SAND KEY -- Watercolours steakhouse and grille at the Marriott here offers diners an elegant adventure, particularly with its new menu that went into effect this month.
The stunning feature on the carte de cuisine is what Ben Perelmuter, who has direct charge of the restaurant as part of his duties as assistant general manager of the hotel, calls its "signature item" -- steak.
And the steak is special -- angus and specially aged and then cooked in an infra red broiler that cooks it at 1,600 degrees which means that the flavor is locked in.
When she tells you that, Debra Desaulniers, the chef, smiles with satisfaction. She says her goal is to bring enjoyment to people through food. She's been doing it since she was a kid growing up in Clearwater.
As she tells it, when there were guest in her home in Clearwater (her folks are still here) she would whip up her own inventions. It was clear that cooking was her destiny.
Other delections are also cooked with the infra red method.
Being in charge of the kitchen at Watercolours is a homecoming for Desaulniers. She has worked in Atlanta, ran a restaurant for Naomi and Wynona Judd and opened a place in Branson, Missouri (lots of country entertainment there).
Perelmutter's background is in hotel and restaurant manager. A New Yorker who grew up in Queens, he graduated from the State University of New York at Plattsburg after having studied hotel and restaurant management.
Before arriving in Sand Key with the Marriott he worked in New Orleans. He has been here since August, six months after the new hotel opened after undergoing a facelift. The 220-suite hotel used to be the Radisson.
With Joel Kreul, the general manager in charge, the whole hotel bespeaks vigor and newness and a strong desire to please the public.
While restaurants are de rigeur in most upscale hotels such as the Marriott, Perelmutter wants to make Watercolours, with its spectacular view of the Clearwater Bay, a destination for folks who want a special evening out.
"The restaurant is designed for the public," he says, pointing out that parking is plentiful and that for those who have reservations at the restaurant valet parking is comped.
Just off the main restaurant, aligned with the nearby waterview, is the lounge which is great for a relaxing moment before dining or just being with friends in a comfortable setting.
Some specials are coming up.
Perelmutter says the restaurant will inaugurate a version of "early bird" dining October 31 with something that is being billed as the "Parrot's Palate," named after the 15-year-old macaw that still graces the hotel's lobby.
This special treatment will be available from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. from Sunday through Thursday and will offer a choice of three entrees, salad, dessert and non-alcoholic beverage for $14.95.
Also being planned is a Thanksgiving brunch which will be buffet style and run from noon until 4 p.m.
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