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




Good Room, but the Chef?

on December 26th, 2010
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by: Sophie Gayot

As I headed to Pasadena to check out The Royce, the new restaurant at The Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa, I had no doubt that the décor would be better than that of the space’s former inhabitant, The Dining Room, which sported probably the most boring room of the past few years of such a high level restaurant. I was worried about the chef, who had a tough act to follow in Michael Voltaggio, and previously Craig Strong. But I had nothing to fear, as chef David Féau prepared quite a spectacular dinner.

Continue reading “Good Room, but the Chef?” »

Magnificent sugar holiday sculpture from the pastry team at The Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa

Magnificent sugar sculpture from the pastry team at the Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa

by: Sophie Gayot

If you missed chef Jamie Gwen interviewing me on her weekly radio show on KFWB 980 on where to spend New Year’s Eve in Los Angeles, you may listen to it here.

My best tip is to read’s Top 10 New Year’s Eve restaurants in Los Angeles. And for other cities in the US, visit’s Dining Out for New Year’s Eve restaurant lists. 

I wish you all a Merry Christmas weekend!

Christmas Dining in NYC

on December 20th, 2010
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The Oak Room at the Plaza Hotel in New York City

The Oak Room at the Plaza Hotel in New York City

by Meryl Pearlstein

The holidays are stressful enough without kitchen duty. In between last minute holiday shopping, hosting guests and crazy weather, the solution to your Christmas feast is only a phone call away. For those spending the holidays in New York City, there’s still plenty of time to make reservations at a top-notch restaurant that will help your Christmas dinner go off without a hitch.

Make this Christmas a memorable one amidst the storied glamour of The Oak Room at The Plaza Hotel. Open on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the famed New York institution is serving up a special $100 four-course prix-fixe menu. Entrées include the Christmas turkey and the miso-glazed Virginia ham, but of course no meal at The Oak Room would be complete without their foie gras PB & J. Save room for dessert because you wouldn’t want to miss their signature chocolate-praline Oak Bar.

Continue reading “Christmas Dining in NYC” »

Checking the Check

on December 17th, 2010
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On the left: the credit receipt. On the right: the detailed bill

On the left: the credit receipt. On the right: the detailed bill

by Sophie Gayot

When we go out to restaurants or bars for a meal or a drink, the bill always comes at the end. The truth is that most of us don’t check the check in detail. We usually just give it a quick glance as we reach for our cash or credit cards because we don’t want to look stingy in front of our friends, family, dates, business partners or associates.

A few weeks ago, when I asked for my check at a very à la mode bar in Paris, the waiter announced a bill of € 34 (about $45) for the two non-alcoholic drinks we had and ran the card through his credit card machine. I started thinking out loud to my friend, “Well, €34 for a Diet Coke and a fresh fruit drink without alcohol, that is quite expensive. This place is VERY trendy, and has been for many years, but come on!” A few minutes later, I asked the waiter to give me the receipt with the details of what we were being charged (not the credit card receipt, which I already had, but the actual bill). He returned with it and €9 saying, “Sorry, we made a mistake, here are €9,” and handed me the money (about $12). Good, I thought, I got more miles on my credit card and pocket change to boot! I am pretty sure it would not have happened if I hadn’t asked for the bill.

In the future, don’t be scared to ask and verify. Please tell us about your similar experiences, which can only happen if you check. You can see the two receipts, but we’ve removed the name of the establishment to protect the guilty!

For more tips on how to save money, check out the GAYOT Economic Stimulus Plan.

by: Sophie Gayot

Yes, you read my title correctly: Triple chocolate truffle pizza! And to be clear, I mean real truffles, not chocolate truffles.

The story goes that the general manager of the Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills, Pradeep Raman, really loves food — and since I was able to test him, trust me, he knows about food. So he asked Mirko Paderno, the chef of the hotel’s restaurant Oliverio, to come up with some fun ideas around chocolate. The pair created “Choco-Sutra,” an all-you-can-eat chocolate buffet served on Fridays and Saturdays around the pool from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Continue reading “Triple Chocolate Truffle Pizza at the Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills” »

Cibo Matto is one of many Chicago restaurants rolling out the red carpet for New Year's Eve. (Photo courtesy of theWit Hotel.)

by Jennifer Olvera

It’s official: the holidays are here. The year is coming to an end. And many people are hoping like nobody’s business for a festive break from the norm. Relief has arrived in the form of celebratory dinners and gatherings throughout Chicago.

