Another year, a new set of destination restaurants. But heavy, rich cuisine will have move over for lighter, better-for-you fare. Six restaurants are paving the way for healthy fine dining with a mindset that goes way beyond offering calorie-conscious menu items. Lighter eating is a top trend for 2014’s frequent diners and niche eaters, so bookmark these for your next trips:
ABC Home Grown, New York City
This spring, famed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten lends his masterful culinary eye to the increasingly popular style of eating without any animal products — including honey, eggs and milk — and combines it with the raw foods philosophy that no ingredients should be heated to more than 115 F at the new Union Square restaurant. Expectations are high from vegans — and fans of Vongerichten’s other eateries, including Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Jean Georges and hot spots ABC Kitchen and ABC Cocina — for the French chef’s gourmet touch in an often-neglected cuisine.
With its spectacular oceanfront gardens and breezy Spanish colonial style, Four-Star Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore Santa Barbara is a natural fit for the light fare at this organic juice bar. Create your own concoction or try one of the classics, such as the Iron Man, with celery, apple, spinach, Swiss chard, lemon and ginger. Sweet tooths can opt for smoothies made with yogurt and local honey, and for bigger appetites, there’s housemade Bircher muesli and gluten-free muffins.
The ideal example of what’s possible when a creative toque teams up with a motivated hotel group, chef Ian Bens includes Fairmont’s Lifestyle Cuisine Plus program on Juniper’s new American menu (which stands up to the city’s best), expanding to vegan, raw, macrobiotic and gluten-free options. Bens also goes beyond farm-to-table, committing to roof-to-table — his beehives on the top deck of Fairmont Washington, D.C., Georgetown, where Juniper is located, supply the restaurant’s honey for dishes such as made-to-order honey-wheat-walnut bread and a milk-and-honey dessert. It’s a partnership that offers something for everyone.
When The Broadmoor completes its $100 million renovations in May, a new health-inspired restaurant will launch alongside the Five-Star resort’s other fine-dining options. While the historic hotel is almost a century old, the as-yet-unnamed eatery will feature bold, seasonal flavors that celebrate the American West and serve guests who visit to hike the Rocky Mountains — or simply indulge in the Five-Star spa.
The Beach Club Restaurant, Palm Beach
In the center of Four-Star The Spa at The Breakers, Palm Beach, this relaxed and sophisticated indoor/outdoor dining room offers a vegan porridge of beluga lentils and root vegetables using local, seasonal ingredients, served alongside a juice bar with combinations such as coconut water and green apple. A specialty water list is available, too — to avoid Evian-Fiji conflicts among friends, of course.
The sixth location of the olive-oil-centric restaurant opened last month in Newport Beach, California, focusing on flavors of the South of France, Italy and Spain. Each meal starts with an olive oil tasting of varietals varying from grassy to bold; and these oils are used as the base of all dishes, with butter appearing sparingly. Executive chef Pascal Lorange’s plates have lots of vegetables (such as zucchini carpaccio with lemon and pine nuts) and fish (branzino with figs) — all dressed in olive oil, naturally.
Photos Courtesy of Michael Gardner, Four Seasons and Robert Nelson