FIRST IMAGES: London’s Hottest New Hotel ‘The Curtain’

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When the first Soho House opened in London in 1995, no one really imagined that it would launch an entire new generation of private clubs, which would stretch to NYC, LA and beyond. It cooled off for awhile – but now one of the most high-profile hotel openings of 2017 will also have an equally high profile members club as a key component.

Indeed, The Curtain will debut next month in ever trendy Shoreditch courtesy of Michael Achenbaum, co-founder of the Gansevoort Hotel Group. The $100 million undertaking will feature 120 guest rooms and suites, done up in a kind of rustic-industrial aesthetic.

Says Achenbaum, “It’s in our DNA to create hotels in neighborhoods that are not only ahead of the curve but also areas that are growing. The Curtain is that vision come to life.”

But the real marquee news is the first London restaurant from celeb chef Marcus Samuelsson, an outpost of his exalted Harem hotspot Red Rooster – with the same Aunt Maybel’s Dumplings, Sammy’s Chicken N Waffles and the now hallowed Sunday Gospel Brunch. It will also launch the Rooster Taqueria concept.

But playing to the East London location, The Curtain will be an exceedingly nocturnal hang with a rock & roll soul. Red Rooster’s live music program will showcase young London buzz bands; the hotel will display original artwork by legendary rock photographer Mick Rock; Billy’s Bar will host ongoing late-night programming; while a live performance space, LP, is inspired by CBGB – and will feature a regular series of members-only events.

Expect quite a scene to coalesce around the hotel’s rooftop brasserie and Moroccan-style pool this spring and summer. But also expect a guest list for the Curtain’s private members’ club to swell with the ranks of the upper echelons of the mediarati. Indeed, one imagines that it won’t so much lure members away from nearby Shoreditch House – as much as give them a dazzling new place to stay, play and schmooze.

 

10 Things You Need to Eat at Smorgasburg 2017

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How could there possibly be a better way to spend an NYC weekend, than eating your way through the more than a hundred food vendors + trucks that make of the annual festival of indulgence that is Smorgasburg (get it?) – which is underway once again. It will take place every Saturday at Williamsburg’s East River Park and Sunday at Prospect Park, between now and the end of October; and from donuts to short ribs to Shanghai street food, this is our handy guide to what you absolutely need to try.

First tip? Skip breakfast.

1  @duckseasonnyc

Brooklyn Duck Poutine with duck fat fries, duck bacon and aged cheddar

2  @ubekitchen

The top selling halo bowl with salted ube ice cream served in a hollow dragon fruit gourd. Top with your choice of red mung beans and fresh fruits like blackberry, mango and jackfruit. And of course, toasted coconut – because why not?

3  @destinationdumplings

From lamb dumplings with tzatziki to jerk chicken with yuzu pineapple salsa and peking duck dumplings with Hoisin sauce, it’s all amazing.

4  @carnal_bk

Get carnal: smoked short rib, marrow basted and topped with arugula, snap pea and horseradish pesto. Or pork shoulder sliders, slow cooked and tender with a rub made of coriander and ‘nduja (pureed and seasoned pork). Charred pineapple and leek gremolata set it all off.

5  @pop_pasta

Donuts aren’t just for dessert anymore. These handheld pasta and sauce bombs have even hit TV’s the Chew – @pop_pasta is blowing up. Choose from Aglio e olio, red sauce, carbonara or bolognese.

6  @rollplaynyc

“Namchos” or nachos with a Vietnamese twist from @rollplaynyc, featuring marinated beef and pickled carrots over crispy shrimp chips topped with cilantro and special sauce. Their namesake spring rolls are full to bursting with fresh cut veggies, and your choice of caramel pork belly, lemongrass flank steak, glazed tofu or jumbo garlic shrimp.

7  @dulcineanyc

A churro ice cream sandwich is the answer to every question. Ice cream flavors change daily with classics like nutella and strawberry updated with peanut butter and almond milk. The churros are crisp and made daily and sometimes dipped in chocolate. Add your choice of chocolate sauce, crumbled cookie pieces and sprinkles to what is a ridiculous flavor bomb.

