I have mentioned the Hyatt Regency hotel that was in Dearborn, a couple of times in the past, and that is because it had such a presence in the Metropolitan Detroit area. When it opened up in 1976, it just took all the air out of all the other hotels in the area, because of its scope, size and its appearance. It was a landmark from the ground and from the air; it had that look to it, which was unmistakable. At one time, it was one of the hottest venues for dining, as well as for having drinks with friends. It is sad that it has already changed hands for the third time in less then a decade now.
La Rotisserie was the restaurant to dine at, and it was difficult to secure reservations there, between all the Metro Detroiters that wanted to try it out, as well as all the guests at the hotel. It was like pulling teeth, to get a reservation back then. One of the draws for a lot of people was that they had a few “Chinese” dishes that were unique and drawn from other of their hotels, but as I have written in the past, this was not a major draw for me, maybe in another trip down Memory Lane I will write about this restaurant again. What was the major draw for me, was that they served duck in five different presentations, the ducks were aged, suspended, marinaded and roasted in copper rotisseries, hence the name. There was a duck of the day, as well as a classic roasted duckling, Duckling Montmorency, Duckling Madagascar and Duckling au Framboise. There were also some great pates for starters, and I remember trying a Lobster Mousse, while I know that it is not a pate, I thought it sounded very interesting, especially with the fancy name attributed to it. For my entrée, I had selected the Duckling Madagascar, because outside of the classic interpretation, it was the only other dish that was not on the “sweet” side, which is something I tend to avoid. This duckling was done in green peppercorns and then flamed with Cognac, and that pleased the pseudo-gourmand in me at the time. They also offered a choice of soufflés for dessert and as per the norm, you had to order the soufflé when you place your dining orders, and hoped that you had room, for dessert, of course back then, it was not a problem, as I usually had two hollow legs when I sat down for dinner.
The wine selection the first couple of years that they were open, was quite impressive. What is a better wine to have with duck, than Pinot Noir and that meant a Burgundy wine, as the explosion and acceptance of wines from Napa Valley had just caused a sensation, and I think there was still hesitancy both for the restaurants and for the public at large. I am glad that I had a chance to drink some of these great wines, before the price eruption has since occurred, not only for French wines, but also in California. I had a bottle of Clos-Vougeot (the vintage is unknown, but I would venture 1973) from Domaine Rene Engel. Vougeot is a hamlet or village in the Cotes de Nuits district of the Cote d’Or. The village of Vougeot is also dominated by the one Grands Cru which is Clos de Vougeot, and there are so many owners in this area, and some of the vineyards are better situated than others. Then there is the quality and fame of the different producers, so the wines can vary in the same vintage because of these variables. I am happy to say that Domaine Rene Engel is considered one of the top ten producers with some of the vines being eighty to ninety years old. Vougeot is also famous because it is the home of the Chevaliers du Tastevin, an organization founded to promote the wines of Burgundy, and famous for some legendary dinners, but I can not claim any first hand knowledge of them.