Dating to 1910, Paris’ glamorous Left Bank legend Lutetia hotel has an absolutely glittering history, including playing host to the likes of Hemingway, James Joyce, Picasso, Matisse, Miles Davis and Serge Gainsbourg. David Lynch even styled his own suite. It was also one of the first “fashion designer” hotels, with Sonia Rykiel having opened an on-site boutique, before dazzlingly revamping the interiors during those so fabulous 1980s.
But closed – and sorely missed – since 2014, the Lutetia is now scheduled for a spring rebirth (as a member of The Set hotels), after a $150 million renovation. We have the first images here.
Heading the makeover was exalted French architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte; and gone are Rykiel’s flamboyant flourishes, replaced by something of a more rarefied elegance. Though the historic details are all left gloriously intact – especially the stunning Art Deco glass ceiling above the bar.
What to expect from this new era? A chic new jazz lounge (Parisians love their jazz), an open-air courtyard, and surely most importantly, the rebirth of the Lutetia Brasserie, under the direction of three-Michelin-starred chef Gérald Passedat – of Marseille’s Le Petit Nice. Not to mention brilliant people watching, especially whenever the Paris Fashion Week crowd storms the capital.
With the Mueller collusion investigation heating up, and Donald Trump antagonizing London mayor Sadiq Khan, we couldn’t think of a better plan than hopping a flight to Blighty’s capital to indulge in some of the city’s best Russian restaurants – which is definitely a thing, since a large expat population has some Londoners referring to Blighty’s capital as “Moscow on the Thames.”
We turned to our partners at Urbanologie for their expertise on the subject.
Laden with extraordinary attention to detail and elaborately decorated, this quaint (shabby chic) restaurant immediately transports you into an archetypal Russian home adorned with the iconic Russian Bear, stacking dolls and Cheburashka, bookshelves filled with Russian literature and elaborate chandeliers. Following the success of Mari Vanna in St Petersburg, Moscow and New York – the London outpost (opened in 2009) is well positioned in the heart of Knighsbridge and on the doorstep of Hyde Park. The restaurant offers “babushka cooking” – traditional homely fare – with influences from Armenia, Georgia and Uzbekistan and with a contemporary style. Mari Vanna really invokes the feel of an old Russian home and the theme continues through to the menu, which features classic such as borscht – beetroot soup with beef – and well as Olivier salad and beef stroganoff with buckwheat.
A venture from Russian chef Alexei Zimin that combines Russian street food and drink in a kitsch speakeasy-style atmosphere. Zima occupies the basement of a Grade-II listed townhouse on Frith Street in Soho, right next door to the legendary Ronnie Scott’s jazz club. For the interior ‘think Russian dacha and Soviet-era ryumochnaya (vodka bar)’ – adorned with slogan-and-symbol-embossed propaganda porcelain. The site is the first venture for Zimin outside Russia, and combines street and gourmet food in an array of tapas-style dishes featuring classic ingredients from all corners of Russia and the former Soviet Union. Dishes are prepared around ingredients such as sturgeon, herring, scallops, crab, venison and, of course, caviar. As well as food there are Russian beers like Siberian Crown, and cocktails using vodka infusions flavoured with fennel & tarragon; basil & strawberry and lingonberry & apple with curry leaves. Well-known in Russia, Zimin runs his own restaurant and cookery school, Ragout, in Moscow.
This glamorous and very opulent Russian restaurant is perfect for a trip out of the ordinary. The menu is a mix of British and Russian dishes made with unrestrained creativity and a wide variety of luxury ingredients. Expect starters served with vodka shots (chilled to -18C), and every table is furnished with a ‘Press for Champagne’ button, enabling the restaurant to boast the widely coveted ‘most champagne poured at a restaurant in the UK’ title. The eclectic design of the interior is a stand out feature, distinguishing it with marble tabletops, colourful leather upholstery and gold accents. The dining area is separated between the Blue Dining Room (designed by David Collins and inspired by the Orient Express) and the Red Dining Room (with oriental patterns and backgammon motifs in the centre). There are no individual tables but booths, making the place almost reminiscent of an American-style diner. A new City outpost, Bob Bob Cite, is expected to open shortly – with the kitchen overseen by Eric Chavot, formerly of Brasserie Chavot, and the menu features signature Bob Bob dishes with added twists.
