In this week’s Hot List, Oprah’s former chef sets his sights on Washington, D.C., the renovated Fontainebleau in Miami is bigger and better than before, and an airport hotel is updated into a stylish accommodation for those passing through Atlanta. Also, bistro fare in Philadelphia, a sumptuous steakhouse in Istanbul, and country-style cooking in the city of London.
Corrigan’s Mayfair, London.
Everything about this sophisticated take on rus in urbe— a wood-paneled “hunting lodge” lined with pale leather banquettes—is luxurious, yet warm and welcoming. The superb country-inspired cooking is unpretentious, thoughtful, and inventive. Seasonality and careful sourcing are watchwords, so the autumn/winter menu is strong on game, wild fish, and seafood, with appetizers such as a salad of game birds in a tomato and hazelnut sauce and entrées like saddle of hare or roe venison in pastry with pickled red cabbage. Much of the extensive wine list, which specializes in small biodynamic wineries, is available by the glass. 28 Upper Grosvenor St., Mayfair, W1K 7EH. 020/7499–9943. www.corrigansmayfair.com. AE, MC, V. Closed Sun. No lunch Sat. Median entrée price: £18.
At rising chef David Katz’s debut restaurant, rustic comfort foods are paired with more sophisticated fare. The casual bistro, with expansive windows, cherry tables, and mustard yellow walls, features a menu divided into “small-ish” and “larg-er” plates. Sizzling mussels are served in a mini cast-iron skillet, hearty fettuccine is topped with wild boar ragù, and an Atlantic tilefish is presented on a bed of zucchini “pasta” with a black olive tapenade. At the time of this writing, Mémé is BYOB. 2201 Spruce St., Rittenhouse Square. 215/735–4900. www.memerestaurant.com. AE, D, MC, V. Closed Tues. No lunch. Median entrée price: $24.
The Prime, Istanbul.
Housed in the new Park Hyatt Istanbul, this classy steakhouse is practically one-of-a-kind in Istanbul. The short yet high-quality menu showcases the restaurant’s specialties: prime cuts of dry aged beef, veal chops, and seafood prepared on a charcoal grill, served with a choice of sauces. The open kitchen allows for diners to watch their meal being prepared. The décor has a stylish, contemporary feel, with dark woods accented by warm colors and walls lined with racks of select Turkish and French wines. Five small booths in a side wing provide more intimate seating than in the main room. During summer months diners can eat outdoors on the terrace. Bronz Sok. 4, Tesvikiye. 212/315–1234. Closed Sun. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Median entrée price: $40 USD.
Art and Soul, Washington, D.C.
Best known as Oprah’s longtime personal chef, Art Smith is now serving the Washingtonian crowd at this funky new Southern-fried spot, located in The Liaison Capitol Hill. The signature dish here is the hoecake, a modest slab of fried cornmeal. While this dish was originally scarfed down by overworked and cash-strapped field workers during the 19th century, Smith and his executive chef Ryan Morgan gussy up their hoecakes with three sets of toppings: blue cheese and arugula, blue crab and braised beef, and a truly decadent mélange of caviar, crème fraîche, and cured salmon. Low country classics such as shrimp with grits and pork chops served with vinegar-spiked redeye gravy are also on hand. 415 New Jersey Ave. NW, Capitol Hill, 202/393–7777. www.artandsouldc.com. AE, MC, V. Median entrée price: $26.
Westin Atlanta Airport, Atlanta.
After an $18 million renovation, this former airport pit stop has been transformed into a high-class accommodation, with some rooms that rival any upscale hotel. The 500 guest rooms—in pleasant beige, brown, and sage interiors—now feature Westin’s signature “heavenly bed” along with a flat-screen TV and Starbuck’s coffee. Lighting has been brightened and carpeting replaced throughout the hotel. Check to see if your airline is one of that many that is participating in the hotel’s “bags” program that, for $10, allows you to check your bags and receive a boarding pass right in the hotel lobby. Pros: incredibly convenient to the airport; “bags” program saves time. Cons: far from any restaurants, or cultural attractions in Atlanta. 4736 Best Rd., Airport, 30337. 404/762–7676. www.westin.com. 495 rooms. In-hotel: restaurant, pool, gym, Internet terminal. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Rooms start at: $159.
Look out, South Beach—Mid-Beach is back. When this classic property reopened in late 2008 it became Miami’s biggest hotel—twice the size of the Loews, with more than 1,500 rooms—it became, indeed, the fruit of the most ambitious and expensive hotel-renovation project in the history of Greater Miami. So what does a one-billion dollar renovation get you? Eleven restaurants and lounges, a huge nightclub, sumptuous pools with cabana islands, a state-of-the-art fitness center and a 40,000-square-foot spa, and more than 100,000 square feet of meeting and ballroom space—all of it built from scratch. Also, two all-suite lavish towers come with full kitchens including dishwashers. In possibly a first for a big hotel anywhere, all rooms on the property have Apple desktop computers. But not everything is brand new: two Morris Lapidus–designed and landmarked exteriors and lobbies were restored to their original state. To make way, though, all original rooms were completely gutted, down to the beams, to create new, contemporary rooms. This is a complex of historic proportions. Pros: historic design mixed with all-new facilities; fabulous pools. Cons: away from the South Beach pedestrian scene; too big to be intimate. 4441 Collins Ave., Mid-Beach, Miami Beach, 33140. 305/538–2000 or 800/548–8886. www.fontainebleau.com. 1,504 rooms. In-room: safe, kitchen (some), refrigerator, DVD (some), Wi-Fi. In-hotel: 11 restaurants, bars, pools, gym, spa, water sports, laundry service, Internet terminal, Wi-Fi, parking (fee), no-smoking rooms. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Rooms start at: $269.
Contributors: Michael de Zayas, Robert DiGiacomo, Vanessa Larson, Elana Schor, Ellin Stein, Christine Van Dusen
Bar photo courtesy of Corrigan’s Mayfair