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




Haunted Hotels

on October 29th, 2010
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  • pinitbutton Haunted Hotels
hotel andaluz lobby 300x200 Haunted Hotels

The lounge at Hotel Andaluz in Albuquerque, NM © Ramona Willis d

by Patricia Mack

Yesterday I wrote about haunted restaurants, but hotels also have spirits lurking. Unrequited love is the basis for a ghost tale at the St. Francis Inn, built as a private home in 1791 in St. Augustine, FL. The story concerns a pair of lovers, long dead, who are often seen or heard by staff and guests. Supposedly a young man who lived with his uncle, Major William Hardee, who owned the house during the middle of the 19th century, fell in love with Lily, one of the young black servant girls. When their affair was discovered, Lily was dismissed and the nephew ordered to never see her again. Deeply depressed, the young man took his own life in the attic, now Lily’s Room.

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Haunted Restaurants

on October 28th, 2010
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  • pinitbutton Haunted Restaurants
red room 300x201 Haunted Restaurants

The Séance Lounge at Muriel's Jackson Square restaurant in the French Quarter of New Orleans

by Patricia Mack

I’ve eaten at restaurants where goose was on the menu, but goose bumps? They’re on the bill of fare at some interesting restaurants and inns that embrace “the dearly departed” who never have — departed, that is. Do I believe these stories of spirits who enjoy fine dining? Or specters in hotel hallways? The hard-nosed reporter in me says, “Of course not.” But the Celt in me says, “There is mystery and magic in restaurants and hotels, and always has been.”

So, maybe the case of a ghost who dines each night at a reserved table isn’t strange. In New Orleans, which has more than its share of spirits — literally and figuratively — there is Muriel’s Jackson Square, a lovely French Quarter restaurant where I was shown the table reserved for Monsieur Jourdan, more properly M. Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan, the restaurant’s resident ghost. And not the only one, I’m told.

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  • pinitbutton Judging (Again) on Hell’s Kitchen

by Sophie Gayot

For the third time, I was called by Gordon Ramsay to be a judge on his highly watched television show Hell’s Kitchen. Thank you, Gordon! When telling the story, I always get the question, “Is it fun?” Indeed, it is. And Ramsay can behave charmingly as much as he can talk very loud (or scream as some would say).

The challenge I had to judge (along with chef/owner Mark Peel of Campanile, Nobu West Hollywood‘s general manager Justin Wyborn, and food blogger Libby Rego) was part of the 100th milestone episode of the show; episode 8.8, which aired on October 13th. The red team (four women and one guy) was pitted against the blue team (four men), fighting for what I had to determine would be the most expensive dish. Continue reading “Judging (Again) on Hell’s Kitchen” »



  • pinitbutton Food Flair at the Food Fair
chicken toasts Food Flair at the Food Fair

Chicken Snack Toast Rectangles

by André Gayot

In my European journey, despite the seasonal French pseudo-revolutionary sitcom, I was able to visit the SIAL in Villepinte near Paris. I guess the acronym is used instead of the full name — Salon des Industries Alimentaires or Food Industry Exhibition — because it’s shorter for the media and maybe also because we don’t like to be reminded that the content of our plates is nowadays largely concocted in industrial factories by Big Business. But there are also artisans who strive to find improbable ways to find a magic formula, such as the one who creates his “caviar” from truffle juice. Caviar is expensive, but so are truffles. I am missing his point.

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My A– !

on October 25th, 2010
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  • pinitbutton My A   !
all asses not equal 300x116 My A   !

“All asses were not created equal"

by André Gayot

I was puzzled the other night when a brightly illuminated billboard promoting pants over the boulevard drew my attention. It read: “All asses were not created equal.”

