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Whitehall, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, November 18 12:09 PM

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Whitehall, in the heart of London, is where you'll find the Houses of Parliament and the Prime Minister's digs at Number 10 Downing Street; it's also the catchall term for the seat of government in old Blighty. And now the recently opened Whitehall in New York's West Village is the seat of modern British cuisine in the city. No debate.

The folks behind NYC's Scottish restaurants Highlands and Mary Queen of Scots have crossed the border to bring you poshified British fare courtesy of Australian chef Chris Rendell. Mushy peas come as fritters topped with mint sauce, and roast chicken breast is served with goat cheese butter that's as delicious as it is artery-lining (that's the British way, of course). The industrial-chic interior has reclaimed wood ceilings, brickwork and railway tile walls, and Edison bulbs aplenty. And we love the bench seating that's straight out of Hyde Park.

Oh, and there's lots of excellent gin--over 50 types, to be exact. Chin-chin.

Photo: Courtesy of Daniel Krieger

The Chatwal, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, October 11 10:49 AM

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The landmark 1905 building that houses New York City's Chatwal hotel has always been fashionable. Originally a private theater called the Lambs Club, it attracted Gilded Age glitterati such as Fred Astaire and the building's architect, Stanford White, whose young lover, model Evelyn Nesbit, was the Kate Moss of her day. To help current guests dress the part, the hotel has introduced the Fashion Cognoscenti package, a half- or full-day shopping and styling tour led by stylist and Lacolleta.com founder Jean Mayer.

We're particularly sold on the Meet the Designers add-on, in which guests get a one-on-one with a fashion world luminary plucked from Mayer's address book. Zac Posen, Tim Gunn, Lela Rose, and Lisa Salzer of Lulu Frost jewelry have signed on, with other big names to be announced.

Fashion Cognoscenti package, including a two-night stay at the Chatwal, from $1,295. Meet the Designers add-on from $5,000 (select designers will apply this fee towards purchases). Offer ends March 31, 2012.

Photo: Courtesy of the Chatwal

Momiji, Seattle

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, October 10 10:59 AM

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It seems Seattle is turning Japanese. At least it looks that way, when you see the straight-out-of-Kyoto stylings of Momiji, a blissed-out new oasis in Capitol Hill. Woodworker Craig Yamamoto constructed East-meets-Pacific Northwest furniture, including elegant tables hewn from brawny maple. Installation artist Yuri Kinoshita added whimsy, with cloudlike chandeliers and back-lit woven murals. And landscape architect Junji Miki designed a serene courtyard that's all whispering bamboo and gurgling water.

But what will really transport you is the menu. There's sushi and udon, of course, yet Momiji also offers kaiseki, Japan's artfully presented answer to Western tasting menus. Tokyo native chef Chikako Watanabe draws inspiration from Washington ingredients for dishes such as tempura seasonal vegetables with green tea salt and somen noodles with salmon roe and fresh sliced tuna. Simple and fresh, elegant and playful. Seattle and Kyoto were made for each other.

Photo: Courtesy of Momiji

Young & Free Exhibition, San Francisco

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, September 27 07:00 AM

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Australia, it seems, is a hotbed of street art. But if a trip down under is looking unlikely anytime soon, you can check out the U.S.A.'s biggest exhibit of Aussie urban art at San Francisco gallery 941 Geary. The Young & Free show brings together a diverse group of mixed media artists, wheat-pasters, and spray-painters.

Running through October 22, the exhibit includes mixed media pieces by Reka, haunting aerosol portraits by Ha-Ha, and gold-leaf skulls by Vexta. Those who wish to take one home, be forewarned: Taggers' work commands a high price these days--possibly as much as a plane ticket to Melbourne.

Photo: The Kelly Gang series, from left: Steve and Ned by Reka, courtesy of 941 Geary

Mateo's Cocina Latina, Healdsburg, California

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, September 23 07:00 AM

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Oenophile gridlock. Dot-com blowhards pontificating on tannins. We hate to be whiny winos, but if there's one thing California wine country needs, it's a shot of tequila. Thankfully, chef Mateo Granados has answered our plea with a new Yucatán-inspired restaurant in the tony hamlet of Healdsburg.

Granados shored up his Sonoma cred with roving restaurant Tendejon de la Calle but is now ready to put down roots in a rustic-modern space heavy on salvaged materials, along with a communal dining garden. You can watch him work his magic in the open kitchen, adding French flare to Yucatán Peninsula favorites like achiote marinades, homemade habañero salsas, and pit-roasted pork. And, of course, there's the fully stocked tequila bar--just the thing to wash away grape fatigue.

Photo: Courtesy of Mateo's Cocina Latina

Maison Ladurée, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, September 07 11:47 AM

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When recounting the great New York City cupcake wars of the early 21st century, sugar-charged historians will note August 30, 2011, as the day everything changed, when chocolate and vanilla, red velvet and peanut butter all banded together against a new common enemy: the macaron at Maison Ladurée's new Upper East Side shop.

