Next Week’s NY Happenings: Luau At The Dutch, Charlie Bird, Month Of Clicquot

MONDAY: Dutch Treat
Andrew Carmellini’s Soho smash The Dutch will make sure you have a transporting Memorial Day, even if you never make it off the island. Go whole hog on summer’s start with a tropical luau on Monday. Ribs, wings, and tuna poke get things started, followed by suckling pig cooked in a Caja China. There will be tiki cocktails and halo-halo for dessert, too.
Memorial Day luau at The Dutch (131 Sullivan St., Soho) runs from noon to 9pm on Monday, May 27th. The lunch prix fixe is $40, family-style dinner is $65. To learn more about the restaurant, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides. Photo by Evan Sung.

WEDNESDAY: Bird Lives 
Soho newcomer Charlie Bird takes its inspiration from Charlie Parker while getting creative on an Italian-accented menu. Chef Ryan Hardy of Aspen’s The Little Nell turns out a Greenmarket array. Robert Bohr (Colicchio & Sons) handles the stellar wine program.
Charlie Bird (5 King St., Soho) opens Wednesday, May 29th. To learn more about the restaurant, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

SATURDAY: Sport of Kings
The Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic returns to Liberty State Park, and while you may not score tickets to the match, you can partake in the citywide “Month of Clicquot.” The Four Seasons Hotel is running “Bubbles and Bites” happy hours at the bar on Fridays in May, Willow Road has a Yellow Label lunch special, and the revamped Bar d’Eau at Trump SoHo is hosting a water ballet pre-party this Saturday at 6pm.
Month of Clicquot runs through May, leading up to the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic on Saturday, June 1st. Water ballet at Bar d’Eau (246 Spring St. Soho) is this Saturday, May 25th. To learn more about the bar, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

Know every inch of this city by visiting BlackBook’s NY City Guides

Hipmunk’s Hotel Heat Map

Every one has needs, and the good thing about New York City is that the majority of those needs can be met. Travelers come to town to satisfy their shopping addiction, or to eat at the best restaurants in the world. Some come to see the Statue of Liberty, and some travel to stay up all night. You want to stay close to the things you’re into, whether that’s Broadway or Burlesque, and Himunk’s Hotel Locator is an awesome tool that helps you choose the perfect hotel by showing its proximity to your needs via a heat mapping guide.

Hipmunk, created by MIT-grad Adam Goldstein and Reddit Co-founder Steve Huffman, started off as a super-simplified flight locator with great visual design. Seeking to further simplify the travel industry, they’ve recently launched this helpful Heat Map tool as a component of their hotel search. The tool maps areas of interest in a city based on needs like Vice, Nightlife, Shopping, Tourism and Food, aggregating tourist information from Wikipedia and Yelp. Here are a few of BlackBook’s top hotel picks for each of Hipmunks categories.

Vice: Factors in Bars, Casinos, and Adult Establishments Staybridge Suites Times Square: Sweet suites with real kitchens convenient for extended Javits Center duty and other midtown business obligations. Like Scores. Distrikt Hotel: Near the seedy Port Authority, where XXX video stores line the streets, and XXX entertainment fliers blow in the wind like tumbleweeds, this New York-themed boutique hotel goes name brand, with Frette linens, LG flatscreens, and Ecru soaps. Four Seasons Hotel: It’s the Four Seasons, ’nuff said? Accepts all manner of currency, and in Midtown East, can find all manners of debauchery.

Next: Hotels Near Shopping and Nightlife

Shopping Trump SoHo: Midtown master infiltrates the western fringe of Soho with lux condo-hotel living. Bryant Park Hotel: Straight up, the hottest stay in town. Cellar Bar, Fashion Week runway shows, and plush, plush rooms. Ace Hotel: Garment District hotspot with enough amenities to keep you from ever leaving.

