Beware the “shuffle” button! I create playlists for all my restaurants. Maybe I’m a control freak, but I love the process. If I have 100 things to do, “Make soundtracks” is the one I’ll jump to first. (Right after “Test these four pasta recipes.”) At each place, it’s the same list every night, in order. So I know it’s 9:45 when Broken Bells comes on at the Dutch ($$$). Playlists are a progression—you want the music to unfold throughout the night, in terms of genres, BPM (beats per minute), the mood you set.
When the restaurant’s full, you shouldn’t really “hear” the music. You’ll know it’s there, but it won’t take over. Then again, if the room is too quiet—you hear waitstaff gossiping, glasses being cleaned—that’s distracting as well. Music fills that sonic space. It actually helps you focus on your conversation. But no 14-minute cuts! It’s annoying when a song is droning on and on while you’re waiting for dessert. You need a fresh track every three to four minutes.
London's newest members-only lounge, Clubino Piano Bar, is proving to be an exciting option for discerning locals and guests at the Baglioni Hotel London. On a recent trip, club founder Luca Del Bono invited me to preview the intimate space, tucked beneath the hotel’s park-view bar.
“I’m trying to bring back a setting where people [can] drift away,” said Clubino’s founder, Luca Del Bono, “[like] we used to enjoy back in Italy a few decades ago.”
In a deal that closed on Friday, OpenTable was purchased by Priceline for a hefty $2.6 billion—46 percent more than its previous closing share price would have suggested—marking a sea change in the way that online travel companies are thinking about business. Gone are the days of providing services just for planning and booking; these days, the mightiest of OTAs are thinking about how they can also capitalize on travelers once they’re on the ground. See TripAdvisor, long known as the site you check for reviews before booking (or to pen your own upon return): it has also gotten into the restaurant reservations game with the recent acquisition of Lafourquette, a European site much like OpenTable. It all makes tons of sense. If you’re as selective about where you eat as you are about where you stay, you need to book your restaurants well before traveling. And for Priceline, that will come to the tune of 15 million total diners a month. As for what’s next? We’d put money on local excursion booking tools, which have fast gained traction in the digital travel booking space over the last year.
Nikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.
Most good restaurants in the United States expect to turn over a table two to three times each night—that means they anticipate a party of two will stay for about an hour and 45 minutes (four-tops are usually allotted two hours). So once you’ve paid your bill, try not to spend the next hour nursing your final sip of wine. Internationally, diners enjoy a more leisurely pace. In Italy, for instance, experts say it’s virtually impossible to overstay your welcome. In countries from Australia and China to Argentina, meals typically run a full two to three hours. If you don’t know the protocol, look to the waitstaff for cues. They’ll let you know when your time’s up.
Travel Etiquette Do’s and Don’ts
Worldwide Guide to Restaurant Tipping
Craziest Travel Confessions
Have a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.
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New York City: Burrata with lox; buffalo skate wings: Amanda Freitag takes greasy-spoon food to new heights at Empire Diner ($$), a reboot of the Chelsea landmark. The 65-seat Brooklyn Fare Manhattan ($$$$) has finally opened, bringing the outer borough’s most coveted reservation to Hell’s Kitchen.
Philadelphia: Expect two spots in May from the increasingly prolific Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook (Zahav): Abe Fisher ($$$), inspired by Jewish cuisine from Europe, the U.S., and Canada, and the casual Israeli-style hummusiya Dizengoff ($).
Scallops, Chia Seeds, Tumbo Passion.
The list of Peruvian restaurants in London seems to grow longer each month as Chotto Matte, Ceviche, Andina, Coya, and Lima (the first Peruvian restaurant to receive a Michelin star) are playing with ancient culinary traditions and introducing them to eager foodies. While each spot decidedly offers their own style, it's the blend of Japanese and Peruvian techniques and flavors, called Nikkei cuisine, that offers some of the most innovative, exciting dishes I’ve tasted.
Well, we called it - René Redzepi's Noma reclaimed first place this year at the prestigious World's Best Restaurants awards. Noma first received the honor in 2010 and held steady through 2012, but came in second last year to Spain's El Celler de Can Roca, which retreated to second place in this year's rankings. T+L's Adam Sachs recently caught up with the revered chef in New York City.
A pocket-size mutt stares intently up at René Redzepi through the window of Tacos Morelos, a four-table taqueria in New York’s East Village. We’ve over-ordered—tongue tacos and fish tacos and house-made tortillas folded around a stewy, soft thing called suadero. This might seem an unlikely place to lunch with the charming forager, chef of Copenhagen’s Noma, chief progenitor of the New Nordic style, and accidental ringleader for a generation of international chef dudes. But René Redzepi is really into tacos. Enough so that his next venture will be helping Noma’s sous-chef, Rosio Sanchez, open a new taco shop in Copenhagen called Hija de Sanchez. (Yes, there are Mexican restaurants in Copenhagen. No, they’re not any good. “You’ve got Danish students in sombreros serving you,” Redzepi says, sadly. “You want to punch them.”)
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.