Monday, November 30, 2009

New "Bites" Restaurant at Ritz-Carlton Naples

This was just a quick piece I did on the new restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Florida. Turns out a friend from college was visiting her family in the area and actually ate at the hotel, but missed the opening by a day. She stuck her head in to take a look, though, and said there was a whole lot of hubbub in preparation for the opening.

The menu sounds good, mostly small bar bites with exotic twists, and fancy wines and cocktails. Still, it's a step in a more casual direction for a Ritz, so hopefully it is the beginning of a new trend for the chain. Based on my hard-hat tour of the new joint JW Marriott Ritz-Carlton tower in downtown Los Angeles at LA Live the other day (will write about that next week), the chain is definitely looking to parcel out spaces in its properties for more casual (though not down-market) experiences. The new hotel complex will have cute little wine/bar areas in its restaurants and common areas, and is very open to the surrounding LA Live venue, so maybe this is the start of a friendlier, less stuffy Ritz-Carlton.

To read more about "Bites" in Naples, though, click here: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2009/11/24/174228/50/hotels/New_Bites_on_The_Menu_at_The_Ritz_Carlton_Naples

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Review: Agura

I'd been hearing things about a new Japanese restaurant that was built in a fomer church on La Cienega, and whose specialty menu item (or at least the one that stood out the most) was a collagen terrine.

A few weeks later, I stepped through the heavy wooden sliding door of Agura to sample the Japanese fusion menu. The design of the place garnered the lion's share of my interest since it was a mishmash of styles that included a custom-made golden Buddha statue presiding over the sushi bar, traditional Japanese masks, an enormous crystal chandelier, touches of guilding, and tufted leather high-back chairs, as well as three private, screened-off dining rooms where you must remove your shoes.

We were treated to some specialty cocktails like a Manhattan made with plum wine, excellent selections from the sake list, a huge platter of sashimi called the Agura roll, a fabulous albacore-citrus-onion salad, and some main courses from the hot kitchen including fried halibut in Madeira sauce. You can read all about it in my LA.com review, though I will have another one coming out in Los Angeles Confidential Magazine next month.

Review: http://www.la.com/tablehome/ci_13878312?source=rss

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Review: Katsuya at L.A. Live

The fourth location of one of L.A.'s best known sushi restaurants, Katsuya, opened at the L.A. Live downtown arts and entertainment center a couple months ago, and I've been meaning to get in there ever since.

I finally had my chance last week when I booked a dinner on Tuesday night and starved myself all day in preparation. It's a good thing, too, because I got the $65 tasting menu so that I could sample all of the restaurant's specials, and I wasn't disappointed.
One of the hard parts of reviewing restaurants is that sometimes your meals are so extensive, diverse and rich, that it can be hard to process everything (both mentally and digestively). This meal, for instance, included about seven different types of fish (both cooked and raw), as well as a cut of Kobe steak with foie gras on top. Then there were cocktails, sake and dessert. At the end, I was very full, and very wired, but I suppose that just puts you in the mood to write the review right away, and that's good for business.

To read more about the experience, and about what I ate, you can find my review on LA.com here: http://www.la.com/tablehome/ci_13865768?source=rss

Non-Nouveau Beaujolais

Last month, before I went to Australia, I was invited to a special Beaujolais tasting at Lucky Strikes Lanes called "Bowling for Beaujolais," where I got to sample twenty different wines from the region's 12 appellations and crus. This was the second Beaujolais tasting I've been to in the last few months, and it was truly interesting to try some of the region's fine wines.
When you say Beaujolais, most people think you mean Beaujolais Nouveau, which is released right around this time of year in France every year just in time for Thanksgiving. That fact, and a lot of marketing, has led many people to associate BN with Thanksgiving dinner, and to think of BN as Beaujolais in general. However, what I've been learning at these tastings is that the region produces a startlingly wide range of wines, and ones that are far more complex and valuable than your average Beaujolais Nouveau.