Nightlife The Jane Hotel and Ballroom: Latest smash from Sean MacPherson and Eric Goode gets all Edwardian on the WVill. The Standard: Smack dab in the middle of the Mepa—like a glass and steel tree growing up and around the High Line. The Bowery Hotel: Sayonara to SROs on the new bobo Bowery in this boutique Bowery/Nolita playground with a hot restaurant and lounge scene.

Next: Hotels Near Food and Tourism

Food Abingdon Guest House: As close to the West Village townhouse experience one can get without buying a shih tzu and an Equinox pass. Hotel Mela: Luxe boutique newcomer aiming to be the “apple” of your eye, near The Lambs Club, and classics like Dallas BBQ Chelsea and Jimmy’s Corner. Crosby Street Hotel: La Esquina just around the corner—near Kenmare, too—this spendy Brit import lands on quaint Crosby Street.

Tourism Andaz Wall Street: Hyatt gets haute on the Financial District, otherwise known as the district that has everything on a tourist’s checklist: The Bull, Lady Liberty sightlines, the Stock Exchange (Wall Street is in the hotel’s name). The Plaza: Eloise’s Central Park home, Home Alone, Midwestern tourists, Donald Trump, rich permanent dwellers and you. Hilton Times Square: Location, location, location. If you’re truly looking to stay smack-dab in the center of New York City, the Hilton Times Square is your hotel. Steps from pretty much everything, from Broadway theaters and midtown skyscrapers to museums, restaurants, and nightclubs.

Industry Insiders: Martial Vivot, Mane Man

Martial Vivot runs the sophisticated but unstuffy Martial Vivot Salon Pour Hommes next to the MoMA in midtown Manhattan. The gentleman’s-only salon boasts an intimate waiting room complete with a stocked bar and an outdoor terrace. French-born Vivot modeled his namesake business as a calm sanctuary for his clients to meet one-on-one with a stylist, improve their look and walk out feeling fulfilled. Men love it, including Vivot’s hush-hush celebrity clientele. More on the coiffure master after the jump.

On early inspiration: When I was 13 and in school, I took a girl’s ponytail that sat in the front row and sliced it off! I’m not kidding, that was my first haircut.

American v.s. French salons: I stopped going to traditional school when I was 15 years old to study being a stylist. The whole process is much different in France than in America. To cut hair in a French salon, first you have to get the first license it takes you three years of work and school, then you need two more years to be a salon owner and one more year to be able to teach. In America the program is one year and you can even get a license in six months from what I understand.

On his mentor: I’m from a very small town, like 1,500 people. I didn’t know at the time but the gentleman I worked with, Alain Chevalier of the Coifferies de Ver- sailles salon, was doing very well in Paris and got tired of the city and moved to the countryside. So, when I decided to be an apprentice I actually came to his door, and I was lucky to be in a small town working for someone with such great knowledge of our work. He was the one who prepared me for all the contests and taught me the basics. We have an apprentice contest in France, and in maybe 1987, I won for the whole east of France.

On finding the ideal space: Sometimes when you’re apartment hunting or looking for a space you’ll find one, and it’s not the biggest, its not the smallest, but you get in and its just like, “Hmmm, this feels good.” This is what happened here. There are three elements in the salon, which are stone, wood and metal. When those three elements are around you, you feel better, the balance is better and your spirits are better.

The all-male clientele concept: I felt like the men were a left on the side in that whole beauty/hair environment. There used to be only two ways for a man to get a haircut: go to a unisex salon or go to a barbershop. The barbershop is really as good as it gets. Not too much styling, it’s more like a simple cleanup. I wanted to keep the barbershop feeling because that’s what we are. In America when you do men’s, you’re a barber, but we provide the services that you’d normally have to go to the unisex salons to get done — like coloring and relaxers. I love to do women’s hair but, there are a lot of women’s stylists already in town and a lot of them are doing a really good job.

The worst part about opening your own business: Let’s face it, what is it that I like to do most? Cutting hair. When you open a business, your mind is so busy with all of the other aspects of the business. It takes so much to make sure everybody is in place and the harmony is in tune. Once everybody is in tune and it works well, then you can go back to what you like to do.

