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Business Trip Restaurants: Break the Chain

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As any frequent traveler will tell you, there comes a point when all the rental cars, airline seats, hotel rooms, and even cities start to blur together. Sure, business travel can take us to exciting new destinations, but it can also—and frequently does—take us to cookie-cutter suburban office parks and nondescript hotels.

For me, the solution to breaking up the monotony is to find good meals. Food can be very comforting, and restaurants often provide a chance to (pardon the pun) get a taste for local culture. 

One of my most memorable business trip meals came a few years ago in western Minnesota, near the South Dakota border. I was spending one night in a tiny prairie town surrounded by corn and soybean fields. Population: 740. Dining options: far fewer.

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Q+A: Ivan Orkin of Ivan Ramen

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The U.S. ramen scene is booming—and it’s about to get even more exciting with the arrival of one of Tokyo’s hottest noodle gurus, Ivan Orkin. The New York native—who earned serious food cred in Japan at his two Ivan Ramen restaurants—is returning to his roots, bringing two outposts of his cult brand to Manhattan. Here, Orkin, whose first cookbook is out this month, gives us the lowdown on the soup that made him famous.

Q: How did you break into the Tokyo dining scene?

A: It was a crazy idea for a white guy from New York to open a ramen restaurant there. But in Japan, people respect passion and a good work ethic, and I think that came across. Also, when I started, making your own noodles was very uncommon, and I decided to do mine in house.

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Opening: Denmark's Henne Kirkeby Kro Inn and Restaurant

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These days, you mostly hear about chefs in Copenhagen—not those who choose to leave. But in 2011, Paul Cunningham shuttered his Michelin-starred The Paul and headed to what he calls “Denmark’s wild West Coast,” turning the 200-year-old former coaching inn Henne Kirkeby Kro into a 12-table restaurant with five individually designed guest rooms. “It was the stress of city life,” he says. “I wanted something smaller, less mainstream.” Cunningham raises his own livestock, cultivates a kitchen garden, and serves whatever inspires him—from a simple, perfectly roasted lamb to langoustines with crushed tomato and garlic confit. Now he’s opened the first new building on the site in two centuries, Jægerhuset (hunters lodge). The seven rooms—including one named for Jóhannes Larsen, the renowned nature painter who vacationed here in the 19th century—are outfitted with pieces by iconic Danish designers (Hans Wegner; Finn Juhl). As for the handmade-brick exterior, Cunningham—ever the chef—likens it to blocks of nougatine. $$

Photo by Paul Cunningham

Boston Restaurants Celebrate the Red Sox World Series Win

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All eyes are on Boston this weekend as the city celebrates its World Series win against the St. Louis Cardinals. With the Red Sox parade on Saturday, the city can expect over a million revelers downtown. That means a million hungry people. Luckily, Boston does not disappoint in the culinary department, and scores of restaurants are stepping up to the plate with Red Sox-themed specials.

Diners at classy-yet-casual Boston Chops can try the new MVP cocktail honoring Big Papi. Made with tequila, jalapeño, cilantro, lime and cucumber, its spicy Latin American flavors pay tribute to Dominican-born David Ortiz. Serving the usual cuts as well as “rarely celebrated” delicacies—oxtail, bone marrow, and heart are all on the menu—Boston Chops has been getting rave reviews both for the food and the friendly service. Don't miss the chimichurri butter sauce.

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Asbury Park Rebounding One Year After Hurricane Sandy

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This past summer, Asbury Park, New Jersey, was bustling. One never would have guessed that Hurricane Sandy—which hit one year ago this week—had wiped out the entire boardwalk and closed waterfront businesses for the better part of the year.

Downtown Asbury Park has organically sprouted into an urbanized pocket of culture buzzing with locals, foodies, and rockers. Its main thoroughfare, Cookman Avenue, is studded with gastropubs, mom and pop coffee shops, antique furniture stores, art galleries, quirky boutiques, and a newly minted independent movie theatre. A few blocks north lies the legendary rock 'n' roll music venue, The Stone Pony, and Asbury Lanes, a vintage bowling alley from the 1960s that was recently refurbished. Much of the current development momentum owes its success to the initial visionaries who began investing in the commercial district when it was still considered risky territory.

