The Rapidian

Restaurant Review: The Amway Grand Plaza Hotel's Cygnus 27

Because of the great view and intimate atmosphere I'd recommend it for cocktails, appetizers before a night out, or drinks and dessert afterwards. But for the price, there are better restaurants with better options for dinner.
Blue corn tortilla crusted calamari with mango slaw

Blue corn tortilla crusted calamari with mango slaw /Rachel McLaughlin

Salmon with brocolini

Salmon with brocolini /Rachel McLaughlin

Banana crème brûlée

Banana crème brûlée /Rachel McLaughlin

Located on the 27th floor of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, Cygnus 27 has incorporated Latin flavors within the last year to their seasonal menu put forth by Chef Tim Moreno. With a modern minimalist decor and extremely dim (and somehow yellowish) lighting, this type of menu is not what I expected at Cygnus 27.  

I visited the restaurant twice, in January 2016 and again in March. Both times the view of Grand Rapids was as breathtaking. On both occasions it was easy to have intimate conversation; the atmosphere makes Cygnus 27 a great date spot for couples. However, though the decor and meal platings were nice, I wasn't fully wowed upon finishing my meal.

On my first venture to the restaurant in January I assumed that because of its style, location, price and reputation that I should to dress up. I wore a formal dress and as I made a Saturday night reservation a week in advance, I was seated immedaitely by the pleasant hostess who took my coat. Once I was seated I saw patrons wearing torn jeans, Ugg boots, and other less-than-casual attire which lowered the atmosphere of the room. (I later learned Cygnus' website says the attire is casual.) Ignoring this, I focused on the food and the incredible selection of wines. 

The waitstaff, friendly and knowledgable, brought a bread basket with three types of bread and different spreads, all made in-house. The bread was made perfectly and tasted differently from any other resturant's bread I had ever had. From the sharables, my date and I had red snapper ceviche. It was simple but delicious and refreshing. I'm not sure it was worth $14, but it was my favorite plate of the night.

In March I decided to try the blue corn tortilla crusted calamari. I'm a big fan of calamari but not all restaurants know how to properly cook it without making the rings chewy or rubbery. But Cygnus 27's was perfect. The $12 calamari was soft, warm rings with crunchy breading. While I don't normally eat mangos, the slaw of mangos, red cabbage, and cilantro in a sherry vinegar reduction made the calamari even tastier. There was another sauce drizzled over the plate that was sweet and congealed like caramel but it didn't make a difference in flavor. 

While the sharables weren't spicy like the rest of the menu would suggest, the $11 crab pozole with hominey, serrano ham, and tomatillo had a little spice. It added to the soup without being overpowering. I liked this soup so much the first time that I ordered it again in March. The pozole had hefty potatoes, but to my disappointment, I could barely taste the crab-I mostly tasted cilantro. There were decent sized pieces of ham in the soup but a large difference in quality of preperation from my first vist in January. The second time I had the pazole it was almost inedible. The cuts of ham were so over-cooked that they alternated between rubbery and crunchy. As I moved my bowl I felt something rough and proceeded to look at the dried food crusted underneath. I couldn't believe that a AAA Four-Diamond restaurant had served my soup in a dirty dish and I couldn't believe how much I had already eaten before I noticed.

For my main plate on my first visit to Cygnus 27 I ordered salmon, a favorite food of mine, with a side of brocolini. It was the only one of the handful of entrees that sounded appetizing, there really wasn't much of a selection. The salmon was cooked perfectly, as was the brocolini, but everything was extremely spicy. I couldn't take a bite of the salmon with pesto-like sauce or the brocolini without having a sip of water or wine each time; my tongue was on fire. The main plate was delicious, worth the $25. I would defintely order it again, but with extra water as I'm not someone who enjoys a lot of spice on my plate.

During my Saturday visit in January waiting for the food took a little longer than expected, but the quality was worth it. On a Thursday in March the food was out quickly, but the food wasn't as delicious as I had remembered until I got to dessert. The banana crème brûlée was one of the best desserts I've ever had in terms of plating and taste; I couldn't put my fork down! The brûlée was light and creamy, though you didn't taste too much banana, with soft bananas inside small, thin chocolate globes on top. The carmelization of the top gave the crème brûlée the perfect crunch it needed but I began to notice the aftertaste of the use of the gas torch, which was highly unappealing.

I would eat at Cygnus 27 again, but I would keep it lower on my list of restaurant recommendations. Because of the great view and intimate atmosphere I'd recommend it for cocktails, appetizers before a night out, or drinks and dessert afterwards. For the price. nearly $100 each visit for two people, there are better restaurants with better options that are much less expensive. 


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