The farm-to-fork movement is more than just a trendy catchphrase for Trellis chef Brian Scheehser who takes eating local, seasonal and organic food seriously. Many ingredients are handpicked from his personal 3-acre garden and on the plate within hours. Shining in a sea of mediocre waterfront establishments, Trellis swaps intimacy (tables on the al fresco year-round heated patio excluded) for a palate-pleasing contrast of rustic Pacific Northwest cuisine against the über-hip backdrop of what locals call, "K-Town." Manila clams in a fennel-leek broth, heirloom tomato soup, and house-made winter squash ravioli were instant comfort food hits. Although the by-the-glass wine list is varied and inspired, it's the herb-infused vodkas and martinis that make bar-hoppers swoon. Try the Cucumber Cosmopolitan. 220 Kirkland Ave., Kirkland. 425/284-5900. No lunch Sat. & Sun. Median entrée price: $22.
Adour Alain Ducasse.
Master chef Alain Ducasse adds to his growing empire with the upscale and elegant Adour, located in the equally sophisticated St. Regis Hotel. Celebratory couples of all ages gravitate to the Left and Right Bank rooms, while a mix of tourists, shoppers and businessmen settle on plush burgundy chairs and banquettes in the regal but relaxed main dining room. Beautifully-baked baguettes and fragrant olive and sourdough rolls are flown in from Paris. Deep pockets splurge on artfully-arranged dishes, such as foie gras ravioli with black truffles, and lobster Thermidor. Sommeliers help decipher an international wine list (displayed on interactive computer screens at the bar) with bottles that range from $35 to $19,000. 2 East 55th St., Midtown East. 212/710-2277. www.adour-stregis.com. Reservations essential. No lunch. Median entrée price: $39.
When new owners took over Abacrombie, local foodies wondered if it could sustain the high standards set by previous chef Sonny Sweetman. It has. Patrons of the nearby opera house and symphony hall still flock to the simple, elegant basement dining room for seafood dishes, rich traditional entrées and lighter fusion fare. Highlights include the lamb served with mint chutney rather than mint jelly, the smashed chickpeas and deep-fried potato wedges. The milk chocolate panna cotta is a tasty way to top off a meal. If you can, ask to sit in the sky-lit atrium section. Hosts and servers are skillful and accommodating -- even during the crush of pre-opera customers. Under its new leadership, Abacrombie is undoubtedly still one of the city's best restaurants. 58 W. Biddle St., Mount Vernon. 410/837-3630. www.abacrombie.net. Reservations essential. Closed Mon. & Tues. Median entrée price: $30.
Hotel Plaza Grande.
Arguably Ecuador's most fabulous hotel (with prices to match) puts you right on the prime real estate of its namesake plaza in the heart of Quito's Old City. We have always recommended getting out of Dodge once the sun goes down on the historic quarter, but now that security has tightened and there is an amazing place to stay, we jettison that advice. The property opened in 2007, but the structure was once the mansion of early 16th-century nobleman Juan Díaz de Hidalgo. "Plush" doesn't begin to describe the art and tapestries that decorate each carpeted room. The best rooms face the plaza. Though windows are soundproofed, you need only fling open the French doors and emerge on your private balcony to survey all that goes on below. Pros:
central location; top-notch service. Cons:
pricey. García Moreno N5--16, at Chile. 02/251-0777. www.plazagrandequito.com. 15 rooms. In-room: safe, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: 3 restaurants, room service, bar, public Internet. Rooms start at: $500.
The Rose & Crown.
It seems appropriate that next to two of the Valley's major sports complexes, an intriguing new rivalry is afoot. Just north of Chase Field and the U.S. Airways Center, the undefeated heavyweight restaurant champion is Pizzeria Bianco. But now, weighing in on the northwest corner of 7th and Adams streets is another kind of American restaurant with European roots. The Rose & Crown offers good, hearty, traditional English pub grub---fish and chips, bangers and mash, and shepherd's pie---with equally hearty beers to wash it down. The atmosphere in the historic home is comfortable and inviting, and without the decades of stale smoke, ale and grease. Expect a wait on game- and special-event nights. 628 E. Adams St., Downtown Phoenix. 602/256-0223. www.theroseandcrownpub.org. No Reservations. Median entrée price: $11.
Hampton Majestic, Chicago Theatre District.
The Hampton Majestic is located in one of the most high-traffic areas of town. It offers stunning and quiet guest rooms with rust-colored walls, white sheets and chocolate-brown furnishings. Online pictures, which can make the rooms look orange, don't do the place justice. The sheer curtains are a perfect touch. The downstairs lobby, nondescript and filled with luggage, is not at all a reflection of the rest of the space. The service is responsive and the common areas are large. Give this place a chance; it will truly surprise you. Pros:
steps from the Art Institute; unique style; great complimentary breakfast. Cons:
a hike to the Magnificent Mile; the lobby can seem too crowded with furniture. 22 W. Monroe, Loop, 60603. 312/332-5052. www.hamptonmajestic.com. 135 rooms. In-room: Wi-Fi (some). In-hotel: room service, gym, laundry service, concierge, public Internet, parking. Rooms start at $179.
Contributors: Lisa Amand, Emma Fox, JoBeth Jamison, Jo Napolitano, Sam Sessa, Jeffrey Van Fleet