14 Sep 2014
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Moonrise Eclipse Is The Gem Of The Loop

Eclipse restaurant's food, libations and great prices will have you howling at the moon.

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Located inside Joe Edwards' Moonrise boutique hotel, the Eclipse restaurant stands on its own, offering customers uncommon elegance and sophistication at affordable prices. And the respectful but casual attitude allows anyone to enjoy upscale surroundings without breaking the bank.

The other worldly experience begins the moment you enter the Moonrise Hotel. The large open lobby features an iridescent wall that constantly changes color and a dramatically angled staircase. Inside the welcoming Eclipse restaurant, the décor is futuristic art deco, and the walls feature commissioned space age prints resembling Forbidden Planet movie posters.

Eclipse serves contemporary American cuisine and classic cocktails with a twist, not to mention 40 bottled beers and 20 wines by the glass. It's all part of the commitment to appeal to a large variety of people.

“We want to be approachable with everything—our wine, beer and food,” said Manuel Hinkson, general manager of Eclipse. “Every part is really a collective. It doesn't rely on one man's palate. We work as a unit—as a family. I heard that from Joe Edwards.”

Part of that approachability is the reasonable prices. Domestic bottled beers start at $4, with craft beers starting at $5. Wine by the glass costs from $6-$12, Hinkson said, and wines by the bottle start a $27. Hinkson himself chooses the wine.

“I don't like to complicate things,” Hinkson said. “I like boutique wines, but I go with big names, too, for recognition. We have wines from every country. You won't find any grocery store wines here.”

The beer menu is equally creative, featuring everything from Budweiser ($4) to Saison Dupont Farmhouse Ale from Belgium ($8), selected by beer consultant Chris Shea, former assistant brewer of Morgan Street Brewery and, if you're lucky, occasional bartender at Eclipse.

For those in the mood, the specialty cocktails at $10 offer some unusual twists on classic cocktails, such as the pre-Prohibition era Plantation, with gin and muddled basil, or the new creation Black Magic, with Bourbon and raspberries, all designed by chief mixologist and bar manager Seth Wallman.

“We make our own syrups, tinctures and bitters,” Hinkson said. “And we make flavored ice cubes so the drinks don't get watered down.”

The food service at Eclipse is not a small matter. Not only does the restaurant serve breakfast, lunch and dinner from 7:30 a.m. until 2 a.m., but also serves rooftop terrace and offers room service, which consists of anything from the restaurant's menu 24 hours a day, all under the direction of Executive Chef John Stulhman.

“Our menu changes four times a year, following the moon—the solstice and the equinox,” Hickson said. “We just changed to a fall menu with fall vegetables. All the chef's have input into the menu. They work together. The sous chefs and line cooks submit dishes for a new menu four times a year.”

Having a go at the food, the Roasted Red Pepper Hummus ($6) was extra flavorful, with the roasted red pepper adding a deeper complexity to the creamy dish, and the liberally sprinkled crumbs of Parmesan cheese on top lent a welcomed saltiness. The pita bread served with it was fresh and soft.

Served open-faced, the B.L.A.S.T. sandwich ($8) featured bacon, crispy lettuce, generous sections of fresh avocado with sundried tomato mayo on toasted multigrain bread. The house-made potato chips were uniformly crispy.

Luck was with me on my beer selection. Beer guru Chris Shea chose them for me according to my guidelines. He first chose Reissdorf Kolsch ($6) which had a clean, light taste, flavorful body and no bitter, hoppy aftertaste. It's a good choice for those more accustomed to domestic brews but want more depth in the flavor.

The Dead Guy Ale ($5) from the Oregon Brewing Company was complex with a buttery quality and caramel undertones. Shea said the unique flavor was due to Munich-roasted barley used in the brewing. It was definitely an interesting beer with great characteristics.

All in all, Eclipse offers a taste of the good life at working man's prices and the opportunity to visit a planet that's no longer forbidden.

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