The hotel that sits on the campus of the University of Toledo Medical Center, the former Medical College of Ohio, has undergone a number of changes the past few years. Now called The Hotel at UTMC, the former Hilton has been through renovations, name and management changes, and even foreclosure.
It had been almost six years since we'd visited the 31 Hundred, the restaurant at the hotel, and we wondered how it fared through all the transformations.
The decor was just as stylish and glitzy as we remember. The bar gave off a sultry glow in a lounge with a modern and cozy feel. The dining room was still dressed with dark wood tables, attractive chandeliers, and mint green sheers on the floor-to-ceiling windows. And just like last time, the restaurant was empty.
For most of our two meals, we were the only diners in the place. Only one other person came during our first visit for dinner and two small groups during our lunch.
For dinner, we ordered the black pearl pork chop ($22) and the roasted wild salmon ($20). Menu descriptions can sometimes be off point, but 31 Hundred got it right when it said the pork chop would be "seasoned and grilled to perfection." The center-cut bone-in pork chop was thick and juicy and nicely seasoned with a blend of spices. Caramelized onions and a thin layer of apple ginger sauce coated the top of the meat. The sauce was sweet and spicy and added nice flavor to the already juicy meat.
The salmon dish was flaky and moist and served with a pecan brown sugar pate. We scraped the pecans (this critic is allergic!) for just the brown sugar, which added a delicious sweet crunchy layer to the bottom of the fish.
We took the kids for this visit, and they enjoyed the chicken tenders and french fries. The children's menu is typical of what you'd find at most restaurants -- chicken tenders, burgers and grilled cheese -- but we were happy to see that the restaurant didn't skimp on quality. The chicken tenders were large chunks of all white meat chicken, covered in a crunchy breading. We're almost certain they were previously frozen, but the chef managed to make them taste like he'd cut the meat and battered it himself.
We started our lunch visit with seafood dip ($11), a thick, cheesy, fondue spread loaded with cajun spices, bell pepper, crab meat, shrimp, and crawfish and served with grilled ciabatta. We didn't taste any of the meat, but the seafood flavor was present and the bread was warm and chewy.
For entrees, the lunch menu boasts only salads, sandwiches, burgers, and a few soups. The restaurant did away with the lunch buffet after business declined, our waitress informed us.
We ordered the smoked salmon salad ($14) and swapped the smoked meat for a piece of grilled salmon instead. The thick filet came served on a bed of fresh crispy mixed greens, with capers, red onion, and a diced egg. The champagne vinaigrette tasted like a mixture of Italian and French dressings, which created a light, sweet, and tangy sauce for the salad. It proved to be quite tasty.
We also ordered the turkey wrap ($9), a wheat tortilla stuffed with smoked turkey, bacon, tomato, avocado, and basil aioli. Despite the basil sauce, and creamy avocado, the sandwich was a bit dry and the tortilla was stiff.
Our waitresses were attentive and accommodating. There wasn't anything highly impressive about their service; in fact, they often had to run to the kitchen to seek answers for our questions regarding the menu. Nonetheless, they were pleasant.
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