Dear Foodies,

If you look up hospitality in the dictionary, you should see a picture of the Embassy Suites Hotel in McAllen. I’m sure you would agree! No wonder the majority of the employees working at this particular hotel have been there 15 to 25 years. When you combine excellent management with a comfortable and friendly environment you get quality employees.

Director of Sales Andrea Rodriguez, who represents the hotel and restaurant in such a professional and positive manner, knew I was reviewing local restaurants and asked if I had been to “Remington’s “lately.” I had been to their Mexican and seafood lunch buffet (best in the Valley) to meet up with friends but, I had not ordered from their dinner menu in a while. Andrea then continued by speaking so highly about the chef and all the delicious food they were serving — I had to set up an appointment.

I decided “Linner” (lunch and dinner) would be a good idea that day. The minute I stepped close to the maitre d’s podium I was promptly greeted by Fernando Rocha, the food and beverage director. He was expecting my arrival and directed me to booth No. 43. I had a terrific view from every angle and was able to admire the beauty of this hotel. Imagine the water fountain in the courtyard, the tropical greenery, warm golden colors surrounding the restaurant and romantic Spanish crooner’s music in the background (brought back memories of San Miguel de Allende).

Fernando mentioned Chef Alvaro Marquez had several courses chosen for my visit. I was impressed and delighted. My attentive waiter began bringing the chef’s creations. First to arrive was the Chicken Tortellini soup ($6) and fresh sourdough bread. This creamy and buttery tasting soup came with sautéed spinach and was topped with parmesan cheese. As soon as I looked up again, I had what looked like a white canvas (square plate) with a piece of art which was actually the “Chicken Scampi Brochettes” ($14). Mama Mia! The six brochettes were also topped with sautéed mushrooms, tomatoes, green onions, fresh garlic, basil, lemon juice, white wine, and melted Monterrey Jack cheese (drizzled with balsamic vinegar).

Next came two magnificent entrees: the Remington’s Filet ($34) and the Roman-Style Salmon ($24). Presenting a gourmet dish involves more than simply placing all the ingredients on a plate. Presentation is everything! How you arrange the ingredients can make the difference between a good meal and an extraordinary experience. There is no doubt in my mind Chef Marquez is a brilliant artist in the kitchen. The eight — ounce tenderloin steak which was cooked to perfection was topped with a divine port Dijon sauce and a medley of summer vegetables. To add more color and dimension to this platter there was a tall martini glass that was filled with creamy Yukon mash potatoes (delicious!) garnished with bits of bacon, yellow cheese and chives — there was also a toothpick on the side with green and black olives and a cherry tomato ( wow - factor! ). The party did not end there!

The grilled salmon (hearty portion) already had a flavorful Roma caper wine sauce but, was kicked up a notch by the crunchy bits of prosciutto, diced green olives, red bell peppers — it was served with a side of wild rice (almonds and red pepper). Both of these entrees were garnished with beautiful flowers carved out of radishes and other tiny vegetables (so — Japanese).

Then came the grand finale! They put in front of me two desserts that had magnificent designs made out of chocolate and fruit — they were true masterpieces (garnished with fresh strawberries that were sliced to resemble roses). The Pina Colada Cake ($8) was served with grilled pineapple slices ,shredded coconut, and sliced almonds — let’s just call it tropical paradise. I also tried the Chocolate Opera Cake ($8) which had a raspberry glaze drizzled on top. This dessert takes chocolate (aphrodisiac) to a whole new level. It’s a rich and elegant dessert is ideal for a chocoholic and perfect with a glass of red wine.

Remington’s Steak House is what fine dining should be: romance, elegance and engaging flavors seamlessly orchestrated into a simple, highly expressive culinary experience. $$

In total bliss,

Madame Gourmand

Located: 1800 South Second Street, McAllen. Phone: 956-686-1800 *Also serving Sunday Brunch!

*South Texas Jazz Quartet play Friday and Saturday, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.