9Jun

Underground Supper Clubs

Underground supper clubs often have a theme, like A Razor, A Shiny Knife's "A Stark Meal."

Underground Supper Club by A Razor, A Shiny Knife

Underground supper clubs have been around for a few years, but have just recently become mainstream. They are typically started by foodies throwing dinner parties for their friends and evolving from there, or by chefs between restaurants who throw dinner events in warehouses or lofts. These events are an opportunity for foodies to share their cooking skills with friends, or for chefs to experiment with creative cuisine that they wouldn’t be able to serve in a restaurant. Since supper clubs are independent and have more freedom than restaurants, they are able to work with farmer’s markets and other local, sustainable food sources.

One of the most appealing things about a supper club is the mystery and adventure. Diners usually don’t know where the dinner will be held until a few days prior. There are passwords, secret websites, exclusive invitations and mailing lists that fuel the mystery. Unusual settings or themes add to the fun. RogueApron of Atlanta threw an Alice in Wonderland themed party in a beautiful garden setting, with a Mad Hatter host and house-made strawberry-celery hooch. ONCE of Boston threw a Viking party in the Somerville Armory, and A Razor, A Shiny Knife regularly throws glamorous events in unique places in big cities like NYC, Chicago, and LA. The most interesting installment I’ve seen by far has to be by A Razor, A Shiny Knife, who threw a 6-course lunch on the L Train in NYC.

Underground supper club A Razor, A Shiny Knife, held a 6-course Sunday lunch on the L train in NYC.

A Razor, A Shiny Knife 6-course L Train Sunday Lunch

The popular NYC supper club, A Razor, A Shiny Knife, hosted a surprise lunch on the L train.

A Razor, A Shiny Knife L Train Sunday Lunch

A Razor, A Shiny Knife threw a six course lunch on the L train in NYC.

A Razor, A Shiny Knife L Train Sunday Lunch

Supper clubs are a great way to socialize and meet people in your area. They can be small, from 6 people, to 70 or 80 people. It’s a lot like a formal dinner party at a friend’s house, and since you often have to know someone to get on the list, there’s a good chance of running into friends or acquaintances.

There is also an interactive aspect. You can see what’s being made by the chefs, and they may even let you prepare or plate a dish. Lots of these chefs also offer cooking classes, which might be separate from the dinner events. Check their websites to see the schedule.

The level of fanciness and professionalism does vary. Supper clubs have gotten more savvy, innovative and professional as of late. A Razor, A Shiny Knife utilizes molecular gastronomy techniques and cooks with liquid nitrogen and fancy machinery.  Others are in the style of a home cooked meal using ingredients from the Farmer’s Market and simple cooking techniques.

One thing people may find unsettling about a supper club is that you don’t know what will be on the menu, but I think that’s part of the fun. The “donation” seems to bother people as well – being asked to donate what you think the meal is worth at the end is a bit unsettling. Many clubs will just ask you to pay upfront when you purchase the tickets, which I think is the best way.

Supper clubs can be found in major cities, typically ones that are known for their cuisine. This list consists of the best supper clubs I’ve found online that I would love to visit! Going to a supper club is an awesome idea when you’re visiting a city as you can get a totally different, “underground” perspective.

NYC

- A Razor, A Shiny Knife
- Ted and Amy Supper Club
- New York Bite Club
- Apt4 Food & Wine
- City Grit
- The Sunday Night Dinner

Boston

- Wink Supper Club (there is no website…they are the most mysterious!)
- Chef Louie Night
- O.N.C.E. (One Night Culinary Events)
- Anemochory
- Washburn Underground Kitchen

Atlanta

- Staplehouse
- RogueApron
- For Food’s Sake
- Souper Jenny
- Curry Cravings

San Francisco

- Brassica Supper Club
- Du Jour Dining
- graffEats Guerilla Dining
- Lazy Bear
- Mission Gastropub (14 person beer dinner)
- The Phoenix Supper Club
- Radio Africa & Kitchen
- Stag Dining Group
- Sub Culture Dining
- Wild Kitchen

Chicago

- Clandestino
- Valerie Bolon’s Culinary Speakeasy
- One Sister Inc.
- Sunday Dinner
- Wandering Goat
- Bonsoirée
- X-Marx Chicago
- Hush

To view even more supper clubs throughout the country, click here.

