Showing posts with label Restaurants. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Restaurants. Show all posts

Friday, June 3, 2011

On Our Radar: Hotel Plaza Athénée

The French Open has given us a fever for Paris again and we're sure a few lucky readers will be there this summer. The most fortunate of you will get to stay at the Plaza Athénée. Last fall we stopped by the iconic hotel to see the redesigned lobby and learn how you can truly eat, stay and play there.

Plaza Athenee

Located on the fashionable Avenue Montaigne, the Plaza Athénée is a gem, worthy of its guest spot on Sex and the City. The Plaza puts you steps from the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, serious designer shopping, and much more. Here's how we see a perfect day in Paris:

Plaza Athenee

Arrive at Charles De Gaulle airport from your overnight flight and head to Hotel Plaza Athénée. Check in early and sit down outside at Le Terrasse Montaigne for a croissant and some coffee. Soak up a few rays at the sidewalk café (good for your jet lag) and watch the fashionistas strolling down one of the city's most beautiful streets with their bags from the Chanel, Céline, and Prada stores nearby.

Plaza Athenee

Make an appointment at the gorgeous Spa Dior Institut for a rejuvenating facial to combat the drying effects of the in-flight air. Afterwards head up to your room for a quick disco nap and get ready for drinks and dinner downstairs.

Plaza Athenee

The rooms at the Plaza Athénée are decorated in either classic Louis XVI style or Art Deco which we preferred. The ultimate room in the Plaza is the Terrace Eiffel Suite which has floor to ceiling windows that look out at the Eiffel Tower from the grand living room, bedroom, and bathroom. Wait til see it light up at night! This room is the ultimate girls' getaway destination.

Plaza Athenee

Head downstairs to Le Bar du Plaza Athénée for a couple of creative cocktails like the delicious black mojito and small bites like the sushi colada pictured above. Don't let its benign looks fool you- this treat packed a serious alcohol kick. Take the time to check out your neighbors for Parisian people watching at its finest. At 10:00 the otherwise blue bar turns red with lighting and eludes an even sexier vibe than before. We'll go back to Le Bar, whether as a guest of the hotel or not.

Plaza Athenee

You have a few options for dinner. The night we were there we ate at Le Relais Plaza. The foie gras ruined us for any other, as it was as rich and decadent as one can imagine. Also of note were the wine selection, the potato soup, the fish, the cheese plate and the warm bread.

If we've tempted you, the Plaza Athénée is currently offering summer specials in August. Have you been a guest there? We'd love your comments below.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Beach Week Day 5: Soho Beach House Miami

Soho Beach House Miami

The recently opened Soho Beach House Miami is everything its sister properties in New York, West Hollywood, Berlin and the originals in Britain are: chic, fun, and exclusive. We never turn down an invite to the members-only club in the Meat Packing District (and neither would we at the Beach House); but the easiest way to get in is to book a room in one of the hotel's fifty bedrooms- then you have access to both pool areas, the beach club, and the rest of the private lounges.

Soho Beach House Miami

Also in the Soho Beach House, the Cowshed spa offers everything from massages and facials, to blowouts and manis. Cecconi's Italian restaurant is open to the public; but doesn't give you access to the after hours areas of the Beach House. Hotel rates begin at $400, memberships begin at $900/year. Sigh.

Friday, July 2, 2010

On Our Radar: America's Best Hot Dogs


Just in time for the Fourth, Travel and Leisure brings us a round up of America's Best Hot Dogs. Our pick is the Shake Shack dog, especially when eaten at the Mets' Citifield! How do you like your dogs?

Happy Fourth!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hudson Hall at the Hudson Hotel

Hudson Hall

Last week, we had the pleasure of dining at Hudson Hall in the revamped Hudson Cafeteria space at New York's Hudson Hotel. The restaurant looks pretty similar to the former Cafeteria, with some communal tables and the same dark wood goth chairs. It's pioneering "modern collegiate mess hall" chic, meaning the food is served old school cafeteria style with self service trays and food options. Lemon drop shots and woo woos are on the menu, hearkening back to the frat parties we went to back in the day.  But that's where the similarities to college end.

The menu, which changes daily, features items like tuna tartar, heirloom spinach salad, Waygu beef sliders, Chilean sea bass and artisinal pizzas. For dessert, there's fresh fruit (cherries on the night we were there), peanut butter pudding and cheesecake. Dorm food was never like this!

