In this issue: Boston, Dallas, Dublin, London, New York, and Puerto Rico…
In Dallas, Have No Fear
Fearing’s. Longtime Dallas celebrity chef Dean Fearing is turning heads with his namesake restaurant in The Ritz-Carlton hotel. The restaurant boasts five dining rooms and two bars, including Dean’s Kitchen (photo, right) and a glassed-in pavilion. The menu features bold, standout dishes like sweet buffalo tenderloin served with jalapeño grits and a butternut squash taquito, or the mild but sturdy cod with hijiki rice, tempura-fried herbs, and miso-clam broth. For dessert, try the butterscotch pudding with whipped cream served with hot-apple fritters and a scoop of praline ice cream. 2121 McKinney Ave., Uptown. 214/922-4848. Weekend reservations essential. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Median entrée price: $40.
Stylish and Comforting in New York
dell’anima. This snug newcomer is a neighborhood favorite. Diners hover around the open kitchen, watching chefs prepare authentic Italian dishes like arugula salad spruced up by lemon and Parmigiano-Reggiano, or a bowl of subtle pizzocheri pasta with fontina and potatoes. The lamb shank with polenta is the ultimate cold weather comfort food. If you can’t get a table, head to the bustling ten-seat bar and drown your sorrows in a glass of homemade limoncello. 38 Eighth Avenue, West Village. 212/366-6633. AE, MC, V. Median entrée price: $18.
A Global Kitchen in Puerto Rico
Cabuqui. On hot days, it takes a lot to make ponceños leave their homes. But lately the residents of Ponce have been coming out in droves to dine in the tree-shaded courtyard at Cabuqui. When a breeze shakes the flower-covered branches, the temperature cools down considerably. But if nature doesn’t cooperate, customers can always sit in one of the three air-conditioned dining rooms and enjoy items off the eclectic menu, including dishes from Argentina (churrasco served with homemade chimichurri), France (veal filet in a red wine sauce), and of course, Puerto Rico (masitas de cerdo or chunks of perfectly seasoned pork). The reasonably priced wine list, with bottles from Spain and Chile, round out the diverse menu. There’s always live music, whether it’s a small band playing jazz or a single accordionist losing himself in a tango. 32 Calle Isabel, Ponce, Puerto Rico. 787/984-5696. AE, MC, V. Median entrée price: $15.
Ireland’s Contemporary Country Estate
Radisson SAS Farnham Estate Hotel. The Farnham Estate, 90 minutes from Dublin and spread out over 1,300 acres, encompasses a centuries-old manor house, a gourmet restaurant, a cellar bar, and a 40,000-square-foot bi-level spa — all connected by an intimate glass-topped atrium. Some rooms have period touches, like high-ceilings and fireplaces, but all accommodations boast stylish decor and luxe amenities like free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and oversized showers or tubs. But it’s the spa, with its indoor/outdoor pool, and therapeutic aromatherapy treatments and herbal baths, that make the Estate a hot destination. Pros: beautiful setting; walking trails; excellent (adults-only) spa, with pool overlooking rolling green hills; gourmet restaurant; live jazz in the Cellar Bar; luxurious rooms; free Internet. Cons: remote location requires rental car. Farnham Estate, Cavan, Ireland. 49/437-7700 (ph.). 49/437-7701 (fax). www.farnhamestate.ie. 158 rooms. In-room facilities: safe, refrigerator, DVD (upon request), VCR (upon request), Ethernet, Wi-Fi. In-hotel facilities: 2 restaurants, room service, 2 bars, golf course (opening 2008), pool, gym, spa, bicycles, laundry service, concierge, public Internet, public Wi-Fi, parking (no fee), no-smoking rooms. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Rooms start at: €190.
Small and Exclusive in London
High Road House. The High Road House provides stylish digs and access to one of London’s exclusive private members’ clubs — all at an affordable rate. The property, owned by Soho House owner Nick Jones, is in Chiswick, approximately 20 minutes from Central London. There are the casual Playpen and Playground lounges as well as a game room with table football and flat-screen TVs. There is also a full members’-only restaurant and bar. Rooms are functional, with labeled drawers including “teatime,” “tuckbox,” and best of all, “pamper,” which is stocked with Cowshed bath products. Pros: The Web site lists last-minute rates on available rooms; Cowshed store is next to the hotel. Cons: no closets in rooms (there are pegs on room walls for hanging things). 162 Chiswick High Rd., Chiswick, London, W4 1PR. 020/8742–1717 (ph.).www.highroadhouse.co.uk. 14 rooms. In-room: safe, refrigerator, DVD, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: 2 restaurants, room service, 3 bars, children’s programs, laundry service, public Wi-Fi, no-smoking rooms. AE, DC, MC, V. Rooms start at £140 for non-members; £125 for members.
Boston Slammer Becomes Luxury Hotel
The Liberty Hotel. What was once a 19th-century jail is now a luxury hotel located in the fashionable Beacon Hill neighborhood. The hotel’s 300 lavish guestrooms boast comfortable imported bedding and high-tech gadgets like VOIP telephones, flat-screen TVs, and Wi-Fi. Despite all the luxe touches, the building’s gritty past hasn’t been completely erased. The jail’s central rotunda forms the hotel’s light-filled lobby, and the in-house Clink restaurant is a nod to the hotel’s previous life. Pros: lively bar scene; many rooms have views of the Charles River. Cons: late-night noise from the lobby bar in the main building. 215 Charles St., Beacon Hill. 617/224-4000 (ph). 617/224-4001(fax). www.libertyhotel.com/. 300 rooms. In room: safe, refrigerator, Ethernet, Wi-Fi. In hotel: 3 restaurants, room service, 2 bars, gym, laundry service, concierge, public Wi-Fi, parking (fee), some pets allowed (no fee), no-smoking rooms. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Rooms start at $295
Contributors: Alia Akkam, Puja Chugani, Tyra Damm, Hyon Jung Lee, Sandra Ramani, Mark Sullivan