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




Golden Road Hefeweizen and crab cakes

Golden Road Hefeweizen and crab cakes

by Barnaby Hughes

When I was invited to a Wine & Magic show the prestidigitation started before the event did. Somehow, the wine element disappeared, and — presto chango — The Federal Bar in North Hollywood ended up hosting a Beer & Magic show instead.

Showcasing the talents of magician Anthony Asimov, the event began with a magic show lasting perhaps thirty minutes in a small room of the bar’s spacious upper floor. I sat in the front row, just a few feet from Asimov and participated in some of his card tricks. Yet, even from my vantage point I could not discover how he did what he did; it was an impressive show.

Continue reading “Magic Before My Eyes and In My Mouth” »

by Sophie Gayot

Chef Nobu Matsuhisa and his partners Robert De Niro and Meir Teper like to keep themselves busy. So after opening two dozen signature Nobu restaurants around the world, they have partnered with Caesars Palace to open the first Nobu Hotel along with their twenty-fifth restaurant.

Since the trio has had a long history with designer David Rockwell and his firm Rockwell Group, Rockwell is in charge of both Nobu Hotel Caesars Palace and Nobu Restaurant Caesars Palace.

Continue reading “Chef Nobu Matsuhisa Comes to Caesars Palace Las Vegas” »

TY KU Coconut Nigori Sake

TY KU Coconut Nigori Sake

You may have seen Cee Lo Green on TV’s “The Voice”, but don’t be surprised to see him at a sushi bar near you. The recording artist and self-proclaimed “sake professor” is the new spokesman for TY KU Sake & Spirits, praising their beverages as naturally low-calorie and gluten-free alternatives to wine, beer and spirits. He sees it as a good opportunity to educate the American public about sake, which is sometimes incorrectly described as rice wine, and soju, a Korean spirit traditionally distilled from rice.

TY KU’s current color-coded lineup of sakes includes the ultra premium White (Junmai Daiginjo), the super premium Black (Junmai Ginjo) and the premium Silver (Junmai). In mid-August, TY KU will release its Coconut Nigori in a cream-colored bottle. Made from Junmai sake infused with coconut, TY KU Coconut Nigori is partially unfiltered, giving the beverage a cloudy appearance and a creamy mouthfeel. Enjoy it chilled or in a cocktail, such as the Lo-Cal Colada. Simply mix 2 ounces of TY KU Coconut Nigori and 2 ounces of pineapple juice over ice and garnish with a slice of pineapple.

Continue reading “TY KU Adds Coconut Nigori to Sake Lineup” »

by Sophie Gayot

The anniversary of the storming of the Bastille fortress-prison which led to “La Révolution Française” on July 14, 1789 has become the French National Day. This year in Los Angeles, the French people also celebrated the inscription in November 2010 of “The Gastronomic Meal of the French” on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

With Consul General David Martinon, I invited local French and French-trained chefs to display their cuisine at a special Bastille Day event in Santa Monica. The crowd was able to enjoy dishes from:
Frédéric Castan, Motif of St. Regis Monarch Beach, who prepared a perfect boeuf bourguignon
Josiah Citrin, Mélisse in Santa Monica, rillettes de canard
Alain Giraud, Maison Giraud in Pacific Palisades, goat cheese mousse with pesto and toasted hazelnuts and assorted cookies
Akira Rose, Maison Akira in Pasadena, cauliflower mousse with bay shrimp and tomato vinaigrette; duck pâté maison with green peppercorn and raisin; roasted marinated bell pepper oni crispy toast, and house smoked salmon with caper on mini crispy toast
Olivier Rousselle, On Sunset at Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel, pains bagnat and gazpacho.

Continue reading “Bastille Day – 14 Juillet 2012 Los Angeles” »

Newly renovated guest room at Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco

Newly renovated guest room at Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco

Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco Debuts Fresh Look and Special Reopening Offer

Following an extensive refurbishment, including a new brasserie, the Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco is celebrating its silver anniversary with a sumptuous “Fresh Look” package.

