Only the top 40 restaurants were ranked in 2011's Best Restaurants list.
Take a boutique-hotel restaurant with modern furniture and over-the-top light fixtures. Add such folksy touches as jars of colorful pickled veggies and rocking chairs This is what resulted when the Mandarin Oriental hotel converted its Asian-fusion dining room into an upscale Southern restaurant.
The menu, overseen by CityZen chef Eric Ziebold and executed by Rachael Harriman, offers precise versions of down-home Southern dishes, such as expertly fried hushpuppies and dark-meat chicken. Chicken and dumplings, on the other hand, lacks enough gravy or dumplings to satisfy.
There’s a lineup of gleefully decadent desserts—banana cream pie, fried apple pie—and inspired cocktails such as a root-beer float made with Jack Daniel’s. If only the battalion of servers felt less stiff. Formality and fried okra don’t quite mix.
Also good: Fried oysters with smoky aïoli; sweetbreads on a bed of grits; corn soup with bacon; the brunch-only crabcake Benedict and doughnuts with maple dip; vanilla cheesecake; a warm, creamy cocktail of vanilla-infused rum and Earl Grey tea.
Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Moderate to expensive.