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Finding Top Restaurant Deals with Bitehunter

Bitehunter inventor Gil Harel

Innovator Gil Harel

Who He Is: Though he got his start working in the marketing department of Israel’s Isrotel hotel chain and at Expedia, the 39-year-old Cornell MBA now focuses on the restaurant and bar industry with his new website, Bitehunter.

His Big Idea: The Bitehunter site and its iPhone app scour more than 500 online sources including Gilt City, OpenTable, restaurant.com, and even Twitter to locate the best deals in any given area. It’s a Kayak-style approach for dining deals, which Harel acknowledges as inspiration for his food-focused search engine: “Historically, airlines adopt cutting-edge technology first, followed by hotels, then restaurants.” And as foodie deal services such as Groupon and BlackboardEats continue to proliferate, his simple aggregator is a welcome resource.

Photo courtesy of Hila Harel

Locals Share Their Favorite Spots in Istanbul

Gulgun Ozek in Istanbul

Gülgün Özek, Photo Editor (pictured)
Location: Sofyali Sokak, Asmalimescit
“My neighborhood is historic yet cosmopolitan. Inside the Neoclassical buildings you’ll find bars, theaters, and one of the best contemporary art galleries—Arter (211 Istiklal Cad.; 90-212/243-3767).”

Seren Yüce, Filmmaker
Location: Kadiköy Harbor
“I love the view of the Bosporus from the lighthouse. I just had lunch at Çiya Sofrasi (lunch for two $50)—a traditional Anatolian restaurant nearby.”

Mehmet Öktem, Bar Owner
Location: Galata Bridge
“I come here often, just to soak in the city. This bridge connects Beyoğlu—the city’s modern, European heart—and the old peninsula, where I shop at the Spice Bazaar. It’s next to the New Mosque, which is almost three hundred and fifty years old.”

Yasemin Arpaç, Interior Designer
Location: Serdar Ekrem Sokak, Galata
“A lot of artists are moving into the area—it’s very trendy these days. At one end of the street there’s the Galata Tower; at the other is my favorite jewelry boutique, Aida Pekin (44A Serdar Ekrem Sk.; 90-212/243-1211). The designer creates pendants inspired by local landmarks.”

Interviewed by Christine Ajudua

Photo by Kerem Uzel

Greenbrier Chef Wins Bocuse D’Or USA

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It’s often described as the Olympics of the Food World. Entering its 26th edition in 2013, the Bocuse D’Or—a biennial competition started by one of the fathers of French cooking, Paul Bocuse, that brings together the best chefs in a country, and then the world—is one of the great culinary honors.

This year, the top toque award at the U.S.A. competition went to Chef Richard Rosendale The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia. On Sunday, at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, Rosendale—who’s one of only 66 Master Chefs in the country—dazzled the judges’ taste buds with a version of D'Artagnan Winter Chicken Preparations. It's hard not get hungry reading Chef Rosendale's description:

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Danny Meyer's Favorite Hotel Restaurants

Danny Meyer, restaurateur

With three dining spots—Shake Shack, Blue Smoke, and North End Grill—anchoring the new Conrad Hotel (102 North End Ave.; 212/945-0100; doubles from $369), Danny Meyer is making his mark on New York’s Battery Park City. (His company Union Square Events also has an exclusive food and beverage partnership with the Conrad.) Here, he reveals his top hotel-restaurant picks.

Louisville, Kentucky
“The winsome art collection, happening bar, and Michael Paley’s gutsy cooking make Proof on Main at 21c Museum Hotel a restaurant you don’t want to miss. Try the charcuterie plate, and anything Chef Paley does with pork is outstanding.” Dinner for two $75.

New York
“Choose a window table with a view of the whole room at Adour Alain Ducasse in the St. Regis, and tuck in to some of New York’s most refined cooking, such as a tiny, roseate pork chop along with a lovely Aloxe-Corton—a surprisingly good value on the list.” 2 E. 55th St.; 212/710-2277; dinner for two $300.

Paris
“The formerly bohemian Hôtel Pont Royal is now a swank setting. The menu at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon changes frequently, but I once savored langoustines and thyme-roasted lamb chops with a glass of Château de Fonsalette.” 5 Rue de Montalembert, Seventh Arr.; 33-1/42-22-56-56; dinner for two $270.

London
“David Linley’s Dining Room at the Goring is stunningly lit by Swarovski chandeliers at night. The menu is a winning cross between modern and classic British. The lobster omelette alone is worth the trip.” 15 Beeston Place; 44-20/7396-9000; dinner for two $160.

