Stories for: Dining & Nightlife

Celebrities, Dining & Nightlife, Hotels, TravelThis Valentine’s Day, Hail to the Chief

u.s. grant signature suite

With Valentine’s Day in such close proximity to Presidents Day, why not celebrate love, life and happiness with a luxury getaway that’s fit for a president — or in this case, fit for 14 presidents? My husband and I were fortunate enough to check out a Signature Suite recently at the Old World French- and American Indian-inspired U.S. Grant Hotel — voted one of the 100 best hotels in the world — in downtown San Diego, Calif. And let me tell you, whether alone or with a sweetheart, this is one romantic place for glamour-lovers to steal away this weekend. Here’s why:

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Dining & Nightlife, Food, International, TravelBerlin in Winter

One week ago from today, I was navigating the snow filled streets in the wintry wonderland that is Berlin in January. Not a usual winter tourist destination (and for good reason), Berlin in January is prone to gray days, mounds of unshoveled snow and a bitter wind that makes even the toughest nose run. With conditions like that, warmth takes precedence over style. Luckily, the city of Berlin has its own style to distract from your lack!

I traveled to Berlin on a NYU sponsored trip to study the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall. With this theme in mind I visited the legendary Checkpoint Charlie, A Stasi prison facility, the East Berlin Wall Gallery, Berlin’s Underground bunker system, and Livadia Palace in Potsdam where the Yalta Convention was held.  Obviously, the history buff would not be hurting for hot spots to visit in Berlin, and I highly recommend all of the above mentioned sights. However, for those less interested in the Cold War here are my recommendations. With a city as fascinating culturally, historically, and artistically, you really can’t go wrong! READ MORE

Boston, Dining & Nightlife, HotelsBrunch at the Langham

I have to admit- the best thing about my job is always being “in the know” about new and cool things.  This is an especially wonderful perk when traveling because I can skip the whole Citysearch/TripAdvisor process- which, anyone who has been tasked with finding a restaurant for dinner knows- is an uncertain and tedious process. So last week when I went up to Boston, I already knew before even boarding the bus where the most lavish brunch in the city would be- and that was at the Langham Hotel.

On Sunday, I met up with 2 of my local friends at Café Fleuri, located right above the Bar at Bond.  We were greeted by a live jazz band and a vast, vast spread of gourmet goodies.  If “egg white omelet, no butter” or “lox on a bagel with tomato slices” is not your idea of a good time on Sunday mornings,  you’re in for a really special treat at the Langham. Stations throughout the Café features seafood, a raw bar (!!! I love oysters for brunch), salads, traditional breakfast items (can’t lie..didn’t really touch that table), a kid’s corner, dim sum, desserts, and made-to-order burritos, omelets, pancakes and waffles (must see menu below). READ MORE

Boston, Dining & Nightlife, Hotels, New York, TravelCupcake Tea at the Ritz

Holiday Cupcake Tea pouring

There must be few things in life more luxurious and refined than an afternoon at the Ritz.  Even as a young girl, I dreamed of one day waltzing into the elegant hotels (adorned with mink muffs and pearl strands, perhaps right after a visit to Tiffany’s) for tea for two.  As I grew older and busier, the idea of taking afternoon tea became even more special but always remains on my radar of must-do things.

Last weekend when I was in Boston with my best friend, we made a reservation for cupcake tea at the Ritz in Boston Common. Served in the hotel’s grand Gallery space,  afternoon tea at the Boston Ritz was the  decidedly more charming, whimsical  cousin to its formal English counterpart.  READ MORE

Dining & Nightlife, San Francisco, TravelCocktail Scene in San Francisco

When it comes to cocktails, San Francisco and New York City arguably offer the best in the country. With the resurgence of classic cocktails and speakeasies, there were many appealing establishments to choose from during my recent getaway, but unfortunately, limited time! Here’s a few of the best places I visited during my time in San Fran!

San Francisco’s most notable speakeasy is Bourbon and Branch. As stated on their website, “Bourbon & Branch is a glimpse back on the 1920′s and the era of Prohibition when the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverage was outlawed. You’ll experience the ambiance of that time in an actual speakeasy that operated illegally at this location from 1921 to 1933.” Reservations and a password are required, as well as a list of rules to follow during your time at Bourbon and Branch. While it sounds strict and stuffy, B&B is anything but; the servers and bartenders are incredibly knowledgeable, beyond talented, and  more than happy to offer their wisdom and advice to craft the perfect cocktail for you! From the amuse-bouche to delicate cloth cocktail napkins, nothing is overlooked! Their menu is extensive and slightly overwhelming, but I finally settled on the Millionaires Cocktail (dark rum, gin, apricot brandy, lime juice) and the Clermont Affair (rye, Amaro Nonino, whiskey barrel aged bitters and clove tincture float). They also have an extensive array of whiskeys, bourbons, rums, and tequilas. Finally, do some wandering around, as there are hidden doors, rooms, and even exits to be discovered. If you have only one night in San Francisco, make sure you visit Bourbon and Branch. It’s a destination not to be missed. READ MORE

Beauty, Dining & Nightlife, Food, Shopping, TravelPortland: Part 3

My final day in Portland began with a morning visit to Bijou Café for their infamous pancakes. While the idea of heading up to Stepping Stone in the Alphabet District and tackling their pancake stack featured on Man vs. Food was quite tempting, I was urged to go to Bijou instead, and I’m glad I did. Bijou is quintessential Portland, with an old fashion yet slightly hip vibe. The diners were more mature than other places I’d been, with an equal number locals and businessmen alike. I had never had oatmeal pancakes, but my shortstack was fantastic.  Best part of the pancake experience? Marionberry syrup. In no time at all, I concocted a dipping sauce of maple and marionberry which I happily dipped my pancakes in while people watching and making small-talk with the waitstaff.

