A selection of Upscale restaurant experiences and the luxurious hotels that host them.
In this hustle and bustle world that we live in, every now and then it’s nice to leave it all behind, escape from work to play and make wonderful memories. Not just typical memories but extraordinary ones, where pause is taken and indulgences are experienced, all captured in new spaces and new places. Enter some of the most exclusive hotels and resorts from coast to coast. And the icing on the cake? Indeed it actually is the icing on the cake, as well as the small plates richly endowed with caviar on endive or the large plates adorned with black truffles and fresh meats, finished in delicious sauce. It is indeed the food. Like the resounding chords of a bass guitar are the backbone of a piece of music, the dining spots within a hotel are one of the most important factors in choosing a hotel. In this spirit, Upscale Living takes you on a tour of west and east coast hotels and resorts and their in house dining spots, extraordinaire. Bon appétit!
THE PIERRE, A TAJ HOTEL, NEW YORK – SIRIO RISTORANTE
The Pierre’s Sirio Ristorante, is named for legendary Le Cirque restaurateur Sirio Maccioni. That in itself distinguishes it from the rest. Both traditional and contemporary at the same time, Italian dishes are inventively conjured in this kitchen and artfully presented in their comfortable yet elegant dining space, inspired by Maccioni’s Tuscan background. As if that wasn’t enough of a pedigree, Sirio boasts an impressive history traced back to The Pierre’s chef de cuisine, the famous Auguste Escoffier, who presided over the hotel’s original opening. Dine here and enjoy a seasonally inspired menu of dishes, expertly paired with classic cocktails and wine, including private label wines produced exclusively for the restaurant. Today, Executive Chef Massimo Bebber is at the helm, developing clever and tasty dishes such as the buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto crudo, gooseberry compote and figs vin cotto or the savory parsnip soup with thyme and black truffle crouton, perfect when a chill is in the air. Try a Primi course of homemade squid ink garganelli, crab and lobster jus with a sprinkling of prosciutto breadcrumbs. For Secondi, the Mediterranean Branzino with celery root puree, basil oil and Puttanesca sauce is a seasonal champion or the grass fed veal chop with polenta, butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, pickled seasonal mushrooms and veal jus. Sautéed baby spinach with walnuts adds the right touch as a side. Try your best to leave room for a sweet, such as their mocha tiramisu barreto with lady fingers, chocolate flourless cake, mascarpone mousse and coffee macaroons–Old school and outstanding.
Two E Bar/Lounge – Playfully named for its location at 2 East 61st Street, this beautifully appointed room is so much more than a lounge. It’s actually a full on destination experience, from the time you step down into its sunken grand space and view their striking copper bar centerpiece, to the both classic and modernly influenced cocktails offered, along with light fare when craving a nibble. On Tuesday nights, a no-cover charge music series is hosted here and on Wednesdays, mixology cocktail crafting classes are offered. In addition, a monthly Chef”s Social Club dinner featuring an intimate chefs table dining experience with Chef Ashfer Biju and Chef Micahel Mignano is a treat worth venturing.
The Pierre, a Taj Hotel, New York – debuted in Manhattan back in 1930. To this day, it continues its iconic legacy with seamless finesse, catering to the most discerning of travelers. In addition, politicians, celebrities and financiers have called the Pierre, home throughout the years, and this is no wonder. Timeless elegance makes this landmark an international favorite. Here guests enjoy the utmost of white glove pampering, with 140 guest rooms and 49 suites, featuring sublime views of Central Park and upper NYC. Eleven distinctive grand suites offer even more opulence, like the convenience of a complimentary Jaguar house car, but why drive anywhere if it’s all right at your fingertips. Don’t you agree?
THE WALDORF ASTORIA – THE BULL & BEAR RESTAURANT
In these most difficult modern times and with the crisp chill of winter in the air, we all of us could use a little good old fashioned TLC, so we reach for what we can when we can, from that old woolen afghan to cuddle under to a crackly wood burning fire to warm our bones and absolutely always and unequivocally, a hearty helping of good old fashioned dining. We can without guilt, shamelessly escape our stress and woes and travel back to a plainer time. Enter The Bull & Bear Prime Steakhouse. Featuring one of the most historic and well-recognized bars in New York City, with a vast history dating back to the late 1800s, the Bull & Bear’s was a popular watering hole for Manhattan’s powerful Wall Street elite, back in the day. The famous bronze statues of a bull and a bear still stand proudly today, paying tribute to those bygone days. Chef de Cuisine Matt Schindler, with a long history of experience at several exclusive restaurants and hotels himself, focuses on using locally sourced ingredients such as foraging and harvesting honey on the property; even raising chickens for the eggs used and in this way, he successfully continues the legacy. This classic steakhouse offers a selection of signature chops and seafood, prime steaks and aged Black Angus beef. Enjoy cocktails at the grand mahogany bar and check out the restaurant’s electronic stock ribbon, as active as always. Perhaps start with the shellfish platter, loaded with fresh oysters, Maine lobster, gulf shrimp and more. Add the Waldorf’s private label gold or platinum selection caviar for a shot of decadence. Of course, sampling their signature Waldorf salad is a must; candied walnuts, apples, celeriac and truffle. Choose the 30 oz. porterhouse, done precisely to your specifications. Add parmesan truffle fries and lobster mac n cheese and you have had the full Bull & Bear experience, hands down.
