NYC’s Howard Street Heats Up, As Nickel & Diner Opens

Share Button

Soho has been trying to regain its mojo since the art and nightlife crowds decamped post-Millennium to Chelsea and the LES, respectively. But once quiet Howard Street is now suddenly abuzz with the style set.

The big news was the opening of Aby Rosen’s 11 Howard hotel this past spring. With its fancy pants Stephen Star French restaurant La Coucou, and its happening bar The Blond (Which has Beatrice Inn DNA), it’s sort of what The Bowery Hotel was ten years ago. Other neighbors include  interior designers Roll & Hill, fashion boutique M. Crow and hip sandwich shop Smile to Go.

“Howard Street has indeed seen a flurry of activity in recent years,” notes Selwyn Chan, who with partners Ivy Tsang and Jonathan Chu has just opened the retro-cool eatery Nickel & Diner on the street. With its five-and-dime chic (by Dutch East Design), it is rife with laidback charm. But make no mistake, it is serious about its coffee program, partnering exclusively with Nobletree. And Exec Chef James Friedberg counts such haute restaurants as La Cirque and Aureole amongst his credits.

Chan notes, “The full menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner is comprised of chef-driven eclectic American fare, using the finest ingredients available – rather than what may be expected at a typical diner.”

Is this a harbinger of a full-on Soho revival? Perhaps. But says Chan, “We’re just excited to be contributing to the evolution of this emerging neighborhood, which is a true crossroads between Soho, Little Italy, and Chinatown.”


Spectacular Party Opens the New Moxy Hotel in Berlin

Share Button
Images by Adam Pollock

Last night a fabulously turned out, decidedly extravagant crowd assembled for the official opening bash for the cool new Moxy Berlin Ostbahnhof. The hotel sits perfectly between the buzzing Mitte and the ceaselessly hip Friedrichshain districts.

This being Berlin, decadence was in full flower: there was a dedicated bondage room, another suite done up for rather lascivious photo ops and, of course, a schnitzel burger food truck out back. Deconstructed fashions and gender-bending were also in abundance.

The uniquely stylish Moxy Berlin follows the opening of sister properties in Munich, Frankfurt, Milan and, in the US, New Orleans and Tempe, AZ. The forward-thinking boutique brand is planning new properties in London, New York, D.C. and Seattle, amongst others, in 2017.


The Five Hottest Restaurants In LA…Now

Sawyer, Ryan Tanaka 2016
Share Button

Los Angeles has a knack for opening stylish restaurants that bring in the cool kid crowd. But how to strike that perfect balance of food, location and vibe?

With so many new spots to sort through, we’ve whittled it down to five favorites. From open air tacos in Frogtown to bahn mi in DTLA, these spots are attracting contemporary locals and a-listers alike.


A seafood-focused seasonal California restaurant, recently opened in Silver Lake, has quickly become a neighborhood favorite. The casual setting, which seats 90 guests both inside and outside, features an airy garden atmosphere, striking tile work, butcher block countertops and tables, modern Windsor chairs, hand-painted wall accents, flowered wallpaper, a large handmade copper door, street-facing floor to ceiling windows, and a cozy back patio with olive & birch trees and roaring fireplace.
Celeb Factor: John C. Reilly, Mandy Moore, Rachel McAdams, Mena Suvari

Sawyer, Ryan Tanaka 2016

Kettle Black

This rustic Italian restaurant in Silver Lake is helmed by Executive chef Sydney C. Hunter III. The 3000 square foot space, originally home to the California Bank, features a modern approach to a rustic aesthetic, for artisanal eats and cocktails. Inside, the restaurant prominently displays an original vault from when it was first built in 1922, and focal points also include original tiles and wood beams.
Celeb Factor: Zac Efron, Kate Bosworth, Kristen Wiig, Arctic Monkeys

Kettle Black, Ryan Tanaka 2016


A new spot opened by Marc Rose and Med Abrous,  known for The Spare Room and Genghis Cohen. The modern style diner attracts a day crowd of television writers and an evening crowd local hip kids. The menu offers all the clean flavors of Southern California, a pastry/coffee bar and full cocktail bar, all brought together in a thoughtful way.



