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Townsend Hotel General Director Steven Kalczynski and I can’t quite remember exactly when we met, but we concur that it was a little over two years ago and that after meeting, we became fast friends. The intro was made by PR guru, Jason Brown from PublicCity PR.
Where else? Lunch at The Rugby Grille inside the Townsend. Under Kalczynski’s direction, the Townsend has seen a complete renovation and rejuvenation, from the bathrooms to the ballrooms.
I pretty much think suit and tie when I think of Steven’s attire. He seems like the kind of guy whose pajamas even have a necktie attached. But on the real, his suit and tie combos are always of high quality. He most often wears Ralph Lauren Polo. On this occasion, he wore a navy Armani suit with a light blue silk Brioni tie.
“I’m excited about the progress we’ve made in the hotel since I arrived in 2012,” he says. “Financially, we had a very good year last year, and things are already looking quite promising for 2016.” He’s also stoked about the recent ratings the hotel received – 4 Stars from Forbes and 4 Diamonds from AAA.
“That would be my wife of 32 years, Debbie,” he smiles. “She’s Jamaican and Chinese. I told her she makes me international.”
Steven ate the Rugby Burger – lamb bacon, midnight moon goat cheese, red pepper jelly, and pickled red onion. He says although he enjoys everything on the menu, he actually selects one of the half dozen chopped salads most often. “But I usually eat downstairs in the employee cafeteria. The food is quite good there, too.”
I, on the other hand, opted for the much-talked-about $55 Foie Burger – sweet onion jam, seared foie gras, braised short rib, parmesan aioli, burgundy truffles, Thomasville Tomme cheese, served with truffle fries. This sandwich is truly a work of art that Chef Damian has created with the assistance of noted custom meat purveyor, Emmet Baratta of Fairway Packing. Every ingredient and process was toiled over to build perfection. It was achieved. Even with my large appetite, I wasn’t able to devour the whole burger in one sitting. Trust me, the other half was delightfully revisited later in the day.
The food and service are always on point at The Rugby Grille. While the Foie Burger could be just a novelty, many of the other menu items are seasonal staples prepared with talent, care and precision. The Rugby Grille comfortably takes its place as one of our favorite restaurants in The Social Metro.
By Chuck Bennett
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