A funny thing happened on the way to the Guthrie. Or at least, if not funny, completely outstanding.
After parking near the theater, we slid across sheets of ice into a completely booked Sanctuary. Of course we didn’t consider reservations. Despite there being few restaurants within walking distance of the cultural hotspot, we apparently figured there’d be a table waiting just for us. But as we turned around to venture back into the cold and determine Option B, the host stopped us: “Sit tight for a second – I have an idea.” Moments later, he led us to a spot at the bar where two complimentary wine tastes (which just happened to be full pours) and a basket of spiced almonds and bread were waiting.
Honestly, the website full of gargoyles and other fantastic creatures was somewhat frightening. But inside the restaurant, the small statuettes were a fun touch to the otherwise sophisticated vibe. Sanctuary felt warm and welcoming, while also upscale and refined.
Jim ordered the smoked ham shank that had been braised overnight. The very tender meat was topped with a cabernet tomato sauce and a roasted mirepoix (we had to Google it, too: a mixture of sautéed vegetables and herbs) and sat above warm cheddar cheese mashed potatoes. Admittedly, he had unsolicited help in polishing off every last bit. I had roasted garlic polenta soup topped with honey chestnuts and a red beet salad with boursin cheese, pickled asparagus, onion and fried plantain. I adored the balance of the hearty polenta and garlic flavors, and found the salad combination delightful. Everything we ate seemed carefully constructed so each bite was exactly as the chef imagined.
The bartender-playing-server noticeably picked up his pace when we informed him we were headed to a show. After politely declining dessert, noting we didn’t have the time, he swiftly swiped our card and brought us the ticket. Just as we signed the bill, he returned with a large portion of that night’s indulgence and said: “There’s always time for dessert.” The cake was similar to tiramisu with a soft texture and a cold taste. We ate every morsel in record time and didn’t even miss the opening line.
Sanctuary had no reason to woo us – they didn’t know it was our first visit, and we certainly don’t look like big spenders. But, no matter what the rationale, it worked. The exceptional service, over-the-top hospitality, and fabulous food won us over and we’re telling everyone we know.
RATING (out of 5 ♠♠♠♠♠)
Menu Selection: ♠♠♠1/2
Service: ♠♠♠♠♠ (it doesn’t get any better than this)
Food Taste & Presentation: ♠♠♠♠
COMPLETE EXPERIENCE: ♠♠♠♠1/2
Total bill, including tip: $65