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Restaurant Week is one of the best ways to dine in style, noshing at incredible, well-known restaurants that are otherwise out of the normal price range. Not only does it provide a great excuse for a date night, Restaurant Week is an exhibition of local culture and cuisine. Check out a few of the upcoming winter Restaurant Weeks below, and be sure to check back at OpenTable to make a reservation – and fast, some restaurants book up quicker than a Justin Beiber concert (cough, Le Cirque).
January 15 – 28, 2012; three-course, prix-fixe lunches and dinners ($15 and $30, respectively)
New York City
January 16 – February 10, 2012; three-course, prix-fixe lunches and dinners during the week ($24 and $35, respectively)
After years of helping my kids with their homework I figured it was about time they returned the favor, so last night I sat down with Libby, Maya, and Felix (ages 12, 9, and 5, respectively) and asked them what they thought hotels, restaurants, and airlines ought to be doing differently to satisfy vacationing kids.
What follows is perhaps some food for thought for the travel industry (Bathrobes and omelet chefs just for kids? Pink airplanes?), or, at the very least, inspiration for parents to occasionally ask their kids what they think.
I am not into “sceney” restaurants – that is, eateries where the crowd appears to be trying too hard to be fashionable, is usually too loud and young (with a hefty helping of bankers), and is always reaching for a new trendy martini a la Sex and the City. The food, décor, and service are my priorities when eating out. What I care most about when eating out is the food, the décor, and service.
Given that disclaimer, if those criteria are met, I am happy to patronize an establishment that also happens to be chic, trendy, and full of celebrities. Few restaurants manage this, but The Lion, which opened in New York’s Greenwich Village about a year ago, certainly does.
The New York City Wine & Food Festival is drawing to a close, but there’s still time left to bid on the charity auction benefiting Food Bank for New York City and Share Our Strength, an organization that battles childhood hunger. Though items on the auction block range from high end sunglasses to restaurant gift certificates, we’re most excited about the travel packages and hotel stays. Not only are there a spectacular range of destinations from Long Island to Bali, as of this posting all of the current bids are well below the actual value of the prize. Fancy a Cancun family vacation for four at less than one third the cost? How about a Miami golf getaway at 50 percent off? What could be better than a cut-rate luxury vacation where all the proceeds go to a good cause! Just be sure to hurry to get those bids in – the auction ends Friday, October 14 at 5pm EDT.
Once a gritty district populated with brothels, the “Triangle of Ballesta” (aka triBall) – so named for the shape that the streets of Gran Vía, Corredera Baja de San Pablo, and Fuencarral form around the main Calle Ballesta – has become the Spanish capital’s latest avant-garde epicenter. Shop-owners like Beatriz Tabara, who opened a clothing boutique-combo-café last fall called Scarly, epitomize the hood’s enterprising vibe. “Everyone has their own story,” says Tabara of triBall’s business owners. “But many of them are professionals who took the leap to make their hobbies a way of life.” Tabara, also a full-time attorney, reveals some favorite spots in the emerging barrio.
The home of Dartmouth College and a cultural hub for the region, Hanover, N.H., makes an ideal getaway from Boston, and it’s doable for a short jaunt from New York City. We’ve put together the perfect 1-2-3 Weekend – 1 hotel, 2 restaurants, and 3 things to do – to showcase the top offerings in the greater Hanover area.
1 – Hotel
The history of the Hanover Inn dates almost as far back as that of Dartmouth. Founded as a tavern in 1780, the hotel moved into its current location in 1903. And it certainly is quite a location: The inn sits on the Dartmouth College Green and within easy walking distance of charming downtown restaurants and shops (as well as national chains like the Gap). Ninety-three rooms and suites sport a classic décor – some have four-poster beds – while offering modern perks like free Wi-Fi. The hotel has two restaurants and a seasonal terrace, but you’ll generally find less pricey fare in town. Rates from $249/night in August. Main Street; 800-443-7024; www.hanoverinn.com
Once one of Illinois’ largest cities, this historic mining town near the Mississippi River now provides an easy weekend getaway for Chicago residents. We’ve put together the perfect 1-2-3 Weekend – 1 hotel, 2 restaurants, and 3 things to do – to showcase Galena’s top offerings.
1 – Hotel
Bed down on Main Street at the historic DeSoto House Hotel, Illinois’ oldest still-operating property. Opened in 1855, the hostelry’s 55 rooms have played host to 19th- and 20th-century notables Ulysses S. Grant, Stephen A. Douglass, William Jennings Bryan, and even Honest Abe himself. Though each of the oversized rooms is unique, expect Wi-Fi and rich Victorian décor throughout. 203 S. Main Street; 815-777-0090; www.desotohouse.com
Barbados has long been known for its stellar restaurant scene (it’s the only Caribbean island with a Zagat guide), but now it has an annual festival celebrating the island’s culinary scene – with the help of some well-known American and international chefs. The second annual Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival (www.foodwinerum.com) will take place from November 18 to 21, 2011 at a variety of venues around the 166-square-mile island.
This makes it an appealing time for food-centric couples to visit Barbados and not only sample the temptations of its top restaurants – among them The Cliff (shown above at left), Champers (www.champersbarbados.com), Scarlet (www.scarletbarbados.com), and The Fish Pot – but also attend special festival events, which are co-sponsored by Barbados Tourism (www.visitbarbados.org) and American Express Publishing’s Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure and Departures magazines. Attendees will be able to participate in cooking classes with and savor dishes prepared by visiting chefs during tasting events.
