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






Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's memoirs, A Journey: My Political Life

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s memoirs, A Journey: My Political Life

by André Gayot

On this proposition, scientists are, at least, unanimous: “We are what we eat.” Fine, but even if I trust the verdict, I am not sure of what it means and entails exactly.

For example, in what capacity could we, with the content of our plates, supersede or contradict the Darwinian theory of evolution? Would it be possible via eating to transform ourselves into creatures different than the ones pre-determined by our genes? Without digging too deeply into this philosophical comestible matter, one sure thing is that eating is the most common and frequent act of our lives. We all — including the Pope, the Kings and the Presidents — do eat, but some of us do it better than others. As to ourselves, if we are smart enough in that endeavor, the Presidency of the United States could very well be in our lunch box. Continue reading “And One Burger for the President” »

by André Gayot

Who wasn’t bewildered by the magnitude and the architectural riches of the South Coast Plaza in Orange County, California, when it first opened in 1967? We were among those filled with admiration for the shining, marble-tiled, majestic alleys of what was then one of the largest shopping malls of the world. (Of course, that is now dwarfed by The Dubai Mall). Today, we remain impressed with the flamboyant style of this cathedral of consumption adorned with the names of the luminaries of the chicest commerce of the globe. Overwhelmed by the Gucci’s, the Tiffany’s and the Louis Vuitton’s, we like to pause and seek some relief from grandeur in a human proportioned asylum, with the reassuring French name, “Marché Moderne.”
Continue reading “When the American Dream Has a Taste of Brie” »



Samples of local cuisine

Samples of local cuisine

By André Gayot

As the world gets global and progressively engulfs its denizens into a single one-fits-all mold, it’s an encouraging sign that here and there some rebels are proclaiming a personality of their own. Interestingly enough, the affirmation of such an individualism stems from the food, not as a raw material, but from the understanding we have of it and the procedures we invent to process it.

I had the privilege to observe such a comforting manifestation where last week in Puerto Rico when I attended the third annual “Saborea” (Spanish for “Savor” or “taste) event. It takes place along a sandy beach fringed with coconut trees on this American-style Caribbean island. The tropical setting is enough to tell what is reasonable to expect under these latitudes. Indeed, location, tradition, and production determine ipso facto the limits of the gastronomy. But imagination, this essential human addition, can transcend—or not—the regional capacities.

Continue reading “The Global Show of Savor” »

L20 the Place to Go

on March 09th, 2010
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Poire Belle-Hélène: poached pear, pistachio, ginger & chocolate sauce.

By Andre Gayot


Hey Laurent, isn’t there a better way to let us know that this is a fish-oriented restaurant — and an excellent one for that matter — than this esoteric acronym of L20? L is for Laurent, we understand, and replaces the H which is half of the chemical symbol of water, H20.


But Laurent, you have nothing to do with chemistry except maybe when, with a funny allusion, you mock the molecular cuisine concealing your succulent foie gras under a cloud of sugar candy. Moreover, you make it difficult for the search engines to find this elegant and worthy eatery hidden in the chic Lincoln Park West area of Chicago in the databases of good restaurants, a pity for the uninformed who will miss a memorable dinner in this serene, almost spa-like space filled with Makassar ebony columns, plush couches and white leather chairs. The single onyx two-top has “it table” status written all over it.


Continue reading “L20 the Place to Go” »



A sour cream with sorrel, smoked salmon and pink pepper dish is featured in Chef Grant Achatz's Alinea Cookbook

Sour cream with sorrel, smoked salmon and pink pepper dish, featured in Chef Grant Achatz's Alinea Cookbook

By André Gayot




The name says it all. In the course of the unwinding world story, an “alinea” would mark the arrival of a new event of an idea of a philosophy. If the surging concept flies, it may be the beginning of a new episode. Alinea situates itself in a sphere in a forthcoming era to succeed the times of the inns, restaurants, brasseries, taverns, bistros, posadas, trattorias, eateries as we have known them so far. So be prepared: Alinea is not a restaurant like another chic restaurant; Alinea is like no other restaurant in the Americas, period.


