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Seared scallops with applewood-smoked bacon and corn succotash and English pea puree
Go, Go Porticoby Kate Abney | Photo: Damien J. Whitman | Jezebel magazine | August 30, 2013
Dashing, debonair and undeniably mod, the new Le Méridien Atlanta Perimeter Hotel, which opened in February, arrived somewhat quietly—a slightly more refined Starwood concept than its predecessor, the W Atlanta – Perimeter. “Méridien is less about the wow moment than the W; it’s more of the discovery, the aha moment,” explains GM Peter Dunn. The dining is no exception. Newly bowed hotel resto Portico is the result of a yearlong $20 million reno to the property that captured a once so-so patio and enclosed it with a bank of aluminum windows, creating the feeling of a fabulous conservatory. One wall of the restaurant’s dining room features overscaled stacked stone and a row of cozy booths; the rest is filled with Parsons-esque lacquer tables and streamlined, masculine seating. Charcoal gray resin pendants dangle overhead, while exposed-filament light bulbs hover like fireflies.
Portico’s inspired global cuisine was developed by Executive Chef Brian Lee, drawing on his Korean heritage and classical French training for flavors that are ideally balanced—not too strong, not too subtle. There are nods to Southern cooking—a grit cake with shrimp, smoky ham and jalapeno butter; and a killer flatbread with figs, goat cheese and honey—yet this restaurant feels much more cosmopolitan than those making headlines in Atlanta as of late.
Maybe it’s chef Lee’s California training—he’s had stints with prestigious hotels and private clients along the West Coast. Now, he returns a year and a half after departing The St. Regis Atlanta. Nearly every dish—from the tomato-and-red bell pepper soup with smoked paprika to the porcini ravioli with braised leeks in truffle broth—extols the virtues of fresh produce, accented with a pretty microgarnish made from 15 to 20 herbs and greens. Heavy on pescaterian options, Lee’s entrees range from grilled trout with wild rice, applewood-smoked bacon and charred tomato vinaigrette, to a NY strip with parsnip puree and watercress. Finish with a cup of illycaffè and housemade French macarons.
Consider grabbing a nightcap after at the adjacent Longitude 84 lobby lounge and bar, a mod and sexy—even erudite (read: lots of books)—space. If one of the fine wines have made you wobbly, enjoy a decadent staycation with your sweetie at the hotel. But it’s perfectly acceptable to just drop in at the bar, avoiding crazy traffic around the Perimeter. Rush hour has never been more welcome.