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




  • pinitbutton Holiday Season Starts Panoramically at Top of the Mark
top of the mark tea 500x408 Holiday Season Starts Panoramically at Top of the Mark

Holiday tea service at Top of the Mark

by Anneli Rufus

What could possibly be more inviting on a chilly day in the big city than a pot of hot tea flanking a multi-tiered tray fully stocked with French pastries and finger sandwiches, perfectly appointed with such dainty details as herb sprigs, raspberry halves and striped chocolate curls? The answer to that one is easy: all of the above, plus scones, Champagne and one of the most spectacular vistas anywhere in the known world.

Keeping up a nearly century-long tradition beloved by many generations of San Franciscans, the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins hotel has just announced a series of lavish holiday celebrations at its world-famous rooftop restaurant and bar, Top of the Mark

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  • pinitbutton Susana Balbo 2008 Brioso   Wine of the Week Review
susana balbo brioso 90x300 Susana Balbo 2008 Brioso   Wine of the Week Review

Susana Balbo 2008 Brioso

Price: $45

Rating: 15/20

Region: Mendoza, Argentina

Varietals: 60 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 15 percent Malbec, 10 percent Merlot, 10 percent Cabernet Franc & 5 percent Petit Verdot

Production: 600 cases

Alcohol: 14.5 percent

Tasting Notes: Having worked as a consultant winemaker for 20 years, Susana Balbo struck out on her own in 1999 by founding Dominio del Plata. The winery produces a variety of wines under four different labels: Benmarco, Crios, Nosotros and the eponymous Susana Balbo. The 2008 Brioso is a well-balanced Bordeaux-style blend. It offers earthy aromas Continue reading “Susana Balbo 2008 Brioso – Wine of the Week Review” »



  • pinitbutton Chatting with Chef Rick Tramonto

by Sophie Gayot


buynow Chatting with Chef Rick Tramonto




I think when restaurateur/hotelier Michael Zislis created The Strand House Culinary Masters Series, he had a very good idea. Every time I have attended one of the events, the restaurant has been completely full. I didn’t see a single empty seat; instead I saw lots of people enjoying the cuisine of Josiah Citrin, Michael Cimarusti, Nancy Silverton, Alain Giraud, Douglas Keane or Tory McPhail to name just a few of the participating chefs. To top it off, diners can eat the fine food while watching the sun set over the Manhattan Beach pier and the Pacific.

During one of the dinners, where Trefethen wines were served, I finished the evening talking with chef Rick Tramonto who had flown in from Chicago. In the above video, you can watch as we flip through the pages of his autobiography together. Tramonto is a true success story; TRU restaurant under his direction was named one of’s Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S. in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007. And Restaurant R’evolution in New Orleans, where he has partnered with chef John Folse, made’s Top 10 New Restaurants in the U.S. list this year.

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  • pinitbutton Toyota Introduces New Safety Technology    Car News
toyota ahda Toyota Introduces New Safety Technology    Car News

Toyota’s Automated Highway Driving Assist allows cars to communicate information on speed, braking and more

Toyota unveiled a slew of new active safety systems at a recent Tokyo event. Focusing on collision avoidance and reducing driver workload, the intelligent new technology is still in the development stage; however, the systems should see widespread distribution in many Toyota models in coming years. Among the upgraded amenities are 180-degree front and rear cameras with cross traffic detection and a parking assist system that automatically directs vehicles into parking spaces without the need for driver steering. The improved pedestrian collision avoidance system not only automatically stops the car in the event of an emergency; it also steers the vehicle away from the pedestrian as much as possible without leaving the lane.

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  • pinitbutton Ocean House, Rhode Island   Hotel Review
ocean house exterior 500x288 Ocean House, Rhode Island   Hotel Review

The exterior of Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island

by Meryl Pearlstein

Set on a bluff overlooking the town of Watch Hill, Ocean House is a meticulous, $149-million recreation of the original 1868 hotel of the same name. While it has decidedly 21st-century luxuries and conveniences, it conveys the mood of an earlier era, when its namesake was the last of eight grand Watch Hill resorts built during the area’s heyday, which lasted into the 1920s.

