Ambassador Hotel Brings Back 'Great Gatsby' Days With Sophisticated Takes on American Classics
Named for F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Fitz sets the tone for a look back at the remarkable period of time when creativity brought about bold movements in art, literature and design. The newly renovated dining area at the historic Ambassador Hotel gives the sense that you have walked into a scene from The Great Gatsby. Gatsby and his friends were adventurous diners and would have sought out a place like The Fitz for its elegant menu and décor. You can’t help but embrace the full dining experience in a sophisticated, yet relaxed and comfortable atmosphere.
Address: 2308 W. Wisconsin Ave. (Located in the Ambassador Hotel)
Hours: Tu-Sa 6:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Su 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Dietary considerations: CC, FB, SB, RS, GF
Handicap access: Yes
Price range: $$-$$$
American classics line the menu, but the reinvented dishes come with a fusion of both Asian and Italian influences that translate beautifully onto dishes showcasing bold new flavors with local and unexpected ingredients. After all, in the 1920s surrealism came to the fore, stretching the imagination with elements of surprise. Chef Jason Gorman and his brilliant culinary team have done just that.
One standout is the Crab Louis ($16) with lump crab tossed in dressing and nestled under a dome of baby iceberg, scattered with heirloom tomatoes, avocado and a perfectly cooked seven-minute egg. This dish is a tableside attraction, cut by the server to the chef’s recommendation.
Each exciting dish comes to life like the characters in one of Fitzgerald’s books. The crudités ($12) are crisp, fresh and beautifully juxtaposed on the plate. The pigs in a blanket ($9) places house-made Chinese sausage in a rice bun and the “Rumaki”($12) is a flavorful maple chili pork belly with Szechuan peppered chicken livers. The sweet corn risotto with the addition of burrata was rich with a creamy texture ($19; risotto varieties rotate) and the scallops cordon bleu ($32) features caramelized seared scallops sitting in a Parmesan broth with thin shavings of guanciale (pork cheek) and haricot vert. The scallops seemed to bathe in the saltiness of the broth and guanciale. A great idea for sharing is the spatchcocked chicken for two ($35) served with black garlic butter and sides. Other menu items include duck, porterhouse steak, a gardener’s pie and roasted fish.
Some of the dishes you will see on both the lunch and dinner menu. At Gin Rickey, the lounge across the marble foyer, you can get small plate bar snacks such as aged cheddar potato chips with Aleppo pepper sour cream ($7). The cocktail menu mimics some of cocktails served at the hotel when it opened in the 1920s, but with a modern twist.
Something special on the lunch menu is the chicken and waffles with Korean chili maple syrup and pickled cucumbers ($14). The chicken in the Asian salad ($14) was tea smoked and the subtle flavor complemented the crispy slaw and noodles. For sandwich lovers, the Dagwood ($14) is a mile-high sandwich on Rocket Baby Bakery sourdough bread with an herb mayo.
The Fitz is also a great destination for breakfast with unique creations including salted caramel waffles with roasted bananas and maple bacon peanut brittle ($10) or sweet corn pancakes with blueberry compote and thyme butter ($11). There are lots of savory items too that will pique your taste buds like the hot-sour pork belly and eggs ($12) or hard cider-cheddar biscuits and gravy (Sunday only, $12).
If you don’t have time to dine in a relaxed Roaring Twenties fashion, the third gem at the Ambassador is Deco, serving locally roasted Valentine Coffee, scratch-made bakery, pastry and ice cream creations by the hotel’s pastry chef, Jennifer Gorman who also makes the desserts for the Fitz. The dark chocolate pie reminiscent of French silk pie and the coffee crunch cake were both scrumptious, but one of the prettiest plates that graced the table at the Fitz is the eggless custard with salted caramel sauce, strawberry gelée and a thin layer of a pretzel wafer. The eggless custard had an intense vanilla flavor, but without the egg seemed a bit heavy on the gelatin, although combined with all the other flavors it worked well. The desserts and all the restaurants creative dishes are as mesmerizing as the words of a Fitzgerald story.