We'll be in New York soon and want to check out Brooklyn's restaurant scene. Any top picks?
—K. T., LEXINGTON, VA.
Foodies gasped last fall when a 30-seat chef-owned restaurant in Carroll Gardens was rated by Zagat as New York City's seventh-best restaurant for food. But local diners weren't shocked—the Grocery (288 Smith St.; 718/596-3335; dinner for two $100) has been turning out dishes such as slow-rendered duck breast with aligoté and baby turnips for four years. Critics are also raving about Thomas Beisl (25 Lafayette Ave.; 718/222-5800; dinner for two $70), an authentic Viennese bistro in Fort Greene, across the street from the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Chef Thomas Ferlesch, formerly of Café des Artistes, serves hearty standbys like beef goulash with spaetzle as well as lighter fare (roasted salmon with garden greens) in a chic dark-wood dining room. At Williamsburg's Sea Thai (114 N. Sixth St.; 718/384-8850; dinner for two $30), the Zen-meets-Jetsons design is as fabulous as the menu, which includes geyser shrimp in a clay pot and "lovely duckling" (grilled duck with coconut curry). Beyond the beaded curtains and bubble lounge chairs, a Buddha sculpture presides over a 22-foot-long reflecting pool.
What's the secret to getting a free upgrade from economy to first class?
—M. L., CHICAGO, ILL.
There's no fail-safe way to ensure a complimentary upgrade, but the right approach can definitely help your odds. • Take the first flight of the day and arrive early. Without a long line of passengers, the check-in agent is likely to be relaxed. You'll find more vacancies in first class, too.• Airlines give priority to their most loyal customers, so if you're not already a frequent-flier member, become one. According to Jack Evans at Alaska Airlines, even using the same airline as often as possible may increase your chances of being bumped up. • Though it may seem obvious, dress the part of a first-class traveler. An Alitalia spokesperson said the company would upgrade a "well-groomed" passenger over one who is, for example, outfitted in a tracksuit and baseball cap. • Purchasing a full-fare economy ticket will put you in the running ahead of those with discounted tickets, says Swiss International Air Lines spokesman Scott Merritt. • Don't order a special meal in advance—agents won't change your seat, since they know your vegan entrée would go to waste.
Remember, upgrades are rarely offered unless they're requested, so ask politely and ask often. You're bound to be sipping champagne in no time.
Can you suggest some new lodges around Jackson Hole?
—H. S., NEW YORK, N.Y.
Most of the 144 rooms at the Four Seasons Jackson Hole (7680 Granite Loop Rd.; 800/332-3442 or 307/732-5000; www.fourseasons.com; doubles from $475) have private balconies, soaring exposed-beam ceilings of native red alder, and floors made from stone quarried in the West. The hotel's Westbank Grill is the only full-service slope-side restaurant in town. Modern conveniences (custom pillow-top mattresses and high-speed Internet) and plenty of regional flavor (photographs of local ski celebrities; an après-ski bar) coexist at the 129-room Teton Mountain Lodge (3385 W. Village Dr.; 800/801-6615 or 307/734-7111; www.tetonlodge.com; doubles from $299). After a recent $40 million renovation, the Snake River Lodge & Spa (7710 Granite Loop Rd.; 800/445-4655 or 307/732-6000; www.snakeriverlodge.com; doubles from $229) has oxidized wrought-iron chandeliers, burnished leather furniture, gas-burning fireplaces, and even a 17,000-square-foot spa—the biggest in the area.
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