Photo by Ellen Silverman

Just Back: Killington, Vermont

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As a professed snow snob I scoffed when a group of friends recently proposed a ski weekend in Killington, Vermont. It’s hard to get excited about mountains that look more like the hills I used to sled down as a kid in Salt Lake City than the exhilarating, death-defying declines that tattoo the Rocky Mountains. When you grow up within an hour of seven world-class ski resorts you tend to develop a cavalier attitude about the prospects of cleaving down a worn, icy tilt and paying good money for it. So I opted to head for this quaint northeastern burg sans my snowboard. Half the fun of a ski vacation anyway is exploring the town, enjoying the fresh air, eating at great restaurants, and plunging into the après ski scene.

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News from Asia: Score One for the Sharks

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Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts announced yesterday that it was placing an immediate ban on shark fin and phasing out Chilean sea bass and blue-fin tuna within the year. According to Shangri-La spokeswoman Maria Kuhn, the new policy, which affects all 72 properties, has been a long time coming. “In December 2010, we took shark’s fin off our menus as a first step towards completely phasing it out,” says Kuhn, who is based in Hong Kong, where the company’s headquarters are.

Shangri-La joins Peninsula hotels, which announced a ban on shark fin in November. For both properties, it’s a bold, gutsy move. Both have a serious presence in China, where shark fin, long considered a delicacy, has become de rigueur at banquets. In fact, Shangri-La, which already runs 35 hotels in Hong Kong and mainland China, has 23 properties under development in China. It also has hotels in Taiwan and Singapore.

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3 Fab Smoky Cocktails for the Winter Season

cocktails

Los Angeles
Where to Go: The molecular-minded Bar Centro at the Bazaar by José Andrés.
The Drink: Smoke on the Water ($18).
What’s in It: Blackberries, atomized Islay Scotch, liquid nitrogen, and a flaming orange peel.

Miami
Where to Go: The new Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, helmed by Top Chef’s Jeff McInnis.
The Drink: Smoked Pear ($8).
What’s in It: Woodford Reserve bourbon, pear liqueur, lemon juice, maple bitters, and smoked-pear purée. 1600 Lenox Ave.; 305/538-5220.

Boston
Where to Go: Clio, home to the city’s most extensive cocktail list.
The Drink: The Hunter ($13).
What’s in It : Sage-infused white rum, Willet single-barrel rye, and apple cider, plus a cloud of burned oak and cinnamon.

Nikki Goldstein is an editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure.

Photo by Jessica Sample

A Meaty Meal in Miami

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I’m a confirmed carnivore, and whenever I’m asked to name my favorite food, I don’t hesitate: a Cuban dish called vaca frita that translates, literally, to “fried cow”—how apt.

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The Power of Dessert: Christmas in Prague

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“It’s like our version of fruitcake,” said my Roman friend Enrico during my first Christmas in the Eternal City in 2002 as he sliced a piece of panettone onto a plate. As soon as he uttered the words “fruit” and “cake” in dangerous succession of each other, I lost my appetite, thinking of the “delicacy” Americans have relegated to a holiday culinary punch line.

I like to think of myself as open minded, especially when on the road. I’ve lived in Prague, Paris, and Rome, and have gluttonously celebrated holidays in each place. And while I didn’t end up eating the spongy, candied-fruit-studded dessert that night, I eventually learned that one person’s panettone is not just another person’s fruitcake. Enrico’s sweet of choice is what Pistachio baklava is to a Greek or amaranth-laced dulce de alegria (which means “sweets of joy”) is to a Mexican or a cardamom-scented cannoli-like krumkake is to a Norwegian. Holiday desserts—whether at home or abroad—are more than just the last course of a big meal.

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Best Mountain-Top Meals

Tamarack Lodge

A handful of on-mountain restaurants are reinventing the cafeteria concept.

Heavenly, California: Tamarack Lodge
Peak Pick: Seared peppercorn-encrusted ahi sandwich and house-made peach cobbler.
Getting There: California Trail, a blue run offering views of Lake Tahoe from 3,000 feet up.
Top of the gondola; 775/586-7000; lunch for two $32–$40.

Niseko Village, Japan: Goshiki
Peak Pick: Hokkaido-crab miso soup and local lily bulb tempura.
Getting There: Misoshiru (which means miso soup), a black diamond featuring Niseko’s signature powder.
The Green Leaf; 81-136/443-311; lunch for two $52.

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