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




Robert Wiedmaier

Robert Wiedmaier

by Patricia Mack

Calling the chef “Sir”? Robert Wiedmaier’s staff had better get used to it, because on Aug. 31, as part of the annual celebration of Belgian Beer Weekend in Brussels, the Washington, D.C. chef will be inducted into The Knighthood of the Brewers’ Mashstaff with all due pomp and circumstance.

“I’m more than a little nervous,” says Wiedmaier of this honorary knighthood. “The ceremony takes place with hundreds of people watching, every brewer in Belgium will be there — I’ll have to kneel and…oh, man, am I nervous!”

The Knighthood of the Brewers’ Mashstaff is the Belgium brewers’ guild, which keeps alive the traditions and nobility of the brewer’s trade as it has evolved through centuries, but that doesn’t preclude enjoying and celebrating of beer, especially Belgian beer which figures large in Wiedmaier’s restaurants. Although the menu at Wiedmaier’s flagship D.C. establishment, Marcel’s, is chiefly French in flavor, it features hints of the Belgian influence that is in full-force at his more casual Brasserie Beck also in Washington, Brabo in Alexandria, Va., and his Mussel Bar in Bethesda, Maryland, and Mussel Bar Revel in Atlantic City, New Jersey. These establishments offer the largest selection of Belgian beer around — one of which is the popular Antigoon, a double blonde ale, brewed exclusively for Wiedmaier. It is an unforgettable brew not only for its distinctive taste but for its label showing the gory aftermath of the legendary conflict between hero and giant in medieval Antwerp.

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A guest room at Pan Pacific Hotel Seattle

A guest room at Pan Pacific Hotel Seattle

Seattle’s Pan Pacific Hotel First on West Coast to Achieve Green Globe Certification

Surrounded by the Cascade Mountains, San Juan Islands and Olympia National Forest, Seattle has long been a city of residents known for their love of nature. This passion is now reflected at the Pan Pacific Hotel Seattle, which has become the first hotel on the West Coast to achieve Green Globe certification. This certification is based on 41 individual sustainability criteria determined by individual accredited auditors.

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Cocktails at Sunset

on August 28th, 2012
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Sophie Gayot pointing to the American white oak barrels in which cocktails are aged for 2 to 3-weeks

by Sophie Gayot

There are other reasons to head to Santa Monica’s Casa del Mar hotel besides needing a room for the night: the cocktails and cuisine.

Casa del Mar now offers unique cocktail options inspired by pre-Prohibition. Two debut cocktails, The Brooklyn and The Negroni, are aged in white oak barrels for two to three weeks. These small barrels add depth to the cocktails with hints of spice, caramel and smokiness. The Negroni follows the classic recipe with gin, sweet vermouth and Campari; The Brooklyn is a mixture of corn whiskey, Maraschino, orange bitters and sweet vermouth. In the coming weeks, more new cocktails will be added to the menu. The cocktails are available in The Veranda and Lobby Lounge every Tuesday through Saturday.

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Eiffel Tower in Paris, France

A globalization-trotter asks: Should France sell the Eiffel Tower?

by Andre Gayot

A Chinese billionaire has just purchased the most glamorous Burgundy wine estate, Gevrey-Chambertin, which was owned by the same French family for more than 150 years, at an astronomical price. Why not? The problem, though, may be that there are more Chinese billionaires eager to buy vineyards in France than there are glamorous wine estates in the hills of Burgundy and on the banks of the Garonne. Some fear that, in the future, top French wines will exhibit a too-strong Mandarin accent.

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by Sophie Gayot

There are many, many reasons to visit Columbia Restaurant, located in the historical area of Ybor City in Tampa, Florida. The best way to discover them — outside of dining there yourself — is to watch my exclusive video interview with partner/owner Casey Gonzmart and read the just updated review of the restaurant.

Over the storied 107-year history of the restaurant, its food and ambience have attracted a long list of celebrities from Marilyn Monroe, Babe Ruth and Liberace to Bruce Springsteen and George Clooney — why wasn’t I there the day he came in?
Continue reading “Columbia Restaurant in Tampa, Florida” »



Mateo Rogers - Andrew Adams - Sophie Gayot

General Manager Andrew Adams, chef de cuisine Mateo Rogers with Sophie Gayot

by Sophie Gayot

When sbe executive chef Danny Elmaleh approached Mercato di Vetro chef de cuisine Mateo Rogers with the idea of doing a blackberry bacon pizza, he was intrigued. So was I when Rogers told me what kind of pizza I was holding when we took the picture above at sbe’s West Hollywood, California restaurant. I had to try it. Hey, why not? And, you know what? It actually works. It is a fun play on the toppings of the dish that Wikipedia defines as “an oven-baked, flat, round bread typically topped with a tomato sauce, cheese and various toppings.”
Continue reading “A New Pizza at Mercato di Vetro” »

The spa at THE ROYAL Playa del Carmen

The spa at THE ROYAL Playa del Carmen

Rejuvenate in Mayan Style at THE ROYALS Cancun and Playa del Carmen Resorts

You may have heard that the Mayans predicted the world will end this December 21. But other interpretations of the Mayan calendar mark that date as a time of positive physical and spiritual renewal for both the earth and its inhabitants. Celebrating this belief, THE ROYALS resorts in Cancun and Playa del Carmen are offering The ROYAL Mayan Ultimate SPA Ritual.

Continue reading “The ROYAL Mayan Ultimate SPA Ritual, Mexico – Travel Special” »



Sophie Gayot Tampa RNC 2012
Sophie Gayot in front of the Tampa Bay Times Forum where the RNC 2012 will be held

by Sophie Gayot

I did not get invited to speak at the 2012 Republican National Convention that will be held in Tampa August 27-30 — luckily for the delegates, because my forte is in the culinary world and not politics. But I wanted to recommend to the 50,000 people who will attend where they should dine.

So last week, I headed to what was once the cigar capital of the world on a restaurant fact-finding mission. Here are my suggestions, in alphabetical order:

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The 2013 Nissan NISMO 370Z in action

The 2013 Nissan NISMO 370Z in action

Following in the formidable footsteps of Mercedes‘ AMG line and BMW‘s M badge, Nissan is planning to expand its own “NISMO” division of (more affordable) high-performance vehicles. Featuring fifteen per cent more power, distinctive exterior designs and sport-tuned suspensions and steering, the first wave of new NISMO-badged cars are scheduled to hit showrooms early next year, beginning with a 285-horsepower Nissan Juke boldly styled with eighteen-inch wheels and bright red highlights. Also in the works is a NISMO Leaf expected to generate 125 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque — a significant boost in performance for the all-electric hatchback. Other models expected to receive the NISMO treatment include the GT-R and an updated version of the NISMO Z.

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Sauerkraut in Tampa

on August 17th, 2012
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by Sophie Gayot

I did not think that when I was heading to Tampa last week that I was going to find one of the best sauerkrauts I have ever had, especially at that hot and humid time of the year. But find it I did at Datz restaurant, where it is made in-house by chef Jason Dame. I was hoping I would get some to take home with me. Maybe I should call them so they can ship it over!

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