Many people enjoy the light red wine made from the gamay grape, but its flaws also garner it many detractors. The wines I tasted, though, were not nouveau, but were several years old, and exhibited some of the finest characteristics of Beaujolais--characteristics that make it resemble the famous pinot noirs coming out of neighboring Burgundy.

Rather than get into what made these Beaujolais so good here, though, I'll let you take a look at a quick article I wrote up for The Liquid Muse about what I tasted, and why these fresh, nicely acidic (and affordable!) red wines will go well with your Thanksgiving dinner this year: http://theliquidmuse.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=55&Itemid=117

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Mother of all Thanksgiving Roundups

Roundups are kind of like web sites' bread and butter. Everyone is all about lists lists lists right now. Everything from 10-bests to holiday roundups. And Thanksgiving is a huge part of that. I have been muddling through Thanksgiving roundups and press releases for two months now, and it was finally time to make a compendium of them for LA.com.

Unlike last year's roundup, which was fairly gargantuan in its own right, this one was going to be even more of a behemoth, with three separate sections: takeout options, dining-in, and other guides to what's going on around Los Angeles.

Well, it took me most of the weekend to compile, but I think I've put together one of the best lists out there, and even better than most, you get to see many of the menu options at each restaurant, so you can make a really informed decision about where to dine out (or take out from) this year.

To see the whole thing, take a look at this link: http://www.la.com/tablehome/ci_13851546?source=rss

It's sure to make your Thanksgiving a whole lot...foodier. Gobble gobble!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Equivocation at the Geffen Playhouse

Though I am not working on too many theatrical reviews these days, I do still see the occasional show for Edge Network. When I heard about "Equivocation," Bill Cain's new play at the Geffen Playhouse, I asked for assignment based on a vague inkling that it had something to do with Shakespeare. Well, it did have a little to do with the playwright, but it had a lot more to do with making parallels between the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 (in which Guy Fawkes infamously tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament with King James I inside) to September 11th and its aftermath.

Ambitious, heavy-handed, mostly entertaining...I'd say the play was mixed bag overall, but take a look at my review and see for yourself: http://www.edgelosangeles.com/index.php?ch=entertainment&sc=theatre&sc2=reviews&sc3=performance&id=98225

Swimming with the Rockingham Dolphins

One of the most amazing and profound experiences of my recent trip to Western Australia was the chance to swim with wild dolphins off the coast of Rockingham (near Perth) in Causeway Bay with Rockingham Wild Encounters.

Unlike many other operations where tourists get to touch the dolphins, hang on to them, play tricks with them, etc., Rockingham Wild Encounters is about interacting with wild dolphins in their own habitat. That means you get in the water and be respectful, simply floating and watching as the dolphins swim and play around you. There is no touching, no feeding, no playing with them, nothing that would interfere with their normal routine. It is an opportunity just to observe up close. This is essential to the RWE experience, since a large component of these swim trips is learning not only about the dolphins themselves (and the staff recognizes each and every one of the 200 or so that might swim up to the boat on any given day since they have been doing this for 17 years), but about their daily lives, their individual histories, and about their environment and the challenges facing them.

That might sound boring to some readers, hoping for a chance to pet the dolphins, or at least hang on to their dorsal fin for a fun ride, but to be honest, the experience was so simple, pure and exhilirating, I can't imagine how anything else could compete. The dolphins were so playful yet graceful. Majestic, but smiling. I feel--and I am not the kind of person that talks this way usually--that the good vibes they sent out into the water resonated through me and carried me around in a aura of positivity for days afterwards. Then again, that might have been the fantastic Margaret River wines we tried (more on those in a later post), but there was something extremely moving about my experience in the water.

