These Hotel Restaurants Don’t Only Cater to Tourists

Glamour and great menus abound.

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By Becky Hughes

Ciao, friends! I’m filling in for our usual host, Nikita. This week, I want to take on what might be the most maligned category in New York dining: the hotel restaurant.

Skepticism is valid — by nature, a restaurant in a hotel is designed for tourists, not for residents. But over the past few years there’s been a boom in honestly good, New Yorker-approved restaurants that just happen to be in boutique hotels. You could spend an entire weekend visiting hotels as dining destinations, rather than as necessary stopovers with middle-of-the-road (at best) food.

Feel free to email Nikita at [email protected] with your questions or advice, or just to tell her you missed her this week. (I did!)

Top-Tier Dining Rooms, New and Old ‌‌

If there’s one thing a hotel restaurant is going to have, it’s glamour. I’m a known hater of Manhattan West, but the scene at Zou Zou’s in the Pendry hotel is undeniably enchanting: towering ceilings, velvet banquettes, the works. A spread of Mediterranean dips, served on a mirrored cake stand, makes a worthy appetizer for Yemeni filet mignon kebabs and Wadi Rum jeweled rice.

Le Crocodile, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, has to be the most glamorous hotel restaurant of them all, with distinct New York charms: exposed brick walls, arched windows and detailed tile flooring. While the Wythe Hotel dates back only to 2012, it occupies a 122-year-old factory building. The menu, from the folks at the Greenpoint favorite Chez Ma Tante, is all hits: steak frites au poivre, French onion soup and a frisée salad with a poached egg (and smoked eel standing in for lardons).

Rooftop Shrimp and Arak Cocktails in Williamsburg

Williamsburg has become, seemingly overnight, the unofficial neighborhood of the Cool Hotel Restaurant. In the new Moxy Williamsburg is Mesiba, inspired by the restaurant scene in Tel Aviv. You don’t even have to walk through the hotel lobby to enter the high-ceilinged dining room, where you’ll find tender lamb neck served with Yemeni pancakes; an epic, whole fried fish; and, naturally, cocktails made with Arak.

And last month, Jaffa Cocktail & Raw Bar opened on the indoor-outdoor roof deck at the Hoxton. It’s a surprisingly chill (at the time of publication, that is) alternative to Laser Wolf a few flights above. The menu focuses on seafood, like pastrami-spiced yellowtail with vaguely pickle-like grilled cucumber; tuna crudo topped with grated, cured egg yolk; and octopus shakshuka. And, because the bar sits on a Brooklyn rooftop in the year 2023, it serves a frozen drink: the Jaffa Orange, basically a melted Creamsicle with vodka.

Thanks for hearing me out. You can always hit me on Instagram with your thoughts, feelings, complaints, gossip and dog pictures.

In Other News …

This week, Pete Wells reviews Foul Witch, the latest restaurant from the team behind Roberta’s. He writes that the restaurant artfully “summons the ghost” of Blanca, the team’s now-closed tasting menu restaurant, but “in simpler, streamlined fashion.”

Openings: Casa Lever, the restaurant at the Lever House on Park Avenue, has received a refresh and a new menu; Southern Charm is a new destination for biscuits in the West Village; and Spygold, the bar component to Dan Kluger’s new restaurant Greywind, opens on Friday.

In an effort to avoid controversy, the James Beard Foundation now investigates the chefs nominated for its awards. But the opaque investigation process is causing controversy, report Julia Moskin and Brett Anderson. (Here are the winners of last night’s James Beard Awards.)

For decades, Cooper Do-nuts in Los Angeles was commemorated for being the site of an uprising that preceded the Stonewall Inn riots by 10 years. The story, however, may be more myth than fact, reports Erik Piepenburg.

Andrew Bellucci, the pizzaiolo with a checkered past (and maker of a damn good clam pizza), died last week at 59, Pete Wells writes.

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