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




Abigaile Kitchen Takeover

on February 28th, 2013
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Tin Vuong, Tony DiSalvo, sous chef, Dean McDermott, Jet Tila, Amy Veraldi, Emily Collisson, Jorge Valines

Tin Vuong, Tony DiSalvo, sous chef, Dean McDermott, Jet Tila, Amy Veraldi, Emily Collisson, Jorge Valines

by Jeff Hoyt

You’ve heard of a Kitchen Makeover, but how about a Kitchen Takeover? Chef Tin Vuong of Abigaile hosts a monthly Kitchen Takeover at his American restaurant in the heart of Hermosa Beach, California, close to the sand. He invites a group of chefs to help him prepare the special menu available for one night only, with each toque preparing a different course.

We were lucky enough to attend his last gathering in the historic, rustic building. We made our way past the large vats where the house-brewed beer is made to a large, casual table across from the lively bar. The theme was global cuisine, and it didn’t disappoint.

Continue reading “Abigaile Kitchen Takeover” »

The JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai

The JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai

In addition to holding records for the world’s tallest building (Burj Khalifa, 2,723 feet) and largest shopping mall (The Dubai Mall), Dubai is now home to the world’s tallest hotel – the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai, which opened February 26. At 1,164 feet tall, the hotel took the Guinness World Record from its Dubai neighbor, the 1,093 foot Rose Tower.

The hotel comprises 72 floors, 684 rooms, 120 suites, 24 meeting rooms and 55,488 square feet of meeting space. Its fourteen dining venues run the gamut of cuisines, from Indian and Thai to French and Japanese. Room rates begin at $326 per person, per night.

Continue reading “World’s Tallest Hotel JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai Opens – Travel News” »

Interior of Koi restaurant

Interior of Koi restaurant

by Jeff Hoyt

In Los Angeles, restaurants come and go. In fact, we have a list of more than 1,100 of them that we have reviewed that are no longer open for business. Restaurants that hope to capitalize on the feeding of celebrities seem to fail at a greater rate. This could be due to a variety of reasons, including:

• higher costs for design and decor, as celebs can’t be seen just anywhere;

• higher operating expenses, as extra staff are required to deal with publicists, paparazzi and the like;

• fickle trendsetters moving on to the latest and the greatest, as they abandon yesterday’s place for the next restaurant opening;

• freeloading stars who expect meals for their posses and themselves comped believing proprietors should be thrilled that they even showed up;

• the simple fact that celebs don’t eat that much or they’ll wind up starring in a Weight Watchers commercial instead of a TV series.

Consult our list of the Top 10 Star Spotting Restaurants in LA and you’ll see quality restaurants where you’ll find a good meal even if you don’t spot an Academy Award winner. On that list is Koi, which we have been enjoying for more than a decade.

Continue reading “Koi — Feeding Stars and Stargazers for More Than a Decade” »

The End of the Rules

on February 25th, 2013
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SUR Restaurant & Lounge business partner Nathalie Zapata (center), general manager Peter Madrigal (right) and two wait staff

SUR Restaurant & Lounge business partner Nathalie Zapata (center), general manager Peter Madrigal (right) and two wait staff

by Sophie Gayot

Bravo TV series Vanderpump Rules started airing in January with a happy cast. It stars the wait staff and bartenders at SUR Restaurant & Lounge, who work under the firm hand of restaurant partner Lisa Vanderpump, one of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”.

By the end Season One almost everybody is crying or has cried, except Vanderpump. As the finale is airing tonight, I think business partner Nathalie Zapata and general manager Peter Madrigal will have lots on their hands to keep the boys and girls working together as a team until Season Two starts.

And since SUR Restaurant & Lounge is one of’s Top 10 Sexy Restaurants in Los Angeles, maybe the atmosphere will foster a surprise.

by Sophie Gayot

From Montage Beverly Hills Luxurious Private Residences, 90210

Last night I got together with our special reporter inside Wolfgang Puck’s kitchen, where the master-chef was preparing the feast for the 1,500 guests who on Sunday will be attending the world’s ultimate after-party: the Oscars
® Governors Ball.

As that connection I mentioned was Alison Crary, the red winemaker of Sterling Vineyards, she first told me about the wines that will be poured to the A++ crowd. Watch the exclusive video above to hear about the selections and how Crary paired them with the food and desserts.

