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The Cube, Brussels, Belgium

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, March 15 06:26 PM

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Location, location, location. Any restaurateur knows that's the key to success. And no one knows it better than the folks behind The Cube, a futuristic new pop-up restaurant. The 1,500-square-foot structure will be attached to the rooftops of some of Europe's landmark buildings for three-month stints this year. First stop? Belgium, where it will sit 100 feet up atop the Arcades du Cinquantenaire in Brussels' Cinquantenaire park from late March through early July.

The glass restaurant (complete with terrace) was designed by Milan-based architects Park Associati and is covered in a laser-cut aluminum "skin" that adds a sci-fi touch. It seats 18 diners at one long table and has an open kitchen, where Michelin-starred Belgian chefs Sang Hoon Degeimbre and Bart de Pooter will alternate days behind the stove. Next stop, Moscow? Stockholm? Zurich? Only The Cube knows.

Photo: Courtesy of Park Associati

Ray's and Stark Bar, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, March 11 07:17 PM

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Los Angeles
has its fair share of beautiful people. So it makes sense that one of the city's top museums would want to put that beauty on display. Enter Ray's and Stark Bar, the newest addition to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, named for Ray Stark, the late film producer and former LACMA trustee.

Ray's glass-box design, by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano, makes people the exhibit. Outside, museumgoers observe diners noshing on seasonal Mediterranean fare prepared by chef Kris Morningstar (formerly of District and Mercantile). Inside, diners survey museumgoers frolicking in Chris Burden's famous lamp-post installation, Urban Light. The open-air Stark Bar offers similar people-watching opportunities as well as market-fresh cocktails. Just don't overdo it and make an exhibition of yourself.

Photo: Courtesy of Dustin Downing

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, February 25 04:54 PM

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The hottest ticket in England these days isn't the royal wedding, it's scoring a table at Dinner. The new restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park is the first London outing of Heston Blumenthal, the patron saint of modern British cooking.

A departure from the mad scientist fare at The Fat Duck, Blumenthal's three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Berkshire, Dinner aims to resurrect centuries of British food tradition with dishes such as turkey pudding with cockscomb and rice and flesh. The elegant dining room has playful touches, such as porcelain sconces in the shape of antique jelly molds and a wall of 16th-century British cookbook prints that appear and disappear, depending on the light. Just the kind of magic that will keep them coming back for ages.

Ember Room, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, February 08 04:05 PM

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If your tastes tend toward the bold in flavor and decor, then Ember Room, an American-Asian barbecue restaurant that has just opened in New York City's Hell's Kitchen, will feed your desires.

Chefs Ian Chalermkittichai and Todd English collaborate on dishes that pack a punch: chocolate baby back ribs, red miso bamboo-roasted black cod, and Berkshire pulled-pork burgers. And designer Roy Nachum's sultry surroundingswalls decorated with Chinese characters, ceilings covered in tiny Thai bellsare bathed in a deep, golden light, like, well, burning embers. But the focal point is the open kitchen, equipped with a clay-brick and volcanic-rock oven, where chefs wok, roast, and grill for your viewing (and tasting) pleasure.

Minimalist, this is not.

Atelier Crenn, San Francisco

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, January 20 01:36 PM

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When you think of France, do food, art, and perhaps poetry spring to mind? If so, Atelier Crenn, Michelin-starred chef Dominique Crenn's new restaurant, which opens tomorrow in San Francisco's Cow Hollow neighborhood, is likely to transport you there.

Crenn, who is originally from Versailles, sees plates as blank canvases on which she attempts to remind the diner where the food comes from: Many of the ingredients on her seasonal, modern French menu come from Gouge Eye Farm, a small holding near Sacramento. Winter dishes include slow-cooked eggs, chanterelles la grecque with wild nettle, and trout fum served with rose, horseradish, and crispy fennel--but don't be surprised if soil or river stones are incorporated into your dining experience to connect your dish back to its source.

The paintings on Atelier Crenn's walls are by the chef's late father. And the poetry? Crenn is inspired by verse and composes a poem before writing her menus. It seems that she aims to feed the soul as well as the stomach.