8  @outerborough

Pancakes for lunch? Yes, when they are Taiwanese style scallion pancakes filled with crispy popcorn chicken, scallions and cilantro from @outerborough. Popcorn chicken not your thing? Switch to thin sliced braised beef with pickled carrots and borough sauce, a creamy tangy treat. Or try crispy tofu with mint and cucumber, sure to satisfy every palate.

Thank you @omgitsbomb and @ny.foodie for helping us @smorgasburg's top posts this weekend. 🙌

A post shared by Outer Borough (@outerborough) on

9  @ohhts

Virtuous, gluten-free and somehow still decadent, @ohhts’ new treat banana bread overnight oats features caramelized banana and layers of thick, creamy yogurt. Other flavors include cherry pie, strawberry shortcake and hint-of-vanilla.

10  @jianbiangcompany

Find Shanghai street food in your Brooklyn backyard with @jianbiangcompany. Their crepe-like batter is spread thin, crisped and then filled with your choice of eggs, beef, chicken, pork or tofu, sweet bean chili sauce and scallions. Folded and wrapped to go, this is the perfect snack for walking around the packed grounds and doing some quality people watching.

Cool Kids Alert: Art Major Gallery + Bar Opens in LA’s Koreatown

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For a moment, Highland Park was trying to be the next Echo Park (which was the next Silver Lake…we think). But the wild success of hipster paradise The Line Hotel (as well as its Roy Choi restaurant Commissary) has pretty much solidified Koreatown as LA’s “it” hood.

Now super cool indie gallerists Jessica Pak and Brian Lee (of the late Hold Up Art in Little Tokyo) have brought their creativity party to KTown’s Mariposa Avenue, in the form of the zany-cool new Art Major. The concept is simple: adulthood kinda sucks, and similar to The Line’s super popular Break Room 86 80s/karaoke/dance spot, this place is all about getting you in touch with that artistic child that you left behind in 7th grade drawing class.

Yes, it’s a bar-slash-gallery that will host exhibitions by up-and-coming talents. But it will also act as an earnest, un-ironic “inspiration lab,” with art supplies, board games, instant cameras and coloring books for patrons to use at will. And who knows what artistic awakenings or revelations just might come of it?

And just how egalitarian is Art Major? There are snacks available for purchase – but they’re totally cool if you bring your own food. Just don’t be boring.

 

Art Major Koreatown

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The First Virtual Reality Cocktail? Report from London’s One Aldwych

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London has no shortage of glamorous hotel tippling establishments. But the absolutely gorgeous Lobby Bar at the One Aldwych has always been a favorite. So imagine our thrill when we heard they were adding a fascinating bit of high tech to the experience.

Indeed, as part of their new Showtime Cocktails program, one particular creation, The Origin (an urbane mix of Dalmore 12-Year-Old Whisky, Merlet cherry liqueur, cherry purée, fresh grapefruit juice, chocolate bitters & Lallier champagne) will get the full virtual reality treatment. The drink actually comes with a VR headset, which takes you on a magnificent journey from the Scottish Highlands to Covent Garden and back to the bar just as your cocktail is being served. For our part, having endured years of old-timey bartender mustaches and suspenders, we’re thrilled that the art of drinking is at last pointing the way to the future.

While you’re there, make sure to sample one of their other terribly sophisticated, theatre-referencing cocktails, like the Ce Soir, the Jasmine Breeze or the Fairy Garden Infusion, the latter inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

 

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10 Things You Need to Eat at the New honeygrow Brooklyn

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Image by Jason Varney

We could not be happier, as Philly import honeygrow has just opened its first Brooklyn location – featuring organic and locally sourced meats and vegetables. The salad bar and stir-fry noodle options are endless, with fully customizable touch screen ordering. Don’t like walnut lemon dressing? Try sriracha tahini. Add organic spicy tofu or Creekstone Farm Beef to your vegan kale salad. Switch from mustard rye broth to sour cherry BBQ and red coconut curry.

