Gale Horton Gay
Everyone needs a getaway, but time and budget constraints often limit where we can go and how long we can be away.
That’s when a staycation fits the bill. A short getaway in one’s own city can provide just the break needed, and it’s much easier on the pocketbook than a trip involving flights or long drives.
Le Méridien Atlanta Perimeter in Dunwoody is an ideal choice for an Atlanta staycation. As I entered the contemporary open space lobby known as "The Hub" with seating groups designed to invite conversation and interaction, I immediately felt that I had left behind my everyday life.
A former W Hotel, the 275-room property changed over into Atlanta’s first Le Méridien in February 2013, following a one-year $20 million makeover that included the construction of a new restaurant.
Nearby there’s plenty to do, including taking in art exhibits and workshops at the Spruill Center for the Arts and the being one with nature at the Dunwoody Nature Center, both located in Dunwoody.
In fact, its location couldn’t be better. Situated just off I-285 and Ashford-Dunwoody Road, Le Méridien is within a stone’s throw of Perimeter Mall and its abundance of stores as well as a broad array of dining options outside the mall such as Seasons 52, McKendrick Steak House, The Cheesecake Factory, and Café Intermezzo.
However, there’s really no reason to venture beyond the doors of Le Méridien for something good to eat.
The hotel’s Portico restaurant offers "globally inspired" cuisine. Everything I tasted was fresh, beautifully seasoned and plated, and a joy to eat. Two shared appetizers — gambas a la planchas (jumbo prawns with a compound butter and grilled ciabatta bread) and roasted duck leg with fingerling potatoes, arugula mix, and a raspberry gastrique — could have easily sufficed as dinner. I’m picky about my duck and this one was the best I’ve ever had — crispy on the outside, moist on the inside, and with great flavor, complemented nicely by the tangy raspberry gastrique. The prawns were huge with a mellow flavor enhanced by a slight char and a creamy herb butter sauce.
Our main selections were the grilled Angus beef tenderloin and the seared scallops. The tenderloin was presented atop a generous serving of morel mushrooms with a dash of red wine reduction sauce and with a mix of vegetables. Four plump scallops came with a pea purée and sweet and crunchy corn/bacon succotash. Both perfectly seasoned and perfectly grilled, they were a feast for the eyes and palate.
And although I had no room for dessert, I somehow downed most of the velvety smooth warm chocolate cake with espresso gelato and berries.
The menu was created by executive chef Brian Lee and other dinner items include heirloom tomato salad, seared ahi tuna, steamed mussels, and grilled trout.
Portico’s setting enhances what’s on the menu. It’s minimalist but elegant and sophisticated with white tables, black chairs, and simple suspended lighting fixtures. Three-quarters of the space is floor-to-ceiling windows that add to the airy feel. Beyond those windows is an outdoor patio with a fireplace, several seating groups, and a beautiful view.
Portico’s sous chef Richard Fletcher described the restaurant as a "one-of-a-kind" experience that’s approachable without being intimidating.
"It’s a breath of fresh air in Dunwoody," said Fletcher.
Le Méridien also has embarked on a new program with a master barista on-site to educate staff and guests about coffee, pairing beverages with food, and new coffee drinks that change seasonally such as the Onda al Cioccoloto, a hot chocolate espresso covered with cold froth milk.
Guest rooms are ample and the contemporary feel continues here as well, with grays and white dominating the décor and wood, chrome, and glass prominent in the furnishings. On one wall an oversize framed mirror bore a quote along the right edge of the glass from Pico Iyer about travel and love. A graphic resembling a subway route or computer schematic stretched the full length of the wall behind the bed. I appreciated the long counter-height desk that became my workstation and had plenty of room for other personal items.
For more information on Le Méridien Atlanta Perimeter, visit the hotel's website.