airborne, then
as they descended were caught on the tip of a razor-sharp edge.
Next they were sliced and diced with the speed and accuracy which
only comes from much intense training.
List for the Sake of a List
Mrs. Restaurant's husband
enjoys Japanese Bastards
impressed with the Trillings' family
not your typical average guy
Lionel Trilling's wife
author of "Mrs. Harris: The Death of the Scarsdale Diet Doctor"
enjoys Japanese Bastards
New York intellectual
winner of the Mr. Restaurant Sweepstakes
revs up diners
has a seven-inch-long finger
does not play ice hockey
the main course, everyone, ironically, had the special, which was
a combination of shrimp, filet mignon, and lobster tail. All were
simultaneously and expertly cooked right at the table for all eyes
shrimp were spread across the cooking area. The filet mignon came
out in a huge slab and was quickly carved to manageable sizes by
Chef Whitehead. The lobsters were laid out and began to sizzle.
"As prepared by my mother," Lionel said, "it contains
many of the ingredients of an abalone steak provençal."
Chef Whitehead noted that a complete description could be found
on the back of the card-table-sized menus. Each person's dinner
was cooked to order. Before items were plated, Chef Whitehead diced
the shrimp, lobster, and filet mignon into bite-size portions. In
one corner a big jukebox whose revolving lights cast an ominous
glow was playing "Dance to My Lady."
dessert it was fresh melon and vanilla ice cream balls rolled in
the Flaming Pit's special coating, quick-fried, and served with
chocolate sauce. "I'm not what you might call your typical
average guy," Mr. Restaurant commented as he sipped on an after-dinner
Dubonnet on the rocks. "Sure, I overdo it once in a while--but
who doesn't?" The group then headed over to the luxurious lounge
located in the atrium for a nightcap.
the next day was magnificent. The room in which meals were served
was filled with wicker furniture, ferns, and stuffed birds under
glass. Lionel especially made numerous trips to the buffet line
and omelet station where a chef prepared individual omelets. Brunch
had everything imaginable, from haggis, the national dish of Scotland,
to smoked fish, pancakes, waffles, and steak sandwiches. Brunch
was a grand finish to what had passed for a magnificent weekend
at the Hanover Marriott.