New Sandcastle Chef Dazzles with Happy Hour Spreads at Manhattan Bar
Restaurant Review by Ken Stewart, The Guam Food Guy
The Thursday Night Happy Hour at SandCastle's Manhattan Bar is a special culinary destination and has been for a few years during the tenure of several chefs, notably former Executive Chef, D.L."Chef Deborah" Walshinsky who has since left Guam. Fortunately, her successor has arrived and is "cooking up a storm of great eats" that has impressed diners so much that some have been seen licking their plates clean! Executive Chef Jeff Hill has been on Guam for less than a month and is already making waves (a few of which he sorely regrets experiencing since he was recently injured in a boating accident.) Although Jeff is a low-key, unassuming kind of guy, he is a real go-getter who participated in the Jingle Bell Fun Run within a week of arriving and is an avid diver who enjoys the wonderful ocean surrounding Guam. His passion for things physical carries through to his culinary creations.
Jeff has a talent for food sculpting, as was evident from his watermelon carving that decorated the elaborate buffet spread at Manhattan. Before I go further, you should know that Manhattan Bar is not a "dinner" place. The Thursday Night Happy Hour features a different menu and food theme each week, and the food is meant more to be sampled as appetizers (which we all know can easily become a meal.) There is no charge for the buffet, but there is a two drink minimum per guest. Manhattan has a private club ambiance with an elegance and class befitting its Big City namesake - one can't help but appreciate the upscale appointments and cushy lounge chairs that make you want to sip a dry martini or savor a robust cabernet while listening to soft jazz and chatting with friends. If you are at the Manhattan Bar, you have "arrived".
Back to the food! The menu at last Thursday's Happy Hour featured "Tastes of New Orleans", with cold appetizers of sweet New Zealand oysters on the half shell, home made pasta and potato salads. The Chicken & Seafood Gumbo was awesome (did I tell you that Chef Jeff came from "Awesome" Austin Texas?). I had 3 bowls of this delicious classic, and I could taste all the genuine seasonings and flavors that make gumbo a favorite for many. Another dish we loved was his Red Beans & Rice, which is a southern comfort dish...the kind of hearty food that "sticks to your ribs." I wonder if that food aphorism is politically or even dietically correct? - no matter, its darned good eatin'!
Also in the lineup was a terrific Jambalya, another New Orleans tradition. However, my personal favorite was Chef Jeff's Shrimp Etouffee, which I considered to be off the charts! It was just like eating in New Orleans, with rich pepper and vegetable flavors blended with juicy shrimp pieces.
The "Finishing Touches" that Chef Jeff prepared as desserts included a sumptuous Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding with an Irish Whiskey cream sauce...just decadently delicious! His Pecan Pralines were to my liking neither too sweet nor sugary but ideally blended so you could taste the pecans.
As I said earlier, the buffet menu changes each week, and you can view each week's offering at the Dinner Specials area of GuamDiner.com. The December 11 theme will be "The Islands of Hawaii", and you'll be treated to Lomi Lomi Salmon, Roast Kailua Suckling Pig, Huli Huli Chicken, and Pineapple Upside Down Cake. The December 18 theme will be "Taste of the Rio Grande", and will feature Quesadillas, Pico de Gallo, Chile Con Carne, Beef Enchiladas con Mole, Fajitas, Baby Back Ribs, and Peach Cobbler.
Be sure to make the Manhattan Bar's Thursday Night Happy Hour one of your preferred venues for excellent theme cuisine and a relaxing after hours rendezvous for business and pleasure. Impress yourself and indulge at Manhattan's Thursday Night Happy Hour at the top of the SandCastle.