There's a video installation (a giant sized TV broken down into sections). Though we're told it's not intended to be a sports bar, the NBA Final game between L.A. and Boston was on the night we were there and we heard that the hotel's many European guests have been watching the World Cup.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Thompson LES Above Allen Opens Up June 9th

Thompson LES Above Allen
The Thompson Lower East Side Hotel's popular night spot, Above Allen, begins its summer hours on June 9th:  Wednesdays to Saturdays 5:00 to 10:00 p.m.  Above Allen will retract is glass roof, making it a truly open-air experience and a fab place to meet friends for happy hour while celebrating the view of the NYC skyline. 

Hotel guests and Above Allen members can access the terrace bar, and non-members can make reservations by emailing  You can also show up without reservations; but be prepared to flatter the doorman if you want to get in.  A sexy outfit and great shoes won't hurt either.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Big Book of Barbecue

Big Book of Barbecue

Add this to your list of summer must reads, The Big Book of BBQ: Recipes and Revelations from the Barbecue Belt. The book from the editors of Southern Living features the best barbecue places in the South, info on the most famous barbecue festivals, recipes, and photos that you can gain five pound from just looking at.

Steak book

For those who prefer their meat from a cow and sans sauce, Steak: One Man's Search for the World's Tastiest Piece of Beef, is exactly that. Food writer and Condé Nast Traveler contributor Mark Schatzker details his 18-month search for the perfect steak across Argentina, Scotland, Japan, Europe and the states.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Palm's Prime Time Special

Last week, when we were in the theater district and hungry after a performance of Hair, we stopped by The Palm to take advantage of its Prime Time menu. The times it is offered varies from location to location (in the Times Square Palm it's from 9 pm until close on weekdays), but the menu is the same everywhere. It includes $3.50 kobe sliders, crab cakes, calamari and more, plus $1 oysters and $2 shrimp cocktail.

My hubby and I ordered sliders, Prime cheese steak, crab cakes, oysters and shrimp cocktail. We were dismayed that the sliders weren't cooked to order and questioned whether they were really kobe and ours didn't come with chips as pictured above, but everything else was fantastic. We ordered second of the shrimp.

We were also unimpressed by the bartender who served us. He looked and acted like he had better things to do than work at the bar. Perhaps the tourist-y location had him down? The crowd mostly appeared to regulars, businessmen and folks on business trips.

But overall, it was a delightful experience and a way to get into a famed steakhouse for less than $50 per person. Our total bill which also included an over-sized glass of wine for me and three glasses of beer for my hubby came to $77, pre-tip. Hard to beat, even with the grumpy service.

Find a Palm's Prime Time Special near you.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Red Light Little River: Miami's Local Dining Lounge

red Light Miami

After a few nights in South Beach we were eager to get out and try something that wasn't designed exclusively for the travel set and Red Light Little River did not disappoint. It focuses on seafood with a southern influence. Chef Kris Wessel is a New Orleans native which shows up in many of his dishes.

This blink and you'll miss it restaurant is located at the far end of a funky motel in the MiMo District.  Truthfully, we did pass it by and had to flip a U-turn in front of the girly bar next door.  Though the area is a bit sketchy, we're told it's light years better than it was before Red Light moved in.  The retro diner set up and the house dj made it the perfect Sunday night wind down.

Our favorites were the fish dip (common in Miami and excellent here), the bbq Shrimp which wasn't sweet but more tangy and buttery, the Haitian style oxtail with cheddar grits and collards (lick the plate delicious), and the mixed berry cobler.  The prices were amazingly low:  appetizers were under ten dollars and main courses were under twenty dollars. Since our dinner was less than a round of drinks at Setai, it literally pays to leave South Beach and the bonus was the fantastic food at Red Light.  Our friends, Abby and Amanda with Hope, looking happy afterwards:

girls at red light

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Burger King to Serve Beer

One of our favorite things when we travel is to see what specialty items McDonald's has on its menu--a McFalafel in Cairo; McCrab Cake in Maryland and McBeer in Germany. Mind you, we're not eating there--just checking out the diversity.

Well, now, thanks to Burger King, we can get a beer with our fast food burgers stateside. A Whopper Bar is set to open in Miami next month. (There is already one at Universal Orlando Resort.) Even with the temptation of 24 hour service, a toppings bar that includes jalapenos and blue cheese sauce and a can of $4.25 Bud, Miller Lite or Budlight Lime (except between the hours of 5 to 8 a.m.), we doubt we'll make it there on our next Miami trip! But if we do, we'll definitely order a Bud Light Lime--there's nothing like it to cut the burn of salsa and jalapenos!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Planning the Best Bachelorette Party Ever!