After filling up on the pancakes and Stumptown Coffee I began exploring with no specific destination. I made my way through Old Town, which is Portland’s Chinatown. Unfortunately, Old Town has not experience the gentrification as other Chinatown communities across the nation have. While it was interesting to see, Old Town lacks any interesting shops, restaurants, or bakeries. READ MORE

Dining & Nightlife, Food, Shopping, TravelDay Two in Portland: The Culinary Adventure

After a great first day in the City of Roses, I decided to check out the East side of Portland. My first stop would be the Hawthorne neighborhood, which is a collective of many independent coffee houses, ethnic restaurants, and funky boutiques. I spent a good two hours wandering the street and popping into every store that caught my eye. My favorite stops included Presents of Mind for jewelry, accessories, cards, and funky gifts, Mink Boutique for women’s clothing, and Fat Straw for bubble tea.

From Hawthorne, I made my way up to Alberta Street, an up-and-coming section of the city known as the Alberta Arts District. While Alberta is similar to Hawthorne in the sense of many fun boutiques, coffee houses, and restaurants, it really caters to the artist community in Portland and supports local artists through rotating artwork for sale on café walls, as well and standalone galleries. READ MORE

Chicago, Dining & Nightlife, Food, HotelsENO at the InterContinental Chicago

I love going to wine bars around the city, so imagine my happiness when I recently found a great one right on Michigan Ave. ENO is the wine bar at the InterContinental Chicago, serving up unique wine flights, cheese, chocolates, and newly introduced artisanal sandwiches. On summer days like these, you can even enjoy everything on their outdoor patio.

While I was at ENO, I met wine director Scott Harney and he poured me a glass of very blackberryish zinfandel that they distribute exclusively. I also tried the most delicious goat cheese with a peppercorn brine. The bar recently added small artisanal sandwiches to the menu, which are delicious and a great accompaniment to all the wine and cheese. I had a great time, and was happy to end the night with a truffle for dessert. Yum!

I think ENO would be a great place to bring a date, or even a group of girl friends. ENO is different from what you’d imagine most wine bars to be–it has a relaxed ambiance and is completely unpretentious. It can be as romantic or fun as you want it to be, and the wine list is unique and long enough for even the pickiest wino. Check it out at the InterContinental hotel at 505 N. Michigan Ave.

Dining & Nightlife, Hotels, New York, TravelWeekend in Montauk

Happy Friday! I feel like I’ve been out to the Hamptons more in the past three weeks than the last three years combined! I was recently telling some of  my editor friends that I feel as if one in two party invites these days take place out East – not that it’s a bad thing – I love myself some sun, beach, and clean air!

But I’ve been avoiding the clubbing scene.  Seeing that I haven’t even been to Pink Elephant in the City in years, I’ve had very little desire to hit up their Southampton location.  Partying in the Hamptons can be as sceney and attitude ridden (if not more) than your typical Friday night in Manhattan, so there’s really no reason for me to log an additional 6 hours total of travel time to get there.  So last weekend when my best friend was visiting, I chose to take her out to Montauk instead for a weekend at the Yacht Club to experience the East End as it’s meant to be – posh, pristine, comfortable, with friendly service and a guaranteed relaxing time. READ MORE

Dining & Nightlife, Hotels, International, TravelFour Nights in Ocho Rios

When I told people that I was staying in Ocho Rios for a few nights during my trip to Jamaica, most were already somewhat familiar with the city. It is a popular stop for many Caribbean cruises, so a lot of people tend to roam the town for a day and then leave at night. That’s too bad for them, because there is so much more to Ocho Rios than being a cruise stop. Ochi, as it’s called, has a distinctive culture and character all its own and is just 2 to 2.5 hours away from the airport in Montego Bay. I spent an amazing 4 nights there and now I’ve got the low down on everything you should do during your own visit.

WHERE TO STAY:
If you want a unique, exclusive experience, then there’s only 1 place to stay: the Jamaica Inn. We wanted to avoid large, generic all-inclusives, so the Jamaica Inn was perfect. It is a hotel that is steeped in history, with past guests like the glamorous icon Marilyn Monroe, and even British dignitaries (including Winston Churchill). It’s absolutely amazing that they saw the same, virtually unchanged, beautiful view that you see above of a lush lawn and gorgeous sandy beach. There are employees here that have worked at the Jamaica Inn for over 40 years, and guests know them by name. It’s truly a classic, romantic destination. READ MORE

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