Fine Dining

An evening at the Gourmet Room is “trés magnifique” — simply wonderful. The Riverside Resort’s premier restaurant offers an unforgettable experience, serving French, Italian and steakhouse specialties in a luxurious dining space.

Velvet fuchsia chairs are nestled up to a white tablecloth with a flickering lamp and fine china on each table. Chandeliers line the ceiling and the enormous windows expose an enchanting view of the Colorado River, palm trees and mountains in the distance.

Along with the opulent setting, top-notch service and cuisine awaits. Director of Food & Beverage Herve Allain has made certain that all three facets of the Gourmet Room remain unmatched.

Allain has been at the Riverside for 20 years, crafting the menu and experience to suit guest’s evolving needs.

“The Gourmet restaurant was a mostly French restaurant in its origin, so everything was centering around French cuisine,” Allain said. “The problem with French cuisine is it’s sometimes too rich and a lot of people have been trying to stay away from the sauce, the cream and the butter. We reduced the French menu here and kept the most popular dishes and we incorporated a good steakhouse section and Italian food. So basically now we have three restaurants in one.”

Allain recently was in need of an executive chef for the room, so he looked within his staff to grant an opportunity to a deserving member. Torren McClure had been with the Riverside for 5.5 years, and although young, was showing the promise for the position.

“I had to look for a chef and here was this young man, Torren, who has been here with me for five and a half years,” Allain said. “Being in the business so long, and I have traveled the world, it’s very rare today that you find young people with a passion for food. And this young man here is passionate with food, is a good listener, has good culinary skill and a good palate. I never see age as a factor in any business, and he graduated from culinary school at MCC and I thought it might be time to give him a chance.”

Allain, along with the Riverside, think of their staff as a family and like to see them succeed and grow in their field.

“If you are passionate about something, there is no limit, it’s the sky. And at the Riverside, we like to recognize and promote talent,” Allain said. “Torren knows it’s a tough challenge with me, but I know he can do it.”

McClure assumed his new position just last month, but has had plenty of time to get comfortable with the Gourmet Room, working under Allain’s wing for the past five years.

“I’m really grateful for Herve and the Riverside for giving me this opportunity. They’ve worked with me the last few years as I’ve pushed to get to the place I’m at now,” McClure said. “Herve really tries to pull the best out in everybody and when he sees somebody with potential, he tries to help and push them to do more.”

McClure is originally from Wisconsin, but has lived in the Tri-state for 17 years. He attended Mohave Community College, starting with a dual enrollment culinary program while he was still in high school.

“I wanted to do cooking and luckily the college had a good program where basically my junior year in high school I started it. So I was actually able to do half the program in high school, then graduate high school and the next year graduate college,” he explained. “I want to say its about a 2.5-year program regularly, but they had a dual enrollment option set up with the high school where you could basically do half the program in high school and then the next half out of it. I also took summer classes to speed the process up a bit.”

He had been helping out in the kitchen since childhood, but honed his skills at MCC.

“A lot of it is the fundamentals and how to layer flavors and really hone in the techniques of culinary, because it’s a science,” he said. “Adding a little bit of this, then a little bit of that will change the flavor from just dumping it in together. You’re building the flavors.”

His coursework included learning different styles from various regions of the U.S., as well as international cuisine. He found his niche with creating sauces, which serves him well with the Gourmet Room menu.

“Soups and sauces are my go-tos. Whenever I’m making anything I like to put my hands on that and build that,” he said. “Adding ingredients at certain times really builds the flavor so if you have someone that’s doing that properly you’re going to get a much better product. A lot of our menu is scratch made, so we do a lot of sauces and soups every day. Getting really into building the flavors properly and getting that flavor out there is the goal.”

McClure and Allain have been working together, adapting the menu to offer new options to guests, while preserving the favorites.

“Herve and I sat down and have been creating weekend specials on Saturday and Sunday,” McClure said. “It’s usually two entrees and an appetizer and then recently we added cold soups. So a lot of those are collaborations between me and him and I really get to be creative and start putting out my own ideas.”

There are a few popular dishes that he recommends to try at your next outing.

“Les Coquilles Saint Jacques is a fan favorite. It’s a classic French dish with your nice rich cream sauce in there, the Newburg sauce. One of our newer ones on the Italian menu, the penne rustica, has a nice rich flavor with wine and pancetta. People seem to like it because it’s got seafood and chicken so you’re hitting a few bases there,” McClure said. “My favorite is the steak au poivre, it’s a French peppercorn-crusted New York steak finished with a cabernet sauce.”

No matter your selection, it is sure to satisfy under the close attention of McClure.

“Now that I’m the executive chef, I have to really make sure everybody is working together and putting out the best, including the service,” he said. “I’m kind of running the wheel so I oversee everything and make sure the final product is coming out the right way.”

For a special evening, visit the Gourmet Room, located on the second floor of the Riverside. The restaurant is open Sunday, Monday and Thursday (5 p.m.-9 p.m.) and Friday-Saturday (5 p.m.-10 p.m.).