Urbanologie has been described as “the must have VIP lifestyle app,” designed to keep members in the know with up-to-the-minute insider news and exclusive content on the most anticipated restaurant, bar, club and hotel openings.
The funny thing about the post-Goop/Gwyneth New York City, is that it actually started seeming quite a bit more like LA (yoga this, organic that) than even LA looks like LA now.
Which is not all bad, fortunately – especially when eating healthy turns out sometimes to be ridiculously tasty. And so it is with California girl and former Union Square Hospitality exec Camilla Marcus’ new Soho vegetarian eatery west~bourne. In the old Sullivan Street space which once housed the fabled Jean Claude (where we whiled away untold evenings), the interior looks plucked straight from the pages of an issue of Dwell. And thoughtfully designed for stylish shape-shifting, light woods and white tiles make it a bright, welcoming space by day; in evening, the beamed ceiling, moody lighting, and cozy quarters of the rustic-mod space facilitate the transformation into something impossibly romantic and date-night ideal.
A sort of retro West Coast trippy-hippy philosophy infuses the culinary mission, with sustainability and zero waste at its heart; and the fun, all-day menu is meant to overthrow the the boring breakfast-lunch-dinner paradigm. So, at any time of the day you might find yourself ordering the Goldilocks wild hives farm porridge; the Over the Rainbowl basmati rice bowl with lentil falafel, sweet potatoes, broccoli, kale, pickled beets and jalapeno tahini; The Bounty raw and cooked vegetables; or our new obsession, The Bay Cities Cauli, with Pyrénées Brebis sheep’s milk cheese.
A bonus? With Soho’s art world / nightlife glory days far behind, upon leaving west~bourne, we were reminded of the neighborhood’s enduring aesthetic charms – which, despite all the decadent nights we once indulged here, is really what we always loved so much about it.
Amongst NYC’s many great failures of infrastructure and urban planning, the lack of worthwhile public spaces connecting the citizenry to the city’s waterways is a particularly glaring one. But what if you could simply jump an MTA train, head an hour north and be around all sorts of watery wonders?
You’d be in Norwalk, of course – one of Connecticut’s most urbane, good-looking harbor towns, and arguably a still under-considered getaway from Gotham.
Tri-Staters, obviously, have the tendency to make for New England every spring and fall for all the obvious reasons. But we’ve been popping up to Norwalk for as long as we can remember, especially for its restaurant-rich, historic SoNo district – which also happens to be right on the harbor.
Come spring, the beaches, bicycling and boating opportunities are like siren songs for stressed out urbanistas. But we recently made a well-fed winter weekend of it, complete with one of the prettiest snowfalls we’ve ever experienced.
Proprietor Mike Heslin has a plan: he wants to make the word “Pedego” a verb. In other words, “Let’s go Pedego today!” And once you try these exceedingly cool electric bicycles, you’ll wonder why it took so long for someone to make this a…”thing.” The bikes themselves have compelling names like the Interceptor, the Trail Tracker and the Boomerang – and they’re actually quite stylish rides. Essentially, you can shift constantly back and forth between peddling them like regular bicycles, and throttling them like motorcycles – so, obviously, it’s a ridiculous amount of fun, especially trekking around water’s edge.
Admit it, there have been innumerable times when you just thought to yourself, “How can I get that dashing, cultivated Jeremy Irons or Kate Winslet look?” The elegant Simple Sono boutique answers that and many more of your most pressingly urbane fashion questions. To be sure, there’s almost something of an Anglophilia at work in their stylistic mission. They stock men’s and women’s – quite a bit from Europe – and you’ll find labels like Adriano Goldschmied, Majestic Filatures, and Calleen Cordero accessories. Don’t forget to pick up one of the ethereal LAFCO candles.
This is a great diversion from the usual, especially for music geeks. Book a tour of this thriving studio, and enjoy the anecdotes of owner Ethan Isaacs and his amiable staff. You’ll get a behind-the-scenes peek at vintage guitars being repaired; perhaps meet the next great singer-songwriter singing or writing that next great song in one of the rehearsal rooms; and watch raw video footage being edited into something exciting. Check with them about the occasional on-site special event.