Photo: Courtesy of Ron Armstrong

Aburiya Toranoko, Los Angeles

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, January 20 11:42 AM

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Here are two words for those of you who are guilty of ordering the same old dish at the same old restaurant month after month: Aburiya Toranoko. Go there, order the shiokara-marinated intestines, and open your palate to a whole new set of sensations. Good ones, we hasten to add.

Aburiya Toranoko, opening tomorrow in downtown L.A.'s Little Tokyo, is the latest offering from Michael Cardenas, who also owns the Lazy Ox Canteen next door. Alongside those intestines, you might also like the miso-marinated beef tongue. But don't worry, there are plenty of play-it-safe dishes on the menu, too, from sumiyaki to sushi--all expertly created by former Nobu Matsuhisa chefs.

As you'd expect from an izakaya cocktail bar, the menu includes an extensive sake selection as well as plum wine, Japanese beers, and cocktails with an Asian twist-- surefire ways to guarantee you won't chicken out.

Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Daniels

 

The Counter, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, December 17 05:26 PM

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Is there such a thing as too much choice? When West Coast burger joint The Counter opens its first New York City outpost in Times Square on Monday, you'll be able to choose from more than 300,000 burger combinations. Surely it's only a matter of time before someone takes that as a challenge.

The options to build your own Angus beef, grilled chicken, turkey, or veggie burger--with toppings like grilled pineapple, roasted corn and black bean salsa, country buttermilk Ranch dressing, basil pesto, fried egg, and dill pickle chips--sound yummy. And the industrial-style interiors with hanging globe lights and mint-colored walls will be a welcome respite from the many gaudy fast-food options in Midtown.

Better still, there's a full bar with spiked shakes. We're there.

Photo: Courtesy of The Counter

La Terrasse, Bern, Switzerland

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, December 09 11:52 AM

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If you like the idea of watching a chef at work but prefer to keep your distance from sharp knives and hot sauces, La Terrasse at the grande dame Bellevue Palace hotel in Bern, Switzerland, is the place to eat.

Diners already use an iPad to browse the French dishes on the menu. Now they can use the tablet to watch head chef Gregor Zimmermann cook their dinner. And beginning next year, it will also be possible to connect to the kitchen directly via instant messaging to say hello or share some "constructive criticism."

We're told the communication will be one-way, so you won't hear what the chef thinks of your culinary advice. Probably just as well.

Photo: Courtesy of the Victoria-Jungfrau Collection

JapaCurry, San Francisco

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, November 17 11:44 AM

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Spicy food in the open air. It's the perfect combo. So when we heard that JapaCurry, a new food truck selling (no surprise) Japanese curry, is rolling out in San Francisco on Friday, we had to point you in the right direction.

Jay Hamada's journey to food truck owner came by way of Silicon Valley (he lost his IT job) and Japan (where he learned the art of making ramen). But after spotting a long line outside a local Japanese curry restaurant, he decided that was the right dish to take on the road. While curries (beef, pork katsu, chicken katsu, and vegetable) will dominate the menu, Hamada also plans to add some lesser-known Japanese dishes, too.

It seems San Fran's food truck scene is hotter than ever.

Track down JapaCurry in San Francisco on Twitter

Photo: Courtesy of JapaCurry

Simplethings Sandwich & Pie Shop, Los Angeles, California

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, November 12 10:55 AM

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Feeling overwhelmed? The complexity of life getting you down? We have the answer: Pie. There are few things more comforting--perhaps it's the taste of simpler times, when your meals were home-cooked and you didn't have to pay rent. From next week, Angelenos can get back to basics at Simplethings, a quaint little shop selling pies and sandwiches that's sure to become a standout among L.A.'s innumerable girly cupcake and frozen yogurt joints.

This Third Street shop will offer five or six sweet and savory pies daily, as well as two or three specials, including executive chef Carrie Cusack's signature Missouri Mud Pie. And since they come in individual four-inch sizes, you can also take home a sampler six-pack. Now, that's a whole lot of comfort.

Photo: Simplethings

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Prices and other information were accurate at press time, but are subject to change. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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