“We wanted to get out of that mindset of ‘we’re just a hotel restaurant’ and branch out and do our own thing,” says Chris Johnson, the executive chef of the Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner. “We have a really good wine program and we have a good wine director…so we wanted to elevate the food to that level.”
Last month, the Entyse Wine Bar & Lounge team replaced about 95 percent of the existing menu with dishes featuring flavors of the Balkans and the Mediterranean. “We took a lot of the classic hotel restaurant menu items off,” Johnson says.
The new menu was originally developed by the restaurant’s executive chef at the time, Kiril Stavrev, who hails from Macedonia. Shortly thereafter, Stavrev moved on from Entyse to serve as executive chef at a Marriott in his home country.
Johnson has since made a few tweaks, but kept the menu mostly the same. The most notable holdout is the smoky red pepper spread, a signature Macedonian dish. “That one’s staying on there,” Johnson says. “That’s my ode to Kiril.”
“We were just trying to have a lot more fun with the menu. Do a lot more playful things,” Johnson explains. “We do have a lot of repeat clientele and we’re very grateful that they come back, but at the same time, we want to get that new clientele, that restaurant crowd.”
Other highlights on the menu include lamb belly served over hummus with pickled onion, roasted bone marrow topped with Wagyu steak tartare and grilled whole Branzino. Johnson plans to make minor changes to the menu every few weeks.
The dessert menu got a makeover as well, thanks to the executive pastry chef, Heidi Kabath. “For the last couple years, we’ve been doing just classic cheesecake, warm chocolate cake, crème brûlée, all very classic Ritz-Carlton desserts,” Johnson says. “We just really elevated our game on that.” The new desserts include artfully displayed rose champagne sabayon and blackberry crémeux.
The hotel’s regular guests have responded positively to the changes. “When they look at the menu, they’re hesitant at first, but we start feeding them the new items and they’re very receptive,” Johnson says. “We definitely haven’t really lost anybody. We were maybe afraid of that at first, but they trust us.”
Johnson is currently looking for a new executive chef to oversee Entyse Wine Bar & Lounge. He or she will also be tasked with reinvigorating the menus at Entyse Bistro, which serves breakfast and lunch. // Entyse Wine Bar & Lounge: 1700 Tysons Blvd.,