Despite the Latino moniker, El Segundo is actually a thrillingly international affair. The menu is broken up into continents, so you can make a meal of Venezuelan arepas, Vietnamese banh mi, and Portuguese style grilled sardines. Pair it up with a Japanese Road Soda gin cocktail or a Jamaican Red Stripe, and it’s like doing an epicurean world tour. We loved the Indian curry soup and the insanely delicious esquite shaved corn with cotija cheese. The crowd is cool, the music is well chosen reggae and dub.
If you’re counting the days until summer, this is a great place to wait it out. The decor is appropriately breezy and beachy, the vibe totally laid back. No surprise, seafood dominates the menu, from organic Scottish salmon to seafood risotto to rock shrimp tempura. Landlubbers should try the truffle mushroom flatbread and goat cheese wontons. Chef Kane Xu also lords over the super-trendy Beach Cafe, the sister restaurant in Greenwich.
A top international cigar seller, their lounge is one of the few places that you can actually still sit and enjoy a luxurious smoke and sophisticated tipple. We loved kicking back with an Oban single malt and a super smooth Oliva Serie V Melanio Figurado, 2014’s Cigar Aficionado #1 pick (they also recommend the Oliva Serie V Belicoso, and the Padron Serie 1926 No. 2 Natural), while owner Brian Shapiro explained to us that the highest quality cigars are now coming out of Nicaragua, and not, as generally assumed, Cuba. They also offer their own El Cobre line from that country, and boast an in-house hand roller, Daniel Cruzeta, for the ultimate bespoke experience. They’re planning more nights with live music and / or DJs.
This will automatically be one of your favorite restaurants ever. Run by the charismatic Greer Fredericks, the bar up front is a totally buzzing local scene. And in the elegant main dining room, you could actually score big points for atmosphere on date night. The Southern-influenced food is just ridiculously good: the Cajun confit wings are almost indescribable, as are the truffle grits and the pulled pork mac ‘n’ cheese – which might just ruin you for everything else you ever eat. There are also unexpected dishes like roasted butternut squash & burrata salad, or the crispy pork shank cassoulet. Bonus: enjoy a hipster-free live music scene at the wood-beamed, exposed-brick upstairs venue.
This is as good a steakhouse as any we’ve been to in the last year. And though they’ve got a ribeye that might just change your life, you’ll literally swoon over the steak tartare with truffle vinaigrette and quail egg, or the thick slab bacon with their signature sauce. Specialties also include the roasted duck and the crab-stuffed filet of sole. Their happy hour, particularly, is totally aces: come for specially priced Copp’s Island oysters and littleneck clams, as well as nicely priced signature cocktails. Atmospheric interiors are rustic-industrial chic, with hanging vines wrapping around dangling bulbs.
A new Intercontinental brand devoted entirely to health, the vibe at the Even Hotel Norwalk is somewhere between cool, retro airport lounge and casual, contemporary spa – all done in soothing, mellow earth tones. There’s a top class Athletic Studio in house, rooms with workout equipment (including fitness channels on the television) and eucalyptus fiber bedding for that special calming effect. The Cork & Kale Market Bar, which also has organic grab and go food items and awesome breakfast smoothies, is replete with comfy, wi-fi-equipped public spaces for working or just people watching over an evening cocktail. A concept hotel that actually does what it says on the label. (There are outposts in Brooklyn and Manhattan, with Seattle, Pittsburgh and Miami on the way.)
Another Paris Fashion Week will be soon upon us. And let’s face it, even models and designers have to eat…sometimes. But even before the City of Light is beset by stylistas (February 27 – March 6), it’s worth snagging a table at any or all of these three new (opened in the second half of 2017), stylish and very buzzy eateries, for both the people watching and the surprisingly not typically Parisian cuisine.
