Brooklyn bites...Upgrade tips...Wyoming lodges

Travel + Leisure
April 23, 2009

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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Grocery, Brooklyn

Originally intended as a simple neighborhood eatery, owners Sharon Pachter and Charles Kiely have gained recognition for executing a small menu of seasonally focused dishes drawn from locally sourced produce. A heavy curtain shields the front exterior’s windows, separating the outside street view from the minimally decorated interior of olive-green and gray walls, and wood floors. Indoor tables are packed closely together and only fit about 30 people, though a rear outdoor patio has more spacious seating. The slow-cooked duck breast and roasted halibut with ginger are signature dishes. An extensive wine list consists of primarily California labels, as well as a selection of international beers. 

Sea

As the first Brooklyn location of this small chain of Thai restaurants, it is also the largest at 7,500 square feet. Filled with materials like wood, brick, slate, concrete, and wrought iron, the dining room’s décor is a combination of industrial chic and art deco. Guests are greeted by a large Buddha statue below a skylight that shines on a reflecting pool. Two bars are available during wait times, which can be long. While the requisite pad-thai noodles and massaman curry are represented, it is specialties like the whole red snapper with tamarind chili sauce that best showcase the kitchen.

Thomas Beisl

Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa

Family-friendly lodge, steps from the new aerial tram to the summit, with ski-in convenience at the base of Jackson Hole.

Snake River Lodge & Spa

While most adventure lodges are four-season-focused, Snake River was built with the winter season in mind. The property is located at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, with more than 2,500 acres of skiing terrain on two mountains; guests have access to a private, heated walkway that leads to the resort’s new tram. They can get a massage, try water treatments, or heal tired toes at the five-story Avanyu spa.

Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole

From its staff to its amenities, the Four Seasons in Jackson Hole—the first mountain resort from the luxury hotel family—set a new standard for both the brand and for luxury ski lodges throughout the U.S. when it opened a decade ago. All 156 rooms at the ski-in, ski-out resort have fireplaces and marble bathrooms with deep soaking tubs. Staff members are experts in their field: a biologist gives wildlife tours in the summer, and adventure concierges lead guests down the slopes during the ski season. After a day hiking or on the slopes, head to the heated outdoor pool surrounded by three whirlpool hot tubs; dry off with heated robes and towels before heading to the new THB restaurant (which stands for The Handle Bar) and bar at the base of Teewinot lift for a whiskey on ice.

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