Take avec, for example. Despite never taking reservations, it’s not only taking them for New Year’s Eve but also serving patrons in $50 fixed price fashion (with wine for $25 more). Call for menu details and to secure your table. Meanwhile, Cibo Matto is saying “sayonara” to 2010 from 5:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m. with a modern Italian, four-course spread featuring the likes of saffron pappardelle; Sicilian escarole salad with eggplant-ricotta involtini, walnut pesto and apple saba; and goat cheese gnocchi with oxtail ragu, toasted pistachios and pomegranate syrup ($99 per person). Over at One sixtyblue, there’s a lavish, five-course tasting menu replacing its regular offerings — think house-made saffron linguine with Parmesan and shaved white Alba truffles or wood-grilled beef tenderloin with crispy potato noodles and Périgord black truffle sauce. This luxury will set you back $95, plus another $45 when paired with wine.

Continue reading “Chicago Ushers in 2011 With Festive Food” »

Avec Eric (Ripert)

on December 10th, 2010
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by: Sophie Gayot

I was “Avec Eric” in Los Angeles yesterday. For those who don’t know, ‘avec’ is French for ‘with,’ and Eric is chef Eric Ripert. He had left his stoves at Le Bernardin restaurant in New York, a Top 40 US Restaurants continuously since 2004, so the West Coast could discover his new cookbook Avec Eric, based on his TV show Avec Eric.

Besides 100 easy-to-make-at-home recipes, the cookbook is filled with stories taking place in different parts of the US and countries around the globe. To read the full review of the book, go to the cookbook section. Watch my exclusive video interview with chef Ripert to learn more about him. And, yes, ladies, he is as charming as he is good-looking.

Put on your apron and start cooking Avec Eric!

Le Bernardin on Urbanspoon

Mardi Gras in Your Mouth

on December 07th, 2010
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by: Sophie Gayot

“It’s like a Mardi Gras in your mouth!” proclaimed a guest at our table while dining at K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, chef Paul Prudhomme’s restaurant in the French Quarter in New Orleans. I wish I had come up with that apt description, as it is exactly what the food is: colorful, vibrant and lots of fun.

As dishes kept coming to the table, it was clear that I could not eat all of them (see photos below), so I was reduced to smell, sample and taste only a few bites. My big regrets were that I could not take them home for the next day as I was staying in a New Orleans hotel while dining around the city to immerse myself in Louisiana‘s tastes and flavors. But let’s be clear, the flavors from chef Paul are unique. And they are so much to the point that he has now published nine cookbooks, and has his own line of dry spices, rubs, bottled sauces and marinades called Magic Seasoning Blends.

Continue reading “Mardi Gras in Your Mouth” »

My Lunch with John Besh

on December 06th, 2010
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by: Sophie Gayot

Despite his busy schedule, I had the real pleasure of sitting down and enjoying lunch with John Besh in New Orleans at his fine dining establishment August, which made GAYOT’s 2008 list of the Top 40 US Restaurants. While chef de cuisine Michael Gulotta was preparing the delicate dishes, I was discovering the other side of the pans of chef Besh.

Besh is very concerned by his surroundings, whether it is people, the city of New Orleans or the environment. He uses produce from local farmers and fishermen for all of his restaurants: August, La Provence, Lüke, Domenica, Besh Steak, and The American Sector. That practice supports the local economy, cuts the carbon footprint, and guarantees more organically-grown vegetables. He even has his own vegetable garden in the back of La Provence restaurant, located a few miles away from the city in Lacombe. A native of southern Louisiana, he is consumed with putting the city and the state back on their feet after Hurricane Katrina (traces are still visible after five years) and the oil spill (he was part of the effort of December 1st Dine America’s Night Out for Gulf Seafood).

Continue reading “My Lunch with John Besh” »

Traditional yurts in Kyrgyzstan make for a unique travel experience

Traditional yurts in Kyrgyzstan make for a unique travel experience

by Jeff Hoyt

Want to get away? I mean, really, really away? How about Easter Island, considered the most remote spot on the planet? For peace and quiet, you can head out for the Outback of Australia, up to the highest mountains in Norway or down to the deepest recesses of the South Pacific. You can even visit an uncrowded part of the USA in Sarah Palin’s Alaska. “I just came back from my vacation in a yurt in Kyrgyzstan!” is sure to stop conversations at your next holiday party.

Our list of the Top 10 Remote Hotels Worldwide features far-flung destinations that promise a vacation filled with solitude. It’s part of the latest edition of our TASTES newsletter, which was published today. Make sure you stay in the loop by subscribing to our free newsletters, which include the Hotel Issue and the Annual Restaurant Issue, coming out in January. Keep coming back to for the latest restaurant news, culinary events and hotel and restaurant reviews.