Opened in 1885, The Garden City Hotel is a world-class luxury hotel that has garnered four stars. The only one on the Island, the community of Garden City grew up around this renowned architectural structure.
Much of its charm comes from being outside the large-chain genre. Privately owned, it is a member of preferred Hotels and Resorts Worldwide. Many distinguished guests have stayed at the 125-year-old hotel, including President John F. Kennedy, Margaret Thatcher and Charles Lindbergh, the very evening before his famed transatlantic flight.
It is with great excitement that Garden City Patch presents this three-part series on Chef De Bruyn and his culinary team.
De Bruyn emanates from Belgium and arrived at Rein in 1993, becoming head chef in 1997. Well traveled, he brings flavors from around the world to the menus he designs. Touted as New American cuisine, De Bruyn also takes great pride using both locally sourced foods and foods in season.
Celebrated for his talents, he was introduced to Belgium's society of master chefs, Les Maitres-Cuisiniers de Belgique, and was awarded by the society of French food professionals, Le Club Gastronimique Propser Montagne.
I began my Rein gastronomic journey with lunch and my friend, who is an autism activist on the Island and mother of two boys on the spectrum (a.k.a. The Advocate). Upon sitting our waiter Michael arrived immediately with a warm welcome, a menu and vast knowledge of its dishes. Immediately behind him was the bread guy. We loved the bread guy – his basket was filled with fresh out of the oven focaccia – warm slabs of dough painted faintly with sweet tomatoes, fresh herbs and drizzled with oil. The basket also held warm sesame rolls and authentic sour dough rolls of outstanding texture. All breads are baked on premises.
I began with the soup special of the day – Pasta Fagioli. A traditional Italian dish, it is considered peasant food. The bowl held chunky pieces of carrots, celery and onion and copious amounts of elbow pasta. They were swimming in a tomato broth with tender red beans that was perfumed with fresh basil. It was full of flavor and soul (great recession food).
The Advocate went with the special salad of the day, which held yellow tomatoes, red heirloom tomatoes and moist hunks of fresh buffalo mozzarella on a bed of greens. Shredded jimaca and peppery radish type vegetable were hidden within.
The lunch menu was small but the assortment of food quite varied. You could go burger, you could go lobster. I went lobster salad sandwich ($20). Pure decadence – giant hunks of sweet fresh lobster meat came atop toasted challah bread. The sandwich also hosted roasted tomatoes and fresh avocado. It was a divine and harmonious combination of fresh ingredients. The sweet potato fries alongside were hand-cut and crispy.
The Advocate went with egg noodles with braised lamb shank ($24). Another homey dish – the braised lamb shank was melt-in-your mouth tender. The dish has small dollops of fresh goat cheese and was in a rich brown sauce akin to a goulash base with red wine infused.
The level of service was unparalleled to any I've experienced on the Island. Seamlessly, drinks were filled, napkins were refreshed and silverware replaced.
The Advocate and I decided upon the flourless chocolate cake to wrap up our adventure. A very thin layer of dark chocolate came atop a thin layer of vanilla ice cream that sat upon a thin layer of freshly pureed raspberry sorbet. A perfect marriage of flavors; chocolate whipped cream and raspberry sauce dotted the inviting plate. Like the bread, all desserts are made on premises.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention Chef Felicia Jablonski, the talented pastry chef. The flourless cake is an absolute must – a utopian experience for the dessert savvy. The chef sent out petit fours – a small plate of scrumptious chocolates and cookies, which culminated our memorable dining experience.
The combination of a celebrated world-class master chef in the backdrop of a world class hotel makes lunch at Rein a must. For reservations, call 516-877-9385.