Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.




  • pinitbutton Chicago Chef Week Ushers in Spring
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The Publican is among more than two-dozen participating restaurants. (Photo courtesy of Bob Briskey Photography)

by Jennifer Olvera


The second annual Chicago Chef Week is on the horizon—make note to clear your schedule for March 22-28—bringing with it an endless array of affordable prix fixe menus at top tables all over town.


More than two-dozen restaurants will be dishing up special menus. Among them is The Publican, which will usher in a $30 three-course meal of Little Gem salad with crispy pig ears, followed by grilled country ribs. As for dessert, look for a tweaked version of its famed waffle.


Admittedly, though, you may be lured to the ’burbs for Paul Virant’s menu at Vie, which happens to be one of our Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S. He’ll kick things off with a salad of La Quercia prosciutto, scarlet turnips, caramel apple jam, Werp Farms arugula and Spanish olive oil. Next up, it’s Milanese-style Gunthorp Farms chicken with organic polenta, fried Tuscan kale and garlic-herb vinaigrette and warm, gooey butter cake with Tahitian vanilla ice cream, brittled peanuts and chocolate sauce.

  Continue reading “Chicago Chef Week Ushers in Spring” »

  • pinitbutton Marea Ups the Formal Quotient in Dining... Wonderfully
marea2 300x295 Marea Ups the Formal Quotient in Dining... Wonderfully

Marea restaurant in New York

by Meryl Pearlstein


I loved my meal at Marea, Chef Michael White’s stellar vision of Italian seafood on Central Park South in the old San Domenico space now sleekly done with clubby touches and a crudo bar. No misses here — from the ricci starter of sea urchin spread with lardo to the pastas, lobster with burrata, Hawaiian swordfish with fruit and the sublime affogato dessert drink.



Can’t wait to go back to try Marea’s Le Collezione menu at the Crudo Bar, offering six crudi, five small portions of pasta, and dessert for $125. No wonder it was named to Gayot’s list of Top 10 New Restaurants in the U.S.


Keep coming back to for more New York Restaurant News, Restaurant ReviewsCulinary Events and New York Wine Dinners.


minilogo Marea Ups the Formal Quotient in Dining... Wonderfully

  • pinitbutton Beer Bashes Usher in Spring, Chicago Style

bar2 300x200 Beer Bashes Usher in Spring, Chicago Style
Goose Island Clybourn will kick off spring with maple-bacon-infused beer.

by Jennifer Olvera


The highly anticipated Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America—geared toward brewpubs and breweries—will take place at the Sheraton Hotel & Towers in Chicago April 7-10. While the festivities are trade-oriented, there is a way for day beer lovers to partake.


On April 6, avec restaurant and wine bar will pay homage to the happenings by hosting a five-course beer dinner emphasizing veggies and grains ($50, plus $25 for beer pairings). Brewers Marc Lemay from Brasserie Dubuisson and Don Feinberg and Wendy Littlefield from Vanberg & Dewulf will attend the event, which kicks off at 3:30 p.m. and continues all evening long.

Raising the Bar #3

on March 11th, 2010
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  • pinitbutton Raising the Bar #3
sophiesgayotraisinghtebar 300x178 Raising the Bar #3
The contestants and the judges from Raising the Bar #2 (from left to right): Judge Nicholas Liberato/Comme Ca, Shana Street/Church & State, Victoria Recano, Sophie Gayot, Tim Loden/Comme Ca, Judge Yassmin Sarmadi/Church & State, Hector Bury/Joe’s, Judge Joe Miller/Joe’s

by Sophie Gayot

Join me at BOA Steakhouse in Santa Monica on Sunday, March 14th, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., for the third edition of Raising the Bar, a cocktail competition created by Joe Miller of Joe’s restaurant in Venice that is free to attend.


Continue reading “Raising the Bar #3” »

Home Cooking

on March 11th, 2010
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  • pinitbutton Home Cooking
susanspicer Home Cooking

Chef Susan Spicer of Bayona in New Orleans

by Becky Sauer


Chef Susan Spicer, known for her French Quarter restaurant, Bayona, is from Lakeview, a suburb of New Orleans devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. As the area continues to rebound from the calamity, Spicer is set to open Mondo in her hometown.


Look for pizzas from wood-burning ovens, local seafood, ethnic specialties and handmade desserts at what she describes as a “comfortable, casual, upbeat neighborhood restaurant and bar with an international menu full of things you want to eat.” Bayona is known for its fabulous desserts, so expect nothing less from Mondo.