On finding time for field work: I’m definitely more of a salon person. But of course, when the opportunity to work on a photo shoot comes to me, I’ll take it. We like to style hair so when on top of it you can get published, it’s better for us. Even for editorial, I only do men. Always.

On keeping the celebs coming in: We do have some big celebrity clientele, but I don’t like to use them as a go getter. I think it’s very tacky. If you really want a celebrity to come back to your place, you don’t speak about them. If they want to speak about us, I’m more than happy for that.

On finding inspiration: I find it on the street. I love the subway, surprisingly. It’s a very good place for me to look at clothing and hair.

Go-to places in New York: When it comes to dining, I’m pretty fancy. I love food and I love lots of it. From the basic Blue Ribbon to Daniel. I love L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon at the Four Seasons, Corton and Momofuku. Of course, I prefer French chefs because I’m very much in love with French food.

Industry Insiders: Lulzim Rexhepi, Craftsmanship at Kittichai

Lulzim Rexhepi spent time in some of the world’s top kitchens before taking over for Executive Chef Ian Chalmerkittichai at 60 Thompson’s Kittichai . From the Mandarin Oriental in Switzerland and the Blue Water Grill to the Four Seasons Hotel and Icon at the W Hotel and Xing, Chef “Lou” has endured every type of culinary experience to help him keep Kittichai’s flavor booming.

Typical day: I come in, I check my email, I go over manager’s log, and go through Grub Street to see what’s happening in the restaurant world. I walk through the kitchen. First I stop by the butcher station to make sure everything came in properly. I’ll walk through where the cooks are cooking and make sure everyone is using the right product at the right time, make sure everything is fresh. Then I get ready for service.

Favorite kitchen: Working at Icon with Chef Paul Sale. I was on the cusp of being a sous-chef and he really showed me how to take it to the next level. He taught me so many important lessons about cooking. The people I worked with before that were really mean, non-stop-yelling chefs, and he was very laid back, very cool, and we still got the same amount of production. He just taught me a whole different style in the kitchen. It doesn’t need to be that old-school mentality. It can still be an amazing kitchen.

On getting along with the old boss: Chef Ian and I have a great relationship. We still email. He’s mostly in Thailand. He pretty much lets me do the menu the way I want. The only difference is that I have to take a step back and tweak my own mistakes. Whereas before I had him to ask, “What do you think of this?” That’s really the only difference. Of the ten ideas I get in a day, maybe three of them are like “wow” if I’m lucky. So I definitely need the back and forth with him.

Go-to menu items: My favorite drink is the Muddled Grape with coconut water and grapes. It’s really refreshing, really nice. I absolutely love the Whole Fish. We dust it in rice flour, lightly fry it and we serve it with a lesser-ginger curry. It has an earthy flavor and a nice spice. It takes curry to a slightly higher level. I also just put a lobster dish on the menu that I love. It’s cooked three different ways and we serve it just like that with a little suki-yaki sauce, which is a Thai fondue sauce.

On being in a Thai kitchen: Kittichai is the first Thai restaurant I ever worked in. When the Tsunami thing happened, I went to Thailand with Ian to do a fundraiser at the Four Seasons, and I wound up staying for a long time, trying street food and exploring. I get along well with my peers, though. I come from a modest background. When they come in the room I’m no longer the chef, I look at them eye to eye, call them “chef.” My parents did a really good job of teaching me, and I’ll be a culinary student until the day I die.

On getting a tough table: Give a hundred bucks to the manager. I’m joking. Because I’m never sure when I’m going to be off, I hardly ever make reservations and I don’t go to places and say, “Oh I’m the chef at Kittichai, give me a table.” I’m very polite, and if I have to wait a half hour at a place I want to eat, I do it. When a host has 80 people waiting for tables, if you walk in and you’re demanding, you’re not getting a table. It never hurts to compliment what the host is wearing.

