Byline: Rosemary Feitelberg / Marcy Medina / Rebecca Kleinman
With the opening this month of the W Times Square, hipsters are expected to head to the once-seedy nabe in search of Gotham glam. Situated in one of the city’s most infamous neighborhood’s, the Asian-inspired 509-room hotel aims for understatement in an area teeming with huge billboards and neon signs. Upon entering the building on the ground floor, visitors pass beneath a glass-encased waterfall and are swept upstairs by elevators to the main lobby on the fourth floor, where they can rest in ottomans under oversized lanterns.
Designed by Toronto firm Yabu Pushelberg, the W Hotel is a monument to minimalism. The firm set out to pare back its design to make the W more modern and sleek, said Glenn Pushelberg, partner in the firm, with George Yabu. The firm’s portfolio includes Carolina Herrera’s Madison Avenue boutique and Tiffany & Co.’s Fifth Avenue flagship.
“The problem with design hotels today is there’s so much design and very little editing that it becomes kind of throwaway,” Pushelberg said. “We wanted to do something that was all about being less than more, more, more.”
Fashionistas will also appreciate the hotel staff’s uniforms, designed by Kenneth Cole. W Hotels earlier this year enlisted Cole to design the uniforms for the entire chain.
The W Times Square is also geared for style-savvy locals who work at one of the many nearby media and financial companies, who aren’t looking for Disneyland-type dining or drinking experiences. With these cocktail-sipping patrons in mind, the hotel built the Whiskey, a 6,000-square-foot bar and screening room operated by nightclub czar Rande Gerber. Among its unique and Times Square-esque design features are floor tiles that change color upon contact.
Restaurateur Steve Hanson, who runs New York eateries Blue Water Grill, Atlantic Grill and Ruby Foo’s, will operate Blue Fin, a 350-seat restaurant featuring live jazz performances.
W Times Square, 1567 Broadway, New York, 212-930-7400. Doubles from $449.
Betting On The Bistro
Not quite a hotbed of fine dining, the Upper West Side generally scores more points for its proximity to Central Park. But lifelong West Sider (and Francophone) Ed Kleefield wants to change all that with his new bistro, Jean Luc, which he hopes will give his nabe a shot of downtown spirit.
Jean Luc — which also happens to be Kleefield’s nickname — is housed in a softly lit, two-tier space, featuring a long mahogany bar, a 25-foot table for communal dining and a deejay spinning ’round midnight on weekends. Kleefield, a former party promoter in New York and the Hamptons, hopes Jean Luc will become a late-night haven for uptowners who don’t want the hassle of trekking below 14th Street. The bistro has already had its share of celeb spottings, including Lauren Bacall, Gary Trudeau, Jane Pauley, Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson.
Executive chef Eric Le Dily, formerly of Raoul’s and Le Perigord, heads up the kitchen. Entrees include steak au poivre, sauteed sea scallops with eggplant caviar and grilled organic Cornish hen are among the entrees. Kleefield is also at work on a “mockumentary,” called “So You Want to Open a Restaurant, You Schmuck,” a detailed account of some of his trials and tribulations. 507 Columbus Avenue, New York, 212-712-1700. Entrees from $17 to $25.
Neue Age Art
Art dealer Serge Sabarsky didn’t live long enough to see his vision for an Austrian and German art museum materialize. But five years after Sabarsky’s death, his comrade and cohort in the project, Ronald Lauder, has made that happen.
The Neue Galerie, which opened in November in a six-story Louis XII-style Beaux Arts building, is a tribute to the pair’s lifelong interest in Austrian and German Expressionist art.
Lauder, a dedicated Sabarsky client and former ambassador to Austria, shared with the dealer his interest in art and led the effort to open the Museum Mile institution.
The museum houses German and Austrian fine and decorative arts, mostly from the early 20th century. Featured Austrian artists include Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka. Artists of German movements including the Bauhaus, Die Brucke, Der Blaue Reiter and Neue Sachlichkeit are also on display.
The museum’s inaugural exhibition, “New Worlds: German and Austrian Art, 1890-1940,” runs until Feb. 18.
1048 Fifth Avenue, New York, 212-628-6200.
When it’s market week in Los Angeles, restaurants and bars reap the benefits of weary visitors in search of a fabulous night out. Here, a couple of options:
With the opening of the Sunset Boulevard eatery Balboa, vegan-friendly Hollywood types are thinking twice about their health-conscious ways, instead opting for a diet suitable for the hungriest of carnivores. Balboa, located inside the Grafton On Sunset Hotel, is run by restaurateurs Craig Katz and Lee Maen, the duo behind Sushi Roku restaurants.