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Harlem's Newest Old Jazz Joint

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Harlem has a new (old) jazz joint. Ever want to get up and groove at a swanky jazz club, but the crowd is too stuffy to dance?

Just head to Minton’s in Harlem, a restoration of the historic Minton’s Playhouse that opened on October 21st.

With three seatings a night, guests can don their best attire (that means jackets only, men), graze on prix-fixe Low Country grub, and share a spontaneous dance in the aisle between the supper club’s two rows of seating.

The new joint lets you enjoy music as you please—just like the renowned jam sessions held at the Minton’s of the 1940's. A mural from the original Minton’s still hangs behind the stage, featuring Hot Lips Page, Charlie Christian, and a sleeping woman that’s supposedly Billie Holiday.

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Bake Your Favorite New York City Desserts at Home

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It's more and more possible to bake your favorite desserts—from NYC or elsewhere—at home.

Jet-setters travel worldwide for regional delicacies—Japan for sushi, Cuba for sandwiches, Vermont for anything maple. Whether craving a New Orleans Cafe Du Monde beignet, a batch of brownies or cups of chocolate, there are mixes for millions of foodie fans to enjoy without mulling over airfare, packing, and passports. Just add water (or a few other pantry items).

For the sugar-loving, New York City-enthusiast—here are some specialties that originated in Manhattan venues and migrated to kitchens near and far:

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New York Hilton Midtown Unveils Herb N’Kitchen, its New Restaurant Concept

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When the New York Hilton Midtown—the city’s largest hotel, at nearly 2,000 rooms—announced in January that it was doing away with room service, people were shocked. The reality: Hilton saw that today’s traveler preferred a quick meal at a reasonable price, and room service was losing money. It was time for a change.

Enter Herb N’Kitchen, the hotel's new lobby dining outlet, open from 6 a.m. until 1 a.m. It’s like an upscale grab-and-go cafeteria, offering everything from made to order gluten-free corn arepas to Pat La Frieda cheeseburgers. Also for sale: bottles of wine and locally made snacks, such as Tumbador chocolate-covered animal crackers from Brooklyn. In the adjoining room (which feels more like a restaurant), guests can have a hot buffet breakfast, or just enjoy their takeaway treats. And food from Herb N’Kitchen can be delivered to the room—it just comes in a paper bag.

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Q+A: Sarah Simmons of New York City’s City Grit Culinary Salon

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One recent evening in New York City, I traveled to Memphis, and back. At City Grit, a culinary salon founded and nurtured and helmed by Food & Wine’s 2010 Home Cook Superstar Sarah Simmons, diners are invited to new tastes and experiences, often supplied by guest chefs who sometimes fly in just to make a single meal. It’s one of the coolest ways we know to travel and still stay at home.

The evening’s spotlight was on two Tennessee chefs, Michael Hudman and Andrew Ticer, whose restaurant Hog & Hominy blends Southern and Italian cooking, and has earned legions of pork-loving fans.

Tonight the duo is back. To celebrate today’s release of their new cookbook “Collards and Carbonara,” Ticer and Hudman are again firing up the stove at City Grit, with Simmons playing back-up. 

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America's Hottest New Restaurants

King + Duke

New York City: The playful vibe (yellow leather banquettes; framed photos of boomboxes) belies the serious dishes coming out of Charlie Bird ($$$), the SoHo spot from chef Ryan Hardy and sommelier Robert Bohr. The wines—many made from little-known grapes—can all be ordered by the half bottle.

Philadelphia: Peter Serpico earned his chops as second-in-command at New York’s Momofuku empire. Now he’s partnered with restaurateur Stephen Starr at Serpico ($$$). The seasonally driven menu includes raw diver scallops and an indulgent deep-fried duck leg.

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