The Waldorf Astoria, New York – An official NYC landmark on Park Avenue, this hotel defines iconic. An art deco masterpiece, the Waldorf offers luxuriously appointed guestrooms of elegant and timeless design. Comprising a full city block of prestigious midtown, this property began in 1893 when millionaire William Waldorf Astor opened the 13-story Waldorf Hotel, where his former mansion stood, at Fifth Avenue and 33rd Street. Four years later, The Waldorf was joined by the 17-story Astoria Hotel, standing on an adjacent site by Waldorf’s cousin, John Jacob Astor IV. In 1929, the original Waldorf Astoria New York closed to be resurrected 15 blocks north on Park Avenue and it stands today, remaining one of the world’s grandest buildings with an unparalleled international reputation. The Waldorf Astoria and The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria offer 1,415 guest rooms and suites, each room decorated differently. All feature marble bathrooms, flat-screen televisions and a host of other luxurious amenities. Many celebrities have resided here including Herbert Hoover, Frank Sinatra, Cole Porter and Grace Kelly. Are you next?
THE RITZ CARLTON LAGUNA – NIGUEL – RAYA
Acclaimed Chef Richard Sandoval showcases Pan-Latin coastal cuisine prepared with sustainable seafood, local produce, natural and organic meat and chef’s signature Latin flavors. Enjoy such inventive dishes as the duck carnitas huarache with mole verde, tomatillo, avocado, pickled kumquat, radish and thyme. If you love seafood, the rock shrimp and bacon quesadilla with Oaxaca manchego, togarashi, green onion, cilantro, avocado crèma and tomatillo-chipotle honey salsa is a treat. Large plate dishes such as miso Alaskan black cod with charred asparagus, kabayaki sauce, togarashi aioli or the seafood risotto with Maine lobster, prawns, Santa Barbara mussels, calamari, Spanish chorizo, saffron rice and Dungeness crab are perfect selections. Raya original cocktails like the Lavender Margarita with herradura silver, lavender, simple syrup, cointreau and sweet & sour, is unique and refreshing.
The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel – Resting atop a 150-foot bluff along the coastline, this Dana Point resort offers the utmost in luxury lodging and all that the Ritz Carlton brand promises and consistently delivers, while still managing to have a personality all its own. From the playful display of surf boards adorning the hallway, to the ocean view or poolside rooms and suites, you can feel the southern California vibe at every turn. Refresh and rejuvenate in their onsite ocean inspired spa or relax by the pool. Enjoy world class golf or simply do nothing at all.You are guaranteed a remarkable stay.
PELICAN HILL RESORT – ANDREA RISTORANTE
From the moment you enter this dining space, you are swept away. From the al fresco terrace to the traditional great room, with strains of guitar music playing live, you are immediately treated as an esteemed guest in northern Italy. The chefs here work in perfect symphony to create hand-made pastas made fresh daily in a temperature-controlled Pasta Room, from imported stone wheat flour, organic eggs, filtered water and natural salt from Cervia, Italy. Add a sublime wine list and you have a perfect and memorable meal. Perhaps start with the Greg Norman wagyu beef carpaccio with baby artichokes, caciocavallo cheese with a Meyer lemon vinaigrette or the fennel pollen dusted Kurobuta pork belly, with a Romanesco cauliflower puree, Marsala glazed cipollini and fig compote. The bucatini carbonara with a soft poached egg, prosciutto and black pepper has a melt in your mouth texture. The soft egg casts just the right amount of warm palate contrast. Entrees include roasted Elysian Fields lamb chop, braised lamb belly, vegetable caponata with artichoke blossom or another creative choice such as the braised veal cheek with smoked mozzarella, polenta, and Oregon mushrooms in veal jus. The truffle box holding the much revered delicacy; the Italian Black Truffle is offered tableside, revered as the important delicacy that it is.
