See Salt

SAO PAULO, Brazil —
A hot São Paulo lunch spot has now morphed into a trendy dinner venue.

When Sal (Portuguese for salt) opened in May 2005 in the Higienópolis neighborhood, lunchtime clientele could munch on quiche, salads and sandwiches on an outdoor patio the eatery shared with a contemporary art gallery. Following a renovation and expansion, Sal reopened in February with a new 1,300-square-foot interior space to supplement the patio area, a revamped menu and dinner service.

The interior boasts a long, wood-floored corridor, with wooden tables on one side facing a glass-walled, see-through kitchen on the other. There's also a wooden counter on the kitchen side of the restaurant for those who want an up-close look at operations. The owners plan to decorate the white walls with works from the adjacent gallery.

Sal's new menu offers intercontinental cuisine made with Brazilian ingredients. Appetizers include ostrich carpaccio with Dijon sauce and truffle oil, and calamari in a Provençal herb sauce; among the entrées are quinoa spaghetti with shiitake mushrooms, zucchini, garlic-seasoned broccoli, poppy seeds and cherry tomatoes, seasoned with sage butter and truffle oil and dusted with Parmesan, and duck maigret cooked in port wine and served with cassava root puree, baby carmelized onions cooked in lemongrass and fried banana.

Dinner, including an appetizer and a glass of wine, costs around $35 per person. Lunch service includes less pricy dishes, such as spaghetti and meatballs or Brazilian black bean stew, and runs about $22 per person, with a glass of wine and an appetizer.

Sal, Rua Minas Gerais 352, Higienópolis, São Paulo; 55-11-31-51-3085. Open for lunch, Monday-Friday, 12-3 p.m., and for dinner, Tuesday-Friday, 8 p.m.-12 a.m., and Saturday, 12-7 p.m. — Michael Kepp

Simple Pleasures

MADRID — The Aveda beauty brand opened its first Lifestyle Salon & Spa here in April. Located on Calle Ortega y Gasset, the Spanish capital's golden retail mile, surrounded by neighbors like Giorgio Armani, Dior and Jimmy Choo, the three-level, 3,900-square-foot flagship features an arsenal of hair, skin and body care products based on essential plant and flower oils.The full-service hair salon is run by creative director Ricardo Dinis, a five-year veteran of Vidal Sassoon, who said, "We consider ourselves tailors; we treat hair like fabric. Everything for the head and body is customized here, as opposed to one-size-fits-all. Using Aveda's techniques, we turn hair into architecture," he said.

Treatments range from a 90-minute Anti-Age Botanical Skin Resurfacing Facial (approximately $150 at current exchange), body polishes and antistress massages ($61 to $143) to Damage Remedy Hair & Scalp Renewal ($95).

There are only three treatment rooms, so appointments must be booked well in advance.

The new space is signature Aveda — pristine and full of light from a two-story glass façade, and filled with recycled wood and eco-friendly construction materials and plants that cleanse the air. Traditional Spanish culture is reflected in dramatic wall treatments made of up interlaced strips of used wine barrels from the Rioja region.

Aveda Lifestyle Salon & Spa, Calle Ortega y Gasset 26, Madrid; 34-91-432-2246;; Open Monday (retail store only), 2-8 p.m., and Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.- 8 p.m. — Barbara Barker


MILAN — Just outside the church that houses Leonardo Da Vinci's "The Last Supper," sits Pane e Acqua, a small and cozy restaurant that serves far more than just bread and water.

This tiny eatery in an old tobacconist's shop offers classic Mediterranean cuisine such as Ligurian gnocchi, known as trofiette, tossed with calamari and zucchini, and lightly seared tuna covered in sesame, as well as dishes with more exotic touches. Pane e Acqua's breads, desserts and gelati are all handmade. A three-course meal costs roughly $52, and Pane e Acqua also offers a $20 business lunch.

But the menu isn't the only thing clients can sample. All furniture and objects in the restaurant are for sale, and customers can choose between designer chairs and tables and vintage pieces.

Pane e Acqua, 14 Via Matteo Bandello, Milan; 39-02-439-86-316. Open Monday to Saturday, 12-2:30 p.m for lunch and 8-10 p.m. for dinner. — Vanessa SilvaGrill Friend

BERLIN — Although Grill Royal only opened on Berlin's Friedrichstrasse in March, it has the feel of a well-established institution.

Local celebrities and the glitterati of the Berlin fashion and art scenes have already made it a must-do, and weekends book up days in advance — an unusual occurrence in this laid-back city. The quick adoption is merited: Grill Royal offers an exceptional dining experience in an atmosphere of easy sophistication.

In the classic grill tradition, Grill Royal's emphasis is on meat, oysters (approximately $16 to $61 at current exchange), lobster (approximately $43) and fish, although a few token vegetarian dishes are offered as well. Diners can choose from cuts of beef in varying sizes, from a 6.3-oz. Argentinian steak for approximately $17.50 to a 12.7-oz. filet from Ireland for about $43, with a choice of sauces. Side dishes, mostly potatoes and vegetables, come separately and range from $4 to $9. The wine list focuses on European vintages.

The food is perfectly proportioned and prepared, and accompanied by friendly service, but it is the atmosphere that rounds out the experience. The low-ceilinged space, dimly lit and punctuated by red Sixties-style lamps and spotlights, imbues a feeling of intimacy, while the wide, comfortable seating allows guests to settle in and enjoy the riverfront view. Discreetly open seating areas offer the perfect opportunity to see and be seen.

Grill Royal, Friedrichstrasse 105b, Berlin; 0-30-2887-9288; Open Tuesday-Sunday, 6 p.m. till late. — Jennifer Sokolowsky

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