Go-to joints: I like Macao. I like the bar chef there as far as drinks go. I go up to Thom Bar and have a cocktail with my buddies. I just had a great dinner at The Breslin and I think April Bloomfield is doing some cool stuff.

Guilty pleasure: I sneak behind pastry counter and eat these mekong whiskey chocolate truffles that we make. I can’t get enough. They’re ridiculous. I’ve got a lot of bad habits—I get worked up easy. When I’m in the kitchen, I’ll explode for a second, and then I’ll take a deep breath and get better.

Diego Garcia Goes Solo

After a few years, when you don’t hear about a notable artist you’ve come to know and love, you often wonder where they’ve gone. Typically, they’re up to something. Case in point with Diego Garica — lead singer of New York City-based band Elefant and man about town. Rest assured, Diego’s been hard at work at a new pursuit: crafting music solo. Diego first came onto the music scene around the same time I started to write about music. Back in 2003, he was one of the first artists I ever interviewed. We’ve remained friends through the years, and he’d give me updates along the way about new work. One night in particular, back in January of this year, I bumped into him at the Bowery Ballroom after seeing The Sword perform. Within seconds, right in the middle of Bowery’s beer-drenched floor, I found a set of headphones on my ears. “Jessica, you have to hear this new song I just recorded tonight,” said Diego.

One month later, a similar encounter occurred and he played me more songs. Impressed by the change and new direction of sound versus what I’ve always known with Elefant, I asked, “What’s this?” He responded, “My solo recordings.” Instantaneously, I knew this new body of work was something special: Diego’s best music to date.

Jorje Elbret — formally of Lansing Dreiden and now lead singer of the band Violins — is producing Diego’s solo work in a studio that Diego doesn’t call a studio, but what he describes as a “laboratory” of sorts on 16th Street. The new music and its recordings are string-based — acoustic guitar and cello to be exact. One of Diego’s friends, Danny Bensi (known from the band Priestbird) has been his partner in crime, playing cello alongside Diego over the past five months. Diego is recording all of his new material without a label. “I don’t want to compromise. I want to follow my gut, and a label — and all of that support and distribution and marketing — I know, will come eventually.”

Over tea, coffee, and calamari at Pastis, Diego sat down with me to formally talk, for the first time, about his solo work, setting the record straight and sharing what’s to come. (Specifically, a private performance for Karl Lagerfeld. Not so bad, eh?) Again, right after hello, Diego put a set of headphones on my ears and played me a track that only he and Jorje had heard: “In My Heart,” a tango-flamenco based melody filled with warmth. When the headphones finally came off, we talked about his new direction.

When I first heard your new music, I instantly felt I was hearing you again, like you went back to being “Diego” … This solo record is from a malady of love, specifically and inspired by Laura, my ex-girlfriend. I think it’s a running script, and I think I know how it ends, and that’s that. That is what this album is … it’s about closure.

Have you played any of the new music for Laura, since she’s the muse? No. Nothing. I’m accepting the fact that my story with her doesn’t have a Hollywood ending. I think that’s just the way it is. I’m accepting the fact that she was someone very special to me who defined what love is, yet it’s over. There’s closure with her finally, with this album I’m writing.

It’s more revealing as well versus Elefant’s music. There’s maturity and wisdom in the lyrics. It’s not light. Especially in the song “In My Heart” — that tango vibe, which as everyone knows is a very mature dance. Yes, I think so. When I made the first Elefant record, I was singing for my sisters and my mother. They were my audience in my head, and I think there’s a reason the results came out the way they did. On this solo album, I’m singing more for my grandmother. I’m singing for an older soul, and I’m channeling something older. I am going into the studio with Elefant though in August — going back to that reckless innocence of just picking up a girl at a train stop and driving to the ocean. It’s a light vibe. I feel a bit balanced in a sense making this heavy and longing album with my solo work, knowing that in a month or two, I’ll be singing about “candy” and “girls” with a smile on my face. I wouldn’t say this solo album is full of smiles and happy … it’s soulful as fuck.