One of the buzziest restaurants on the east side of Los Angeles right now. Nestled in Frog Town, between Griffith Park and the LA River, Salazar offers up elevated Mexican mesquite grilled dishes. Chef Esdras Ochoa, who grew to cult acclaim via his taco concept Mexicali, highlights true Sonoran-style BBQ. Beverage Director Aaron Melendrez concocts inventive cocktails with dynamic Mexican flavors, including a boozy horchata, as well as limited run beers from local LA breweries.
Celeb Factor: Carrie Brownstein, Kiernan Shipka, Busy Phillips


Little Sister Downtown 

This French colonial jewel box is housed near the corner of 7th Street and Grand Avenue in the heart of Downtown. A reimagined interpretation of its Manhattan Beach counterpart with a lighter aesthetic and expanded menu options, it introduces Angelenos to the cultural and culinary influences of imperialist rule in Vietnam during the 19th century. Highlights of the 50-seat restaurant include Vietnamese-style breakfast with housemade breads, porridge (congee) and banh mi.



Manuela Restaurant Opens at LA’s Hauser + Wirth Schimmel Gallery

Share Button

Niles Crane once sniffed that art in restaurants is on par with food in museums; but trends would now prove him decisively wrong. To wit, at Hauser + Wirth’s LA gallery, former Soho House NY chef Wes Whitsell has opened the sleek New American eatery Manuela – named for the Manuela Wirth – to rapturous excitement.

Open just for lunch and brunch for now, it plays to Whitsell’s Texas heritage, starting with the gorgeous interior. M. Winer Design somehow managed to marry mid-century modern with old southern charm, resulting in a room that might just as easily be in downtown Savannah. The brass and marble bar adds a Continental sophistication.


And the food? More cheeky winking to the south, with raw and cured offerings including a meat plate called Redneck Sampler, and a menu that boasts braised collard greens, trout roe egg salad, duck breast BLT and blackberry cobbler. But the sourcing is seriously local: there’s an on-site herb, fruit and vegetable garden and, well, a designer rare breed chicken house.

Just need post-art cocktail conversation? Order up a few rounds of Nightshades or Rattlesnake Roundups and discuss the future of culture.

Currently showing at the gallery is MARIA LASSNIG. A PAINTING SURVEY, 1950 – 2007.


‘Carrie’ Cast Attending 40th Anniversary Prom Party at the Ace Hotel LA

Share Button

The weSpark, Ace Hotel and Scream Factory are teaming up to celebrate the 40th anniversary of one of the most iconic horror films in cinematic history. Based on Stephen King’s debut novel, the film directed by Brian De Palma still holds a spot in horror fans’ hearts.

This Friday, Ace Hotel in Los Angeles will host an anniversary screening and prom with the cast and crew. The ‘70s themed event will include a costume contest, a photo booth, “Bloody Carrie” cocktails, and a live DJ. Tickets are still available online for general admission and VIP.

Black Pulp! Art Show Opens at the ICP

Share Button

Tonight marks the opening reception for Black Pulp!, a new art exhibition documenting shifting black identities in America since 1912. The show includes artwork by 21 contemporary leaders of black art, as well as selected printed media from the past century.

Paired with modern photography, books, and paintings are vintage comics, newspapers, and other print media relevant to American black identity. Free programming will be included with the exhibit, including a panel on October 22 titled Strategic Existence: Satire, Comics, and Authorship at the School of Visual Arts.

Featured artists: Derrick Adams, Laylah Ali, Firelei Báez, Nayland Blake, Robert Colescott, Renee Cox, William Downs, Ellen Gallagher, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Lucia Hierro, Yashua Klos, Kerry James Marshall, Wangechi Mutu, Lamar Peterson, Pope.L, Kenny Rivero, Alexandria Smith, Felandus Thames, Hank Willis Thomas, Kara Walker, and Fred Wilson.

