2003 BEST New Restaurant, South
Don’t let the trendy name fool you: Fifty-three South is far more nouvelle than nouveau. That’s not to say this fetching bistro, opened at the site of the former Seasons restaurant, doesn’t have a classic strain. Candles light the tables, dried flowers warm up the walls, and the delicate menu caresses the palate. Starters such as tender scallops paired with silky cauliflower cream are downright delectable, and the melt-in-your-mouth short ribs are plump with deep-flavored sweet and smoky meat. Main courses—the seafood stew of cod, crab claws, shrimp, potatoes, and fruity tomatoes, all swimming in a full-on saffron broth—are well-orchestrated balancing acts of texture and flavor. Factor in incredibly attentive service and a well-edited wine list, and you’ve got a bistro that defines modern classic.