What artists have inspired you from that tango era? There’s one that no one will know, and your life will be changed like mine was if you listen to him. His name is Pierro. He was an Italian immigrant to Argentina, who was just amazing. Just insane. I had to order the record through Mexico City.

Where have you performed your new music? We’ve played a few pop-up shows here in New York — this bar called Smith & Mills in Tribeca, and I just went out to Los Angeles for three weeks and performed out there as well. I’m also performing at Galerie Gmurzynsk in Switzerland during Art Basel. There’s a dinner in honor of Karl Lagerfeld due to his previous work with the gallery. It’s great because with the new music is the same vibe of the gallery — old school Europe. Danny and I will be wearing tuxes and performing the cello and acoustic guitar. It’ll be very elegant and appropriate for the music.

Who approached you to perform? When we got back to New York after Los Angeles, we ended up playing at the Four Seasons in the Grill Room, and this woman who came decided to have us perform at the gallery opening for Karl. It was us or Kanye West.

So, essentially, you beat out Kanye West to personally perform for Karl Lagerfeld? Yeah, I guess you could say that. After performing in Elefant for so long, I am very lucky to have a great network of friends and people I know from that experience. So, this gallery opportunity is just one example of that privilege. I’m looking forward to sharing this new music, not just with Karl, but with everyone.

Earth Hour 2009

imageThis Saturday, cities all around the world are participating in a little thing called “Earth Hour“. From 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. local time, the lights are going out. Restaurants are serving by candlelight, hotels are creating entire packages around the event, and monuments like the Golden Gate Bridge and the Eiffel Tower will go dim for the 60-minute tribute to promoting awareness about climate change.

In New York, the Empire State Building, the Coca-Cola Billboard in Times Square, and NYU are just a few of the businesses participating. In Los Angeles, Border Grill, O-Bar, and Ciudad will be participating in an hour of darkness. Las Vegas is stepping it up and turning off the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, and dozens of hotels, including the Wynn, Four Seasons, Golden Nugget, Paris, and Bellagio are hitting the off switch as well. So if you find yourself sitting in darkness this Saturday, don’t panic; just make sure to pack a flashlight.

Vegas Financial Fallout = Cheap Hotel Rates

imageThere’s rumblings of the “B” word in Las Vegas. MGM Mirage, of the Bellagio, Mirage, Mandalay Bay, and MGM Grand, is in danger of defaulting on their debts of $13.5 billion and filing Chapter 11. Other hotels are in similar predicaments, so this is the time to book hotel rooms in Vegas, as rates are dropping to unheard-of numbers at primo properties — like $149 a night at the Four Seasons.

The best way to get these crazy deals is to sign up for the hotels’ newsletters, as they publish their best rates to their biggest fans first. Just as an example: Those on the Mandalay Bay email list were offered an exclusive Four Seasons deal called the “Vegas Escape.” It included rooms for $149 plus a $25 spa credit, with a two-night minimum March 10-May 14, based on availability. If you want to get really ridiculous about it, there are rates as low as $6.25 for rooms outside of town — but who wants to stay on the fringes when the deals in town are so good?

Industry Insiders: Jeffrey Beers, Resto-Architect

Jeffrey Beers, the creative mind behind Bostonian restaurant tour de force Bond, on his many passions, pacing department stores, and the differences between New York and Dubai.

How would you describe yourself? I’m a passionate and intense artist. I’m an architect by training, but I’m also a glassblower. My interest is in the arts and painting in general. When I was in architecture school at RISD, I met Dale Chihuly, the glass blower. I became a glass blower under him as I was studying architecture. I had exposure to the world of glass art and all sorts of very talented artisans which made a huge difference in my perceptions as an architect. Glass blowing is all about form and balance — being able to balance volumes and explore forms from a strict architectural sense to a fluid sense. So glass blowing allowed me to really explore form and color and things that were impossible to study on paper. The only way to physically draw these things was on paper. It taught me so much.