Anne had an unforgettable bachelorette party in Vegas with a handful of great friends. Here's the recap of all the best from our trip to Vegas:

Best place to stay : staying at the Palazzo made the trip easy. Its location on the middle of the strip made it an easy walk or cab ride to just about anywhere in Vegas. There were also a ton of great restaurants and two great clubs, Tao and Lavo, right in the complex.

Best makeup : sure we know a lot about makeup; but no one makes you look better than a professional. That goes for getting your hair blown out as well. The Palazzo had both a Guerlain store for a great makeover and the Canyon Ranch Spa where we had our hair done.

Best black nail polish : think you know the best color for Vegas? Don't judge until you see what Anne wore!

Best dresses for Vegas : we got a handful of sexy dresses that are hard to wear just about any place but Vegas, and that's okay. Have a great time, wear a short dress and lots of sequins. On second thought, you can probably wear your dresses in Miami too!

Best shoes for Vegas : Anne wore some sky high heels to Tao that looked great; but she literally couldn't walk in them after a couple of hours. Again, only in Vegas.

SushiSamba : a sushi restaurant makes the perfect meal for a group of girls, because it's communal, has numerous presentations, and bite size pieces. It's no wonder the girls from SATC frequented SushiSamba in NY.

Best clubs in Vegas : we had fun at Lavo, XS, and Tryst; but there are so many clubs to choose from. We'd recommend Pure and Ghost Bar as well.

Best pool scene : no matter how late you stay up, you have to make it downstairs to the pool the next day. We're proud to say did, even if we napped once we got there. Unfortunately, Azure at Palazzo was closed for the season; but we did get a great cabana by one of the small pools.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mr. Chow's Celebrating With Free Champagne

Did your invite to the Mr. Chow 57th Street 30th anniversary party get lost in the mail? Ours too! Fortunately, we can all celebrate with bottle of Laurent Perrier Champagne free for each table, now through December 15. With generosity like that, we're sure Mr. Chow's will be around for another 30 years! be an insider, let your waiter order for you.

That's China Chow and Michael Chow above at the party.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Recipe: Chestnut Soup from the 1789 Restaurant

On Saturday afternoon, I took the most enlightening cooking class at 1789 Restaurant in Georgetown with my mother. The highlights of the class were the two uber charming chefs, Head Chef Daniel Giusti above and Pastry Chef Travis Olson below, who stressed quality ingredients and simple preparation make for delicious food. Our menu was based on the American Chestnut, which isn't easy to find. We made Chestnut Soup which I'll reveal below, roasted chicken with chestnut polenta and brussel sprouts, and milk chocolate mousse with poached pairs and candied chestnuts. It was all delicious and made even more enjoyable because we sat at a long table and shared stories with a great group of women (many of whom were former Redskins cheerleaders) and one brave man. Don't be surprised to find my new Redskins friends on JSG because they just returned from a fab trip to Italy that I can't wait to dish about!

Chestnut Soup

serves 4

1.5 cups peeled chestnuts (can substitute asian chestnuts)

1/2 onion (peeled and diced)

1/2 carrot (peeled and diced)

1/2 rb of celery (diced)

2 cups poultry stock

2 Tbsp whole butter

salt and pepper to taste

In a small pot, melt 1 T of the butter and then add the vegetables. Cook the vegetables slowly until they soften slightly. Add the chestnuts and just cover with the poultry stock. Cook the chestnuts until they are falling apart. Let the mixture cool slightly and then blend with the remaining butter. Pass the soup through a fine sieve or chinoise. Possible garnishes: brioche croutons, thinly sliced raw chestnuts, glazed chestnuts, foie gras (seared or torchon).

Monday, November 16, 2009

Purely Organic Facial at the Boutique Spa at the Ritz-Carlton, Georgetown

Last week I had the Purely Organic Facial at the Boutique Spa at the Ritz-Carlton, Georgetown.

I'm always running late; but I was determined that on this visit, I'd follow the spa's recommendation to come early and enjoy the facilities before my appointment. The spa at the Ritz is intimate; but not crowded. Arriving fifteen minutes early gave me plenty of quality time in the steam room and an exfoliating scrub in the shower. When I hit the treatment table, I was already relaxed.

My esthetician, Poy, began my treatment with some modified yoga stretches and light massage, then on to the facial: cleaning, steaming, moisturizing and applying a mask. I'm interested in organic products for the obvious reasons including they're better for you skin and their production has less impact on the environment; but I'm also sensitive to scents. The ingredients in these products truly smell natural. Most memorable were the eye cream with French lavender and sunflower oil, the scrub with a papaya derivative, and the buckwheat mask with peach, apricot and mango butters.