The exhibition runs through December 3rd at the International Print Center New York, located at 1114 6th Ave. For more information, check out

The Ham Yard Hotel Guide to London’s Soho

Share Button
Above image: Simon Brown

To understand London’s Soho, you have to think of it as a sort of strange and wonderful mashup of theatre district, louche sex parlours, and iconoclastically trendy nightlife. And as with all of Central London these days, some, naturally, fear the loss of the latter 2/3 to gentrification.

It’s also home to our current fave sleep in the capital, the Ham Yard Hotel – from these faultless purveyors of recherché style, Firmdale (Designer-proprietor Kit Kemp’s new book, Every Room Tells a Story, came out late last year). Nestled around a courtyard just off buzzing Rupert Street, it was conceived as a sort of urbane hamlet – its on-site Ham Yard Village features such cultivated shops as Brummells of London, Bloomsbury Flowers and Anabela Chan. There’s also an Eyewear Concierge, a Press Juice Bar, a cinema, a fantabulous basement bowling alley, and the cleverly monikered Soholistic Spa. Fancifully stylish rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, with the best looking out over the twinkling lights of the hotel’s courtyard.

HamYardHotelImage 2

HamYardHotelImage 3


Images by Simon Brown 

As with so many Firmdale Hotels, the most pulsing energy can be found in the eponymous bar and restaurant – which winds out through two natty lounge areas during afternoon tea and into the courtyard when weather allows. And you can always count on something smart, fun and zeitgeisty going on, like the rooftop event Inside The Hive, on October 10th.

And though you genuinely may not want to leave the hotel, BlackBook and Ham Yard here share some of our fave spots in its resolutely groovy neighborhood.



Perched dramatically above Regent Street, this is the oldest – dating to 1926 – Indian restaurant in the capital (and sister to Mayfair’s Chutney Mary). Amidst the stunning, Maharajah inspired décor – indeed, this is a London date night spot, par excellence – classical dishes are reinvented in startlingly modern ways. To wit, the crab & ginger soup, green herb paneer tikka, Tandoori roan, Kerala prawn curry, and Hyderabadi lamb biryani. Thematic cocktails like the 1926 and the Bombay Blush only serve to add to the dazzle.



Chef Jason Atherton has taken New York by storm with his Clocktower restaurant at the EDITION hotel. But his Social Eating House remains a London hotspot, with sharing jars and an 8-course tasting menu. Pop upstairs to the Blind Pig for a smart post-prandial tipple.


A Soho House production. Draws a parade of celebs – Kylie, Gwyneth, Rita Ora – for buzzy brunch and Brit/Continental classics (old spot pork belly, confit duck leg) at dinner. Great for propping up at the bar for a bloody mary and a side of endlessly entertaining people watching.

DeanStreetTownhouse interior


Sister restaurant to hotshot chef Alan Yau’s Yauatcha right next door, the Duck & Rice is a hip pub downstairs (beer cocktails, anyone?) and a sort of avant Chinese gastropub upstairs. Trendy dim sum fiends flock to it.


Just down the block from the Ham Yard, the Archer is an urbane spot for sophisticated cocktailing. And come holiday time, its seasonal basement lounge Piste will be done up like a Swiss après-ski lodge, complete with vintage skis, fireplace, and themed tipples like the Avalanche.



Still the most sophisticated European style jazz club in the capital. Everyone from Ella to Nina to Hendrix to Cassandra Wilson has graced its stage. Don your best threads for a supremely cool night out.


One of the last great indie record shops – and a promised land for vinyl heads. The essence of Soho.


The shambolically cool Vintage Magazine shop sells just that: a head spinning collection of retro mags, plus posters, art prints, and cheeky t-shirts. Be prepared to spend hours.

VintageMagazineShop image

12 Things We Loved About W Hotels’ Debut WAKE UP CALL Music Festival

Share Button

It was bound to happen: W Hotels have launched their first music festival, cheekily titled WAKE UP CALL.