Despite the name, the exceedingly hip Carbon is not a copy of anything we actually know of in Paris. The latest from Argentine restaurateur Sabrina Goldin, and influenced by the carnivores’ dens of Buenos Aires, Swede chef David Kjellstenius’ menu is an homage to land, sea and nature – from the Clavisy lamb shoulder to the barley risotto with octopus. Located on a particularly charming corner of the Marais, it’s perfect for a post-shopping repast. Or come late and join the cool crowd in the basement cocktail bar, La Mina, where you’re actually allowed to smoke. (Reminding you, of course, that you are indeed in the French capital.)
The name actually translates to “The Big Glasses,” which may mark another new trend: the French exhibiting a sense of humor. It’s actually located in the always bleeding edge Palais de Tokyo contemporary art museum (with its stark, Corbusian architecture), and it has an epic, Euro-modernism interior to match. All the fashionable signifiers are ticked off: sustainable, Medi-influenced menu by American chef Preston Miller; international specialties (chopped vegetable fattoush, matbucah buccatini); and a sleek, late-night cocktail bar. The people watching is aces.
Follow the new foodies to this chic bistro in the 9th, where Mexican chef Indra Carrillo does thought-provoking dishes like wild cauliflower with coffee, cod with achiote and summer vegetables, and seaweed marinated veal with rhubarb – offered in special four- and six-course menus, and paired with a selection of natural, biodynamic wines. The elegant interior is all black, white and warm woods, with moody, almost romantic lighting, while the location makes it ideal for a sophisticated pre-opera dinner.
With the holidays behind, and the snow falling like it hasn’t done in years, it is indisputably time to turn our attentions to the slopes. But all that swooshing always makes us thirsty – especially for the good stuff.
And so it is that you’re likely to find us this season stripping off our skis just a little bit earlier, to settle into a furry couch at Montage Deer Valley‘s Après Lounge & Beach Club. The cyclical hotspot – with its cooly mismatched furnishings and moody, sexy lighting – will be especially magnetic this time out, as its underwriter, Veuve Clicquot, is celebrating the 200th anniversary of its exalted Rosé Champagne.
Pairing up with Tsar Nicoulai (whose farms, surprisingly, are not in Russia, but California), it means the caviar – from sustainable American white sturgeon – and bubbly will be flowing late into the wintery nights. Though those not disposed towards the roe, will also be well served with black truffle popcorn and their signature house-made barbecue potato chips.
The Montage itself (sister to the Beverly Hills hotel of the same name), is one of the plushest resorts in town, with posh, fireplace-flaunting rooms, a 35,000 sq. ft. spa with indoor pool, and four restaurants. It’s hosted the likes of Zoe Saldana, Rachael Harris and Bradley Cooper.
The Zagat 2018 National Dining Trends Survey has just been released, and perhaps the most notable statistic finds that 43% of diners strongly support the elimination of tipping, in favor of higher menu prices. It is a movement vigorously promoted by restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group (Maialino, Union Square Cafe, Marta, Gramercy Tavern, Untitled, etc.), and obviously gaining momentum nationwide.
Some of the other more interesting results? Philadelphians are the highest tippers (20.3%); unacceptable noise levels and lackluster service are the most bothersome aspects of eating out; only 53% of restaurant goers now browse food on social media, down from 60% last year; 28% would pay for a hard to get reservation; and, surely the ultimate foodie profligacy, 56% said they would do multiple lunches or dinners on a trip, in order to tick off all the “must” restaurants at that location.
Here are the highlights.
Zagat’s 2018 National Dining Trends Survey Results
Diners are eating out for lunch and dinner a whopping 4.9 times on average per week.
Out of all the cities surveyed, diners in Houston are eating out the most with an average of 5.7 times a week.
Diners in Dallas – Fort Worth, Miami and Los Angeles are close behind though with an average of 5.6
When it comes to the bill, diners said they spend $36.40 on average per person while eating out at a restaurant for dinner.
New York City takes the cake for the highest average bill with New Yorkers claiming they spend $46.14 on average per person. This is followed by Boston ($41.54), Chicago ($38.66), then Washington D.C. ($38.45)
The national average for tipping is 18.1% with Philadelphians being the highest tippers out of those surveyed, tipping an average of 20.3%.