Continue reading “Ocean House, Rhode Island – Hotel Review” »

Dining Out for Thanksgiving

on November 19th, 2013
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  • pinitbutton Dining Out for Thanksgiving
frank mottek sophie gayot 500x454 Dining Out for Thanksgiving

Frank Mottek of KNX1070 News Radio

by Sophie Gayot

Thanksgiving is a tradition that started in 1621. As it is “a day off of work on the fourth Thursday of the month of November,” it is not easy to find restaurants that are open.

We have compiled lists of restaurants in your area so you don’t have to make numerous phone calls to find where to dine out that evening. Listen to my radio interview that aired Monday on KNX1070 News Radio on Frank Mottek’s Business Hour to find which ones you can head to in Los Angeles. For the rest of the country, consult the Best Thanksgiving Restaurants Near You and the Top 10 Thanksgiving Restaurants in the U.S.

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  • pinitbutton Brooks 2011 Janus Pinot Noir   Wine of the Week Review
janus pinot noir 116x300 Brooks 2011 Janus Pinot Noir   Wine of the Week Review

Brooks 2011 Janus Pinot Noir

Price: $35

Rating: 14/20

Region: Willamette Valley, Oregon

Varietal: 100 percent Pinot Noir

Production: 2,014 cases

Alcohol: 12.3 percent

Tasting Notes: Although he’s not old enough to legally buy the wines he produces, 17-year-old Pascal Brooks is the sole owner of Brooks Winery. Together with his Aunt Janie, who acts as Managing Director, he continues his late father’s commitment to organic and biodynamic farming. The 2011 Janus Pinot Noir is appropriately named for the two-headed god of beginnings and transitions. Boasting earthy fruit flavors of black cherry and rhubarb with hints of Continue reading “Brooks 2011 Janus Pinot Noir – Wine of the Week Review” »

  • pinitbutton Chef Curtis Stone’s First Restaurant
curtis stone maude 333x500 Chef Curtis Stone’s First Restaurant

Chef Curtis Stone is opening his very first restaurant

by Sophie Gayot

If Aussie Curtis Stone has become famous in the U.S. through the 81 episodes of TLC’s “Take Home Chef” TV show, he is at his roots a REAL chef. His passion and love for food started when he was just four in the kitchen of his grandmother, Maude.

At 18, he becomes a professional chef at the Savoy Hotel in Melbourne. After touring the gastronomic countries that are France, Italy and Spain to perfect his culinary education, he ended up in London with none other than the extravagant Marco Pierre White at three venues: Café Royal; Mirabelle where Curtis was the sous-chef; and Quo Vadis as the head chef. Talk about a learning experience, especially since I know how nice and courteous Curtis is!

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  • pinitbutton New Trent Airbender Mini – Review

buynow New Trent Airbender Mini – Review




new trent 500x371 New Trent Airbender Mini – Review

The New Trent Airbender Mini

If you want to play rough with your Apple iPad Mini, this case is game. Drop it in the rain, the mud, the rubble of the construction site where you’re building your new shopping emporium, the New Trent Airbender Mini case is practically bullet-proof.

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  • pinitbutton Affordable Bordeaux to Warm the Holiday Spirit
holiday wine dinner 500x333 Affordable Bordeaux to Warm the Holiday Spirit

Holiday dinner with affordable Bordeaux wines

by Patricia Mack

The wines of Bordeaux are not usually thought of as affordable celebratory wines, but come this holiday season, there are selections that even Scrooge can love. Daniel Johnnes, the James Beard-award-winning wine director of chef Daniel Boulud’s family of restaurants says that Bordeaux are not only easy on the pocketbook but perfect for the holiday table.

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