We gladly joined in the fun as WAKE UP took over the grounds at the W Scottsdale this past weekend, a raucous three-day fête, further signaling the trend towards more “boutique” style events. With Scottsdale as its hot desert backdrop, the W pulled off a fantastic music program, complete with pool parties, sophisto cocktails and luxurious spa treatments.

There were definite nods to the music festivals of yore: drone cameras, sponsorships, artists and fans co-mingling. But the comparisons ended there. The big venue rigmarole, the dusty fields, the uncomfortable crowds – out of sight. This was a W, after all.


Starting on Friday, patrons congregated at the WET Deck where the hotel had constructed a legit main stage resting just in front of the pool. Hip hop legends De La Soul headlined the first night, preceded by Cee Lo Green on the decks.

Green likened Scottsdale to the “beautiful, domestic side of Las Vegas,” which, he said, a lot of people don’t know about. He comes here for the peace and tranquility, and to see family. But this weekend, he was here to turn the tables.

“Music is my everything, and I love to play music I love,” he said from a couch in the glowing green Heineken lounge, “I’m a bigger fan than anything. We’ll have some fun tonight. . . I might sing a little.”

Here were the highlights of the weekend.

Before the music commenced, we took the 30-minute drive for A TOUR OF TALIESIN WEST, Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and the now fully operating campus of his architecture school – a Mecca for design junkies. (For a swifter peek at Wright’s genius, we also popped by the nearby ARIZONA BILTMORE HOTEL).
W SCOTTSDALE HOTEL’S PLUSH ACCOMMODATIONS and spot-on staff were a welcome relief from the big, sweaty fields. It was a music festival, yes. But it was done in true four-star fashion, with an AstroTurf-covered dance floor, which unbeknownst to many of those dancing on it, doubled as a pool cover. Here we all were jumping up and down to De La Soul or Nico & Vinz, with luxe hotel rooms just an elevator ride away.


CEE-LO lived up to his word. The crowd danced wildly along to his eclectic mix of pop, r&b and soul tracks Friday night, and then joined in singing along to his Grammy-winning hit, “F*ck You” (because who can resist?). Belgian DJ-producer Felix De Laet, otherwise known as LOST FREQUENCIES, followed DE LA SOUL, carrying the dance party late into the night.
The following morning, a hankering for caffeine led us to THE CARTEL COFFEE LAB, just down the road in the 5th Avenue Shops. Worth the walk (or hotel car ride), the cafe offers a peek at local freelance life. Their menu boasts a mix of Ethiopian and Yemeni blends. The cold brew was positively rejuvenating.
Back at the pool, the crowd was sunbaked from the desert heat—which rose to about 93 F that day. With the flowing drinks and the swim-up stage, it felt a bit like Vegas. The fabulous JESS GLYNNE took the stage around 4pm for an electrifying set, in sparkly A-line pants, no less.


Image by Karston Tannis
Nothing works up an appetite like a good swim, and after a quick shower and costume change (another hotel music festi perk) SUSHI ROKU was ready with fresh slices of sashimi and bottles of Veuve. The toro sashimi with osetra caviar, seared albacore sashimi, and brussels sprouts chips were all table favorites.
Upstairs on the WET Deck, now a nightclub dance floor, the party carried on with performances from MIKE POSNER and BEBE REXHA, who, funny enough, is the lava-like voice on popular club track “Me, Myself & I” – not De La Soul’s – but G-Eazy’s.
Sunday morning, though the weather shifted to rain, it wasn’t enough to put poolside revelers off. They were toasting to a sampling of Veuve Clicqout by noon underneath the covered patio, ready for an amazing set by Norwegian DJ MATOMA.


Image by Karston Tannis

‘Chopped’ Star Chef Chris Santos’ Guide to the World’s Best Street Food

Share Button

VANDAL restaurant opened in New York in early 2016 to spectacular buzz; no surprise, considering its remarkable pedigree. Chef Chris Santos had dazzled fashionable Downtown diners at Stanton Social and Beauty & Essex – and was a hit on the small screen on Food Network’s Chopped. As well, the exalted TAO Group was behind the venture.

