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




Brunch & Bubbly

on March 30th, 2011
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  • pinitbutton Brunch & Bubbly
silks1 300x225 Brunch & Bubbly

Israeli couscous at Silks restaurant in San Francisco

by Tiffany Maleshefski

What’s the best thing about brunch? Mimosas. And the best thing about mimosas? Champagne. So thanks be to the brilliant minds at Silks, the stunning dining room inside the Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco, which has given the world the build-your-own Champagne cocktail bar. For $20, guests can enjoy endless Champagne cocktails they’ve designed themselves at the restaurant’s Sunday brunch. Guests can create their cocktails from a rather lengthy list of recommended recipes or go rogue and put together their own bubbly concoctions with an impressive spread of accoutrements.

We took the bar for a spin and started out with the more traditional: a sugar cube, a few dashes of bitters, and a lemon twist.

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  • pinitbutton Grey Goose Vodka at Nics Beverly Hills

by Sophie Gayot

A few weeks ago, I headed to Nic’s Restaurant & Martini Lounge (aka Nic’s Beverly Hills) for a special dinner in which each course was paired with cocktails made exclusively with Grey Goose vodka, which graces our Top 10 vodka list. That was the perfect place to host the event, as Nic’s Beverly Hills is the only restaurant west of Las Vegas that has what chef/owner Larry Nicola and his son Luke, creative director, like to call the “VodBox,” a walk-in freezer filled with some of the best boutique vodkas in the world.

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Italian on my Mind

on March 24th, 2011
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  • pinitbutton Italian on my Mind

by Sophie Gayot

While I was writing my just published review of Scarpetta Beverly Hills, I had to go over my notes and my photos (see below). Luckily I was not doing so on an empty stomach, as the flavors that kept coming back were only in my mind and not my mouth. To make it clear, I had a very tasty dinner at the restaurant in the hotel Montage Beverly Hills. It appears I am not the only one to think so, as the room was almost filled on a Monday night, including celebrities like American Idol judge Randy Jackson. By the way, Jackson is truly a nice person, and a regular there.

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  • pinitbutton 2011 COLCOA   A Week of French Film Premieres in Hollywood

by Sophie Gayot

Last night was the coup d’envoi (kick-off) of the 15th edition of COL•COA, City of Lights City of Angels film festival. The festival has now grown to be the largest French film showcase outside of France. Over sixty films will be shown at the DGA movie theaters on Sunset Boulevard from April 12 to April 18, including two world premieres.

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  • pinitbutton 50 Years of Four Seasons
ashley james sophie gayot mehdi eftekari 300x226 50 Years of Four Seasons

Executive chef Ashley James, Sophie Gayot, Hotel General Manager Mehdi Eftekari

by Sophie Gayot

Even though my plane from Paris arrived late, I was not going to miss celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts that was held at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills last night.

The story started in Toronto way back in 1961 with a modest motor hotel run by Isadore Sharp, who is still the chairman of the company. Now with 84 hotels and resorts in 34 countries, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts is synonymous with luxurious service, elegant spas, and fine restaurants. Key decisions that led to their success include a focus on managing only medium-sized hotels of exceptional quality; to manage, rather than own, those hotels; and to make service the brand’s distinguishing edge.

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Epic Happy Hour Deals

on March 21st, 2011
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epic roasthouse1 240x300 Epic Happy Hour Deals

The Incider is one of many great cocktails available for only $5 during happy hour at Epic Roasthouse

by Tiffany Maleshefski

Since it first opened its doors on the Embarcadero in San Francisco, Epic Roasthouse has hosted one of the city’s BEST happy hours. For three and a half generous hours, the restaurant’s upstairs lounge, Quiver Bar, slings $5 cocktails, $5 wines by the glass, and $3 beers. And did we mention the unobstructed views of the San Francisco Bay and the sweet selection of snacks for $3? It’s awesome and usually draws a wide range of people, many of whom consider the full-service restaurant below to be way out of their price range.

Well, that coveted happy hour just got even better.