I would highly recommend this activity for anyone going to Western Australia. It's fun, it's educational, and it's one of the best things you'll ever get the chance to do on vacation.
To get a brief glimpse of how we spent our morning, take a look at this brief video (one minute long) I did on the boat between swims with the dolphins.


video

Gordon Ramsay's Boxwood Cafe at the London West Hollywood

Last week, I was invited to a lunch at the new Gordon Ramsay restaurant at the London West Hollywood. It's set up in the front area of the old restaurant (which is still there), and is called the Boxwood Cafe. The first Boxwood Cafe opened in 2003 at the Berkeley Hotel in London's Knightsbridge neighborhood, and the one in West Hollywood has the same ethos: "stylish yet egalitarian" food. Yes, that's a direct quote.

I took my editor from HotelChatter along for good measure so she could try at the menu too, and we had a great time gabbing, gorging and gossiping. The food was all very fresh, the dishes interesting, and the atmosphere much more convivial than that of the older restaurant. Add in some funky wallpaper and a colorful upholstery job, and you pretty much get to feel. To read more about the menu and the restaurant itself take a look at my story from HotelChatter today: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2009/11/23/133748/01/hotels/We_Do_Lunch_at_Gordon_Ramsay_s_Boxwood_Cafe_at_the_London_WeHo

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Jazz Brunch at the Roosevelt Hotel

Yesterday, I reported on a new brunch deal at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Every Sunday, there is a live jazz duo performing at the Dakota in the hotel during brunch. The interesting news, though, is the special $18 buffet, with $10 add on options like brunch entrees and bottomless Bloody Mary and sparkling wine cocktails. At least, for those of us going for the food and not the music. Anyway, the food sounds good enough to check out some weekend soon, so to read about everything that's on the menu, take a look here: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2009/11/20/125815/95/hotels/The_Hollywood_Roosevelt_Hotel_Gets_Jazzed_About_Brunch

Friday, November 20, 2009

New Year's in Punta Del Este

Yesterday's post on HotelChatter had me dealing with a reader question about booking a room over New Year's in Punta del Este, Uruguay's version of the Riviera. Basically, she waited until now to try to find a room for the holidays, and no surprise, there was nothing left. Punta del Este is one of the hottest destinations in South America, especially among Argentines looking to get away during the holidays. That is why there are no rooms for this year, and why you should probably book at least six months in advance at this time of year.

Still, I wanted to help, so I asked a few friends who had been there recently, and looked up every random hotel I could get my search engine on. No luck. But I did come up with a few useful ideas. To read more, take a look at my story: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2009/11/19/04839/550/hotels/Who_Knew_Punta_Del_Este_Hotels_Are_All_Full_Up_for_New_Year_s_Eve_

Thursday, November 19, 2009

FACES: Tony Esnault, New Executive Chef at Patina

Last month, all of L.A. was buzzing about the appointment of a new executive chef at Patina. After a year of searching, restaurateur Joachim Splichal had finally found his man...courtesy of an alfresco lunch with famed chef Alain Ducasse, who suggested a chef who had worked with him for years at various restaurants like Louis XV, Adour and The Essex House.

That chef is a handsome Frenchman named Tony Esnault, who hails from the gastronomically rich Loire Valley, and who has been hard at work creating a new menu for Patina since his appointment late in September.

I got the chance to talk with Chef Esnault a couple weeks ago via email, and asked him a few burning questions that have been on LA.com's readers' minds. Here's what he had to say...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Luxury Properties of the Margaret River

Much of my trip to Western Australia last week actually took place in the Margaret River, a region about three hours southwest of Perth that is world-renowned for fine wines and monster surf breaks. This week on HotelChatter, I wrote about four of the luxury resorts in the area that I got the chance to tour...between wine-tastings, spa treatments and canoe trips, that is.

I got to stay in two spectacular resorts. The first was the ten-villa Injidup Spa Retreat, where I had my own private two-bedroom villa with a private sun deck and plunge pool from which I could watch whales frolicking in the surf below the rocky coastal cliffs. The second was the Cape Lodge, which was one of the first luxury resorts in the area, and which is also home to Chef Tony Howell's magnificent restaurant, where the gourmet menu changes every night.