Or just head to the honeybar and choose from a selection of fresh fruits and toppings like local yogurt, honey, maple syrup and dark chocolate chips. It was inspired by Founder/CEO Justin Rosenberg’s daughter gnoshing happily on apples and honey during a family dinner.

Overwhelmed by choices? Here are our 10 top picks.

 

  • NY Pastrami Stir Fry Image by Jason Varney
  • Make it Grain Image by Jason Varney
  • honeybar Image by Jason Varney

 

NY Pastrami

Egg white noodles, mustard-rye broth, pastrami, sauerkraut, green beans, bell peppers, red onions and pickled cucumbers. Only available in Brooklyn!

Spring Thai’m

Thai chili lime vinaigrette, romaine, shrimp, snap peas, carrots, scallions, mint and fried shallots.

Vegan Kale

Mustard soy vinaigrette, green kale, organic roasted spicy tofu, apples, carrots, roasted beets, red onions, and radishes.

Sour Cherry BBQ

Egg white noodles, roast pork, bell peppers, green beans, red onions, and fried shallots.

Make It Grain

Orange sherry vinaigrette, wheat berries, red quinoa, organic arugula, grapes, roasted carrots, feta and roasted cashews.

Classic Cobb

White balsamic vinaigrette, chopped romaine, roasted FreeBird chicken, hardboiled egg, crispy bacon, apples, grape tomatoes, avocado, and crumbled blue cheese. 

Sweet Soy Five Spice

Brown rice, togarashi spiced turkey, green beans, red onions, and sesame seeds.

White Bean Tuna

House made red wine & Dijon vinaigrette, romaine, organic arugula, tuna, hard-boiled egg, herbed white beans, grape tomatoes, pickled peppers and red onions.

Honeybar

Strawberry, blueberry and pineapple with buckwheat or clover honey, toasted coconut, dark chocolate chips, and house made whipped cream.

 

 

PREVIEW: NYC’s Taste of the Nation with Danny Meyer

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Awesome food, great cause – as Danny Meyer of Union Hospitality Group will chair (along with Anita Lo of Annisa and Bryce Shuman of Betony) NYC’s Taste of the Nation on Monday, April 24th.

Attendees will get to spin cotton candy with Brooklyn Floss or sip one of 10 different varieties of rosé in the “Rosé Garden,” all while raising money for No Kid Hungry. And the food? Heavenly nibbles will be provided by Gerardo Gonzalez of Lalito, Eli Sussman of Samesa, Sam Mason of Oddfellows Ice Cream, Juwnghyun Park of Atoboy, and Nick Anderer of Maialino and Marta, to name just a few.

Some of what to expect from the more than 40 food and cocktail stations? Curried chickpea tamales with charred poblanos from Lalito; gnochetti with rabbit ragu, guanciale and fava beans from Freek’s Mill; and deviled eggs with prosciutto di parma from Pig Bleecker.

What we’re most excited for, though, are the Donut Derby – where the Doughnut Project will go head to head with Underwest Donuts for the winning title – and indulging our sweet tooth at the Candy Carnival, featuring local handmade sweets.

The event begins at 6PM for VIP tastings, 7PM for other tickets holders.

Taste of the Nation

Miami Weekend: The Stylish New Plymouth Hotel

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Nothing says “get me outta here” faster than a walk down SoBe’s trendy Collins Avenue on a busy weekend; yet as everyone eventually finds out, relief is just a fashionable hotel lobby away. Miami’s main drag teems with far too many overamped hotspots – so for us the stress level only starts to subside when we propel ourselves a block or two away from it all.

It’s why, in our most recent attempt to escape the daily hustle of NYC, we made our homebase the charmingly retro-fabulous new Plymouth hotel. In a striking Art Deco building and nicely located across the street from the stately Bass Museum of Art and Collins Park, it’s just the sort of chill oasis we prefer – with its own private slice of beach – and much to our delight, was not stingy with the pampering and fancy-pants amenities.