There are more than just new hotels (see last week’s blog) in New York City this summer – the city is buzzing with several just-opened restaurants, gastro-pubs and bars (many of them beer gardens – but that’s enough to fill an another entire blog). Here’s a sampling:
CrossBar by Todd English: If you are old enough to remember when Limelight was a nightclub not a Marketplace, stepping into the latest offering from Todd English will bring waves of nostalgia. More gastro-pub than restaurant, CrossBar (www.crossbarny.com) is located in a series of rooms on two levels and the exterior courtyard of the church-turned-club-turned-mall (at 20th Street and Sixth Avenue) and has the feel of a Middle Ages-meets-Morocco lounge, with studded red upholstery and retro-chic chandeliers (shown above at left). The menu features a “head-to-tail” pork concept with snacks such as Puffed Pigs Ears and Pulled Pork Bites ($8), while entrees include Pork Schnitzel and BBQ Ribs & Tail. For non-pork-eaters, there are scallops, Loaded Gnocchi, and Lil’ Tacos of hamachi, chicken, or fried fish ($12-$29), among other offerings. Wash it all down with an eclectic mix of wines, scotches, bourbons, and beers. Just be wary if you order Delirium Tremens ($8), an aptly named and highly potent Belgian beer that tastes oh-so refreshing – before it makes you fall over.
DohYO: Midtown Manhattan’s new YOTEL (see last week’s blog) has tagged America’s Latin-Asian fusion guru Richard Sandoval, of Zengo, Maya, and Pampano fame (www.richardsandoval.com), to helm its small-plate restaurant, DohYO, located next to The Terrace and open for lunch and dinner. DohYO (shown at left) features a series of long, communal tables (which raise and lower offering flexibility for events) and menus of hot-and-cold Latin-Asian dishes designed to share (from $5 to $14 each). Standout items include addictive Halibut Sliders with crispy tomato and chile morita-remoulade sauce; Seared Tuna Causa with capers, cilantro, shallots, and Yukon gold potato; and Crunchy Shrimp with lemon sake aioli, sesame, scallion, and masago. End with a sweet treat called the Hummingbird Toffee Cake, and then head to The Terrace (shown at right) for an after-dinner drink.
High Line Extension: It’s not a restaurant or bar (but it is surrounded by them), so don’t miss the newest section of the High Line (www.thehighline.org). You can now stroll for more than a mile, from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 30th Street in far west Midtown, on this ambitious and meticulously landscaped urban park located on once derelict elevated railroad tracks built in the 1930s. Start your stroll at either end (there is elevator access at 14th Street and 30th Street), and meander amid modern pathways lined with benches and naturalistic gardens and witness architecture of Chelsea and the Meatpacking District from a totally different perspective. Open from 7am to 11pm daily; no dogs or bicycles allowed.
Edi and the Wolf: When you’re exploring the East Village, wander over to 102 Avenue C at 7th Street and check out this nine-month-old, rustic-meets-shabby-chic restaurant (www.ediandthewolf.com) by chefs Eduard Frauneder and Wolfgang Ban, who also helm the upscale Austrian restaurant Seasonal (www.seasonalnyc.com). Their downtown take on Austrian fare (shown at left), served in a funky garage-turned-eatery with weathered plank ceilings, communal tables, and eccentric décor (peacock feathers and dried flowers abound) serves hearty traditional cuisine such as smoked mackerel ($14), spaztle with hen of the woods mushrooms, fava beans and asparagus ($17) and, of course, wiener schnitzel ($19), as well as a wide array of wines (there’s a small wine garden, too). The restaurant started serving brunch ($14, including coffee, orange juice, and bread) two months ago and standout items are the scrambled eggs with gruyere, walnuts and cipollini, and the schnitzel burger served on sliced challah with shredded cabbage and lemon aioli.
Above 6: If you find yourselves exiting Central Park or the Shops at Time Warner Center in the early evening and feel like sipping cocktails with a skyline view, head to Above 6, the brand new rooftop lounge (shown at right) atop 6 Columbus, a Thompson Hotel. This intimate space (it seats about two dozen people and has a retractable roof if the weather turns) serves sake, beer, and wine ($7 to $16), as well as assorted summer-inspired cocktails (try the very refreshing Hummingbird, made from Avinyo Cava, St. Germain, Club Soda, and Yama Momo, $13) created by the bar team at the hotel’s Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill on the main floor. Seating is on a first-come basis, and access is via Blue Ribbon Sushi.
Brooklyn Winery: Williamsburg, a quick subway ride on the L train, makes a great half-day excursion from Manhattan. Get off at the first stop, Bedford Avenue, and wander the boutique and restaurant-lined streets (namely Bedford and N. 6th Street), and when you tire of window-shopping, head here to Brooklyn’s first winery (www.bkwinery.com), which opened in late 2010 at 213 N. 8th Street. It’s a cool spot (shown at left) to sip the winery’s newly available first offerings, which include Batch 001 Chardonnay and Brooklyn Noir (a pinot noir). There’s a happy hour every night form 5pm to 7pm, with 25 percent off every bottle of wine, or visit on $20 Bottle Wednesdays to get select bottles for just $20 when you order two food items from the menu.
Remembered as a Gilded Age getaway for New York’s elite, today Newport, R.I., is an easy escape for anyone from the Big Apple or Boston. We’ve put together the perfect 1-2-3 Weekend – 1 hotel, 2 restaurants, and 3 things to do – that will show the best of what Newport has to offer.
Stay at the Mill Street Inn in Newport’s Historic Hill district for ultra-modern digs with lots of plum extras. The 23 suites (all of which sleep up to four) feature cozy seating areas and über-comfortable feather beds, not to mention marble bathrooms, flat-screen TVs, and free Wi-Fi. Book a duplex townhouse suite for your own private roof deck. In summer months, a hearty breakfast spread – complete with fresh-squeezed juices, gourmet coffee, and homemade smoothies – is served on the communal rooftop terrace. 75 Mill Street; 401-849-9500; www.millstreetinn.com
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