True enough! All of a sudden, as I was so far relatively satisfied with that part of my anatomy, I felt uncomfortable in my mind to have ignored this important issue and its intricacy. I did not feel guilty, though, because no trace of the lower back problem could be found in my favorite readings, that of Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin. Reflecting on the human condition, and on the research of equality among men, they were – it seems – mostly concerned by the inequality of the heads and by the difference it could make at the end of the day if nothing was done to take care of natural or acquired imbalances.
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Dear Kitchen: Thank You!

on October 22nd, 2010
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  • pinitbutton Dear Kitchen: Thank You!

by Sophie Gayot 

Most times I dine at a restaurant, no matter where, I pop into the kitchen at the end of the meal. I do it to say hello, to get a tour, to shoot a video, to compliment the chef, or, on the contrary, tell him or her what did not work. Even if I didn’t enjoy the experience, there is always one thing I do: I have to acknowledge the very hard work that the kitchen team puts together trying to please our palates. They work under lots of pressure, standing up during the entire service, in a noisy environment (due to the air extraction devices), most of the time in artificial light with no fresh air, and under intense heat from the stoves.

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  • pinitbutton Pop up Restaurants Make Their NYC Debut
popup restaurant ny feast 300x194 Pop up Restaurants Make Their NYC Debut

Thor restaurant at The Hotel on Rivington in NY will be the temporary home to The Feast pop-up restaurant from Guerilla Culinary Brigade

by Meryl Pearlstein

We’ve seen pop-up shops, pop-up fashion shows, and most recently pop-up markets with pop-up food stands, and now NYC foodies can enjoy a sit-down, pop-up restaurant. Tonight marks the first night of The Feast, the pop-up restaurant concept by the production company Guerilla Culinary Brigade featuring celebrity guest chefs and mixologists in different culinary destinations nationwide.

The Feast’s first theme will be “Roaring ‘20s: Speakeasy & Steakhouse” and will represent a “Jazz Age” dinner party held in a 1920’s chophouse. The event opens October 21 and closes October 23, with dinner at 7 pm at The Hotel on Rivington.

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When I was a Hostage

on October 20th, 2010
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  • pinitbutton When I was a Hostage
airplane andre 300x187 When I was a Hostage

Are airlines today exploiting their passengers with astronomical fees?

by André Gayot 

In the last century, terrorists of many descriptions found a spectacular way to make their point: they hijacked planes and seized the passengers as hostages to monetize them.

This lesson has not been forgotten. Airlines that were in the epicenter of the drama realized that they, too, could take advantage of this strategy and mimic the principle. It would be even easier because they already had the planes, and the passengers as well, in their grasp. Thus, they did not even need to capture them, which incurs additional costs.

Becoming a hostage seems to us to be an improbable event. Don’t believe that.

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  • pinitbutton To the LA Ladies Who Feed Us
sophie gayot bikini chef 300x221 To the LA Ladies Who Feed Us

Bikini chef Susan Irby and Denice Fladeboe with Sophie Gayot

by Sophie Gayot

When I appeared on Susan Irby’s Bikini Chef radio show in June, I suggested that we do another show dedicated solely to the many talented Los Angeles ladies in the restaurant and food business. That is exactly what we did on KABC 790 on October 2. If you missed the show, you can listen to it now.



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No Foodies in LA, Indeed?

on October 18th, 2010
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  • pinitbutton No Foodies in LA, Indeed?
michelin andre 2 300x225 No Foodies in LA, Indeed?

Is this scallop dish from Providence restaurant not good enough for Michelin?

by André Gayot

Monsieur Jean-Luc Naret, the director of the red Michelin restaurant guide who is leaving his post at the end of the year, is a strongly opinionated person. Based on his brief stints, I presume, in the city of Angels, he affirmed to our colleague John Mariani that people here are not real foodies. He feels that they are not interested in eating well, but rather to look at other people going to restaurants, where they have to go to see them. In a word, they don’t really eat; they only devour the others with their eyes.

We poor Angelenos! As if it were not enough to cope with the earthquakes, the fires, the crises, and the gangs, now we also have to deal with the mediocre content of our plates. One of the tragic consequences of our ignorance is that Michelin will not publish any more restaurant guides for LA. So now, how can we learn how to eat? Sad! Continue reading “No Foodies in LA, Indeed?” »

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