 

  • Image by Steve Hill

 

Hitting the beach was priority #1. But after soaking up the sun, we had a quick prosecco at The Cafe at our fave Lincoln Road literary destination Books & Books.

But we were also excited to check out the brandy-new outpost of NYC’s Employees Only. When it opened in New York in 2004, its sophisticated take on cocktail preparation and presentation blasted through the prevailing “Cosmotini” culture that had dominated the bar scene. Their weeks old operation in Miami offered a similar experience, a classy, grown-up respite from so much cheesy club culture. As with the original, the drinks are smashing (the Fraise Sauvage is Fords Gin shaken with wild strawberries and Tahitian vanilla), the select bites distinctive – we loved the bone marrow poppers – and per their moniker, hospitality pros (as in “employees only” –  get it?) tend to gather there, making it a lively scene – as those people really know how to get their drink on.

 

design district

 

Late mornings we indulged in the Plymouth’s so many special touches, from poolside breakfast, to a languid dip in the gorgeous pool to a lazy hang in one of the antique cabanas. A lunchtime cocktail at the tiki-like lobby bar motivated us up and out one day to the Design District (pictured above) where high fashion window-shopping can be taken to wallet busting extremes, if you’re not careful.

A short cab ride south from the Design District took us to once scruffy Wynwood, which seems to become more populous and stocked full of fabulous galleries, boutiques and trendy watering holes with each visit. Out latest favorite turned out to be with the new Wynwood Yard (pictured below) a pop-up food, music and general hangout space that even has a edible garden (ask first, don’t just start munching).

 

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But we never leave Miami without getting our Cubano on in Little Havana, a short trek west of Miami’s business center Brickell. Strolling down 8th St east of 17th Ave you’ll find cigars being rolled in storefront windows, plus mariquitas, tostones, and Cuban sandwiches on every corner, and the best bar in town, the Ball and Chain, which has been open since the ‘30s. It was also where Billie Holiday, Count Basie, and Chet Baker played at impromptu jam sessions in the ‘50s. The real thing.

Back at the Plymouth, another New York City icon had recently made its Miami debut: Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill. Dinner at this newest outpost of the Bromberg Bros. exalted mini-chain is just as sublime down south, with delectable Maki dishes like Negi Hama, Karai Kaibashira and Ebi Tempura – and a serious sake selection.

 

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Hanging With Rocker ZZ Ward in LA

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Though she joined her first band at the age of twelve in Oregon, there’s nothing much of that hipster mecca about ZZ Ward‘s music. Rather, she follows a great tradition from The Stones to Gary Clark Jr. of mining the essence of the blues, then making it something all her own. Her 2012 debut album Til the Casket Drops featured the visceral singles “Last Love Song” and “365 Days” and brought her significant success right out of the box.

She’s currently working on a follow up record in her adopted home of LA – and will take the Rose Bowl stage June 25 at the inaugural Arroyo Seco Weekend, from the organizers (Goldenvoice) of Coachella. In the meantime we followed her around to her fave places in her Studio City neighborhood, and chatted about her fiery gospel-tinged new single “The Deep,” which hauntingly recalls the late, and very great Amy Winehouse.

 

“The Deep” sounds very gospelly – is this a new direction for you?

When I wrote the deep and the songs for my new album I wanted to evolve my sound by going deeper into what I love about music. I grew up listening to a lot of blues music and hip hop, to singers like Big Mama Thornton and Vera Ward Hall, women who sang from their hearts, and sang about real stories. For me, I just try to keep the songs I write true to my emotions and let the music and production support that.

Do you find living in LA is a particular inspiration; how does it influence your music?

Living in LA influences my music in that it gives me access to collaborate with a lot of talented people. I’m originally from a very small town, where I would mostly work on music myself, so living down here gives you a lot of chances to work with other musicians, songwriters and producers. I think the environment lends itself to be more competitive, because you have so many people around you that are good at what they do; it forces you to work harder and push yourself more.