I also chose to include two other resorts in the roundup where we spent a little time in the evenings. Smiths Beach is Injidup's sister property, though it is larger and has rooms in several categories starting at a much lower price. We ate dinner at the Bathers Restaurant there one evening while staying at nearby Injidup. The other resort I included was the Quay West Bunker Bay, which is in the northern part of Margaret River on a sheltered little beach. Its architecture uses indigenous elements like the red stones of the area, and the deep swimming pool has a gorgeous view of the ocean.

To read more about the particulars at each resort, take a look at my post here: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2009/11/17/2031/7327/hotels/Luxury_Abounds_Down_Under_At_These_Four_Resorts_Near_Perth

Weekly Stir Fry: 11-19-09

This week's roundup of dining deals and restaurant specials around Los Angeles is up on LA.com. Included this week, we have some interesting entries: sake tastings at Kabuki, a Thanksgiving wines pairing at Froma on Melrose, Thanksgiving cooking class at Cafe Pinot, discount luxury wines at Asia de Cuba, and Jazz Brunch at the Roosevelt Hotel's Dakota. Lots to eat and drink!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fighting Jet Lag at Perth's Richardson Hotel

HotelChatter seems to be on a coffee kick this week since there are tons of in-room coffeemaker and room service stories being posted...and I am no exception. Take a look at this little quickie I wrote up about the fantastic coffeemakers (and milk steamers!) in the rooms at The Richardson Hotel and Spa, where I stayed for three nights in Perth, Western Australia. I guarantee, you'll wish every hotel room you stay in has an amenity like this!
Oh yeah, and I talk about the other fantastic features of the hotel too, like a beautiful little (though very expensive) spa, the indoor pool, the great fitness facility, and a gourmet restaurant called Opus that is one of the highest-rated eateries in the city.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Chef Shuffle at Whist


The week before I went to Australia, I headed over to the Viceroy Santa Monica for yet another meal at its restaurant, Whist. They have been having quite the chef shuffle over there recently, but I actually think that the latest kitchen contestant will stick. His name is Tony DiSalvo, and he's completely revamped the menu more towards a Mediterranean-styled Cali-fresh style. This time around, I can honestly say there wasn't a dish we tried that I didn't like. Plus, he just seems like a nice guy.


To read about the meal and the new menu, take a look at my LA.com story: http://www.la.com/tablehome/ci_13808035?source=rss

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Australia!

As many of you know from my Facebook and Twitter updates (and could probably tell from the fact that I have not been posting very often in the last week or so), I have just had the wonderful opportunity to spend a week in Western Australia.

I will be pitching stories based on all the amazing experiences I had while I was there, but to give you a little taste of what is to come, I thought I would post a brief rundown of my itinerary. That way, you can take a look at all the activities I was able enjoy, and get a feel for what kinds of stories I will be coming out with over the coming weeks and months. Any questions? Just let me know. Otherwise, enjoy!

Monday, November 2

We departed LAX on V Australia, and were upgraded to their unparalleled business class section, with seats that reclined all the way to make flat beds! My other favorite features: the tons of movie selections on the entertainment system, a great little wine list from which the attendants poured me a flight of every wine to try (!), and ceilings that are lit up with twinkling stars like the southern hemisphere sky at night with constellations like the Southern Cross.

Tuesday, November 3

Disappeared while crossing the International Date Line...

Wednesday, November 4

After our arrival in Brisbane, and another 5-hour flight on Virgin Blue to Perth, we finally made it to our destination, the beautiful 74-room Richardson Hotel & Spa in the West Perth district of the city.

That night, we were treated to a gourmet dinner at the hotel restaurant, Opus, which is one of the highest-rated eateries in the city thanks to Chef Todd Cheavins' exotic menu.