Other high tipping cities include Denver (19.5%), Washington D.C. (19.2%), Chicago (19%) and Boston (19%).
There are several irritants about dining out, but noise levels bother diners the most (24%), followed by service (23%), crowds (15%), prices (12%), and parking (10%).
Most diners (57%) typically make restaurant reservations via internet, but 30% just call the restaurant directly. 4% say they typically make the reservation in person and 9% don’t bother making a reservation at all.
The debate of phones at the table continues. 57% of diners said they feel people using their mobile phones at the table is ok in moderation. Some are not as tolerant though as 35% feel it is completely unacceptable.
53% of diners nationally say they browse food photos on social media, which is down from the 60% who claimed to in 2016. They are not taking as many food photos to share on social media either – 41% say they do vs. 44% in 2016.
Expect to see the most food photos on your feed in Honolulu as over half (56%) of diners there told us they take food photos to share on social media.
Among those who take food photos to share on social media:
49% admit having stopped their dining companion(s) from eating so they can take food photos compared to the 60% claiming to do so in 2016.
35% have taken photos of every dish at the table (versus 50% in 2016)
16% have picked a place to eat just so they can take their own food photos (versus 19% in 2016).
We all know timing is key when it comes to posting your photos too. 35% of diners post photos of their meal at the table, 2% sneak into the bathroom during the meal, 14% post on the way home, 38% post later that night from the comfort of their beds, and 11% save them for #TBT or later.
Social media continues to have the same amount of influence on our dining decisions though. When asked if they have ever picked a place to eat based on food photos on social media, 75% of diners said yes, the same percentage of those who said yes in 2016.
When it comes to some of the newer restaurant trends:
70% of respondents are so over chairs without a back (i.e. stools).
42% don’t mind the restaurant trend of ordering on an iPad/screen but 12% love it and 37% are over it
36% don’t mind restaurants that make their own ketchup while 23% love it and 16% are over it.
Nearly half (47%) don’t mind restaurants where you pay the bill on a handheld device while 22% love it and 20% are over it.
When asked how they feel about the growing trend of restaurants eliminating tipping in favor of higher menu prices, 43% nationally say they support it and hope it catches on. 33% hate it.
Diners in New Orleans hate it the most (42%), followed by Charleston (40%) and Miami (40%)
There are several deal-breakers that would stop them from dining at a restaurant. The biggest dining deal-breaker (36%) is restaurants with a cash-only policy followed by communal tables (33%), no-substitutions (27%), and reservation-only policies (19%).
Some diners are willing to travel a great distance just for a good meal. 54% said they would travel up to 30 minutes, 20% said a few hours, 13% would make a weekend drive, and 13% would also jump on a plane and plan a vacation around it
Diners from Orlando are the most willing (31%) to travel a few hours, followed by Nashville and Chicago both at 25%.
Would you ever…?
Pay for a hard-to-get reservation? 28% of respondents say “Yes. I’ve done it or would.”
87% would not fake a food allergy to get a dish modified to their liking while 13% have or would do so.
55% say they would not ask to charge their phones in a bar of restaurant but 45% have or would.
Eat multiple lunches or dinners during a trip to squeeze in all of the locales must-try dishes? 56% say “Yes. I’ve done it or would.”
Though there’s something just a bit Seussian about his nom de plume, Sam Himself is actually a very serious man. Indeed, his latest single “Out of Love” (quite a clever double entendre) sublimely showcases his intense, viscerally affective baritone and his Leonard Cohenesque way with resigned melancholy. Amidst the expressive guitars, and raw but opulent atmospherics, he laments, “What a strange dream / Today falls to the floor / We’re not like before.” A duet with fellow Brooklyn singer Denitia, their dark chemistry absolutely sizzles.
The haunting video for the song, which BlackBook premieres here – and which also features Ashley Robicheaux – is awash in Lynchian surrealism and desolation.
“I’m putting out an EP this year with a new sound,” he explains, “so I wanted to cap off last year’s release in style (and a suit). ‘Out of Love,’ the first time I was lucky enough to work with Denitia, has been an important song for me in many ways; and it feels good to mark the end of this chapter with a video I’m really proud of.”