I enjoyed my facial and my skin felt soft and smooth afterwards. I was particularly impressed with Poy's professionalism and knowledge. She went beyond explaining the organic facial and gave me advice about my individual skin issues.

For starters, regarding the different areas on my face and why they breakout. I mentioned a spot on my forehead and she asked whether I'd been eating sweets. The answer of course was yes, since Halloween just passed. Poy said our foreheads breakout when we eat too much sugar. Similarly, breakouts around your jawline are likely stress induced, and around your mouth and nose are hormonal.

Poy also gave me advice about caring for my skin post waxing after I commented that I break out after getting my brows done. She explained that our hair follicles are stressed after waxing and they produce extra oil to sooth themselves, which can lead to blemishes. Her recommendation was to use an astringent three times a day for a couple of days post waxing to control the oil and keep the pores clean. I gave it a go and had better luck after my eyebrow wax with no issues.

After my facial I treated myself to lunch at Fahrenheit, where I had their special: seared sea bass and grilled shrimp in a champagne butter sauce (pictured below). What a satisfying finish to a great afternoon! I'll be coming back to the Ritz-Carlton spa to see Poy this winter and I'll be staying for smores by the fireplace.

This review was based on a complimentary service. The delicious lunch was on me.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Chocolate and Spa Services: Co Co. Sala and Red Door Spas

We just learned about the partnership between D.C. based restaurant and maison de chocolate, Co Co. Sala, and Red Door Spas.

On November 17th from 6-8 p.m., they'll be hosting their first ever champagne, chocolate and spa event at Co Co. Sala where guests can indulge in champagne and seasonal chocolates like Pecan Pie and Coffee Cream Parfaits, and mini spa services like makeup applications and manicures.

Everyone receives a complimentary gift and the chance to win prizes. It's also a good time to pick up gift cards for the holidays for both Co Co. Sala and Red Door.
For more information and to reserve your spot (do so by November 10th), email

Monday, November 9, 2009

Khotan at Treasure Island Las Vegas

We were invited to Khotan restaurant which is located in the former space of the Social House inside Treasure Island, Las Vegas, part of the K Hotels group. Khotan which opened this August offers Asian tapas including Japanese, Chinese, and Thai dishes. We were treated to an array of plates and our favorites were the Jalapeno Hamachi and the Coconut Creme Brulee (the desserts are pictured below). Chef Lou Hansrisuk told us he was excited to serve unexpected creations like the crispy asparagus on a skewer and chicken lollipops.

The multi-level restaurant is quite beautiful with modern Asian influences. The inside is dark and uses lighting and partitioning to give the restaurant a lounge-like vibe.

Khotan looks over the Sirens Cove at Treasure Island, which has especially good viewing if you're dining on their outdoor patio. In fact, there was a group next to us with cocktails in hand waiting for the next show. The Sirens of TI performance is a sexy Peter Pan-like show with actors dancing and climbing around the huge ship in a show packed full of fireworks and cannon blasts.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

SushiSamba Las Vegas

While in Vegas, we were treated to one of the most amazing meals of our lives at SushiSamba at the Palazzo, courtesy of General Manager Hayes Swope. The food was amazing, filling and healthy, and the sake pairings were perfect. Even better, we didn't feel bloated at all afterwards. SushiSamba isn't just another fusion restaurant it represents the unique culture that developed in South America between Japanese, Peruvians, and Brazilians.

No surprise, Hayes, a self-proclaimed party facilitator, says he books 15-20 bachelor and bachelorette parties every Friday and Saturday night. He also plays matchmaker and strategically seats the parties next to each other. That's our kinda guy!

Hayes told us that compared to their bachelor counterparts, women spend more on liquor than food. Bachelorettes at SushiSamba are partial to strawberry martinis, unfortunately nicknamed "panty droppers." We tried them ourselves and are sticking to sake.

At SushiSamba, waiters will work with their tables to present a perfect meal be they bachelor parties or average diners. That means getting to know their guests preferences, dietary restrictions and budgets.

Our meal started with yellowtail seviche taquitos:

We got a little panicky when the king crab legs disappeared shortly after they were served. Hope and Annie both thought the others had eaten them all. Turns out the chef removed them from the shell for us so they were easier to eat and promptly returned them.

king crab legs
The Kobe, top right, was so delicious--it has ruined Hope for other cuts of beef. We skipped all the sauces in favor of a simple coating of salt and pepper on Hayes's suggestion. He taught us to breathe in through our mouth when we eat it to fully experience the decadence of the meat.

kobe meat

Even though we thought we were too full, we had no problem finishing of this plate of sushi.