Thursday, November 5

After a morning spent learning about Aboriginal culture and local flora in Perth’s Kings Park with Greg Nannup of Indigenous Heritage Tours, we stopped by Cottesloe Beach on the way to lunch at the Little Creatures Brewery in Freemantle. Once we’d had our fill of homemade pizzas and kangaroo skewers, we took the “Highway to Hell” tram tour of the city, highlighting the early life of ACDC front man, Bon Scott.

Then it was time for a quick coffee on Freo’s “Cappuccino Strip” before a fancy dinner at Must Winebar and a splash of bubbly at its upstairs Champagne Lounge. Before dinner’s end, I was off to one of the city’s only gay bars, the Court Hotel to meet with one of my editors for a nightcap, then spent another night at the Richardson. Friday, November 6

Today, we took the ferry to Rottnest Island, learning about the history and inhabitants on the Swan River on the way to the nature playground 19km off the coast. We had an enormous seafood lunch at Aristos Waterfront Restaurant before spending the afternoon bicycling around the island, taking dips in the fairly gelid Indian Ocean, and finding families of quokkas (adorable rodent-like marsupials) to pet.

The evening found us having a quick drink and making new friends at Pure Bar in the swinging Subiaco district, or “Subi” as locals call it, before calling it an early night.

Saturday, November 7

This was an early, early day, as we left the hotel at 6:30am in order to drive to Rockingham on the coast and go swimming with the dolphins there thanks to the fantastic dive guides at Rockingham Wild Encounters. They were so knowledgeable about the creatures, and we really lucked out to find a huge pod of them just hanging out right off the coast, waiting for us and ready to frolic. It was a truly wondrous experience watching these animals in their native habitat, and definitely one of the highlights of the trip.

When we were back ashore, it was time to drive to the wine and surf haven of Margaret River, but not without a stop at the favorite (and award-winning) local meat pie shop, the Miami Bakery.

Then it was a couple more hours driving past Bunbury and Dunsborough into the heart of the Margaret River Valley to our amazing hotel, the Injidup Spa Retreat. The 10-villa resort is situated on cliffs overlooking the Indian Ocean, where you can see whales frolicking in the surf. One of the most amazing places I’ve ever stayed…which is only right for a spot whose name means “Place of Love” in the local Aboriginal dialect.

But we didn’t have too much time to enjoy the individual sun decks and plunge pools (or the complimentary sparkling wine), because soon it was time to head over to the larger sister resort, the Smiths Beach Resort for a drink at the Bouzy Champagne Bar, and a huge, delicious dinner at Bathers Restaurant.

Sunday, November 8
I made a quick cappuccino in my villa this morning before hitting the spa for a combo facial and foot massage. The spa at Injidup uses Sodashi products, which are made in Perth from local, organic ingredients, and I have to say, the Men’s Karma After Shave Mist is one of the best-smelling spa products ever!

After a quick cleanup…and some mimosas with everyone on my deck, it was time to hit the Margaret River wine trail in a classic 1955 S1 Bentley with the inimitable Nola Gaebler of Lifestyle Margaret River.

Our first stop was the oldest winery in the area, Cullen Wines, where they grow their grapes biodynamically. Then we headed to a newer boutique entry, Cape Grace Wines, before hitting one of the region’s best known wineries, Vasse Felix, for a wine pairing lunch with Michael Whyte.

By the end of the afternoon, we were all so tired, we barely made it north to the Quay West Bunker Bay Resort for a quick sunset dip in the ocean, some pool time at the main lodge, and a quick take-home pizza (and ghost stories on the drive home!).

Monday, November 9
Alas, our time at Injidup had to come to an end some time, but at least we had a Bushtucker Tour to look forward to that morning. Along with our guide Kris, we canoed a ways up the Margaret River mouth, spotted local wildlife, learned about the region’s flora and Aboriginal inhabitants, and concluded with a picnic of exotic local foods including emu, witchetty grub (which I was the only one who ate!), bush limes, and other sundry savories.