2May

Mother’s Day Trip & Brunch

Are you taking your mom on a luxury vacation for Mother’s Day? These restaurants in popular vacation destinations feature decadent brunches that are sure to make Mother’s Day special for you and your mom!

San Francisco, CA

Foreign Cinema serves one of the best brunches in San Francisco.

Foreign Cinema Brunch

Where to stay: The Ritz Carlton San Francisco Residence Club

Urban luxury at Union Square, with direct access to the best shopping in the city!

Where to Brunch: Foreign Cinema

This theatrical restaurant offers delicious dishes such as homemade pop tarts with real fruit inside, balsamic fried eggs, and Dungeness crab croque monsieur. And of course since it’s in San Francisco, they have a ton of fresh seafood, including an oyster bar, mussels, prawns, and lobster. There are 3 dining rooms to choose from, the main space with the kitchen and bar, a lively courtyard where old movies are played at night, and a quieter art gallery space. A secret (delicious) item not on the menu: beignets.

Los Angeles, CA

The Four Seasons Los Angeles in Beverly Hills serves amazing brunch.

Four Seasons Los Angeles Brunch

Where to Stay: The Peninsula

Classic Beverly Hills luxury in a great location.

Where to Brunch: Four Seasons Hotel (Beverly Hills)

The Four Seasons BH brunch is known for three things: serving a variety of delicious food, being expensive, and celebrity sightings. The service is impeccable and they offer a several food and beverage stations, including breakfast food, Bloody Marys, sushi/Asian food, cheese, and desserts. The Four Seasons is doing a special Mother’s Day Brunch, reservations highly recommended.

New York

Essex, located in the Lower East Side, serves amazing Sunday brunch.

Essex New York City Brunch

Where to Stay: Waldorf Astoria

New York elegance and an amazing location on Park Avenue.

Where to Brunch: Essex

Head to the Lower East Side to Essex, where you will find a delicious brunch for only $20 that includes 3 Bloody Marys, screwdrivers, or mimosas! This chic white, lofty space is the perfect place for a Mother’s Day Brunch. Enjoy classic brunch items, like the manchego mac & cheese, lobster benedict, Mexican Matzo Brei (scrambled eggs, tortilla crisps, monterey jack cheese, avocado, black beans and pico de gallo) and The Deep South (chicken fried steak, biscuits, eggs, and sausage gravy).

Boston, MA

Stella, located in Boston's South End, serves delicious brunch.

Stella Boston Brunch

Where to Stay: Ames Hotel

One of Boston’s newer hotels, featuring chic and modern luxury.

Where to Brunch: Stella

Stella offers simple Italian food and a cute atmosphere. The entire place is white and includes a great outdoor patio. Enjoy traditional breakfast foods, like bagel and lox, frittatas, parfaits, and eggs benedict.

Miami, FL

The Biltmore Miami serves a lavish Sunday Champagne Brunch

Biltmore Miami Sunday Champagne Brunch

Where to Stay: Biltmore

An iconic Miami hotel that has accommodated countless celebrities and public figures with superior service and elegance.

Where to Brunch: Biltmore’s Fontana

The Sunday Champagne Brunch at the Biltmore is a legendary affair that combines European flair with Latin flavor and Miami’s own unique style. There is live entertainment and a lavish buffet, including caviar, shellfish, smoked salmon, carved meats, fresh omelets, pastas, sushi, and a wall of spectacular desserts.

Scottsdale, AZ

Fred's at Barneys New York in Scottsdale offers a sophisticated Sunday brunch.

Fred's at Barneys New York Scottsdale

Where to Stay: Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

Modern luxury inspired by its stunning desert surroundings.

Where to Brunch: Fred’s at Barneys New York

Mom is sure to love Fred’s, which features a bright, open space with views of Old Town. Brunch is elegant and relaxing, featuring a Bourbon Street Brunch, bagels made from scratch, and live New Orleans jazz. The flavored iced tea and specialty cocktails are also delicious! A huge bonus of brunching at Fred’s is that it’s located in Barneys New York! After eating and sipping on mimosas, go to Barney’s for some Mother’s Day shopping.

Chicago, IL

Elate in Chicago serves a great Sunday brunch.

Elate Chicago Brunch

Where to Stay: Elysian Hotel

Where to Brunch: Elate

This rustic, modern, and casually sophisticated restaurant is adjacent to Hotel Felix, Chicago’s first LEED certified hotel. Brunch dishes at Elate include breakfast pizza, braised pork and egg tostada, and creme brulee pancakes. The special Mother’s Day prix fixe meal begins with a buffet of muffins, fruit, pastries and cheese. Guests can choose from 3 entrees, and finish with dessert. Don’t forget the bottomless mimosa for $20!

