Photo: The Surrey via The Daily Meal
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The most gustatory-minded hotels now offer chef-driven room service menus, or better yet, allow guests to order straight off the restaurant menus to enjoy in the comfort of their rooms.
Some of the best new hotels are the biggest proponents of haute room service. After its year-long renovation, The Surrey in New York City reopened in late 2009 not just with a sleek new Art Deco-inspired look, but a terrific in-room dining menu crafted by the culinary geniuses at Café Boulud.
At the glamorous Elysian Hotel, which opened just over a year ago in Chicago’s Gold Coast, guests have the choice of ordering off the menu of its Balsan restaurant or room service menu, both developed by talented chef Danny Grant.
Of course, some of the country’s most forward-thinking hotels have long paid attention to in-room dining. The 20-year-old Little Nell in Aspen lets guests order any dish off its Montagna menu (and they’ll even pack picnic baskets for a hike). The decade-old Healdsburg Hotel in Sonoma is so synonymous with its restaurant Dry Creek Kitchen that guests expect nothing less than star chef Charlie Palmer’s dishes for room service.
At the Ritz-Carlton, Dallas, diners have seven distinct settings from a spectacular glass-walled dining pavilion to the chef's table off the kitchen for enjoying Dean Fearing's bold, flavorful cooking at Fearing's Restaurant. (They can get in on the action, too, and create their own guacamole blend in the Lobby Lounge every evening at 6 p.m.)
But the most intimate setting is right upstairs in one of the hotel's 218 luxurious rooms and suites, where Fearing's entire menu is available for room service, including a very Texan take on surf-and-turf: chicken fried lobster served with a 5 oz. barbecue spice-rubbed filet of beef.
Guests who can't decide between the two (or who don't want to leave the comfort of a lush suite decorated in toile and silk and with double French doors that separate the sleeping and sitting areas), can order from Oringer's room service menu, which features his take on New England classics like clam chowder as well as a smattering of dishes from his two eateries like Clio's crunchy sautéed halibut with citrus ginger broth and Uni's signature poke with seaweed and pickled mung beans.
L.A. real estate and nightlife guru Sam Nazarian tapped designer Philippe Starck and chef José Andrés for his debut into the hotel scene in 2008 with the SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills.
What the two have in common is an innovative, madcap sensibility, and it shows throughout the hotel, from the lit-up glass deer heads and swarm of mismatched chairs in the lobby to the fantastical dishes like foie gras lollipops and liquid nitrogen-dipped popcorn served at its restaurant, The Bazaar by José Andrés.
While guests can't order Bazaar dishes up to their room, they can take their pick off of Andrés' in-room dining menu, which includes Spanish-inflected comfort food like chicken croquetas and flatbreads topped with jamón serrano and goat cheese.
Guests at the Little Nell are the most pampered in Aspen. Not only does the two-decade-old property have the honour of being the only hotel in town with ski-in, ski-out privileges, but the indulgent staff-to-guest ratio means guests can order any of Ryan Hardy's farm-to-table dishes at Montagna up to their room. '
Hardy also oversees the extensive in-room dining options, whether you want to have a romantic dinner for two (hamachi crudi, elk tenderloin) or throw a cocktail party for a dozen (tuna tartare with fresh black truffles, chicken liver pâté crostini).
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