The first stateside outpost of the venerable Parisian patisserie presents a pastel crayon box of a Belle Époque teahouse. Chocolates, fruit jellies, and miniature pastries vie for attention, but Ladurée's signature sweet is the double-decker macaron--two feather-light crispy shells sandwiching a soft, chewy center--a delicacy the company lays claim to inventing in 1930. There's classic caramel with salted butter, black-currant violet, rose, and pistachio, as well as seasonal flavors like almond Morello cherry and strawberry-mint. Sound the death knell to Upper East Side diets.

Photo: Courtesy of abbietabbie, Flickr, Getty Images

Fred Segal Lending Library, Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, September 06 11:33 AM

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You were so busy California dreaming, you forgot to pack your favorite studded clutch. Now what? Well, if you're staying at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, you can just check one out from the property's new accessories library.

Guests staying in suites at the 342-room oceanfront hotel will have complimentary access to a curated collection of designer goods starting today, courtesy of the new Fred Segal Lending Library. So you now can borrow an oversize snakeskin cuff or classic Ray-Bans, statement cocktail rings or funky fedoras, all plucked straight from Los Angeles's cult designer department store. There goes your last excuse for not packing light.

Photo: Courtesy of Loews Hotels

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Washington, D.C.

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, August 31 07:00 AM

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With all the partisan bickering and national debt doomsaying, it's hard to find a ray of hope in Washington, D.C., these days. Perhaps we can all draw inspiration from this quotation from Martin Luther King, Jr.: "Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope." It was the impetus behind a new national memorial to the civil rights leader, which was to have been dedicated last Sunday, on the 48th anniversary of King's "I Have a Dream" speech. (The ceremony was delayed by Hurricane Irene, and a new dedication date will be announced here.) The first National Mall memorial to an African-American, the 30-foot granite statue depicts a resolute King staring toward the horizon encircled by walls inscribed with excerpts of his speeches. Let's hope some congressional leaders take a page from his book. We can dream, can't we?

And while you're in town...

Eat here:
Rogue 24
The new Rogue 24 restaurant has an open kitchen and serves up 24-course tasting menus that push the culinary envelope. That might mean a sliver of shrimp sausage atop a sphere of grits filled with corn milk or a lavender meringue with shaved foie gras smeared in berry jelly. Rogue indeed.

Stay here:
The Liaison Capitol Hill
A Pop art portrait of Martin Luther King, Jr., watches over the lobby of this Capitol Hill hotel; King is just one of the world leaders that the Liaison brings together both on and within its walls. The 343 rooms were made for comfort, with velvet and leather headboards and toffee-and-cream color schemes punctuated by turquoise throws and crimson pillows. Leaders from across the aisles come together at the rooftop bar and locavore restaurant Art and Soul. This is a D.C. liaison that won't land you in the tabloids.

Photo: Courtesy of Jason Rosenberg

Hôtel Americano, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, August 25 10:11 AM

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Mexican-owned, French-designed, Japanese-styled, NYC-outfitted: Like our great national stew, Chelsea's latest design hotel is an exercise in delicious eclecticism. Hôtel Americano, indeed. Opening in early September amid art galleries on a gritty stretch of West 27th Street, Grupo Habita's first property north of the border fits in brilliantly with the patchwork of New York City.

Outside, an industrial chain-link facade shields the rooms from prying eyes on the High Line. Inside, the 56 midcentury minimalist rooms are reminiscent of an urban ryokan, thanks to wooden platform beds and gallery-style white walls. Denim robes from Loden Dager, Latin-French room service in bento boxes, and mezcal and harmonicas in the minibar add just the right amount of quirkiness. In lesser hands, all this mishmash might appear muddled, but as conceived by interior designer Arnaud Montigny (of Colette fame), the easy je ne sais quoi of cool feels just like home.

Photo: Courtesy of Hôtel Americano

Ink, Los Angeles

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, August 23 07:00 AM

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Chef Michael Voltaggio knows a thing or two about ink: Not only are his arms covered in the stuff, but plenty has been spilled over his talents, thanks to star-making stints at José Andrés's Bazaar at SLS Hotel and Charlie Palmer's Dry Creek Kitchen. (Did we mention he also won the sixth season of Bravo's Top Chef?)

Come September, the 32-year-old chef is opening the doors to his long-awaited signature restaurant--called, you guessed it, Ink--on L.A.'s Melrose Avenue. While the menu is still under wraps, expect unorthodox creations like Voltaggio's cult pigeon pastrami. And an eight-person omakase-style bar off the main dining room will offer a prix-fixe chef's choice tasting.

Can't wait until September to get your Ink fix? Mosey down the block to newly minted sandwich shop Ink.Sack, serving up banh mi (Voltaggio's version uses chicharrónes) and Reubens made with corned beef tongue. Grab a pen, you'll want to write this one down.