23Apr

Haute Hotel: Ritz Carlton Moscow

The Ritz Carlton Moscow is one of the capital's finest hotels.

Ritz Carlton Moscow

The Ritz Carlton Moscow is located right off Red Square, on the city’s main avenue, Tverskaya Street. This Ritz features true Russian glamour and a few distinct services and amenities inspired by its region – like the Lobby Lounge’s vodka sommelier!

The hotel offers 334 spacious guest rooms (the smallest is 450 sq ft), and they will cost you…standard rates, depending on the season, are upwards of $1000 per night.

The Ritz Carlton Moscow offers a chic lounge, O2 Lounge, which offers amazing views of the city.

The O2 Lounge at the Ritz Carlton Moscow

The O2 Lounge at the Ritz Carlton Moscow features Faberge inspired lounge chairs.

The Faberge chairs at the Ritz Carlton Moscow's O2 Lounge

The Ritz Carlton Moscow’s O2 Lounge features views of the Kremlin, a sushi bar, oxygen bar, “Faberge” chairs, and chic design.

The premier restaurant at the Ritz Moscow is Caviarterra, whose menu incorporates the local culture. Enjoy Russian classics like caviar, borsch, chicken kiev, and beef stroganoff. The Petrus wine room has a collection of over 800 wines from around the world!

The ESPA Spa at the Ritz Carlton Moscow features a pool with an ice fountain.

Ritz Carlton Moscow ESPA Spa Pool with ice fountain

The ESPA Spa is a gorgeous facility that includes a pool with lounge chairs and ice fountain. Treatments utilize the latest scientific discoveries and effective European therapies.

22Apr

Top 10 Food Tours I Want To Try

A food tour is a great way to experience a new city and learn about its culture.

Go on a guided food tour to learn about a new city.

One of the best parts of taking a luxury vacation is going on a food tour! It’s a great way to sight-see and learn about your destination’s history. The following places are all on my travel to-do list, along with their amazing food tours…

1. Napa Valley: Gourmet Napa Walking Tour
It’s a 3 hour walking tour through downtown Napa with 8 tasting stops. Learn about the local history and meet organic farmers and boutique winemakers! By the end of the tour, you will have a curated list of expertly recommended recipes.

Tastings:

    - Coffee from one of San Francisco’s premier roasters

    - Oysters on the 1/2 shell from a renowned North America oyster producer

    - Excellent  California artisan cheese

    - Artisan salumi and chance to observe sausage production

    - Wine infused chocolate and brittle from local chocolatiers

    - Award-winning extra virgin olive oil

    - Handcrafted whoopie pies

2.  San Francisco: Gourmet on Hayes
Another 3 hour walking tour, this time of San Francisco’s trendy Hayes Valley. This tour features 7 tasting stops and will take you off the beaten path to what’s really hot on the San Francisco gourmet food scene. You will be taken to specialty shops and restaurants and experience the results of sustainable ingredients and fair trade partnerships.

Tastings:

    - Specialty teas at a Zen inspired tea lounge

    - Belgian fries with 22 dipping sauces!

    - Hand painted artisan truffles from a luxurious chocolate lounge

    - Rainbow assortment of Parisian macaroons

    - Gourmet imported cheeses and Russian River Sauvignon Blanc in a beautiful garden setting
    - Artisinal salumi
    - Gingerbread cupcakes from European style confiserie

3.  Aspen: Foodie Food Tours

Aspen is a great luxury ski destination and summer vacation destination as well! I love how Colorado is obsessed with local, sustainable ingredients and small farmers. This tour, called the “Off the Beaten Path” tour will do just that! You’ll visit locals favorite restaurants and specialty shops that you probably wouldn’t find on your own and mingle with restaurant owners and chefs.

Tastings:

The tasting stops are always changing, but may include Specialty Foods of Aspen, Boden’s Butter, The Restaurant, Sabra’s Deli, The Aspen Brewery, 39 Degrees, Ellina, J-Bar, and more.

Side-note: Whenever I visit Aspen, I stay at a Ritz Carlton Aspen Highlands vacation rental!

