Wolfgang Puck turns up the heat in Colorado’s Beaver Creek…
Colorado’s Spankin’ New Spago
Spago at The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch. The newest outpost of Wolfgang Puck’s Spago, located at the Ritz Carlton, Bachelor Gulch (13 miles west of Vail), is housed in an expansive dining room whose décor — vegetable-dyed wood paneling, black-and-white photographs of the surrounding mountain peaks — achieves a sleek modern look without contradicting the resort’s rustic mountain sensibility. Puck’s seasonal menu often favors Asian accents and regional ingredients. In late autumn, the menu featured a pumpkin soup deliciously intensified with cardamom cream, and Colorado lamb chops spiced with Hunan eggplant and cilantro-mint vinaigrette. The pumpkin and mascarpone agnolotti with sage butter is not to be missed, and for dessert, the kaiserschmarren, a souffléd crème-fraiche pancake with strawberry sauce, is otherworldly. Service is impeccable, if a touch formal; those who prefer a low key (or less bank-breaking) meal might consider dining in the bar area. 0130 Daybreak Ridge, Beaver Creek, Colorado. 970/343-1555. AE, MC, V. Reservations essential. Median entrée price: $40.
D.C.’s Soul Spot
Marvin. The owner of this quirky club/restaurant-hybrid (named after soul singer Marvin Gaye) is Eric Hilton, a D.C. local who became a national celebrity as one-half of the DJ super-group Thievery Corporation. Inspired by Gaye’s sojourn to Belgium in the 1980s, the menu combines soul food with traditional French classics — think chicken and waffles and steak frites. The food is so good it’ll bust your belt. After dinner, sample a Belgian beer and shake your booty on the upstairs dance floor as Hilton’s musically gifted friends spin dizzyingly hip beats. 2007 14th St. NW. U Street/Cardozo. 202/797-7171. No lunch. AE, MC, V. Median entrée price: $18.
Toronto Gets Trendy
Satori Supper Club. On a strip long known for its hipness, the new and impeccably stylish Satori Supper Club sets the bar for “cool” a little higher, and sweetens the pot with simple but expertly combined flavors on a menu featuring dishes meant for sharing. A shrimp trio features grapefruity ceviche, succulent grilled shrimp, and tightly packaged dumplings, while poached grouper is perfectly complemented by garlicky lentils. The braised lamb shanks are made slightly tangy by a mustard and sherry jus. Lighting is kept low, but romantically so, and the ambiance feels a bit like a faintly Westernized version of an elegant Moroccan lounge. Weekend diners come early, though, as the “Club” side of Satori makes itself known around 11 p.m. 735 Queen Street West. Queen West. 416/860-1551. AE, MC, V. Closed Sun., Mon., and Tues. No lunch. Median entrée price: $28.
New York’s Sweet Spot
Dessert Studio at Chocolat Michel Cluizel. Pastry chef Will Goldfarb, famous for his unusual take on sweet endings, shuttered his Room 4 Dessert restaurant to run this spot in the Michel Cluizel chocolate store. The airy space with wood-beamed ceilings, a bar area, and several tables is small but packs a lot of punch with its bold offerings. Indonesian Vanilla Ice Cream and American Sturgeon Caviar with 85% chocolate bits, and White Chocolate Gelato with Ligurian olive oil and smoked salt are just two of the eclectic offerings. Those with simpler palates can opt for the dark chocolate brownies, so decadent that they taste like fudge. Spirits or teas can be paired with each dessert, and chocophiles can even get guided tastings on different percentages of chocolate. 888 Broadway (at 19th Street). Flatiron District. 212/477-7335. www.chocolatmichelcluizel-na.com. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Median entrée price: $10.
A Historic Resort in Pennsylvania
Bedford Springs Resort. Despite being listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, the Bedford Springs Resort, which originally opened in 1804, was shuttered in 1985 and closed for 20 years before new owners embarked on a $120-million renovation. The resort, roughly 90 minutes from Pittsburgh and two hours from Washington, D.C., re-opened in July 2007 and is now back to the grandeur of its 1905 heyday with surprisingly vibrant period colors and artful wallpaper patterns, furniture and fixtures. Artifacts document the hotel’s heritage as a pleasure ground for vacationers, U.S. presidents, and those seeking cures at the eight medicinal springs on the hotel’s 2,200 acres. Some of the resort’s windows are original, complete with dates and names scratched into them by honeymooning brides using (and testing) their new diamond wedding rings. Waterworks bathroom fixtures, a new 30,000-square-foot spa, and Wi-Fi round out the marriage of old and new. The staff is well-versed in meeting the needs of both families and relaxation-starved professionals. Pros: more than 40 activities for all seasons including golf, biking, hiking, fishing and skiing; free access to spring water-fed soaking tubs, the steam room and Bedford Baths body scrub with any spa treatment; an exquisite period renovation. Cons: standard rooms feel cramped and those original windows let in drafts and noise. 2138 Business Route 220, Bedford, PA. 814/624-5672 (ph.). 814/623-8052 (fax). www.bedfordspringsresort.com. 216 rooms. In-room: safe, refrigerator, Ethernet, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: 4 restaurants, room service, bars, golf course, pools, gym, spa, bicycles, children’s program (ages 5 to 12), laundry service, concierge, parking (no fee), some pets allowed (fee), no-smoking rooms. AE, DC, MC, V. Rooms start at $249.
Ramada Sibiu. When this 12-story high-rise opened its doors in July 2007, it quickly assumed its place as the city’s leading hotel. Located just outside the historic core, the Ramada Sibiu is an approximate 10-minute walk from the Piata Mare, the central square. In keeping with the overall modern décor, the lobby and public areas are clean and spacious, but spare. The rooms feature cream-colored walls with red and brown trim, a double bed, hardwood floors, a flat-screen TV, and big, inviting leather armchairs. The bathrooms are roomy and equipped with hair dryers and bathtubs. Ask for a room on one of the top floors, with views of either the old town on one side, or views of the distant mountains on the other. Pros: best hotel in town; excellent central location; top floors have great views. Cons: modern high-rise lacks intimacy; expensive for the city. 2 Emil Cioran, Sibiu, 550025. 0269/235-505 (ph.) 0269/235-504 (fax). www.ramada.com. 106 rooms, 21 suites. In-room: safe, refrigerator, Ethernet (no fee). In-hotel: restaurants, room service, bar, gym, spa, laundry service, concierge, executive floor, public Wi-Fi (no fee), airport shuttle, parking (fee), some pets allowed (fee), no-smoking rooms. AE, DC, MC, V. Rooms start at 480 RON (approximately $197 USD).
Contributors: Mark Baker, Stephen Beaumont, Joanna Cantor, Karen Catchpole, Elana Schor, Shivani Vora