For starters, there’s a revamped cocktail menu. All-star bartender Camber Lay, who was responsible for getting Epic’s popular happy hour off the ground, parted ways with Epic late last year. Now, the collective bar staff is pitching in to keep the cocktail menu lively and updated.

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  • pinitbutton From Belgium to the Big Apple
NYRES081214 From Belgium to the Big Apple

Rouge Tomate is one of several New York establishments participating in A Taste of Belgium Restaurant Week

by Meryl Pearlstein 

The Irish have had their turn to celebrate this month, and now it’s time for the Belgians. Celebrate the new A Taste of Belgium Restaurant Week with Belgian goodies and beer and a chance for a free vacation. From March 23-30, authentic Belgian dishes and specials will be offered at the following restaurants:

B. Café East

An authentic Belgian café, B. Café East serves up favorites like moules frites, cooked six different ways, and an exceptional variety of cocktails and brews. During this special week they will feature boulets liégeoise with sauce chasseur with Belgian fries, salad and applesauce. In addition, diners will have a choice of Palm or Stella Artois, perfectly poured, to accent the distinct flavors sampled in this menu.

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  • pinitbutton S.Pellegrino 2011 Almost Famous Chef Competition Winners
the winners 300x197 S.Pellegrino 2011 Almost Famous Chef Competition Winners

From left to right: Elizabeth Freer, Emma Louth, Jean-Francois Daigle, Sophie Gayot, Marco Bahena

by Sophie Gayot

Nine young American student chefs and one Canadian squared off this weekend at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, Calif., during the 9th edition of the S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition.

As I was judging the two challenges, along with twelve other judges, I am happy to announce the five winners, presented by Gail Simmons and Ralph Pagano:
- The Overall Winner
Marco Bahena of Kendall College, in Chicago, received a prize of $10,000 and a paid apprenticeship with one of the participating chef judge’s restaurant of his choice;

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  • pinitbutton S.Pellegrino 2011 Almost Famous Chef Competition Launch Party
sophie gayot michel richard 300x163 S.Pellegrino 2011 Almost Famous Chef Competition Launch Party

From left to right: Jean Joho, Brooke McDougall, Sophie Gayot, Michel Richard, Fabio Viviani, Dana Cowin, Bonnie Ster, Ralph Pagano

by Sophie Gayot

This is the third year that I have had the honor and pleasure of being asked to be one of the judges at the S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition. Held at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, Calif., the 9th edition of the young chef competition will start tomorrow. Incredibly, three of the other judges are chefs whose restaurants we named among our 2011 Top 40 Restaurants in the US: Gary Danko, Michel Richard, and Jean Joho of Everest. The other judges include chefs Tony Mantuano of Spaggia in Chicago, Brooke McDougall of Bymark in Toronto, and Rick Moonen of RM Seafood in Las Vegas.


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  • pinitbutton Chicago Chef Week Begins March 20
CHRES070804 Chicago Chef Week Begins March 20

Sepia is one of dozens of restaurants with special Chicago Chef Week menus.

by Jennifer Olvera

Chicagoans: they love their food. Having just wrapped up Chicago Restaurant Week, Chicago Chef Week — slated for March 20-26 — is soon to follow. With it comes an endless array of $22 three-course lunches and $33 three-course dinners, plus beverages, taxes and gratuity, at many of the city’s hottest tables. Some restaurants serve a special menu only at lunch or dinner, and some Chicago restaurants will offer both.

At Sepia, both meals will be served, with offerings such as English pea soup with Parmigiano custard; grilled rainbow trout with citrus, fennel and black olives; and sweet cornmeal financier with basil-goat cheese ice cream and apricot-date chutney during lunch. Meanwhile, at Nightwood, expect a divine-sounding dinner of fried artichokes with lemons and aioli; chili-laced rigatoni with almonds, ricotta and mint and toffee-rum bread pudding with vanilla sauce. Other participating restaurants range from avec and Blackbird to Sola, Sable Kitchen & Bar, The Bristol and One sixtyblue. For a full list of hot-spots, visit

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