The hotel has been an institution for decades, and it's nice to see such a robust infusion of newness in the restaurant and bar. Fox says:
In a cocktail lounge dominated by wall-sized television screens, comfortable cowhide-covered furniture stampedes across rusticated wood floors toward a dramatic chandelier constructed of hundreds of lightbulbs in Mason brand canning jars. ...
On our evening visit, we were stunned to see and hear such festivity in the formerly buttoned-up locale. Welcome to It City, baby. Across from the clattering bar, a more intimate dining room awaits, where carpeted floors and richly upholstered booths and chairs absorb the clanging cocktail conversation.
Fox notes that Mason's chef, Brandon Frohne is a familiar figure despite his youthful age (we at Bites have written about him quite a bit) what with "his prolific food blogging, his adventures in urban gardening, or his Forage South pop-up suppers."
Anyone who has followed Frohne's adventures in gardening or competitive cooking will recognize his signature adventurousness and commitment to local ingredients on display in items such as crispy sweetbreads with succotash and smoked pork-and-huitlacoche tacos with Olive and Sinclair mole. ... At almost every turn, we enjoyed elegant and generous detail, from complimentary jalapeño popovers in a mini cast-iron skillet to exceptional pickled crookneck squash in lieu of dill chips on the hamburger.
But Fox does note some glitches:
On the other hand, there's a lot to be said for keeping things simple until you nail the fundamentals. Otherwise, that gorgeous hamburger topped with pickled crookneck squash, Kentucky cheddar, arugula, bacon and fried egg gets lost in the soggy shuffle of undercooked and flaccid fries.
Ultimately Fox is very optimistic, mentioning a lovely lunch visit and all the "encouraging evidence of inventiveness and freshness" she noticed overall. She figures Mason's probably "needs just a little longer to get firing on all cylinders."
Hey, Bites folks. Anybody checked out Mason's? Is it on your list to visit? Feel free to share thoughts in the comments.