You’re working on a new album. What can we expect from the new material? Any collaborations you can reveal?

I feel like I became more of an artist on this album, I became more protective of the songs and the music I’ve been trying to create. When looking for inspiration, I started to dig up all of my past relationships and broken hearts. I thought it might be time to clean out my closet and get a lot of stuff off my chest that I hadn’t taken the time to face. And yes, there are a lot of collaborations on the album, I can tell you I have a song with Fantastic Negrito which I’m very excited about…stay tuned for more.

ZZ’s fave Studio City hangs

Mercado

Mercado is my favorite restaurant for Mexican food. There are a few locations in Los Angeles, but I generally frequent the Studio City one because it’s right in our neighborhood. The décor is beautiful and if all the tables are full, there’s a great big bar to sit at that serves delicious margaritas and cocktails as well as the full menu. Sometimes my girlfriends and I stop in there for a quick bite to eat when we’re on the go. We are always running into people we know and the servers are very friendly. The Choriqueso and chips can’t be beat!

MERCADO STUDIO CITY INTERIOR

 Iroha Sushi of Tokyo

Iroha Sushi Of Tokyo is a really fun date spot that I try to frequent on a weekly basis. They have very fresh fish and delicious rolls. You can even order rolls with brown rice instead of white if you are trying to be more healthy. With indoor and outdoor seating, the atmosphere is very relaxed and dimly lit. There are oftentimes different specials to try. In my opinion, Iroha competes with some of the best sushi restaurants while staying moderately priced.

Studio City Farmers Market

There is a farmers market in Studio City every Sunday that we love to walk to. I love to pick up beautiful flowers for our home; and the fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers are some of the most delicious I have ever had. I am passionate about giving back, and since The Studio City Farmers Market is a non-profit organization, the proceeds after expenses are donated back to the community and some incredible organizations. I enjoy being around others in our charming neighborhood and it all makes for a really great Sunday!

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Paper Source

Whenever I have a friend or family member’s birthday coming up and especially around the holidays, I can always count on Paper Source. I love a good one stop shop. Not only is their wrapping paper special and unique, I’m always finding cute gifts there. It’s enjoyable to browse through their one of a kind card selection too for a quick laugh. I love getting crafty and they have so many options and colors it’s fun to make someone’s gift even more special!

Maxwell Dog

Among the people who know me, it’s no secret that I may have a slight obsession with my border terrier Muddy Waters. With that obsession comes spoiling, and Maxwell Dog is the perfect place to do that! They have everything you can ask for from fun toys, adorable beds, flashy collars, cool accessories, food and even specialty treats for dogs with allergies to spoil your favorite little one. I can get myself into some real trouble walking into that store. Muddy always appreciates a quick visit.

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FIRST LOOK: Striking New Gran Meliá Nacional Hotel Rio de Janeiro

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Despite all the dire predictions to the contrary, the 2016 Rio Olympics went off without any notable disasters, the city survived just fine – and Brazil is back to gossiping about political corruption.

Rio, of course, is back to doing what it does best – solidifying its position as one of the most beautiful, decadent and thrilling destinations in the world. And a great new hotel never hurts. To wit, the plush new Gran Meliá Nacional Hotel Rio de Janeiro, which just opened along the São Conrado beach after a 20-year absence.

The building itself is by Brazil’s exalted architectural god Oscar Niemeyer, dating to 1972. And the circular glass design is responsible for the hotel’s most dazzling feature: jaw-dropping views from every angle. The 70s modern aesthetic theme continues inside, from its clean-lined, cavernous lobby to its understatedly stylish rooms. But it also ticks off all the right contemporary luxury hotel boxes: Latin America’s only Spa by Clarins; the chic new Sereia restaurant; and a swanky rooftop cocktail bar, complete with helipad; and, well, a mermaid statue by the pool.

Bonus: expect plenty of beautiful people watching.