4. Miami: Little Havana Food Tour

I don’t often get the opportunity to try authentic Cuban food. Miami, one of the most luxurious destinations in the world, is just the place! This food tour will help you experience traditional Cuban cuisine by visiting family owned restaurants along Calle Ocho in one of Miami’s oldest neighborhoods – Little Havana. This particular tour focuses on smaller, hole-in-the-wall places where you will learn the history behind dishes that have been handed down for generations. Meet local artists, watch cigar rollers, and see the famous Domino Park!

Tastings:

    - Specific dishes you will sample include coladita, mariquitas, masitas, moros, and guarapo juice

    - Learn the relationship between Spanish and Cuban cuisine

5. Houston: Where the Chefs Eat

I have always wanted to go to Texas for one reason – to eat! This tour showcases Houston’s mom and pop restaurants and introduces people to Houston’s culinary diversity. You know these restaurants will be good because they are all patronized by chefs on their days off. You’ll discover new restaurants and markets where chefs get their ingredients and experience true southern cooking.

Includes:

    - Gift bag

    - Free Saint Arnold’s beverages

    – Limo-bus transportation

6. New Orleans: Tasting Tour of the French Quarter

I regretfully admit that I have never been to New Orleans, but one of the main attractions for me is the amazing food (actually that’s one of my main attractions for just about any place). This tour focuses on the history and evolution of the city’s famous cuisine. You’ll tour select historic restaurants and discuss their culinary contributions, including the two oldest restaurants, Antoine’s (opened in 1860) and Tujague’s (opened in 1856).

Tastings:

    - Learn the difference between Creole and Cajun cuisine

    - Seafood gumbo, red beans & rice, beef brisket with Creole sauce, praline, muffulettas, turtle soup, and shrimp remoulade

7. New York: Chelsea Market/Meatpacking District Food & Culture Walking Tour

It would take days to try all the amazing food in NYC, but I would start with Chelsea Market and the Meatpacking District! This tour gives you the chance to explore two of the oldest industrial areas that have become some of the hottest NYC destinations. The tour showcases mom and pop food shops, ethnic restaurants, a little boutique shopping, and the new “highline” elevated outdoor park. The tour is 3 hours long and features 6 specialty food shops (Chelsesa) and 1 restaurant (Meatpacking).

Tastings:

    - Amy’s Breads: Artisinal French/American bakery

    - Ronny Brook Milk Bar

    - Sarabeth’s Bakery: gourmet American bakery

    - Lobster Place: high-end fish market

    - Buon Italia: Italian specialty food

    - Chelsea Market Baskets: Gourmet specialty food store

    - Eleni’s: Classic American bakery

    - Macelleria: Italian steak house

8. Chicago: Bucktown & Wicker Park Food Tasting and Cultural Tour

The Chicago food tour should be great – Chicago has some of the best and most creative restaurants in the States. This tour features 6 tasting stops in the trendy neighborhoods of Bucktown and Wicker Park, where you will experience mom and pop specialty restaurants and one of a kind cafes.

Tastings:

    - Hot Chocolate: Chicago’s top pastry/dessert restaurant, a James Beard Award finalist
    - George’s Hot Dogs: Chicago style hot dog “stand”

    - Piece: Internationally acclaimed brew pub, New Haven thin crust pizza

    - Goddess and Grocer: Gourmet deli, local organic grocer

    - Sultan’s Market: Middle Eastern restaurant and authentic falafel deli

    - iCream: Custom ice cream, sorbet, yogurt created instantly on the spot

9. Boston: North End Market Tour

Boston’s North End is the city’s “Little Italy” and is filled with cafes, Italian bakeries, and authentic Italian restaurants. This tour will educate you on the history of authentic Italian food, Italian recipes, and where to identify and buy fresh ingredients.

Tastings:

    - Discover pasticcerias that offer the best biscotti, amaretti, sfogliatelle, cannoli and more
    - Visit authentic salumeria in search of the best olive oil, balsamic vinegar, olives, salami, cheese, prosciutto, and pasta
    - Visit an “Old World” candy store and smell 79 year old coffee

    - Tour an enoteca and learn how to select aperitivi to begin, wine to compliment, and digestivi to conclude the meal

10. Los Angeles: LA Latin Spice Food Tasting Tour

This tour will take you to places you wouldn’t typically explore in Los Angeles, many of which are hidden in the downtown area. Travel by foot and the Metro Gold Line through downtown LA and Boyle Heights & Mariachi Plaza. Learn about the Latin culture and traditions, and sample traditional handmade foods!

