Colorado hospital food gets hip replacement
Bistros emerge where bland reigned, drawing the public and praise
By Nancy Lofholm, The Denver Post
Take a left inside the main entrance of Montrose Memorial Hospital, and you'll run into the grim lines of chairs in the emergency-room waiting area. But follow your nose to the right, and you'll be welcomed by chili-lime crab cakes, grilled polenta, tapas plates and seared tuna with frizzled leeks.
Like a host of other modern hospital cafeterias, Montrose Memorial's Lobby Grille is following a trend that makes it tough to recall those old cramped and dingy institutional eateries with their steam trays of soggy offerings. The basement bastions of gelatin cubes and beef 'n' noodles have been transformed into front-and-center bistros serving haute hospital cuisine.
The tasty fare may have started out for the benefit of patients and expanded as a perk for employees and a comfort for patient visitors. But it has evolved into upscale cuisine good enough to draw in diners who have no other reason to be at a hospital — except that they crave marinated skirt steak or chilled mango soup.
Chef-prepared gourmet fare rather than institutional meals isn't about profit. Most hospital cafeterias aspire to break even at best. And it isn't all about the food. There's a bit of marketing involved too.
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