Outside of calorie-excessive, visually hypnotizing foods, one trend we weren’t expecting to see in recent years was the serious upgrade of traditional hotel restaurants and bars. As a victim of business travel, dining options on properties were of no significance. Most weren’t even memorable beyond the one or two dishes we’d hone in on for a meal. Nowadays, it’s more common to discover excellent bar programs or inventive menu choices in these same chains.
As an ode to the brown spirit, the Marriott next door to the Anaheim Convention Center has planned some unique beverage options to celebrate National Bourbon Day inside their lobby bar/restaurant. We crawled through post-work traffic (Since drinking and blowing off steam go hand in hand, right?) to check out a few items. What ended up happening was a new appreciation for a place we’d only heard about, but never looked further into.
Brandon was our contact and creative personality behind nFuse’s cocktail selections for the evening. His loyalty and pride towards Marriott showed, as he proudly explained not only his contributions to the bar menu, but provided some backstory on how corporate approved an overhaul of their dining room a couple of years ago. Previously a modest lounge, nFuse expanded and updated itself to be an approachable dining space. It’s where a guest can comfortably hold an informal business meeting, or grab a quick meal at the bar while utilizing USB ports below the counter to charge their phone.
Those who prefer a stiff drink will find satisfaction in Brandon’s nFuse Negroni, a combination of smoked High West Double Rye with mezcal, Aperol and Carpano Antica Vermouth. However, it was his frosty Thymes of Peaches concoction that had us realizing his dedication to the craft. A refreshing Mason jar of things we loved, its base was a healthy dose of Buffalo Trace nFused with thyme (We see what you did there, Brandon). He then included Earl Grey tea, fresh lemon, raw sugar wort and peach “slightly shrubbed”. We admit that it almost sounded excessive, but then we took a sip— followed by many more. It’s these types of drinks, the super-drinkable ones, that will get you in trouble. Which is why the kitchen stepped in with a few bites.
A recurring theme we picked up on in chef’s selections was a balance of sweet and savory. Grilled seasonal nectarine with roasted pistachios, balsamic and white chocolate was a surprising bite. There was a five-hour braised short rib topped with crispy sweet onions over Gruyere potatoes that cured our
hanger hunger. But our best bite was the first: slab cured pork belly, grilled jalapeno and wild flower honey; it was perfect with our Negroni. We nearly forgot we were inside the lobby of a Marriott. And that’s how we knew Brandon and the team at Anaheim Marriott were doing their job.