On our way to the stalagt-acular Ngilgi Caves, we stopped by the Margaret River Chocolate Company for a few nibbles, then made our way to the luxurious Cape Lodge for our next night’s accommodation.

Continuing with our pattern, we cleaned up in a rush, then headed to the restaurant at the resort for a cooking class with the genial chef, Tony Howell, where we learned to make that night’s meal (the menu changes nightly, so it really is a unique experience).

We returned to the restaurant for a fabulous tasting menu that night, and soon, we were all so sleepy from the good food and wines (including the Cape Lodge’s own label wines, a Mosswood Cabernet, and a stellar Cabernet Sauvignon from Fraser’s Gallop Estate).

Tuesday, November 10

We breakfasted at Cape Lodge, then hit the road to check out the Paul Rigby Gallery on the way to Pemberton to see the Gloucester Tree (though we didn’t have time to stop there). A few miles down the road, we stopped in Manjimup to visit the Wine and Truffle Company, which is now the third largest producer of French black truffles in the world. We met the truffle-hunting dogs, and then had a quick lunch (truffle honey-glazed duck for me) before hitting the road again for the long drive back to Perth.

Several punchy hours (and one great human bagpiping session) later, we finally made it to the Sheraton Perth, for one last evening of drinks and fine dining.

Wednesday, November 11

And finally, it was time to head back to Los Angeles, so we re-boarded Virgin Blue at the Perth airport for our first leg back to Sydney this time, stopping by the newsstands to buy some trashy magazines, then watching one of the Harry Potter movies on the way across Australia.

In Sydney, we found out we’d been upgraded to business class on V Australia again (thank you!), and quickly made our way to the international terminal and into the Malaysia Air Golden Lounge for a quick refreshment before our flight.

Then back aboard V Australia and settled in our seats for a glass of Moet Chandon 2000 champagne before takeoff, and a lovely dinner before settling in for a good night’s rest. The only hiccup was that my seat did not recline, so the flight crew obligingly gave me the three-seater in row 5 to myself. Meaning, I still got my business class bed, but they were able to pull the curtains around me and make a little private cabin in the sky for me to enjoy my flight. I didn’t see another soul until I woke up the next morning and we began our descent into LAX.

Ah, Australia, what a wonderful first visit. I cannot wait to go back again and explore even more of WA, especially the gorgeous north around the wild Kimberly and the coast of Broome. Until then…g’day!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Stir Fry: 11-12-09

Here it is, this week's roundup of dining deals and restaurant specials from around Los Angeles. Barely made this one in on time this week thanks to all my Australian travels, but I still got some interesting events in here including: a panel discussion on the history of soda pop, chocolate dim sum, a scotch dinner, a pop-up restaurant called HatchiRoku, and the Viceroy's extended 5-9 happy hour. Cheers!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Pimpin' Golf Carts at Ojai Valley Inn and Spa

A couple weeks ago, I reported on this weekend's Celebrity Chef Golf Classic at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa. As part of my story, I took readers on a quick tour of the fabulous private villa on the property, the five-bedroom Casa Elar, which goes for a cool $15,000 a night...with a three-night minimum.

What I didn't tell you about was the pimped-out Bentley golf cart guests who stay in the Casa get to use for their convenience in getting around the property. Don't have the $45k to rent the villa? No problem, the resort also has a slick Escalade golf cart that they just might be willing to lend you...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Bardessono Double Header

Thanks to last week's visit to Napa Valley, I got a thorough inside look at the area's newest resort, and toniest eco-lodge, the 62-room Bardessono in Yountville.

Not only were the spa suites there magnificent, with great amenities like private patios, enormous tubs and showers, geothermal heating and cooling, and a space age media center, but the grounds were pretty fabulous too.