Read more about the Big Easy dining scene with our
New Orleans Restaurant News, Restaurant Reviews, Culinary Events and Wine Dinners.


minilogo Home Cooking

L20 the Place to Go

on March 09th, 2010
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  • pinitbutton L20 the Place to Go
14 300x225 L20 the Place to Go

Poire Belle-Hélène: poached pear, pistachio, ginger & chocolate sauce.

By Andre Gayot


Hey Laurent, isn’t there a better way to let us know that this is a fish-oriented restaurant — and an excellent one for that matter — than this esoteric acronym of L20? L is for Laurent, we understand, and replaces the H which is half of the chemical symbol of water, H20.


But Laurent, you have nothing to do with chemistry except maybe when, with a funny allusion, you mock the molecular cuisine concealing your succulent foie gras under a cloud of sugar candy. Moreover, you make it difficult for the search engines to find this elegant and worthy eatery hidden in the chic Lincoln Park West area of Chicago in the databases of good restaurants, a pity for the uninformed who will miss a memorable dinner in this serene, almost spa-like space filled with Makassar ebony columns, plush couches and white leather chairs. The single onyx two-top has “it table” status written all over it.


Continue reading “L20 the Place to Go” »



  • pinitbutton A Little Taste of Oscar Gold
oscars 300x136 A Little Taste of Oscar Gold

Entrance to the 52nd Annual Governor’s Ball

by Alexandra Rowinski



24 hours before all of the designer-clad and diamond-studded celebrities posed for flashing cameras on the red carpet, I threw on an old cocktail dress, pinned back my hair and happily danced my way up the steps of the Kodak theatre to attend the preview of the 52nd Annual Governor’s Ball. Despite the rain, the crowd of curious onlookers was rather large! No one wanted to miss the sneak peek to one of the biggest parties in Hollywood, the traditional and lavish follow-up to the annual Academy Awards ceremony.



Continue reading “A Little Taste of Oscar Gold” »

  • pinitbutton S.Pellegrino 2010 Almost Famous Chef Competition Winners
sophiegayotalmostfamouschefwinner 300x251 S.Pellegrino 2010 Almost Famous Chef Competition Winners

The winners of the 2010 Almost Famous Chef Competition

by Sophie Gayot


After four hours of tasting yesterday for The Mystery Basket, two hours today for The Signature Dish, and one hour of voting and deliberation, the results are in for the 2010 S.Pellegrino® Almost Famous Chef® Competition.


Many of S.Pellegrino’s representatives, including President & CEO Stefano Agostini, made the trip to Napa Valley for the finals, not only to congratulate the winners but also to see how to extend to competition worldwide.


Continue reading “S.Pellegrino 2010 Almost Famous Chef Competition Winners” »

  • pinitbutton S.Pellegrino 2010 Almost Famous Chef Competition Mystery Basket
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The first part of the competition is over; hats up!

By Sophie Gayot



Part one of the S.Pellegrino® Almost Famous Chef® Competition, held for the eighth time this year, is The Mystery Basket competition. The rules are very strict (there is a full page of them), but the basics are that the eleven contestants have 2 hours to create a dish with the featured ingredients and prepare 10 identical plates to be served to the judges. This year’s mystery ingredients were organic chicken, mushrooms and eggs. The contestants—all chefs in training— had a long list of other produce they were allowed to use, including flavors from the “Asian pantry,” the “Mediterranean pantry” and the “Latin pantry.”


Continue reading “S.Pellegrino 2010 Almost Famous Chef Competition Mystery Basket” »



  • pinitbutton Young Knifes in Competition
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S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna ice sculptures

by Sophie Gayot

I am reporting from Yountville, California, in the beautiful Napa Valley, where I am working as one of the judges for the 8th annual S.Pellegrino® Almost Famous Chef® Competition. The eleven finalists, winners of regional competitions that included for the first time Italy, Mexico and Puerto Rico, were presented to the judges at tonight’s opening reception. We were able to get a first glimpse at their personalities as we all sipped local wines and enjoyed food from Bardessono, one of our 2010 choices for Top 10 New Restaurants in the country.


Tomorrow the real judging begins, as we’ll get to try their cooking. Good luck to the young culinary school students who will express their talent during the weekend of competition. Come back tomorrow for more…

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