Tastings:

    - LA’s first tortilla factory

    - Taste time-honored family recipes

    - Visit a nationally renowned tamale restaurant

    - LA’s first birreria

    - Health consciuos pupuseria

    - Contemporary Latina cafe

4Nov

Top 10 Best NYC Hotel Restaurants

1. Jean Georges
Trump Int’l Hotel

Jean Georges at Trump Int'l Hotel is one of the best hotel restaurants in New York City.

Jean Georges at Trump Int'l Hotel

Jean Georges at Trump Int'l Hotel is one of the best hotel restaurants in New York City.

Jean Georges at Trump Int'l Hotel

Inventive, understated and elegant modern decor, great service and a $32 prix fixe lunch make Jean Georges a hot spot for trendy NYC diners.

2. L’Atelier de Joel Rubuchon
Four Seasons Hotel

L'Atelier de Joel Rubuchon at Four Seasons Hotel is one of the best hotel restaurants in New York City.

L'Atelier de Joel Rubuchon at Four Seasons Hotel

L'Atelier de Joel Rubuchon at Four Seasons Hotel is one of the best hotel restaurants in New York City.

L'Atelier de Joel Rubuchon at Four Seasons Hotel

3. Cafe Boulud
Surrey Hotel

Cafe Boulud at Surrey Hotel is one of the best hotel restaurants in New York City.

Cafe Boulud at Surrey Hotel

This Uptown “cafe” doesn’t exactly have cafe prices, but the French cuisine, sophisticated setting, attentive but unobtrusive service and new cocktail lounge makes it a worthwhile experience. They offer a great selection of wines and a $35 prix fixe lunch menu.

4. Adour
St. Regis Hotel

Adour at the St. Regis is one of the best hotel restaurants in New York City.

Adour at the St. Regis

Adour at the St. Regis  is one of the best hotel restaurants in New York City.

Adour at the St. Regis

Alain Ducasse’s Midtown French restaurant is vinocentric and emphasizes wine and food pairings. Adour is pricey, but just as good with renowned NYC restaurants like Daniel or Per Se.

5. Maialino
Grammercy Park Hotel

Maialino at Grammercy Park Hotel is one of the best hotel restaurants in New York City.

Maialino at Grammercy Park Hotel

Maialino at Grammercy Park Hotel is one of the best hotel restaurants in New York City.

Maialino at Grammercy Park Hotel

Danny Meyer’s Italian restaurant in the Grammercy Park Hotel serves rustic fare (roast pig highly recommended). Try the wine bar for a pleasant, more casual dining experience.

6. Benjamin Steak House
Dylan Hotel

Benjamin Steak House at Dylan Hotel is one of the best hotel restaurants in New York City.

Benjamin Steak House at Dylan Hotel

This pricey steak house at the Dylan Hotel serves meat in big portions.

7. DB Bistro Moderne
City Club Hotel

DB Bistro Moderne at City Club Hotel is one of the best hotel restaurants in New York City.

DB Bistro Moderne at City Club Hotel

DB Bistro Moderne at City Club Hotel is one of the best hotel restaurants in New York City.

DB Bistro Moderne at City Club Hotel

This French bistro in the Theater District draws a chic crowd thanks to the modern setting. Try their signature $32 burger, or their $45 prix fixe pre-theater menu.

8. Norma’s
Le Parker Meridian

Norma's at Le Parker Meridian is one of the best hotel restaurants in New York City, and is especially popular for brunch.

Norma's at Le Parker Meridian

Norma’s is one of the best breakfast places in Midtown. Reservations are recommended as the crowd pours in for the delicious and rich breakfast items on the menu.

9. ASIATE
Mandarin Oriental

Asiate at the Mandarin Oriental is one of the best hotel restaurants in New York City.

Asiate at the Mandarin Oriental

Asiate at the Mandarin Oriental is one of the best hotel restaurants in New York City.

Asiate at the Mandarin Oriental

One of the best things about the restaurant is its chic decor and panoramic views of Central Park and Midtown. The food is served with great presentation and in generous portions. ASIATE is a popular brunch and lunch destination, thanks to prix fixe menus.

10. Gilt
NY Palace

Gilt at NY Palace is one of the best hotel restaurants in New York City.

Gilt at NY Palace

The combination of old and new decor make Gilt a unique and trendy dining experience. The Gilt Bar is a lively nightlife scene and makes great cocktails.

Information via Zagat