To take a look at all you can expect as a guest of the resort, read my inside scoop here, and check out the video room tour: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2009/11/2/03447/6530/hotels/Inside_Napa_s_Bardessono_Hotel

However, you don't even have to pay the $300-450 starting rates to get the Bardessono experience. You can either go in for a meal at Chef Sean O'Toole's uber-local seasonal restaurant there, or you can spend an evening sipping cocktails at the pool at the resort's informal and fun "Dive Bar Wednesday" event. To read about both, take a look at my second story here: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2009/11/2/0472/83397/hotels/_Dive_Bar_Wednesdays_at_The_Bardessono_Pool




Thursday, November 5, 2009

Stir Fry: 11-4-09

Here is this week's roundup of dining deals and restaurant specials around town. Included: a Jospeh Phelps wine dinner at the Peninsula Beverly Hills, beer floats at the Essex Public House, $1 Taco Tuesdays at Mission Cantina, Build-Your-Own Barbecue at Zeke's Smokehouse, a new prix-fixe menu at Wilshire Restaurant, the autumn menu at Pitfire Pizza, and Sona's 7th Anniversary Celebration. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Inside the Intercontinental San Francisco


Last week, I told you about the meal I enjoyed at Luce, the newly Michelin-minted restaurant at the Intercontinental San Francisco.

This week, HotelChatter has posted the video walkthrough of a standard room at the hotel that I filmed upon arriving there last week, and I think it gives you a pretty good idea of the size and amenities--not to mention the neutral-toned color scheme.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Review: The Hudson


The Hudson is a new little gastropub just a few blocks from where I live that took over the space that was previously Boulevard.


The restaurant is in a little bungalow that resembles a railway car, and that's appropriate since it sits on what used to be the former West Hollywood rail station--and there's even a piece of track right outside!

The atmosphere is still casual and charming--with a long open space punctuated by trees growing through the floor. It feels like you're having a drink in a treehouse. The pub grub isn't so much of a draw, and you won't find anything terribly special on the menu, but the drinks are big and strong, and at only $10, they're something of a bargain for the area.

To find out more, you can look at my review here: http://www.la.com/tablehome/ci_13691051?source=rss

Cubicle Dreamin': Reid's Palace


Last month I wrote a Cubicle Dreamin' story for HotelChatter on the Cape Kidnappers resort in New Zealand. I wasn't scheduled to write another one, but when my editor heard about a new initiative at Reid's Palace on the Portuguese island of Madeira. I told her I'd always wanted to stay there, so she suggested I do another CD piece on the place.

The funny thing is, I actually discovered Reid's while day-dreaming in my cubicle years ago at Penguin Books, so there is a measure of verite to the piece. I was bored and surfing the web dreaming of exotic destinations, and since then, I've wanted to go to this 19th century grande dame, if only because Madeira seems so exotic--beautiful emerald island in the middle of the stormy Atlantic.

While researching the story, I came across all kinds of interesting factoids about its history and its place in the international luxury hotel pantheon, so I hope you enjoy my fantasy: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2009/10/30/125528/50/hotels/Relaxing_at_Reid_s_Palace_in_Madeira

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Chefs Invade Marina Bay Sands Resort Singapore

Since this week on HotelChatter was foodie week for me, my editor gave me this story about a new resort being developed by the Las Vegas Sands Corporation in Singapore called the Marina Bay Sands Resort. The complex looks insane, with three separate towers, shopping, convention space, theaters, and six (count 'em, six!) celebrity chef restaurants by names like Mario Batali, Wolfgang Puck, Daniel Boulud and Guy Savoy.

For the full (frontal) list on the chef orgy that's going down in Singapore, take a look at my piece: http://www.hotelchatter.com/story/2009/10/29/15259/332/hotels/Put_This_On_Your_Calendar_Chef_Orgy_at_Marina_Bay_Sands_Singapore_2010