Continue reading “Alinea, Unlike Any Other Restaurant” »

The Nautilus shell, 450 million years old is still a mystery and an inspiration for mathematicians

The Nautilus shell, 450 million years old is still a mystery and an inspiration for mathematicians

By Andre Gayot


Usually, hotel meeting rooms bear grandiose names like “The Imperial Room” or “The Majestic Room.” But in The Indigo, a San Diego boutique hotel, their modest function space is dubbed “The Fibonacci Room.” Many visitors would immediately assume the Italian name in such a location refers to some variety of pizza.


Shame on us! We should be taught in first grade to pay respect to the genius Fibonacci (1175-1250), whose real name was Leonardo Pisano, who changed our lives when he changed the way we represent numbers way back in the XII, I mean 12th century. Fibonacci helped the world to adopt Arabic numerals instead of the Roman numbers that were then in use. He also popularized the use of the figure zero despite the resistance of the traditionalists, who, as usual, did not understand the concept and were up in arms against it. Hey! Zeros and ones: does that ring a bell for you, computer nerds?

Continue reading “Of the Good Use of Math in the Hospitality Industry” »

Chef William Bradley of the Addison Restaurant
Chef William Bradley of the Addison restaurant

By André Gayot

To count how many places in the entire world belong in the same class as The Grand Del Mar hotel near San Diego, you probably won’t need all ten of your fingers. Perched in the foothills of the Sierras, hidden within the rolling hills, this domain is nothing but majestic beauty.


Good enough, but how can we spend—without drastically breaking the bank — an unforgettable evening in this palatial Moorish style Kasbah spiced with a good ladle of Florentine art where no effort (nor money) was spared to erect this paramount of handsome hospitality? Follow me. Let’s walk to your table in the Addison restaurant, between the Porphyry columns sustaining the caisson ceiling over the encrusted marble floor.


Continue reading “The Rise of the Chef who Likes the Citrus Twist” »


War of the beef settled between Americans and Europe

War of the beef settled between Americans and Europe

By André Gayot

The European Commission and the US Department of Commerce have finally resolved their differences, and they appear to have read our earlier blogs to find their solution. Under the auspices of the World Trade Organization, after smoking the peace pipe (the tobacco was American but the pipe was European), they have wisely buried the hatchet. The archaic war of the beef will not unravel any longer, and the battle of the cheese has ceased.   

Continue reading “The War of the Beef Will Not Take Place” »

79% of Europeans approve of smoke prohibition in restaurants
           79% of Europeans approve of  smoke             prohibition in restaurants

By André Gayot


A survey by the European Commission states that 79% of Europeans approve of the smoke prohibition in restaurants. So what about the other 21%? Twenty one per cent of the European population is about 30 million people. This strong minority still finds fun in smoking.


No wonder that a few restaurateurs think that there’s a niche market catering to nicotine addicts. But how to lure them back—legally, that is—to the tables?


The law is strict: smoking in a restaurant is allowed only in a tightly-closed, separately-ventilated space with no access for the waiters, maître d’s and sommeliers so they can avoid the risks of passive smoking. The staff must be hailed via walkie-talkie and then whisk your order through a special passage. It is a costly installation, but it’s conceivable that after such an effort, the smoking diners will pay the price of their pleasure.


Continue reading “Really, is There Still a “Smoking Fun”? Oui…” »



Organic Beef

Organic Beef

By André Gayot


On bumper stickers we often read this straightforward formula: “War is not the answer.”

That should be the motto of the World Trade Organization (WTO) when the officials of this International entity try to reconcile the US Department of Commerce with the European Commission of Brussels. For now, the battle is raging.


 The European Union does not want to buy American beef because of the (legal) use in the US of the growth hormone to raise cattle faster by some farmers. Indeed, not all the farmers. Apparently the EU is not sensitive to the difference and parks all of these American animals in the same corral. In response, the US retaliates with the threat of raising custom tariffs on European food items such as French Roquefort and Italian mineral waters so popular on this side of the Atlantic. Continue reading “Meet Meat Not Scary to Eat” »

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