The Pelican Hill – This is an authentic Italian villa experience without the hassle of international travel at the very least. At best, it is a destination that will take your breath away. A private enclave within the resort features villas with two, three or four bedrooms served by their own staff. A private clubhouse, resplendent with an inviting great room, a dining room, a state of the art fitness center and infinity pool, with cabanas, a whirlpool spa and children’s wading pool completes your stay. Luxury bungalow guest rooms and suites offer another lodging option. Their golf club provides a 36-championship hole, Tom Fazio designed golf course and The Spa at Pelican Hill has beautifully appointed treatment rooms, relaxation lounges and Roman-style bath, sauna and steam rooms. Six restaurants and cafés allow for any and all dining. Their piece du resistance, the Coliseum Pool, is inspired by its namesake. A perfect circle, 136 feet in diameter with furnished cabanas is unprecedented.
ST. REGIS MONARCH BEACH – THE STONEHILL TAVERN
The Forbes Four-Star Stonehill Tavern is Michael Mina’s acclaimed restaurant, offering tavern fare in a comfortable yet sophisticated setting. Modern American cuisine features seasonal ingredients with an unexpected contemporary spin on classic tavern dishes. Wine Director Rajat Parr in pairing your choices, presents a vast and impressive wine selection with a focus on boutique producers in the California wine regions. Caviar selections such as golden osetra or California reserve offer a treat to start. The signature panache of seasonal shellfish is always a smart choice. California coast vegetables, such as expertly prepared ancient grains, foraged mushrooms and kabocha squash brings an authentic farm to table experience. Michael Mina’s signature lobster pot pie with seasonal baby vegetables, brandied lobster and cream is delicious. For a heartier choice, the Barbary duckling in two services, Balinese peppercorns, lima beans, quince, parsnip and white truffle honey is satisfying. For dessert, you cannot beat their icy root beer float with sassafras ice cream and a warm chocolate chip cookie. For the traditionalist, an artisanal cheese plate with select cheeses such as Pleasant Ridge Reserve Wisconsin is offered. Cocktails like the inventive Kashmir Bombay sapphire gin, yellow chartreuse lemon juice and India pale is tasty.
The St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort (Laguna Beach) – This Forbes Five-Star, AAA Five-Diamond awarded resort, is located along the blue sparkling shores of the Pacific Ocean in Dana Point, California. Featuring one of the “Top 25 Hotel Spas in the World”, as voted by Travel & Leisure Magazine, this resort provides beach, golf and spa, six ocean-view restaurants and Monarch Bay Club Luxury with 400 rooms and suites. Three swimming pools, an on-site championship golf course and St. Regis Butler Service make your stay upscale and complete.
KITANO NEW YORK – HAKUBAI
Kaiseki cuisine is a traditional multiple course Japanese meal, served in a prescribed order. Its origin is a minimalist, strictly vegetarian meal, traditionally served in Zen temples to accompany the tea ceremony. While the original Zen kaiskei exists in its pure form to this day, today’s kaiseki is much heartier, centered on the drinking of sake rather than tea, and is very elaborate in presentation. This is the essence of Hakubai. A Michelin-rated restaurant, Hakubai offers an authentic Kaiseki experience, from the masterpiece presentation of each course on the finest of Japanese tableware, to the delicious Kaiseki cuisine. From the moment that you enter, you are honored with beautifully adorned staff in traditional garb bowing modestly. The food is fresh, such as the sushi and the miso soup, and dining course by course is unique and unhurried. The monthly sake-paired dinners here are worth trying and every December, Kitano offers a traditional Japanese Tea Gathering, including the sampling of thin tea (usucha) served in fine pottery and antiques from Japan and other international locations, along with a traditional light meal.
Kitano New York – Located on fashionable Park Avenue at 38th Street, this hotel features 149 guestrooms, all rooms with TOTO washlets, including 17 contemporary suites and a one-of-a-kind Japanese Tatami Suite featuring sand-textured walls, traditional Tatami mats and authentic shoji screens. Enjoy their deep-soaking traditional Japanese tub and a private Japanese Tea Ceremony room in the style of sukiya-zukuri, a centuries-old architectural style noted for its simple use of natural materials.
The JAZZ at KITANO is an in house supper club, offering world class jazz coupled with drinks and dining. Warm mahogany walls, comfortable banquettes, a ceiling of skylights and walls adorned with contemporary art, make for a fabulous night out. Expect legendary jazz artists such as Fred Hirsch, Barry Harris, and George Cables. Have a seat, settle in and enjoy the music and the ambiance.