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HJU:Z flies high at hotel

The Westin Bayshore opens new lounge in honour of famous eccentric Howard Hughes.

HJU:Z Lounge at the Westin Bayshore is inspired by pilot and magnate Howard Hughes.

Abby Wiseman/Metro / Metro Web Upload

HJU:Z Lounge at the Westin Bayshore is inspired by pilot and magnate Howard Hughes.

The Westin Bayshore is throwing its hat in the hotel lounge ring with its Howard Hughes inspired lounge, HJU:Z. Pronounced “Hughes,” the lounge is a nod to the time the famously OCD magnate lived at the Bayshore Inn (1601 Bayshore Dr.) for six months in 1972 — four years before his death.

HJU:Z celebrates a more glamorous time in the aviator’s life with an art deco lounge and cocktails inspired by Hughes’ 9-hour trip around the world to cities like New York, Paris and Moscow.

I started with the Alaska with gin, Luxardo Saint Antonio, orange bitters, and an homage to the Klondike with a couple gold flakes atop a giant hand-carved ice cube. This alcohol forward beverage was aromatic and herbal. I have mixed feelings about the gold flakes from an ethical standpoint. They look beautiful, but drinking gold feels excessive. But excessive is the era of Howard Hughes.

I followed the Alaska with a Garlic and Herb Baked Abalone ($27). Served on a bed of greens, edible flowers and ponzu seaweed. The fat and flavour of the garlic and butter was cut by the bitter greens. While the dominant flavours of the dish were of the earth, the ponzu brought it back to the sea. Although the abalone was nicely cooked, the dish didn’t totally hit home for me. There was a texture missing that could have brought it together.

Next was the Atlantic Lobster Tail ($30) served with pear purée, roasted cauliflower, ginger and carrot purée and Canadian Caviar. The lobster was done sous-vide style, which gave it an incredibly tender texture. Cooked with pandan leaf, the lobster had a wonderfully aromatic flavour, which complemented the ginger and carrot purée. The cauliflower didn’t stand out to me, but the pear purée was something different. All in all, a fresh dish with a different take on lobster.

I moved on to Howard’s 28-Day Aged Sirloin ($29). Once again, chef Alex Mok used sous-vide to cook this striploin to tender perfection. No steak knife needed. Mok made an interesting choice by using a coffee rub on the sirloin, which gave it a nice smokey flavour. I paired this meal with the very mandarin flavoured Redemption Cocktail, which complemented the coffee beautifully.

I finished the cocktail with a classic Baked Alaska ($10) dessert, served tableside with flames and all. The sweet outer meringue, slightly blackened, was no match for the rich espresso ice cream in the centre.

I love the esthetic of the art deco era and the room is a beautiful place for cocktails and conversation.

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