Continue reading “What Guests Will Be Drinking at the Oscars Governors Ball” »

Château Miraval in Provence

Château Miraval in Provence

by Barnaby Hughes

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have had their year(s) in Provence. After leasing Château Miraval from then-owner Tom Bove for three years, the star couple made their stay permanent by purchasing the 1,000 acre Provençal estate outright in 2011. In 2012, Brangelina teamed up with the Perrin family, owners of Château de Beaucastel in the famed Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation and makers of dozens of Rhône wines. In March 2013, Jolie and Pitt plan to launch the first Château Miraval Rosé to bear the names Jolie-Pitt and Perrin on the label. It’s produced from grapes grown on the estate’s certified organic vineyards.

Continue reading “Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt to Launch Own Rosé” »




Fresh black truffles

Fresh black truffles

by Barb Rybicki

While Napa Valley farmers can earn $5,000 a ton or more for wine grapes, there’s another crop that puts that figure to shame. Truffles can fetch a whopping $1,200 dollars per pound which is the equivalent of $2.4 million per ton. It’s the most expensive crop in the world, even though truffles are actually 83 per cent water.

The 3rd annual Napa Truffle Festival took place recently to celebrate the revered fungus – specifically the prized Périgord black winter truffle – through a series of ethereal meals and fascinating educational seminars. Ground zero was Napa’s Westin Verasa and its La Toque restaurant – though actual ground played a role as well during truffle orchard and wild mushroom forays.

Continue reading “2013 Napa Truffle Festival Recap” »

The 2013 Honda Accord will offer integration with Apple's Siri personal assistant

The 2013 Honda Accord will offer integration with Apple’s Siri personal assistant

In another step towards the iPhone’s ever-increasing ubiquity, Honda has teamed with Apple to integrate support for the software giant’s Siri personal assistant in its vehicles. The first cars slated to receive the high-tech treatment are the 2013 Honda Accord, Acura RDX and Acura ILX.

Dubbed Apple Siri Eyes Free, the service connects to drivers’ iPhones via Bluetooth, bringing the smooth-talking assistant into your car. Through the program, drivers can dictate texts, make phone calls, play music and get directions without ever touching a key or taking their eyes off the road. Developed with the idea of minimizing distraction in mind, Eyes Free works with steering wheel controls, and also keeps phones from lighting up in order to keep the temptation to respond immediately at bay.

Continue reading “Honda Teams Up with Siri for Select 2013 Models – Car News” »

La Concha, A Renaissance Resort in San Juan, Puerto Rico

La Concha, A Renaissance Resort in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Eco-kayaking, Horseback Riding and Other Adventures in Puerto Rico

Skip the cleaning this spring and escape to the Caribbean with the My Puerto Rico Experience Package from La Concha, A Renaissance Resort. Recently renovated to the tune of $220 million, this beachfront resort in San Juan comprises 483 rooms (including 226 suites), a casino, lobby bar and five on-site restaurants, including Perla, a floating seashell restaurant.

Continue reading “My Puerto Rico Experience Package at La Concha, A Renaissance Resort – Travel Special” »

Miniature Bourbon pecan pies

Miniature Bourbon pecan pies at the “Only in Louisiana” brunch

by Sasami Ashworth

Grammy weekend (Feb. 9-10), the state of Louisiana brought the bayou to Los Angeles (or as they like to call it, “the other LA”) to celebrate their always-impressive list of nominees. The sixth-annual “Only in Louisiana” brunch took place on Saturday atop Los Angeles’ Bunker Hill, in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, for two cajun-spiced hours of acclaimed regional cuisine and live music. From smoked rabbit and alligator gumbo to washboard-strummed revelry, this brunch was certainly not short on Southern charm.

Kix Brooks, one half of the award-winning duo Brooks & Dunn, imparted his easy-going Shreveport sensibility as an emcee alongside Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne as they honored Louisiana-bred Grammy nominees like Lil’ Wayne, Frank Ocean, Dr. John and Ellen Degeneres. Among the highlights of the event was a performance by Corey Ledet, who brought Southwestern Louisiana to the stage with his Grammy-nominated accordion playing. The room was studded with eminent music industry members and recording artists, all of whom chowed down as the toe-tapping sounds of soulful roots music filled the hall.

Continue reading “The Other LA – A Taste of Louisiana in Los Angeles” »

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