• By: Eric Murphy

A Glimpse Into ARC the Hotel’s New Winter Menu

Photo by Eric Vance.

Earlier this month ARC the Hotel celebrated their freshly-launched winter menu by treating a selection of local foodies to lunch. OLM was there and we have the low-down on what’s changed and what you have to try.

What’s New

The ARC Lounge menu hasn’t just changed under Executive Chef Jason Peters, it’s expanded. Formerly focused on fine dining, the lounge now aims to have something for every visitor. That means a menu that used to have four mains now offers closer to eight, and it has more for someone looking for a classics like a sandwich or burger.

“When couples or families come out to dine not everybody is in the same mood,” says ARC Hotel’s General Manager Cindy McLong. “We target different taste buds.”

The fancier options are still there of course, and the classic scallops or steak are cooked and plated to impress.

The ARC is also taking down walls and adding more tables to give their restaurant more of a lounge feel. Right now the ambience has two distinct vibes. The back of the lounge has more booths with dimmer lighting that gives it more of an intimate feel. The other side uses floor-to-ceiling windows and separate tables to capture a more airy dining experience. Like the food, the decor has a spot ready to fit with whatever you’re feeling.

Scallops with farro, squash, pickled apples and pumpkin coulis.

What to Order

To get a sense of the lounge’s range I started by ordering two completely opposite dishes. My appetizer was a homespun-sounding split-pea soup and for my main I chose the more upscale scallops served with farro, squash, pickled apples and a thick pumpkin sauce.

The soup tasted just as homey and comforting as I’d hoped, and it was the perfect answer to the icy breeze rolling over Metcalfe Street. After only a few spoonfuls my fingers warmed up and it was like I’d never been outside at all. While some of the soup’s cubed ham was a bit fatty for my taste, the roasted croutons lounging in the middle of the bowl had a great crunchy contrast to the rest of the dish and brought the whole thing up a level.

The scallops arrived not long after with a presentation that was actually more daring than the flavour. Islands of scallops, barley and squash were scattered across the plate connected by darting lines of the pumpkin coulis. This was the dish that really showed off chef Peters’ focus on local ingredients, everything tasted fresher and healthier than what you’d normally expect from a scallop dish.

For dessert I chose the crème brûlée over ARC’s much-lauded cheesecake for precisely two reasons: 1) I find cracking the caramalized top of a good crème brûlée one of the most satisfying things on the planet and 2) it was spiced with chai.

That turned out to be a great choice, as the chai put a unique twist on a refreshingly cool brûlée that was never too sweet. I paired the whole meal with a sauvignon blanc one of the waitresses wisely recommended, and the wine was so smooth you could drink half a bottle without noticing. Naturally, it matched all of the food fabulously.

After I was finished my food I hopped over to eat with another group that ordered a little bit of everything. What really stood out from their collection was the lounge’s rustic truffle fries. I hadn’t ordered the fries earlier because you can find fries just about anywhere, but that turned out to be a huge mistake. The truffle flavour in these ones was out-of-this-world had the same ‘wow’ factor as the chai in the Crème Brûlée. I ended up bringing a container back to the office because it really isn’t right for anyone spending time downtown to miss out on such a unique take on a classic lunch staple.

You can find out more about ARC the Hotel and their winter menu at arcthehotel.com.