Given the rate of their output, if Le Fooding, the indispensable French restaurant guide, has been taking long French-style vacations, well, they’re obviously burning the midnight oil during the rest of the year. Since launching in 2000 as an insert, the annual publication has rolled out traveling food festivals and star chef pop-ups, which have steadily picked up steam, especially in the past three years.
The crab donuts at the Chiltern Firehouse in Londonare already the stuff of legend. Just two months old, hotelier Andre Balazs's first venture outside of the United States has celebrities like Bono, Prince Harry, Chloe Sevigny, and Gordon Ramsey bumping elbows, while mere mortals desperately try to snag a reservation in what is a cleverly repurposed Victorian-gothic red brick fire brigade building in London’s tony Marylebone neighborhood.
Gary Shteyngart takes on Los Angeles’ restaurants and eats his way through the best food in the city right now.
I’m East Coast through and through, but I’m not ashamed to say it: I love L.A. My first encounter with the mega-megalopolis took place at the advanced age of 30. A college friend of mine had a cousin who rented a place by the beach. Which particular beach, I do not recall, but the path to the sands was lined with giant swaths of bougainvillea, which made me think for just a brief moment that I was in southern France. That notion was dispelled when we reached the beach, which abutted a body of water that was no mere Mediterranean. I had never seen the Pacific Ocean before, had understood its vastness only on childhood maps. Made placid by the better portion of a bottle of California Chardonnay, I walked into the moonlit water, bent down, and slapped the onrushing waves. Somewhere up (or down) the coast, an enormous industrial building, a waste-processing plant, perhaps, smoked its way deep into the night. But I refused to let go of the moment’s magic, because that lump of ugliness amid the grandeur of the Pacific was Southern California too. I continued to walk into the ocean, the water dark blue around my legs, the temperature, as always, perfectly set to sixty-eight degrees, my gaze resolutely drawn toward Asia in the infinite distance. And I thought: Oh, this isn’t so bad.
Antico Caffe della Pace, an Art Deco landmark off the Piazza Navona, has been the place to spot celebrities since the 19th century. (Woody Allen and Coppola, among others, have used the café as a film location.) A recent plan to close the café was quashed by a number of petitions supporting the “historic and cultural monument.”
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Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.
Photo courtesy of T+L Photo Contest
With Christie's auction house right around the corner and the Queen’s palace not too far away, Avenue restaurant on the posh St. James Street in the heart of Mayfair, has re-launched, bringing a distinctive Manhattan power-dining scene to London. Everything from the Prohibition era cocktails to the wine list to the menu to the portion sizes to the friendly service is done with a nod to England’s former colony across the pond. This trend toward all things American is not new in London. Every other opening recently has been some variety of burger shack, hot dog stand, or BBQ joint, but Avenue offers a more upscale take on Americana. You get two cornmeal crusted soft shell crabs for a starter and they’re crispy and lovely with the spicy mayo sauce that accompanies them. Meanwhile, the very large lobster macaroni and cheese is positively packed full of lobster meat and the aromas wafting from the “pig” loaf at the next table made me swoon. With reasonable prices and many more items on the list I’d like to try, Avenue made this American girl feel very much at home.
Sally Hurst is a chef and food writer based in London. You can follow her on Twitter at @chefsallyjane.
Photo Courtesy of D&D London
Berners Tavern, under the direction of much-celebrated chef Jason Atherton, is the most glamorous (and hard-to-get) reservation in London these days. Atherton is known for his fresh approach to traditional British cuisine, while steadfastly using only the very best ingredients. Now he’s showing the world just how fantastic British food can be, opening nothing less than a mini-restaurant empire that extends from London to Dubai to Shanghai to Singapore to Hong Kong.
Celebrity sightings abound at this, Atherton’s latest London opening. Housed in the Edition Hoteljust North of Oxford Street, it is jaw-droppingly beautiful, the walls crammed with artwork, framed by ornate plasterwork that seems to ooze off the walls. It’s a bit like sitting inside a Faberge egg.
Chef Bobby Chinn is shaking things up at his new restaurant, House of Ho, in London’s SOHO. He’s bringing the bright flavors of Vietnamese street food inside and giving them a twist by adding unexpected ingredients like truffle oil to his ceviche and caramel sauce to his monkfish. Chinn roams through his sexy new space, greeting diners and serving drinks alongside his knowledgeable staff, a practice not often done in these parts.
Japanese stagiares (i.e., trainees) have long been an essential part of Paris’s top-tier, Michelin starred kitchen brigades, but lately scores of them have struck out on their own, opening tiny tables d’auteurs—and putting their high-level training to use in more eclectic, affordable bistro-style settings.
This kosher butcher shop turned bistro of the moment recently opened in the culinary hotbed of the 9th arrondissement. Run by chef Yoshie Morie—who opened one of the vanguards of French-Nippon cuisine, Le Petit Verdot—it offers limited menus with comforting yet creative dishes such as mussels, cauliflower and Indian spice mix, or monkfish with cooked and raw vegetables (broccoli, burnt eggplant)—plus one of the best desserts of the year: violet-and-fig compote with a side of Timut pepper sorbet. 43 rue Richer, +33 1 72 60 97 72
The tiny Polpetto made a big splash when it opened in Soho, in 2010, taking the nascent small-plates trend to new heights and making a star of chef Florence Knight. Its closing last year caused much rending of garments: what could ever take the place of her Venetian-style salt cod? Hunger no more, London: Polpetto is reopening this February on Berwick Street, with room for an open kitchen and a marble-topped bar. The brilliant Knight is back, after traveling in Italy and writing a cookbook, One: A Cook and Her Cupboard (Saltyard Books). She’ll tap the nearby market to create British bites (braised lettuce, cockles, and bacon) as well as Italian dishes such as gnudi with lardo and walnuts. Best of all: this time, they’re taking reservations (at lunch and for large dinner groups). That’s the sound of Londoners—and the rest of us—rejoicing.
Photo courtesy of Polpetto
Could it be? New York’s ever-genteel Upper East Side has found a decidedly downtown groove.
The team behind Lower East Side favorite Fat Radish keeps the focus on ingeniously prepared vegetables at their new uptown restaurant, the East Pole (pictured). Carnivores will find solace in the bacon cheeseburger with duck-fat chips. 133 E. 65th St. $$
Lauded gallerist Dominique Lévy just transformed three floors of a former bank building into a dramatic backdrop for contemporary and postwar art. Currently on view: photographer Boris Mikhailov. 909 Madison Ave.
Is Cesare Casella (Beppe; Maremma) the city’s most underrated Italian chef? His latest New York spot, Il Ristorante Rosi, makes a persuasive case, not least with a knockout pork lasagna. 903 Madison Ave. $$$