21 at the Frederick

Exceptional food and sophisticated atmosphere meet to create a premiere dining destination.

By Dawn Nolan

Housed inside the historic Frederick Hotel in the heart of downtown, 21 at the Frederick offers diners a modern American menu in a sophisticated setting. The restaurant occupies the former Elephant Walk space, and 21 owner, Mark Cross, has paid homage to the eatery by leaving much of its distinctive décor intact.

“The place was designed in 1962 by Bill Ritter and John Jenkins,” explains Cross. “We’ve maintained all of the original furniture, and with its dark wood paneling, iron work, ceiling beams and door carvings, it’s totally unique.”

Sarah Walling, a regular at 21, enjoys the restaurant’s classy yet comfortable feel.

“21 maintains an upscale atmosphere but still allows patrons to relax,” she describes. Bill Bartlett, another frequent guest, agrees.

“It is a friendly, elegant environment,” he adds.

Besides the Elephant Walk, the Frederick has been home to other local dining destinations like Ming’s and Rocco’s 21, which Cross co-owned with well-known restaurateur Rocco Muriale.

“We started out doing catering and served Rocco’s style of Italian food. Then, we evolved into a more modern American type of cuisine,” Cross recalls. In 2008, the restaurant was restructured as 21 at the Frederick.

21’s culinary team is made up of Sullivan University graduate Eric Dyer, Mountwest alum Zach Chancey, and is lead by Executive Chef, Matt Noah.

“He directs the flavor profile and the plating of the dishes,” explains Cross. “We pay a lot of attention on how to place things on the plate.”

Though an emphasis is placed on presentation, the quality of ingredients is the main element.

“We buy the finest steaks and freshest seafood and always try to provide dishes made from the best ingredients,” says Cross. “We source as much as we can locally, and then we put them together to make something beautiful and delicious.”

Succulent steaks are the stars of 21’s menu, and the tenderloin is the clear favorite.

“Fifteen percent of our total sales last year was from that steak,” remembers Cross. “It’s a choice product, and people tell us all the time that it’s the best they’ve ever had.”

For Bartlett, though, it’s the NY strip that keeps him coming back for more.

“It’s the best steak in the city,” he states.

The nightly seafood specials are also desired dishes among 21’s diners.

“Our fresh seafood is very popular,” Cross says. “We receive shipments three times a week to ensure the quality.”

The specials are based around the day’s deliveries and are often grilled or roasted fish. For those looking for lighter fare, 21 also offers a selection of salads and a signature soup of the day.

“Our chef is a master at picking soups,” says Cross. Walling recommends the mushroom bisque.

“It makes for great comfort food on a colder evening,” she says.

The restaurant’s signature soufflés are the ideal end to a meal.

“We’re one of the few places in town that serves this type of dessert; our soufflés come in different flavors, and they each have a little bit of liquor in them, which gives them a slight edge,” describes Cross.

“They are always so light and fluffy,” adds Walling.

Guests can indulge in a variety of martinis or a bottle from 21’s extensive wine list to complement their meal.

“Our fine wine list pairs with all of the food,” says Cross. “It is also reasonably priced, and I believe one of the best values in town.”

From romantic dinner dates to group gatherings, 21 is an ideal setting for celebrating a special occasion.

“We do a lot of weddings, and it’s a great place to have parties,” explains Cross. “It’s a unique space and can fit up to 250 people comfortably. We also offer full bar service.”

Community organizations have also used 21 as a space for benefits.

“We’ve hosted ‘Uncorked!’ for the Marshall Artists Series, held a wine festival for the Huntington Symphony Orchestra and had fundraisers for Marshall volleyball, golf and baseball teams and all kinds of other groups,” explains Cross.

For many, the allurement of 21 may be the menu.

“Everything tastes so fresh and is always cooked perfectly,” says Walling.

Yet, it is the combination of the restaurant’s fine food and ambiance that makes 21 at the Frederick one of Huntington’s premier dining destinations.

return to articles menu