As part of the Mandarin Oriental’s fresh new look, each of the 158 guest rooms and suites has been completely redesigned by local interior designer Michael Booth of BAMO. The new custom-designed furnishings with hints of French Deco style help to create a memorable setting for the hotel’s special reopening offer Continue reading “Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco Reopening – Travel Special” »

Spago Beverly Hills

Spago Beverly Hills under (re?)-construction – Copyright ©

by Sophie Gayot

UPDATE 9/17/12: Only a few more days of patience for the fans of Spago before the restaurant reopens!

Even if you are an A-list celebrity or know one of the owners, über-chef Wolfgang Puck or designer Barbara Lazaroff, there is no way you will get a table at Spago in Beverly Hills tonight… or even for the next few weeks. Just look at this photo. The restaurant had announced that they were undergoing a renovation, but it looks like we are going to get a totally new Spago.

For those who are familiar with the space, they will be happy to learn that the olive trees adorning the patio have been saved by Lazaroff and will be replanted soon. Smaller ones will also be added. The bar and the open kitchen will remain, while the private room will be enlarged. How the rest of the restaurant will turn out is a total mystery. You will have to wait until mid-September to see how Spago has been transformed.

Continue reading “Spago Closed, but Only Temporarily” »

Oceania Restaurants

on July 23rd, 2012
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Christening Riviera Cruise Ship Barcelona

The christening of Riviera cruise ship in Barcelona

It’s Easy to Book a Cruise — It’s Hard to Pick the Right One

by Andre Gayot

What’s the right cruise for you or me? Let’s start with the size of the ship: Big? Not so big? Small? Big is beautiful, some say. But small can be also, I think. I have tried it all, including a 25-foot schooner, and they all have their charms. How much you will enjoy your voyage depends on many factors: age, temperament, dependence on comforts, openness to adventure, aptitude to control sea-sickness, etc.

Continue reading “Oceania Restaurants” »



"Gin and Tonic" José's favorite cocktail

“Gin and Tonic” José’s favorite cocktail

by Sophie Gayot

The title of Roger Vadim’s 1956 film, “…And God Created Woman” starring Brigitte Bardot, comes to mind as we propose that José Andrés created — or at least recreated — desserts at The Bazaar at SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills.

I had dinner there a few weeks ago. At the end I was forced by general manager Shannon Ferguson to try the new desserts — I say “forced” because chef de cuisine Joshua Whigham had already sent enough dishes to satisfy my appetite.

Continue reading “Desserts by José Andrés” »

Travel More for Free

on July 19th, 2012
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Driving up the coast in a Land Rover

Driving up the coast in a Land Rover

by Jeff Hoyt

I recently wrote about how charge and credit cards bonus points can be used to travel for free. That is certainly true, but the more you know, the more bang you’ll get for your no bucks!

I have accumulated more than 150,000 American Express Membership Rewards points on my own. But American Express offered to give me an additional 250,000 points to book my family summer vacation through them, and I was thrilled by the opportunity.

Continue reading “Travel More for Free” »

Mariposa Agave Nectar Liqueur

Mariposa Agave Nectar Liqueur

by Barnaby Hughes

Heaven Hill Distilleries is currently launching the world’s first agave nectar liqueur in major cities across the U.S. Named for the Monarch butterfly, which is indigenous to the Tequila region of Mexico, Mariposa Agave Nectar Liqueur makes for a versatile new cocktail ingredient. Whereas tequila is made by fermenting agave nectar, thereby reducing the syrup’s sweetness by transforming its sugars into alcohol, Mariposa retains the sweetness by blending the nectar with a neutral spirit comprised of agave tequila and vodka. The addition of rose oil and gardenia adds complexity of aroma and flavor.

Continue reading “World’s First Agave Nectar Liqueur Launched” »

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