Learn more from Hayes Swope about our favorites: sashimi peruvian style, king crab legs, sake pairing and Kobe beef.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Las Vegas Restaurants: Bachelorette Party Ideas

Whether you're planning your bachelorette party like us or headed to Vegas just for fun, you'll be overwhelmed with the restaurant choices. A few years back, celebrity chefs began their quest to take over the Sin City. They've provided us with a tremendous selection of fine restaurants. We've narrowed down our list and have started to make reservations which are important especially if you're going with a big group.

First, since we're going to see Peepshow at Planet Hollywood, we're looking at Koi for sushi. Yes, you can go to Koi in NY or LA, even Bangkok; but not all of us are from one of those big towns and even if you are, you may not go often. Don't miss the dragon rolls or the cod- they're delicious.

We love to go to a steakhouse, especially in Vegas. It's a great beginning if you're having a few cocktails and there are always a ton of men around. This time we're going to try CUT Las Vegas by Wolfgang Puck, who's never let us down in one of his fine dining restaurants.

We're curious to check out the Wynn's new tower, Encore, so what better way than dinner at Sinatra and a night out at XS? Sinatra's Italian food and retro styling with an ode to Frank seem very Vegas.

One more unique-to-Vegas restaurant is CatHouse, which is the first spot to equally fuse fine food and risque entertainment. It attracts celebs, is modeled after a 19th century bordello and encourages voyeurism. We're curious, aren't you?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Eric Ripert: Avec Eric

Between the Woodstock-themed fashion story that features Dree Hemingway and Jennifer Jason Leigh and the shots of cover girl, Kate Moss, be sure not to miss the one-pager on Eric Ripert in the September issue of W. Eric is the sexy chef of NYC's Le Bernadin and Blue in Grand Cayman--and come fall he's the star of PBS's Avec Eric. He's a chef's chef and the show takes a behind the scene look in his kitchens. Each episode ends with Eric preparing what W calls, "a masterly, but manageable dish in a home kitchen." We're dubious about that last part, but our DVR is set!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Outdoor Restaurants NYC - Summer Ideas

Don’t think just because it’s August that summer is winding down. There are plenty more fun activities for you to do with your girlfriends or a hot date! One of the best parts of summer is going out during the week and enjoying the open-toed, bare shoulder outfits. Here are a few ideas of restaurants to eat outdoors and enjoy the night weather, the delicious food, and the interesting people of Manhattan.

At Fishtail, David Burke’s newest restaurant, the celebrated chef showcases his flair for culinary innovation and selection of quality sustainable ingredients in a spectacular bi-level penthouse. For diners desiring a dose of sunshine or moonlight while sampling menu items including the “angry mussels” or cauliflower brulee, the cheerfully decorated space boasts a 25-seat outdoor dining patio with a retractable roof.

Patroon caters to those seeking a quintessential Manhattan dining experience. The restaurant draws a well-heeled crowd desiring refined classics such as the certified Angus prime beef burger and grilled white asparagus with pancetta, poached egg and toasted garlic bread crumbs. Warmer months beckon a visit to Patroon’s rooftop, where guests may sample light fare such as an artisanal cheese plate and a Maine lobster roll along with specialty cocktails and selections from a top-of-the-line cigar menu.

Other outdoor dining ideas: Cookshop, Dos Caminos SoHo, Market, Extra Virgin, Jane. Bon Appetit!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Blue Ridge Restaurant D.C.

Midsummer is a great time to discover the Blue Ridge Restaurant in Glover Park which has been open now for about 2 months. We had lunch on a beautiful sunny day and indulged in two summertime favorites: deviled eggs and a BLT. Chef Barton Seaver walks the sustainable food line serving locally grown produce, game and seafood with a twist. In my case, the Just-Like-Grandma’s deviled eggs were placed on top of a swirl of pesto, while my BLT came layered with fried green tomatoes. Both were delish and left me craving a return trip.

The restaurant is separated into four parts: the well appointed neighborhood bar, the dining room (below) decorated with Amish quilts, the upstairs which is not open yet; but would be great for a private function, and the patio (above) which reminds us of the spaces we see in Austin.

We'll go back to Blue Ridge for their quality take on comfort food. Plus, the patio would be a perfect spot to share brunch with our girlfriends on a lazy Sunday.
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