This Week: Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Oakland, Las Vegas, Healdsburg, Seattle

Arctic Club Hotel, Seattle.

072208-ArcticHotel-Seattle.jpgThe Arctic Club Hotel swung open its doors to a flurry of business travelers and summer leisure seekers. Once an early-20th century gentlemen’s club, the historic Northwest landmark has been lovingly restored to its former glory. Its location in the Financial District can’t be beat. Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square and the Space Needle are all within walking distance. This intimate boutique property features 120 spacious rooms (by urban standards), that are stylishly dressed in warm neutrals and chocolate hues. Come Seattle’s rainy season, cozy corner suites with whirlpool tubs are sure to be an in-demand retreat. The hotel’s restaurant, JUNO, is slated to open at the end of July 2008. Pro: high-quality Kiehl’s spa products are available to guests. Cons: no spa, parking costs $38 (not including tax) per day and closes at 11 p.m. 700 3rd Ave., Seattle, 98104. 206/340-0340. www.arcticclubhotel.com 120 rooms. In-room: safe, DVD, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: 1 restaurant, room service, bar, gym, laundry service, concierge, executive floor, public Wi-Fi, parking (fee), no-smoking rooms. AE. MC, VC. Rooms start at $325. See other Seattle hotel reviews.

Palate Food + Wine, Los Angeles.

Chef/owner Octavio Becerra has carved an intimate restaurant out of a historic warehouse building, creating a dining experience that’s casual yet sophisticated. His small plate menu, which changes frequently, showcases approachable cuisine crafted from artisanal ingredients. Even the butter is churned in-house. Comforting (and addictive) salmon, chicken, or pork rillettes arrive in miniature mason jars; a generous “porkfolio” charcuterie plate is accompanied by vegetables pickled on-site; and flash-fried squash blossoms filled with ricotta are paired with house-made aïoli. Becerra’s take on salade lyonnaise revives bistro memories while scallops in an orange-scented emulsion add refinement. A cave accommodates 50 multinational cheeses supported by a wine list loaded with intriguing small producers. A few steps behind the exhibition kitchen are a retail wine shop, wine bar and library. 933 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale. 818/662-9463. www.palatefoodwine.com. Reservations essential. Closed Sun. No lunch. AE, MC, V. Median entrée price: $18. See other Los Angeles restaurant reviews.

The Independent, Philadelphia.

The Independent meets Philadelphia’s desperate need for alternatives to big convention hotels. This boutique property features 24 well-appointed, hip, high-tech rooms that are all uniquely furnished, but share a warm butterscotch and ochre palette with funky accents, such as leopard-print rugs, exposed brick walls, and copper-tiled ceilings. Touchpad screens on the in-room telephones allow guests to control temperature and lights from their bedside, and are pre-set for dialing hand-picked local restaurants. The hotel’s corridors ring a skylit four-story atrium adorned with a well-known local muralist’s work. Complimentary wine and cheese is served every evening in the cozy lobby, while a continental breakfast is served there each morning. Pros: Even on a busy street, there is not a smidgen of street noise. Cons: The brand-new hotel still has some kinks to work out, such as lights that flicker on and off without warning, but the staff is highly attentive to fixing these snafus. 1234 Locust St., Center City, 19107. 215/772-1440. www.theindependenthotel.com. 24 rooms. In room: safe, kitchen (some), refrigerator, Ethernet, Wi-Fi. In hotel: room service, business center, public Wi-Fi, no-smoking rooms. AE, DC, D, MC, V. Rooms start at $129. See other Philadelphia hotel reviews.

Camino, Oakland.

This first solo venture from chef-owner Russell Moore (a Chez Panisse alum of 21 years) and co-owner Allison Hopelain was quite the labor of love. Many of the menu’s simple, seasonal, and straightforward dishes emerge from the enormous crackling camino (Italian for fireplace). Everything is made with top-notch ingredients, including local sardines; grilled lamb and sausage with shell beans; and grilled white seabass with green beans and new potatoes. The menu of approximately eight dishes rotates nightly, with vegetarian options such as eggplant gratin available as well. The restaurant is decorated in a craftsman-meets-refectory style, with brick walls and two long redwood communal tables filled with East Bay couples and friends. Seasonally inspired cocktails from the small bar are not to be missed; the gin-based drink with house-made cherry and hibiscus bitters is notably delicious. 3917 Grand Ave., Oakland. 510/547-5035. Closed Tues. No lunch. AE, MC, V. Median entrée price: $23. See other Oakland restaurant reviews.

DJT, Las Vegas.

This restaurant bears the initials of its famous owner, Donald Trump, while its kitchen is overseen by executive chef Joe Isidori, who has cooked for “The Donald” for years. “The Deal,” a set prix-fixe that is offered with or without wine pairings, gives diners the opportunity to try several different entrées, including striped bass, sea scallops, and beef braised short rib, all creatively prepared and pleasingly presented as separate courses. Other dishes include some of the namesake’s personal favorites, including butter lettuce salad, the simple yet delicious butter whipped potato purée, and even the ice cream sundae, a make-it-yourself delight. For an intimate dining experience, request a banquette (private dining room), with curtains for privacy. 2000 Fashion Show Drive (inside the Trump International Hotel). 702/476-7358. www.trumplasvegashotel.com. No dinner Mon. No lunch. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Median entrée price: $49. See other Las Vegas restaurant reviews.

Scopa, Healdsburg.

Scopa is a card game played in most parts of Italy, but at this tiny new Healdsburg eatery of the same name, the food is not a game: it’s a very serious business. Chef Ari Rosen cooks up Northern Italian specialties such as pillowy house-made gnocchi, tomato-braised chicken, and Tonno del Chianti (a marinated, shredded pork dish with greens and a fig balsamic marmellata). Simple thin-crust pizzas are worth ordering, too. Locals love the restaurant for its lack of pretension: wine is served in juice glasses, and the friendly hostess visits guests frequently to make sure all are satisfied. For the complete experience, book dinner on a Sunday and arrive early; the place opens at 1 p.m. to host a big game of—what else?—Scopa. 109A Plaza St., Healdsburg. 707/433-5282. www.scopahealdsburg.com. Closed Mon. No lunch. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Median entrée price: $18. See other Wine Country restaurant reviews.

Contributors: Emma Fox, Marcia Gagliardi, Roger Grody, Jay Jones, Caroline Tiger, Matt Villano

Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Artic Club Hotel

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