The concept? To bring the vibrancy of international street food to a buzzy Bowery location – with a spectacular interior that included striking wall murals by Shepard Fairey and Hush.


Vandal interior

“We drew inspiration from all over the world,” Santos explains of himself of chef-partner Jonathon Kavourakis. “We loved the use of humble ingredients seen through the prism of local culture and traditions. When you’re traveling and tasting different things, you really get to see the level of respect people have for their food. At the end of the day we at VANDAL have the same end goal as the 75-year-old woman slinging tacos in Mexico City: to see a huge smile on our guests faces.”

Santos cites some of their most popular dishes, inspired by four different continents: the New York pretzel tartare; the neo-Neopolitan pizza; the Crispy Bao Buns with braised brisket; and the Jicama Shell Tostadas topped with butternut squash, salsa verde and crispy kale. But we asked him to recount the best of their street food experiences around the world.


Mexico City

Mexico City’s street food culture is unbelievable – just about every block has 2-3 different vendors.  Some of the carts only sell tacos, while others will sell huaraches, tostadas, taquitos, flautas, and tortas. What was really special about these stands was that although some were selling the same items, the accouterments in each booth were different. Every vendor would have different homemade salsas and hot sauces, which made it really interesting. El Tizoncito is a small restaurant that claims to have served the first ever “al pastor taco,” and it did not disappoint. We also took a walk around the Mercado Coyocan and ate at Tostadas de Coyocan, who also claimed to have invented their namesake food. They had huge mounds of meat and fish on the counter; you choose your protein and then they pile it up on a crispy tortilla – really good stuff!


Buenos Aires

We started off at a really small, no name Parilla right outside of the Mercado San Telmo. The chorizo in Buenos Aires is great, yet tasted very similar wherever we went; but all of the Parillas have a different chimichurri recipe, which can really take the chorizo sandwich from good to great. We ate at a restaurant call La Estancia (meat heavy, with fire pits and wood burning grills) and had a red chimichurri that really wowed us. The chef wouldn’t give up the recipe, but he did tell us whether we were right or wrong on some of the key ingredients. We now serve a variation of that on the VANDAL menu.


Pizza is everywhere!  Neapolitan pizzas made in very hot, wood burning ovens. We were fortunate enough to be there during their pizza festival, it was about 200 yards of ovens where each vendor was selling their own variation. We tried about six different pizzas and they were all unique. It’s a lot different than what we’re used to here in New York; the pizza is served with a knife and is not pre-sliced. It’s also not too crispy and a little soggy in the center; but the tomatoes, cheese and olive oil they used were great. It’s also amazing to see how much chefs and pizza cooks respect their craft. At VANDAL we went with a variation of a Neapolitan crust, but decided to add emolina so that the dough would stay crispier and not get soggy in the middle of the pie.



Lima is another city where the food culture is taken very seriously. We dined in many small, open kitchen restaurants where you could see how much the chefs respected their craft and ingredients. On our first full day in Peru, we hopped in a cab and asked the driver to take us to a certain fish market, but he refused and told us he would take us to the best fish spot in Lima. After a 30 minute car ride through a run down neighborhood – where the driver kept telling us to keep our phones down so they wouldn’t get snatched out the window – we arrived at a large beach-looking shack called Mi Barrunto. It was packed and we were clearly the only tourists in the entire place. We had the best ceviche I have ever had. The liquid they used was called “Leche De Tigre.”  They also had girls walking around passing out shots, which consisted of the excess marinade from the kitchen that is said to be a hangover cure.

Saigon, Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong

It would be almost impossible to isolate just a few places from our travels throughout Saigon, Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong; but I would have to say the sheer number of food stalls and the selection of street food in those cities is absolutely mind boggling. From indoor markets to outdoor “food courts,” one could literally spend every day sampling something new and never get through every place each city has to offer. Of all of our travels, these are the destination I can’t wait to return to.


Vandal’s Chicken Katsu + Hong Kong Waffles