Best New Hotel Restaurants
Published: April 2009
By Bruce Schoenfeld, Tina Isaac, Clark Mitchell, Niloufar Motamed
Over the past few years, hotel restaurants around the globe have become destinations all
their own, with star chefs and buzzing scenes. Here, T+L's top six notable newcomers.
Le Relais du Parc, at Sofitel le Parc
5559 Ave. Raymond-Poincaré, 16th Arr.; 33-1/44-05-66-10; www.sofitel.com;
dinner for two $170; doubles from $272.
THE LOWDOWN It's a rare treat to savor top dishes by two of the world's greatest chefs in
a single sitting. Joël Robuchon and Alain Ducasse each put Le Relais du Parc on the gastronomic
map, so it is fitting that the newly reopened restaurant pays homage to both men. The intimate
dining room in neutral hues is a backdrop for a selection of their greatest hits. Wild pear
is tucked under a medley of bright baby vegetables en cocotte, seared scallops are served
Tatin-like with roasted broccoli florets, and guava sorbet tops a Technicolor roasted-mango
crumble. HIGHLIGHT Dinner alfresco among white magnolia trees in the inner courtyard of this
classic Norman manor.
Country, at the Carlton on Madison Avenue
90 Madison Ave.; 212/889-7100; dinner for two $170; doubles from $499.
THE LOWDOWN Chef-owner Geoffrey Zakarian has thought of every detail at his new Madison Avenue
outpost. The plush seats are arranged to face the open, sea-foam- greentiled kitchen; a streamlined
prix fixe menu simplifies the selection process; the steady andante tempo is set by young
servers with French accents thicker than the shellfish velouté; even the wine list
is well edited. It all pays off: a perfectly poached hen egg arrives on a bed of tiny morels,
capsized in frothy fava-bean purée. HIGHLIGHT The chef's table—built from a single
piece of Costa Rican guanacaste driftwood—with front-row views of the kitchen. There's
no better seat in the house.
Gilt, at the New York Palace Hotel
455 Madison Ave.; 212/891-8100; dinner for two $150; doubles from $570.
THE LOWDOWN Twenty-nine-year-old chef Paul Liebrandt—who was criticized early in his
career for over-reaching experimentation (blindfolding diners, for example)—has learned
the value of a modicum of restraint. But not when it comes to truffles, foie gras, or any
of the other signifiers of luxury that pepper the menu at Gilt. The opulent restaurant, in
the space formerly occupied by Le Cirque 2000, is filled nightly with diners eager for culinary
acrobatics: a passion fruitmarshmallow amuse-bouche explodes with saffron and paprika; a
green-apple lemon-verbena sorbet is dusted with crunchy fleur de sel and dressed with olive
oil, tableside. HIGHLIGHT An extensive tea menu—63 choices for your after-dinner brew.
Alex, at Wynn Las Vegas
3131 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702/770-7000; www.wynnlasvegas.com;
dinner for two $240; doubles from $369.
THE LOWDOWN The first time he hired chef Alessandro Stratta, Las Vegas impresario Steve Wynn
paneled the dining room with Renoirs. Eight years later, the focus at Alex is on the food—and
the Wisconsin-born 44-year-old has emerged as one of the Strip's best chefs. Stratta's haute
Mediterranean cuisine has all the robust earnestness you'd expect, given his Midwestern roots:
roast squab, rabbit fricassée, foie gras ravioli in truffle bouillon. And the space,
as majestic as a vintage ocean liner, is the perfect setting for his culinary heft. HIGHLIGHT The Sommelier Menu's reverse pairings; courses are planned around wines such as Grand Cru
Blue, at Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman
Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman; 345/ 943-9000; www.ritzcarlton.com;
dinner for two $162; doubles from $299.
THE LOWDOWN Although many Caribbean resorts don't locally source their produce, Blue relies
on some 20 area fishermen for its red snapper and lobster. And chef Eric Ripert's handpicked
staff transforms that bounty into a French-Caribbean feast (it's New York's Le Bernardin with
steel drums and island spices). Bouillabaisse becomes rich lobster-0 swordfish is dusted with
herbes de Provence and served with a passion-fruit béarnaise. HIGHLIGHT Having your catch prepared by the chef after a day of deep-sea fishing.
Gordon Ramsay, at Conrad Tokyo
1-9-1, Higashi-Shinbashi, Minato-ku; 81-3/6388-8000; dinner for two $202; doubles from
THE LOWDOWN With the newest addition to Gordon Ramsay's growing empire, the sun never sets
on this British chef, who's as known for his fiery temper as for his Michelin-worthy creations.
From its 28th-floor perch, the restaurant has bird's-eye views of the Tokyo cityscape; the
cavernous interior is swathed in pale purples and greens. The kitchen, with its deliciously
defiant Western leanings (steamed sea bass with a confit of new potatoes and caviar), gives
an occasional nod to its host country (sea-urchin risotto). HIGHLIGHT Hokkaido
sea scallops, thinly sliced and fanned out carpaccio-style beneath vanilla-infused cherry
—Written by Tina Isaac, Clark Mitchell, Niloufar Motamed, and Bruce Schoenfeld.