Hometown culinary team brings ‘Soulful Food and Sinful Cocktails’ to the new Ithaca Marriott Downtown on the Commons
When the new Ithaca Marriott Downtown on the Commons opens its doors this month, it will introduce a sophisticated, Southern-influenced food and beverage program to Ithaca’s rich mix of downtown dining experiences. The hotel’s “soulful food and sinful cocktails” concept is the brainchild of a talented culinary team headed by Food and Beverage Director Robert Gedman, Executive Chef Bryan Keller, and Beverage Supervisor Roland Coggin – the latter two Ithaca natives who have returned to their hometown roots
Monks on the Commons
The epicenter of the dining program will be Monks on the Commons, the hotel’s stylish full-service restaurant, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. With a separate entrance that opens directly to the popular downtown pedestrian mall, indoor-outdoor seating, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a full-service bar, Monks promises to draw in a local crowd. Bringing them back will be its inspired menu of modern American cuisine with a Southern flair, complemented by an extensive list of wines, brews and spirits with a local focus.
A few signatures on the frequently changing menu will be a “Soul Plate” of Murray’s non-GMO chicken thigh and crispy trout served with braised collards, southern mac and cheese, cornbread, and honey butter; a New York strip steak with gorgonzola truffle butter, herbed fingerling potatoes, cauliflower gratin and lemon asparagus; roasted tomato and pepper soup with a mini grilled gruyere sandwich; and crispy Brussels sprouts with sweet potato, charred jalapeno vinaigrette, pomegranate, and cotija. The menu will also feature a large section of sharable items available in different portion sizes. Local and regional ingredients will dominate, including several artisanal products – olive oil and chocolates, for instance – procured from vendors right on the Commons.
The bar at Monks will have draught lines dedicated to four local beers and one local cider. Local gins and vodkas will feature prominently on the spirits menu, and the extensive wine list will have a special focus on local vintages. Beverage supervisor Roland Coggin has concocted several key bar ingredients for his signature “sinful cocktails.” The 18 Karat – a variation on a bourbon sour – will feature Coggin’s own smoked peach-thyme shrub. His peppercorn bitters, aged for two weeks with whiskey barrel chips, will be incorporated in the rye and vermouth-based Escape from Manhattan. Food and Beverage Director Robert Gedman is also bringing his British roots to bear on the beverage program, with port, sherry, Madeira and other offerings that just might usher in a renaissance for classic cordials.
In-room Dining: Fresh Bites
Billed as an “evolution of in-room dining,” Marriott’s branded Fresh Bites program features locally inspired, freshly made meals and snacks packaged for guests to enjoy in room or on the go. The focus is
on simple, sophisticated, healthful options – including sustainable proteins, wholesome grains and local favorites – priced well and delivered fast. A few sample items include The Chef’s Perfect Sandwich – Sunday sauce, braised beef and meatballs with F. Oliver’s fresh bright basil oil, pecorino and arugula on ciabatta; savory organic oatmeal with F. Oliver’s olive oil, pecorino, sweet peas, spinach, chives and mint; and a roasted Murray’s chicken half with roasted vegetables and ham-hock collards. The program’s eco-friendly, bio-degradable packaging is designed to keep food hot or cold. Guests can pick up their orders at the lobby on their way out, or have it delivered to their room. The Fresh Bites menu includes breakfast, all-day dining and snack options.
With 2,300 square feet of flexible meeting and event space – wrapped in windows to maximize views and natural light – the Ithaca Marriott Downtown at the Commons will cater business and social affairs with ease. The space will accommodate up to 180 people. For most sit-down events, entrees will be beautifully presented on plates, with select sides served family-style at tableside, giving the feel of one-on-one service. Dinner menus will feature unique and traditional banquet options.
Executive Chef Bryan Keller is an Ithaca native who returned to his roots in early 2015 to develop Luna Inspired Street Food, winning that year’s Downtown Ithaca Chili Cook Off People’s Choice award in the process. He previously served for five years as a foodservice consultant and manager at a series of restaurants in the Maryland and Washington, D.C. area. He has been involved in the food and beverage industry since the age of 13, working as a dishwasher and working his way into management roles, always staying abreast of market trends and techniques.
Beverage Supervisor Roland Coggin also spent his childhood in Ithaca, returning five years ago to consult for opening bar programs – the lauded Lot-10 Bar + Lounge among them – and teach private cocktail classes. He was voted Best Bartender in theIthaca Times Readers Poll. Coggin built his career bartending at a series of West Coast bars, including the W Hotel San Diego, Fish & Farm in San Francisco, and Fifth Floor, a Michelin-starred restaurant at Hotel Palomar.
Food & Beverage Director Robert Gedman brings to the Ithaca Marriott extensive knowledge in classical European and French culinary practices, as well as management. He is an experienced executive chef with a career spanning almost 25 years at hotels, restaurants and private clubs in his native England and the U.S. Most recently, he served for 12 years as executive chef of The Binghamton Club (Binghamton, New York). His experience also includes the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Binghamton, The Rose Inn in Ithaca, and the Four Seasons Hotel, Houston. Gedman launched his career in the U.K., in the kitchens of three hotels in the coastal region of Devon.
About Ithaca Marriott Downtown on the Commons
Anchoring the downtown Commons of one of the Northeast’s most celebrated towns, the Ithaca Marriott will bring full-service Marriott hospitality to the area when it opens on Dec. 12, 2016. Conveniently located on Aurora Street, the 159-room hotel is minutes from Cornell University and Ithaca College. It will feature an indoor/outdoor specialty restaurant and bar, a state-of-the-art fitness center, 2,300 square feet of meeting space, and intimate public areas, making it an ideal spot to connect for business, academic or leisure pursuits. Ithaca Marriott is managed by Urgo Hotels and Resorts. For more information or reservations, visitwww.IthacaMarriottDowntown.com or call 607-272-2222.
About Ensemble Real Estate Investments
Ensemble has a long-standing history of maximizing investment returns through the development, renovation and repositioning of hotel assets, while adding value to their respective communities. Ensemble specializes in assembling customized teams to realize its vision for each specific market. With its combined operational expertise, development acumen and asset management capabilities, Ensemble has fostered strategic and fruitful partnerships with boutique hotel operators as well as with global brands including Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt. For more information on Ensemble, visit www.ensemble.net.
About Urgo Hotels & Resorts
Urgo Hotels is a Bethesda, Maryland-based hotel company that develops, owns and/or operates 34 distinctive and unique hotels and resorts with an aggregate of more than 4,900 rooms in major markets and resorts in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. The company develops, builds and operates for its own account, and provides third-party management and asset management services. For more information about Urgo Hotels and Resorts, please visit www.urgohotels.com.