Top Five Hotel Restaurants: Beyond Best of Miami 2011

​​The Restaurant at The Setai was selected as the Best Hotel Restaurant in this year's Best of Miami issue. The cuisine and decor there are stunning. Yet Miami is currently blessed with such an abundance of fine dining establishments within hotels that praiseworthy places such as Area 31, Azul, BLT Steak, Gotham Steak and Scarpetta, to name a few, don't quite make our the cut for our top five. Neither do Tudor House Restaurant in Dream Hotel (too new) or Palme d'Or in the Biltmore Hotel (deserves to be at the top of this list, but just last week we named it as Best French Restaurant -- and we don't like to repeat ourselves so quickly).

Which leaves us with these five choices:

5. Essensia Restaurant & Lounge at The Palms. Chef Frank Jeannetti puts out some of the prettiest plates of food in town. He does so by way of sustainable seafood, hormone-free meats, organically grown products from local purveyors, and a natural flair for coaxing flavors from these quality ingredients. Affordable wines are sustainable, organic, biodynamic, or some combination of the three. Pastry chef Gail Goetsch's apricot tart with almond-ginger ice cream is alone worth the ticket in. Outdoor dining on the patio is lovely.

4. Zuma at Epic Hotel was winner of our Best of Miami's Best New Restaurant this year, but it likewise shines in the context of hotel dining. The lofty space is a Zen-like composition of glass, granite, stone, steel and wood. An open kitchen kicks out small plates of delicately prepared Asian cuisine, pristine sushi, terrific tempura items, and robata grill thrillers such as rib eye steak with chili ponzu sauce and salt-grilled sea bass with spicy burnt tomato. Desserts are no letdown; try the banana cake layered with green-tea cake with coconut gelato alongside.

​3. DB Bistro Moderne at J.W. Marriott was likewise a winner in this year's Best French Restaurant. No other Miami restaurant has a chef of Daniel Boulud's stature overseeing the menu, and executive chef Jarrod Verbiak has been with DB for over a decade. Chilled lettuce-lightened vichyssoise, freshly prepared pâtés, bread-crusted pompano, and of course the signature foie gras-infused DB Burger are just a few of the modernized French treats. Cheese gougéres kick off the meal, and you can finish with a basket of madeleines.

2. Bourbon Steak at Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort & Club is a versatile restaurant. Firstly, you've got Michael Mina's namesake steaks adeptly cooked by chef Gabriel Fenton -- an assortment of cuts categorized into all-natural farm raised Angus beef, American Kobe, and Japanes A5. If you want some black winter truffles, grilled foie gras, or roasted marrow bones with that meat, you'll have to pay a bit more, but that's the point -- you can get this sort of high end fare here, as well as lobster pot pie, fried organic chicken, and an American Kobe burger with signature duck fat fries. Multi-flavored beignets are the dessert of choice.

1. Hakkasan at the Fontainebleau is a restaurant we often rave about. Firstly, it's unique among the great hotel restaurants in that the cuisine is Chinese. Plus the decor is a sultry Hong Kong den of walnut-and-teak latticed screens separating a lair of seductively lighted dining alcoves. Executive chef Ooi Soon Lok's Cantonese food is fantastic, from the high end Peking duck to the more common but equally delectable roast duck breast with mango. Not just duck rocks, but noodles, soups, and dumplings too; bamboo baskets of dim sum hum as well.

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