His new EP will be released this March. In the meantime, we asked him to take us through a perfect winter day in Brooklyn, which the Swiss-born singer is content to call his home – and where he’ll be taking to the stage at new Bushwick venue Elsewhere Tuesday, January 9.
“I just went back home to Switzerland for the holidays,” he says, “and noticed once again that, somehow, leaving New York is always hard…no matter how soon you’ll be back. The city has a way of making you stay. After living here for several years I’m still figuring out why that is, which is part of the appeal for me. It probably has to do with the fact that most people come here for a reason, and that strange cocktail of intentions, aspirations and delusions makes for a special energy. Things happen to you here, whether you want them to or not.”
The owner’s claim to fame is that he once chased an unhappy customer out the door with a live lobster. That hasn’t happened to me yet; I’ve never complained, because I’m a sucker for heavy French food. It’s great, seafood-focused (soupe de poisson, mussels Provencal, grilled mahi Nicoise) winter fare that you will want to take a nap after indulging.
I will bundle up and leave my neighborhood in the dead of winter to visit McNally Jackson downtown. They always host interesting readings and the staff are pretty cool about the fact that they’re infinitely more well read than you. You can while away gloomy afternoons at their café reading, writing subpar verse in your brand new Moleskine, playing Minecraft, whatever you want to do. (N.B. While the shop is located in Soho, a Williamsburg branch is opening soon.)
Ugly Baby is one of the best Thai places in the city. It’s pretty new and was recently featured in the NY Times, so the wait can be awhile, especially for dinner. It’s worth every second, though, for their Kah Moo Palo five spice pork leg stew, and their Gai Golae southern style chicken skewers – even in the bristling cold.
Two things I love about this neighborhood mainstay: it’s dark and it has alcohol. This time of year, the people who work there essentially turn into first responders for seasonal affective disorder, and they’re doing a heroic job at it.
I went to Elsewhere for their opening party on Halloween and lost my favorite wig, but that’s not the only reason I keep coming back. Even though Bushwick might be a bit of a trek from where I live, their shows are always worth it (upcoming: Warped Comedy, Body & Soul w/ Francois K, Derrick May). Did I mention that I’m playing there on Tuesday, January 9?
There are so many reasons we never tire of weekending in Philadelphia. And this time out we were beside ourselves with aesthetic joy, as we were graced with a not insignificant snowfall, turning Center City into a sparkling winter wonderland.
It only served to highlight the genuinely festive ambience of our chosen hotel: the cozily stylish Kimpton Hotel Palomar. Positioned as it is along the buzziest stretch of an always buzzing S. 17th St, it put us within a few blocks ramble of so many of our fave Philly hangs: nouveau British pub Dandelion, bougie-chic a.kitchen+bar, Italophile hotspot Tredici Enoteca, and punky-charming wine bar Vintage. Though our genuinely most treasured moment was meeting a darling little French bulldog named Layla, during the hotel’s spirited evening wine social (in this case, nicely wintered up by the inclusion of whiskeyfied hot toddies).
But we must admit to actually spending way too much time upstairs in room 802 – in good part to simply gaze tirelessly upon the awe-inspiring view just outside our window. It is one of the Palomar’s plush “Spa Rooms,” so the view gloriously extends to the luxurious and picture-windowed bathroom – which you really must see to truly appreciate. (It flaunts a marble-trimmed bathtub that might make Marie Antoinette jealous).
It all looks ethereally out onto the former First Baptist Church, now the Liberti Church, dating all the way back to 1900. Replete with dramatic Roman and Byzantine influences (there are interior references to Istanbul’s Hagia Sofia – make sure to have a look), it appears more like a house of worship you’d stumble across somewhere in the Yorkshire countryside. Completing the architecturally sensational view is the historic Allman building (dating to 1910, by Baker and Dallet), just across the street.
It’s all so inspiring as to make you simply not want to leave the room. And thusly, we recommend just staying in and ordering up some Thai curry mussels and crab-avocado toast from the hotel’s Square 1682 restaurant, who can pair up it up with a bottle of their actually quite good namesake Cabernet or Chardonnay.
Alas, despite the holy proximity, personal redemption is not included in the room rate.