Palmer House Brownie
The brownie was invented at Chicago’s Palmer House over a century ago.

From their architectural elements to their A-list inhabitants, much ado is made of historic hotels. Equally of note are the iconic dishes served found in dining rooms within. They pay homage to eras past—and give the space a sense of place.

At Cajun and Creole-bent Restaurant R’evolution at New Orleans’ Royal Sonesta Hotel, pastry chef Erin Swanson whips up Tarte a la Bouillie, a tweaked take on a traditional custard pie. Usually made in less fussy fashion in home kitchens in the River Parishes, it incorporates readily available ingredients. Here, though, it’s reimagined with Ponchatoula strawberries, strawberry gelée, strawberry-white balsamic gastrique and vanilla meringue. Consider during here lunch, when you’ll also find specials that nod to bygone NOLA chefs and restaurants.

Meanwhile, at Lockwood Restaurant in Chicago’s Palmer House Hilton, Executive Chef Joseph Rose keeps history alive with the iconic Palmer House brownie. It was invented to appease Bertha Honore Palmer, wife of the hotel’s founder, Potter Palmer, who wanted a portable treat for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. After enjoying a variation on the original, stroll through the soaring lobby of longest continuously operating hotel in America.

Still, Pennsylvania’s The Circular at Hotel Hershey may hit the sweetest spot of all. The newly re-opened dining room nods to the Prohibition era. However, its dance floor has been replaced with a theatrical, focal bar and pastry bar, where chocolate desserts are made before diners’ eyes. Keep your eyes peeled for the circular table—it was Milton Hershey’s go-to. From there, take in the scenery over throwback cocktails and signature Kahlua, brandy and Hershey’s syrup-spiked coffee. When the check arrives, savor the sea-salt caramel that comes with—it’s offered in honor of Hershey’s first successful candy biz, the Lancaster Caramel Co.

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