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A three-course meal at the Intercontinental Hotel's in-house restaurant.

When I drive to work in the morning, it seems as if I’m not fully awake until about ten minutes into my commute, at the point where I pass the Intercontinental Hotel. So when I chose a place to eat during Downtown Dining Week, I knew I wanted to try Kil@Wat at the Intercontinental, and have a closer experience of the place that signals the beginning of the day for me.

I had studied the menu many times prior to my visit, but I figured that after I got there my choice would come to me. It didn’t. Our server patiently refilled our water glasses as I read the short Downtown Dining menu for the third time. When we finally ordered, my friend and I made very different choices.

Photo by Brock Kaplan

I started with the Gazpacho. Seasoned just right, with fresh, creamy avocado slices on top, it was a cooling appetizer that was perfect for a warm day. I did find the portion to be a bit on the small side, but maybe that’s just a testament to how much I enjoyed the dish. My friend’s Caesar Salad seemed to do the trick as well. We both left our plates and bowls free of any remnants, as we waited for our server to bring the next dish.

The Chicken quarter and the Big Boy arrived in good time and looked to be another step in the right direction. Cheddar Grits were something that really caught my attention when I saw them on the menu, but the reality was disappointing. The texture was a bit too thick and almost gummy as it cooled. A light cheddar flavor was nearly there, or maybe I just imagined it. But the chicken met my expectations: Tender, with a light coating of Queso Fresco, it was all good. While the pickled onions on top didn’t add much in terms of flavor, their neon pink color did much to appease the Instagram gods.

Photo by Brock Kaplan

The final stop on our trek up the dining mountain was the Big Chocolate Cake and the Southern Banana Pudding. I had the latter, and was glad I did. I know too well that desserts can send you into a food-induced coma, but not this time. The bananas were fresh and smartly placed under a perfectly not-too-rich pudding. The creaminess and lightness of the whole thing was enough to get me to the top, without pushing me over the edge. On the other hand, the cake was for those braver than I. The rich scent of the chocolate and buttercream wafted across the table, and I could see the tiredness rush over my friend as she attempted to finish the delectable piece of cake that was appropriately named the Big Chocolate Cake. It was rather ironic that the site where I finally wake up in the morning was where my friend nodded out in a carb-induced slumber.

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I think this spot is ripe for anyone looking for mealtime bliss. I would gladly return for a burger, gazpacho, or something new. In the meantime, when I pass by in the morning, I’ll be sure to wave.

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