For those who thought the cocktail-sipping Tinseltown set would not dare step foot in the meat-and-potatoes eatery, situated a stone’s throw from the Mondrian Hotel and House of Blues, one look at the teeming dining room will convince skeptics otherwise. Foodies drool in anticipation of devouring some of the best cuts of American, Argentinian and Japanese kobe beef, along with lobster and fish. On the design front, the restaurant features antique mirrors, mercury glass countertops, metal beads dangling from the sides of the bar and granite tables. 8462 West Sunset Boulevard, L.A., 323-650-8383. Entrees from $16 to $40.
Creatures of the night on the prowl for a dining experience that’s more grit than glam often pay a visit to the Chinatown haunt Hop Louie. After the dinner crowd has had their fill of Peking duck and shrimp rolls (tasty delicacies that are a bargain compared with those offered at pricy West Side restaurants), the late-night barhoppers show up for turntable jams and mai tais. As an added bonus for hipsters, located across the street is the tiny passageway known as Chungking Road, home to up-and-coming art galleries and cutting-edge fashion. It’s not unusual to spy Christina Ricci, Gwen Stefani, Beck and Iggy Pop among the art students, collectors and locals who crowd the walkway on weekends. 950 Mei Ling Way, L.A., 213-628-4244. Entrees from $6 to $16.
Chef Joel Antunes may describe his cuisine as French with Asian influences, but in reality, his culinary influences span the globe.
He got his first cooking lessons in his grandmother’s kitchen in the south of France; worked in Paris, Bangkok and London, and settled in Atlanta as executive chef at Joel at the Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead.
“So many of my customers didn’t want six or eight courses anymore, because they didn’t want to get fat,” Antunes said.
So he took an approach that might be most familiar to Spanish diners, offering a host of small, tapas-like appetizers for his weight-and waist-conscious clientele to nosh on, such as a terrine of venison with red wine pears; a rillette of salmon and dill, or a more generously apportioned tuna and tomato tartar with olive oil, lemon and chive dressing. Entrees include baked sea bass over tomato lasagna and braised short ribs with tamarind and rutabaga. The chef’s main claim to fame: a roasted whole lobster atop vegetables accompanied by a Thai-accented endive confit spiked with green curry and coriander. The Forum at 3290 Northside Parkway, Atlanta, 404-233-3500. Entrees from $17 to $30.
Dining at the Peninsula Chicago’s Shanghai Terrace restaurant is like taking a quick trip to Asia — minus, of course, the back-breaking 20-hour flight and the jet lag.
Calming Asian music, lush corals, neutral-colored fabrics and glowing Chinese lamps fill the eatery, which also includes a terrace.
This theme of purity carries over into the table settings, which feature displays of orchids. Foodies fond of Asian cuisine will be impressed that the restaurant does not compromise substance for style. Originally from Germany, executive chef Gerhard Doll spent years in Thailand and Hong Kong perfecting indigenous dishes like steamed fish, live wok-fried lobster and five-spiced duck, from which “the Chinese people judge the entire meal,” he said. His “XO” sauce, a blend of dried scallops, brandy, soy sauce, garlic and chilies, among other ingredients, is another signature item.
“I wanted this to be the real deal, just like Hong Kong,” Doll said. “Even the dim sum is chunkier, like how it should be.”
The restaurant’s vegetarian-friendly options include a hot pot with snow peas and black mushrooms, bean curd rolls or noodles. On the dessert front, the coconut soup with tapioca, honey dew and melon balls with a dollop of creamy mango sorbet is one of the eatery’s most-popular dishes. 108 East Superior Street, Chicago, 312-573-6745. Entrees range from $12 to $36.
The new nightspot in The Venetian Resort & Casino, Venus Lounge and Tiki Bar, harks back to Las Vegas circa 1946, when Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Jayne Mansfield ruled the Strip. Visitors are transported to a time when a night on the town meant dressing up, sipping cocktails and conversing sotto voce — thanks in part to designer Marc Campbell, who filled the lounge with a kitsch-heavy collection of vintage visuals, from pinup posters to Tinker Toy (yes, Tinker Toy) upholstered lounge chairs. For cinephiles, wall-mounted screens show clips of films such as “Strip-o-Rama” and “Teenage Hot Rodders Hellbent on Destruction.”
Rat Packer wannabes can hoist cocktails like the Mr. Mancini (Kettle One Vodka with fresh cucumber juice) or Tempest Storm (Absolut Mandarin, Peach Schnapps and cranberry juice). The lantern-lit Tiki bar, called Taboo Cove, is the first authentic Tiki bar built in 40 years. And in the spirit of Betty Page and Tempest Storm, burlesque dancers perform on a stage behind the bar. In short, if you’re looking to misbehave in Sin City, look no further. 3377 Las Vegas Boulevard, South, Las Vegas, 702-414-4870.