A great hotel can be made brilliant by its restaurant. The experts at Mr & Mrs Smith are hungry for places to excite your inner foodie in this year’s Smith Awards. Enjoy an opulent dinner high above the city at The Upper House, chat to the chefs around the kitchen table at Lime Wood or immerse yourself in Sicilian food culture at Azienda Agricola Mandranova. Return with more than just a full stomach by enrolling in one of the many cookery classes on offer – you’ll impress your loved ones for many meals to come.
1. The Nam Hai, Hoi An, Vietnam
Situated between the swaying palms and the white sand of China Beach, the sultry indoor/outdoor Restaurant at Nam Hai offers an indulgent culinary tour of Vietnam, Europe and India. Executive chef Richard Wilson has curated a menu featuring flavour-packed Vietnamese dishes, European classics and Indian-inspired curries, all showcasing local ingredients. Dine at a table on the terrace with views of the East Sea, or in the high-ceilinged, dimly lit main room where you can watch the chefs at work in the open kitchen. If you’re lucky, you might score E4, an outdoor table with views of both the pool and beach. For a more intimate experience, request a private gazebo for a beach barbecue. Dinner isn’t the only standout here; breakfast is cause for celebration for any food lover. The huge array of hot and cold dishes, ranging from tropical fruits and juices to local specialities will have you wishing you had a bigger stomach.
Smith Extra: A bottle of sparkling wine on arrival!
2. The Upper House, Hong Kong
The Andre Fu-designed Upper House is a food experience that more than matches its drop dead gorgeous views of Victoria Harbour. Café Grey Deluxe is helmed by Gray Kunz, and offers finely honed Modern European dishes that delight the eyes as well as the tastebuds. They are an all-day affair – breakfast offers a range of international options. Try the Soho breakfast for Western classics, or the Upper East package for something a little more exotic. And don’t be shy about coming back in the evenings either, the Hong Kong institution’s menu includes tarragon-infused crab bisque, saffron-scented pasta fiore, served with stewed tomatoes, thyme and rosemary, and salad Caprese featuring heirloom tomatoes from Hong Kong Island. Secure window seats for the best view or, for something a little cosier, there are booth tables adjacent to the bar and private dining pods that line the open kitchen.
Smith Extra: Score a bespoke Upper House candle with holder!
3. Lime Wood, Hampshire, United Kingdom
A formidable foodie duo – Angela Hartnett and Luke Holder – run the kitchen at Lime Wood’s standout eatery Hartnett Holder & Co. The pair combine their British and Italian heritage to create classy comfort food in their aristocratic dining room. Produce is locally sourced; the kitchen team actually forage for mushrooms in neighbouring woods and hand-rear and cure their meat. The menu changes seasonally; previous crowd-pleasers include young vegetable salad with ewe’s cheese, honey and pumpkin seeds and short saddle lamb with romano pepper and warm burrata. Get up close and personal with a spot on the Kitchen Table: read the papers, enjoy a glass of bubbly and chat to the chefs as they plate up some beautiful creations. If learning to make your own masterpieces is up your alley, the cookery classes are a great place to start. Start the day meeting and greeting Hartnett and Holder over a cup of tea before kitting up and learning some tricks of the trade. They’ll come in handy when you create and consume your three-course lunch. Leave this gourmet destination with a full stomach, some new skills and recipe cards to impress at home.
Smith Extra: What else would you want more than a bottle of bubbly?
4. Azienda Agricola Mandranova, Sicily, Italy
Immerse yourself in Sicilian family life at Azienda Agricola Mandranova, a boutique guesthouse perched on the southern coast of the island. Cucina is king here, with regular cooking classes and the Mandranova restaurant serving up Sicilian specialities courtesy of the lovely co-owner Silvia. Ladies, make sure to satisfy your sweet tooth with torta di mandorla (almond cake) or fill up on timballo di anelletti (Sicilian pasta with peas and aubergine). Dine al fresco in summer on a table alongside the main house, but don’t be surprised by the cute canine visitors napping at your feet. The hotel’s cookery class will get you on your way to replicating Silvia’s dishes. She’ll lead you through the steps to create a special menu, using locally sourced ingredients and vegetables from the garden. Take advantage of the coastal location with a trip on the Tornado – Mandranova’s 38-foot boat – stopping at an island for lunch before returning to Port Licati to check out the fish market.
Smith Extra: A bottle of Mandranova extra-virgin olive oil to inspire your cooking back home.
5. Lake House, Daylesford, Australia
Chef Alla Wolf-Tasker’s decadent menu at Lake House is the reason behind the restaurant’s multiple awards and its popularity worldwide. All the produce is sourced locally, with almost everything grown in the region. As a result, the menu is seasonal, but you can expect a few stalwarts: house-made charcuterie, heritage vegetables and fruit, local trout, eel and cheeses, free-range pork and wagyu beef. Don’t worry if you can’t choose, the tasting menu will give you a sample of the lot! Tables overlooking the tranquil lagoon are best-placed for a lazy lunch, but on a warm day, the veranda is the place to be. For something a little more romantic, private dinners can be arranged in the cellar. Replicate Wolf-Tasker’s masterpieces with a masterclass on-site – you’ll work with two of the chefs to produce a beautiful seasonal menu and enjoy it afterwards. The Lake House also hosts full-day demonstrations and discussions with some of Australia’s best chefs, including Nathan Sasi of Nomad, Sydney and Frank Camorra of Movida.
Smith Extra: Elemis spa products presented in a satin travel pouch.
Find out more about Smith’s recommended restaurants with the new Travelling with Taste app. Browse the Best Hotel Restaurant nominees in our 2014 Smith Awards, browse Smith hotels with cookery schools or contact Smith’s expert Travel Team on 800 905 326.