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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Three on O'ahu among top U.S. hotel restaurants

By Gary Stoller
USA Today

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See Zagat's list of best hotel restaurants

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It may surprise business travelers who often encounter lackluster hotel restaurants or have permanently written off hotel food: A new survey shows there are plenty of first-rate hotel dining options.

At the request of USA Today, Zagat Survey found America's top 100 hotel restaurants, based on food quality, decor and service. Zagat Survey, www.zagat.com, publishes guidebooks based on reviews by restaurant customers.

Among those picked were three from Hawai'i: La Mer (8th place) and Orchids (44th) at Waikiki's Halekulani Hotel; and Hoku's (55th) at The Kahala Hotel and Resort.

Each of the top 100 hotel restaurants offers fine dining and elegant decor at high prices. Most provide impeccable service, and many offer breathtaking views.

The best restaurant? The French Room in The Adolphus Hotel in downtown Dallas.

"There aren't enough superlatives" to describe it, Zagat Survey says about the French-American restaurant, which has hand-blown crystal chandeliers and an 18-foot-high domed ceiling adorned with frescoes.

This week's $72 fixed-price, three-course dinner menu includes seared tuna, roasted Colorado rack of lamb and vanilla and raspberry creme brulee.

"Hotel food has gone through a renaissance," says Jason Weaver, The French Room's executive chef. "Hotel food used to be bland and boring, but that's not true anymore."

Many top hotel restaurants are not big profit makers but are used as a marketing tool, CEO Tim Zagat says. "Having a big-name restaurant is one of the best ways to advertise yourself as a first-class hotel."

Hotels have brought in America's best chefs, making them "deals they couldn't refuse," Zagat says. Las Vegas hotels are a good example, he says.

The city's Bellagio hotel has four restaurants Picasso, Prime Steakhouse, Le Cirque and Michael Mina in the top 100. Other hotels with more than one restaurant in the top 100 are the Wynn Las Vegas, Honolulu's Halekulani and Baltimore's Harbor Court.