What are some places you like going to eat and hang out? Well, I enjoy all food. I go everywhere. I go from the Four Seasons to Pastis. I would also like to go to Above Allen. In Monte Carlo, Jimmy’z is one of my favorite clubs in the world. I like the energy and the way the club is designed. It’s extremely stimulating. It’s a fantastic nightclub, very theatrical.

What are some of your favorite spaces you’ve designed yourself? Well, I would probably have to say the Cove. The Cove Hotel at the Atlantis in Nassau in Paradise Island. It’s a hotel project as well as an indoor/outdoor project.

How did you design it? With a bit of Southeastern, South Asian feel. There’s lots of teakwood and French limestone. It’s a very interesting melding of nature and architecture. There are water elements and floral with lots of natural elements that weave in and out of the property. The Fontainebleau in Miami Beach is also one of my favorites. We just opened that last year. It was amazing to be able to work on a project by architect Morris Lapidus.

As an architect, how is your experience different when you’re designing for different countries? It certainly makes a difference because cultures are different. When I design a restaurant or club, I have to very mindful of who the guest is going to be. The guests in New York are very different from the guests in Bombay. I have to pay quite a bit of attention to what part of the world I’m in. I recently opened a very big nightclub in Dubai. There are things I did in Dubai which I wouldn’t do in New York.

For example? Half the club in Dubai is outdoors. There are more private and VIP areas in Dubai than in a club in New York.

Tell me about Bond. How was working on that? Bond turned out beautifully. It’s a grand space. The ceilings are 25 feet high. The room was a very prestigious bank in Boston. I came in with a lot of modern wood work techniques and metal. We brought a certain glamor to it. People want to dress up a bit and primp before you come to Bond. I’m also very happy with the lighting. Everyone looks like they’re a movie star. It’s a major hit in Boston. They’re off the charts. They’ve got 150 people waiting outside every night.

Who do you admire in your industry? I’ve always been a big fan of Ian Schrager. Ian has done really well, starting with Studio 54, back in the seventies, and through the nineties with the Morgan’s hotel properties, the Mandarin, the Delano. I think Ian Schrager’s just been a remarkable person in the hotel business. I think that the owner of the Four Season’s, Izzy Sharp, is another one. He’s just a remarkable leader in the hospitality industry. Keith McNally has done remarkable things with Pastis and Balthazar and Café Luxembourg and The Odeon.

What is something people might not know about you? Probably that I’m a space cadet and I wander Bloomingdale’s or Macy’s for ideas.

Do you get lots of ideas that way? I do … it’s sort of more of a distraction. I wander crowded places like Grand Central Station. It somehow removes me from the present and lets my mind completely wander. I need chaos in order to think.

Any projects in the works right now? We’re busy with the Fontainebleau in Las Vegas. It’s going to open the end of December this year. Then there is this big night club in Morocco called Sanctuary.

Top 10 Most Expensive Hotel Suites in the World

imageThe Wealth Bulletin compiled a top ten list for the priciest suites in the world, Luxist chimed in, and here are the final tallies:

10. Brook Penthouse, Claridges, London: $10,000 per night. 9. The Imperial Suite, Park Hyatt-Vendome, Paris: $15,500 per night. 8. The Royal Suite, Four Seasons George V, Paris: $16,000 per night. 7. The Ritz-Carlton Suite, The Ritz-Carlton, Moscow: $16,500 per night. 6. Royal Armleder Suite, Le Richemond, Geneva: $17,500 per night.

5. Royal Suite, Burj Al Arab, Dubai: $18,000 per night. 4. The Presidential Suite, Hotel Cala di Volpe, Costa Smeralda, Italy: $21,000 per night. 3. The Setai Penthouse, Miami Beach, Florida: $30,000 per night. 2. Royal Penthouse Suite, President Wilson Hotel, Geneva: $33,000 per night. 1. Ty Warner Penthouse, Four Seasons, New York: $34,000 per night