By Lana Sweeten-Shults
GCU News Bureau
Nighttime noshing in the daytime?
Canyon 49 Grill has you covered.
“The coolest thing is that we’ve opened up our menu, so dishes you could get only at dinnertime, you can now get at lunchtime. So the more refined dishes, like the Pan-Seared Chicken, is available all day now,” Grand Canyon University Hotel Manager Brett Cortright said Tuesday night as the hotel’s Canyon 49 Grill was preparing to introduce its new summertime menu to about a dozen food bloggers at the University’s first Food Blogger Night.
Most times of the year, the lunch bunching crowd at the Grill can get its fill of the popular lunchtime burger-and-fries-sandwiches-and-salad fare, but the culinary staff in the summer has dissolved those divisions in the lunch vs. dinner menu – and that’s a boon for foodies who might not be on campus after 5 p.m. and might not have ever tried those more posh dinnertime items.
“We’re just trying to streamline it for the summer,” Executive Chef Marcus Maggiore said.
It was about three weeks ago when Canyon 49 Grill rolled out its all-day menu, available daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The menu will remain until about the time when students arrive for the fall semester.
“We have our chicken, steak and pasta all day,” Maggiore said, to add to the usual lunch-driven sandwich mindset.
The chefs at Canyon 49 – Maggiore in addition to Sous Chef Mike Willison – try to tweak the chicken dish offering, depending on trends, what’s in season, and where their creative juices take them.
“We always have chicken on the menu, but it’s how we change it to make it better. At a college campus, you can’t not have chicken on the menu,” Maggiore said, but if you’re going to have chicken, do it up right.
Grill-goers who stop by Canyon 49 this summer and order the chicken plate ($17) will find an herbed chicken breast atop calabrese pesto, roasted caulilini (baby cauliflower) and goat cheese grits.
“We’re trying to keep the food on trend but keep it approachable,” Maggiore said.
In addition to anchors such as the chicken dish, the Grill has introduced some new items, too, such as the Country Nachos ($8), which are a culinary upgrade from chips topped with queso and jalapeños.
In place of chips, flat fries are served under generous helpings of queso, shoulder bacon, pico de gallo, pickled jalapeños and some cilantro lime crema for a little freshness.
Maggiore said the chefs have overhauled the burgers on the menu. A new addition is the Sriracha Burger ($11), a one-third-pound burger patty topped with sriracha mayo, pepper jack cheese, tomato and, to elevate the dish a little more, not just jarred pickles but some crunchy, fresh, house-made pickles.
The grill also added a turkey burger ($10) dressed with provolone cheese, arugula, confit tomato and garlic mayo.
Another new offering is cauliflower pizza crust, which at Tuesday’s Food Blogger Night was the base for a Canyon 49 Grill staple, the Southwest White Pizza ($12). The pie is blanketed with mozzarella cheese, cilantro, caramelized onion, habanero and avocado garlic cream sauce.
“People think, ‘Oh, habanero, it’s going to be hot.’ But it’s actually a really balanced pizza,” Maggiore said.
Food bloggers also got to try other menu items, such as the fish tacos ($8) – hand-battered cod, shredded cabbage, pico de gallo baja sauce, tortilla chips and salsa folded in a flour tortilla – as well as the Lemon Cake and Prickly Pear Parfait, which are cubes of lemon cake drizzled with prickly pear curd and topped with whipped cream and candied lemon zest.
And Cortright said a new pasta dish to try out is the Bada Bing Bada Boom ($17), which features pork ragout, julienne mirepoix, lemon cream sauce and parsley.
Bloggers also were treated to a live cocktail demonstration by mixologist Jimmy Coghill, Canyon 49’s Bar Manager and Hotel Assistant Manager, who showed attendees how to make the Grill’s version of a whiskey sour – a beverage flavored by a bit of fresh mint, fresh basil, bourbon and orange liqueur.
Coghill said Hotel guests and grill-goers are treated to a free cocktail demonstration on Wednesday nights.
Cortright spoke highly of his culinary staff. He worked with both Maggiore and Willison at the Four Seasons Resort before their move to GCU.
“Marcus and I were doing weddings at the Four Seasons together,” Cortright said.
And he was proud, too, of GCU’s approach to hospitality. Cortright runs the University’s hospitality program.
Not only can the hotel and grill tout its first student general manager, Karen Madlock, but, “Over time, we developed more high-level positions, and we’ve got them (students) doing marketing, social media, analytics.”
While Food Blogger Night – organized with the help of GCU’s Public Relations Department — was its first event specifically catered to the social media crowd, the Hotel and Grill have hosted similar events in the past, such as for travel agents.
And Canyon 49 didn’t stop there Tuesday night. The staff was busy serving about 150 doctoral learners staying at the hotel for their residencies.
Maggiore said of the Grill’s offerings any time of year: “We want to make sure we have a place on campus where people can get a dining experience instead of just a meal.”
Contact GCU senior writer Lana Sweeten-Shults at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 602-639-7901.
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