In this issue: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Las Vegas, Miami, New York, San Francisco…
Amsterdam’s Plush Pods
Qbic Hotel Amsterdam WTC. Tucked inside the World Trade Center is a brand-new pod hotel offering the iGeneration a cut-rate cocoon for sanitized self-service. The Qbic’s lobby lies just beyond the commercial complex’s on-site post office, where workers and trendy tourists self-check-in, browse USB-stick-selling vending machines, or fiddle with the communal PlayStation 3. The rooms are spacious, high-ceilinged odes to contemporary Dutch design. You’ll forgive the so-called Cubi’s door-less bathroom and gimmicky LED lighting once you plunge into the extra-long Hästens bed and zap on the flat-screen TV. Guests can purchase vouchers for gym, spa, bicycles, laundry, and parking from the lobby vending machines, which are offered throughout the WTC complex. Pros: self-service; affordable; located in major transportation hub; vending machine Moët. Cons: windows do not open; can’t control a/c. Strawinskylaan 241, Zuidas. 35 rooms. In-room: no phone, safe, Ethernet, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: 1 restaurant, public Internet, public WiFi. AE, MC, V. Rooms start at €39 per night.
In Vegas, Dine and Dance
Café Martorano. Changes to menu items are strictly prohibited at this ultra-chic, 150-seat eatery inside the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, where Chef Steve Martorano presides in high style. Martorano, who owns another eponymous café in South Florida, hails from Philadelphia, which explains his signature cheese-steak dish of thinly sliced prime steak, sweet onions, and American cheese on a crispy roll. Other dishes include veal piccata, and rigatoni served with pork gravy and fresh ricotta cheese. Around 11 p.m., the man of the house moves from kitchen to turntable, where he further entertains hipsters by spinning ground-shaking hip-hop and R&B. 3700 W. Flamingo Rd. http://www.cafemartorano.com/. AE, MC, VC. Closed Mon. Median entrée price: $25.
Down-Under Dining in Frisco
South food + wine bar. The young and stylish are flocking to San Francisco’s first restaurant from Down Under. Star Sydney chef Luke Mangan serves Aussie fare in a lively space decorated with New Zealand gourd-like lights made of hoop pine plywood. The menu offers a mix of traditional Australian ingredients with Asian influences, such as pan-roasted barramundi with burnt lime and New Zealand lamb chops with mint chimichurri. Mangan calls his cuisine “Mod Oz.” The wine list offers selections from small producers in Australia and New Zealand and is divided into categories like crisp, silky, and spicy. 330 Townsend St., SoMa. 415/974-5599. AE, D, DC, MC, V. No lunch Sun. Median entrée price: $24.
Basque Bites in Barcelona
Sagardi Muntaner. Basque favorites like ox steak cooked over coals are the main stars on the menu at this mid-Eixample cider house. Basque tuna stew and specialties from the Atlantic Bay of Biscay round out a menu liberally irrigated by cider retrieved straight from the barrel. The downstairs corner bar displays a comprehensive range of classic Basque tapas and pours white wine from the region. Muntaner 70–72, Eixample. 93/902–520–522. AE, DC, MC, V. Universitat, Provenca. Entrées range from €18–€28.
Prime Dining in New York
Primehouse New York. This sleek steakhouse comes from the reliable group that operates Dos Caminos, Vento, and several other perpetually mobbed New York restaurants. Here you’ll find classic presentations like Caesar salad and steak tartare prepared tableside, and respectable dry-aged prime cuts, ranging from hangar steak ($24) to porterhouse for two ($86). For something lighter, try skate sautéed in lemon-brown butter sauce or the Berkshire pork chop with fig glaze and apple compote. The mod space has a cream-and-black motif that recalls The Jetsons’ futuristic 1960s feel, interspersed with geometric M.C. Escher-like patterns. Given the popularity of other B.R. Guest restaurants, expect a see-and-be-seen scene, and be sure to call ahead for reservations. 381 Park Avenue South, Flatiron. 212/824-2600. Median entrée price: $49.
Vincci South Beach. Its boxy, Miami-Modern style is a good fit with the historical properties of the Art Deco district, and the hotel’s location across the street from the beach and near South Beach’s best nightclubs and restaurants is tops. Re-flagged in September 2007 (it was formerly called The Regent South Beach), VSB has yet to cultivate the hype of a luxury hotel, which means travelers can expect gentler rates and plenty of rooms. A glass-bottom pool provides a unique view for guests in the lounge below. Pros: plush, new room amenities (high thread-count linens, DirecTV); great location; many rooms have in-room Jacuzzis. Cons: service is spotty. 1458 Ocean Dr., South Beach, Miami Beach. www.VincciHoteles.com. 79 suites. In-room: safe; kitchen; refrigerator; DVD; Wi-Fi. In-hotel facilities: restaurant (Table 8 South Beach); room service; bar; pool; gym; laundry service; public Wi-Fi; parking (fee). AE, D, DC, MC, V. Price: Rooms start at $275 per night.
Contributors: Suzy Buckley, Erica Duecy, Karina Hof, George Semler, Matt Villano, and Liza Zimmerman