Luxury Hotels

PHILADELPHIA – 1

Saturday’s food day but this week it must share equal billing with luxury, which is basically what the guest wants. So says Ludovic Cayacy firmly. He (the guy below, with Hotel Manager Sandra Oliva) should know. As Director of Marketing he heads a team of 34, various departments, at Four Seasons Philadelphia at Comcast Center, in one of two blue mirrored-glass structures, 60-floors high, that soar above Philadelphia.

This is America’s ‘sky-high’ hotel – that is indeed the name embossed on the A5-sized sky-blue leather cover of the breakfast menu. Honestly, yogurt – coconut or Greek? – with berries, rhubarb jam and granola.  Looks good and tastes good, especially when looking down, far far down, at an endless vista, far as the eye can see, of row-houses, two-storey at most.

Dine at Jean-Georges (Vongerichten). Down 23 Hollywood steps from the 60th floor lobby to a double-height temple of food – see ceiling image, above. Most seating faces out, for the view. A heavy white card two-fold menu, gold embossed, says ‘welcome Mary Gostelow’. The menu’s left side is ALC, right is tastings (plant-based $198, otherwise $218 and $158 for wine pairings). A highly-recommended Olive Oil Washed Freezer Martinis shows what can be done with Grey Goose, plus dolin génépy, cocchi americano, cardamom, eucalyptus and orange.

We go on to share crispy sea trout sushi with chipotle emulsion and soy glaze, and caramelized Hudson Valley foie gras, black olive, lychee and brioche. Ah, the breads, mini round croissants with something on top, pint-sized baguettes, and pretzels. Butter from Vermont. Wherever the chocolate came from for White chocolate gnocchi, peas, mint and black pepper there was not enough of it (this was an ultimate slimming dish).

Next came a six-cm diameter flat cake divided into three, to show colours of cauliflower, white, green, purple, with a jalapeno-mustard dressing, chervil, golden shallots. And then there was a (dark) chocolate dessert with chocolate wings. Overkill? No sir, just inviting a return.

How, wonders Girlahead, did Four Seasons get this dream of a very modern hostelry? Apparently Brian Johnson, Chairman and CEO of Comcast – NBCUniveral, SKY and much else – wanted his favourite hotel brand to anchor the headquarters of his $157-billion company. Presumably Mr J is also a Vongerichten fan. Let’s hear more..