Panache is an award-winning four-diamond restaurant nestled within the stone walls and exposed wooden beams of a maritime warehouse dating back to 1822. A dining room offering exceptional intimacy, along with stunning views of the St. Lawrence River, Panache is a dining destination popular with both locals and visitors to Québec City. The tone is established from the moment you walk into the building, the tables elegantly set with silverware and crystal, catching the natural light streaming in through the windows and the glittering lamp fixtures. Everything seems light and airy, an impression enhanced by the relaxed, friendly manner of the staff. Panache sources much of its produce from its farm on Île d’Orléans, which you can see from one of the window tables. It specializes in what it terms as “high-end comfort food,” offering a contemporary twist on local Quebec specialities. When chef Louis Pacquelin isn’t in the kitchen, he can be found on the farm on Île d’Orléans.
Established in Old Montreal since 2010, Les 400 Coups offers a stimulating and enriching culinary experience. The restaurant proposes a refined and accessible cuisine which promotes local talent by using, as much as possible, local ingredients. The team is composed of passionate individuals who share their love for gastronomy, wine and service. Because Montreal has few captivating views and chances are your waiter will more likely be wearing a checkered shirt than a tuxedo, Montreal is rarely the backdrop of the foodie’s dream dinner. To compensate for the lack of fabulous settings, their chefs dazzle with technique. Sharp technique is the basis of all great professional cooking, and I certainly experienced quite the dazzling display on the plates that night at Les 400 Coups. Chef Jonathan Rassi has an commitment to work, as often as possible, with local products to find his creative and natural flavors.
The café of the Larco Museum is a lovely and peaceful epicurean treasure surrounded by flowers and hanging plants. All of the walls are covered with colorful bougainvillea lining the entire path down to the restaurant area. The flowers are lush and beautiful. The prize-winning gardens located on the grounds of this 18th century colonial home are spectacular as I have noted in previous posts. I felt like I was sitting in someone‘s sprawling lawn in a luxurious setting. Between the light breeze, the comfortable, plush white chairs with colorful throw pillows and the minimalist interiors, I felt comfortable and totally at ease. It didn't hurt that the food was as good as the location.
The current Cromwell Casino has a long and interesting Las Vegas history. Bugsy Siegel opened The Flamingo Hotel & Casino at a total cost of $6 million on December 26, 1946 right next door. Billed as “The West's Greatest Resort Hotel,” the 105-room property and first luxury hotel on the Strip. He refused to buy the thin slice of land separating the Flamingo from the famous intersection of Flamingo and the strip. The Flamingo became the Flamingo Hilton in 1971 and the Flamingo Las Vegas in 1999. The thin slice of land was the site of Empey's Desert Villa from 1952. Over time, this property, along with others owned by Gaughan would become “The Barbary Coast”. In July 2005, the Barbary Coast was bought by Boyd Gaming and sold to Harrah's Entertainment in 2007, rebranded as Bill's Gamblin Hall and Saloon. Plans announced in late 2013 indicated that Giada De Laurentiis would open her first restaurant in the new hotel and that Caesars would run the hotel. The 260-seat restaurant, Giada, from De Laurentiis, her first such venture has taken over the second-floor space that once housed a hotel parking garage. Giada is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offer views of the Strip, the Bellagio fountains, Caesars Palace and Bally’s Grand Bazaar Shops. Along with the venerable after hours club Drai's, Giada forms the the nucleus of offerings at the Cromwell. It doesn't hurt that the second floor Giada has killer views of the Bellagio fountains with floor to ceiling windows.
When Lisa and I decided to visit Australia and New Zealand we considered doing the visit overland via railways and airplanes. After a bit of research we decided that this approach was too overwhelming for our first encounter with these nations. Instead we decided upon a cruise ship that for two weeks would take us to various ports and give us an overview of both countries. Neither Lisa or myself have ever been on a cruise ship and yet we decided that this would give us the best opportunity to see both Australia and New Zealand, both large countries with most of the populations located on the coasts. As it turns out this was an good decision and one of our most enjoyable vacations, the cruise experience was nothing like we had imagined and in fact exceeded our expectations. It is true that you do not get the immersive experience of actually staying in the cities we visited but we spent a week in Sydney and Aukland and some of the locations we visited on the cruise would have been hard to get to in any case. I have compiled a group of photos that reflect our experience, not meant to be comprehensive.
We were in Santa Monica last week, visiting the Getty museums and had an opportunity to sample more of the wealth of nearby restaurants. Roku’s first location in Hollywood opened in 1997, and remains the backbone for the group, which includes locations in Santa Monica, Pasadena, Las Vegas and Scottsdale. Investors include Ryan Seacrest and Tori Spelling and the crowd was definitely upscale. The Santa Monica location faces directly on Ocean Avenue, so there is a nice view of the park and plenty of tourists. The prices are a little expensive, even for Santa Monica, but I would blame part of that on the great location.
We decided to visit Vienna to visit the newly opened Kunstkammer Wein. Our hotel suggested the nearby Glacis Beisl as a place to go for authentic Austrian food. The Glacis Beisl is not very easy to find, because it is situated at the back of the Museums Quartier. Service is friendly (if a little slow), the atmosphere is great, under a vineyard, it's a real garden, really well located on top of the 300 year old city walls. This eatery is named after the “Glacis”, an open space in front of the historic City Museum. Glacis Beisl has been around since World War II.
We decided to stay in Chenanceau on our trip to the Loire valley and chose Le Bon Labourer primarily because they have a very good restaurant that has a Michelin star. The town of Chenanceaux has a different spelling than the château due to Louise Dupin de Francueil, owner of the chateau during the French Revolution, who is said to have dropped the “x” at the end of its name to differentiate what was a symbol of royalty from the Republic. As a result of her good relations with the village, the Château was spared the iconoclastic damage suffered by many other monuments during the Revolution. The population of permanent residents hovers about 400, as of 2012, but there is a large influx of tourists during the summer months, because the village adjoins the former royal Château de Chenonceau, one of the most popular tourist destinations in France.
Just a couple of weeks ago Ciro's Italian restaurant opened just a few steps from our apartment in the 16th on Rue de Siam and Rue de la Pompe. They have been an instant hit and have been packed almost every night. They renovated the interior from an old bar which had previously been there and the result is a sparkling Italian interior. The food is really good and inexpensive. As a result we have now eaten there several times.