Photo: Courtesy of Bart Nagel

stillspotting: nyc, To a Great City, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, August 22 11:35 AM

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Quiet. Respite. Solitude. Not words usually associated with New York City. But from September 15-18 and 22-25, stillspotting: nyc, To a Great City, a conceptual art collaboration between the Guggenheim Museum, Estonia-born composer Arvo Pärt, and Snøhetta (the architecture firm behind New York City's National September 11 Memorial and Museum) will redefine your aural perceptions of the city.

A walking tour takes you to five "galleries" around lower Manhattan--including a green labyrinth in the Battery, an underground chamber at Governors Island, and off-limits rooms in landmark skyscrapers--where the interactive installation marries architecture with Pärt's signature minimalist compositions. Buy a ticket, get your map, and follow the three-hour route, or choose your own adventure throughout the day. Loop back. Meditate. Make it your own. In the city, finding peace and quiet is indeed an art.

Route starts at Castle Clinton National Monument in Battery Park, 11 am to 7 pm (ticket sales close at 4 pm), $10. Advance reservations suggested.

Photo: Courtesy of Snøhetta 2011

Barn and Company, Chicago

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, August 16 12:44 PM

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Chicago newcomer Barn & Company is the pits. Delicious, meaty, hickory-smoked pits, that is. And we're fired up about its country-crossing menu referencing barbecue traditions from Texas to Memphis to Kansas City.

The dining room has a rustic city slicker vibe with reclaimed barn wood walls and rusted tin ceilings installed to add a bit of patina to the space. It's the ideal place to down brisket, ribs, pulled pork, and links. Tables look onto the open kitchen where chef and BBQ expert Gary Wiviott mans the smoker and mixes up sauces. If you can't stand the heat, order up a jam jar of beer or a Redneck Sangria. Pork plus bourbon-spiked wine? That's our idea of a pig out.

Photo: Courtesy of Barn & Company

 

The Nolitan, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, July 25 09:55 AM

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Soho, Noho, Tribeca, FiDi--New Yorkers define themselves by their neighborhoods. Now visitors can, too, as downtown creative pocket Nolita gets its first luxury hotel, the Nolitan.

The 55-room property aims for a full-service-apartment vibe. Before check-in, you can request a fridge full of organic spritzers, hypoallergenic pillows on the bed, or even a new outfit for Poochie. Rooms are decked out in light oak floors, floor-to-ceiling windows, and mod furnishings to create a warm, loftlike feel. When you're ready to roam (nearby Young Designer's Market and boutiques like John Varvatos and Selima Optique are offering neighborly discounts), a complimentary bike or skateboard will be waiting.

Down in the lobby salon, Phaidon has curated a library, and a 2,400-square-foot roof deck just begs for having friends over for cocktails. No worries if the party goes late: 2 pm checkout comes standard. Time to call U-Haul; move-in starts August 1.

Photo: Courtesy of the Nolitan

Graffiato, Washington, D.C.

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, July 13 11:07 AM

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Talky Top Chef and José Andrés alum Mike Isabella's new D.C. restaurant, Graffiato, will spoil you with crave-worthy deep-fried strawberry-sugar-dusted dough balls--a.k.a. zeppole--even though they're not on the menu.

Secret desserts aside, Graffiato exudes openness, from its raw wood beams and exposed brick walls to its peekaboo kitchen and list of local farm and dairy partners spelled out above a seven-seat ham bar. Think of it as a bustling stage for small plates as bold as the celeb chef himself. Our favorites? Spiced red beets with pork-fried almonds, bone marrow with cured lemon, and a rustic Countryman pizza topped with duck egg then pulled charred and bubbling from a wood-burning oven.

Isabella works the crowd, chatting as you chew. And as at any proper show, there's Prosecco to go with it. On tap.

Photo: Courtesy of Greg Powers 

L.A. Delivers Mail-Order Munchies

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, May 12 07:00 AM

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Your next meal in L.A.? Signed, sealed, and delivered at Manhattan Beach Post, a new restaurant located in a former post office in a boho beachy community of southwest L.A.

From the open kitchen, chef and co-owner David LeFevre, formerly of the shmancy Water Grill, sends out hearty shared plates to the funky vintage-style dining room, with walls of mismatched reclaimed wood, lab stools, and old industrial lights. Fleur de sel soft pretzels come with house-made mustards. Bacon cheddar biscuits are slathered in Vermont maple butter. Then there are the seafood dishes LeFevre is known for, such as green curry mussels with Vietnamese sausage and sticky rice. Wash it all down with the only-in-L.A. take on a Manhattan: whiskey, vermouth, and sea salt-caramel bitters in a glass rimmed in bacon dust--strong enough to make you go postal.

Photo: Courtesy of Manhattan Beach Post

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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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