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 Burgundies.
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 $498.
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 tomatoes.
—Written by Tina Isaac, Clark Mitchell, Niloufar Motamed, and Bruce Schoenfeld.
Gordon Ramsay, Tokyo
British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay's Michelin-starred Tokyo venue occupies a space on the 28th floor of the tower housing the Conrad Hotel, affording light during the day and impressive urban nighttime views over the city through its floor-to-ceiling windows. The menu is creative French: a pressed fois gras in Madiera and pepper jelly and rhubarb compote for an appetizer or Ramsay's signature lobster cannelloni, for example. The hotel is located in the Shiodome area, which can get very quiet after business hours.
Located in the New York Palace Hotel in a space formerly occupied by Le Cirque, Gilt seeks to reflect the early 20th century opulence of its setting, which once was the home of the wealthy railroad tycoon and investor Henry Villardi. The 52-seat dining is notable for its walls of gilded wood and cathedral ceilings. The menu is full of American classics dressed in luxury with dishes such as bacon and eggs with hackelback caviar, cipollini compote, and creme fraiche, and steamed sea bream with corn custard and puffed sorghum.
Le Relais du Parc
Located in the Renaissance Paris le Parc Trocadero Hotel, Le Relais du Parc restaurant is led by chefs Denis Zanetti and Romain Corbière, who serve French cuisine like cocotte egg with piperade and Serrano ham. In the dining room, magenta chairs sit among elegant orchids and paintings by Frederic Brunet, and the terrace has a private outdoor garden. At Le Relais du Parc, the menú is based on seasonality and environmentalism. They don’t serve any threatened or protected fish, and vegetarians can ask for adapted dishes.
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.