In this issue: Rome, London, and New Orleans…
Eat: Alsace meets New Orleans
New Orleans chef John Besh opened his fourth restaurant this month on St. Charles Avenue in the Crescent City. Bearing a curious name (and umlaut), Lüke is a nostalgic homage to old school New Orleans brasseries, with an Alsatian twist (and a perfectly antiquated look). Start with jumbo Louisiana shrimp, followed by the house-made charcuterie — wild boar terrine with pickled watermelon, or pâté of rabbit. The real showstopper is an Alsatian classic: Choucroûte garni, made here with slow-cooked Berkshire pork belly and knuckles on a mountain of sauerkraut.
Drink: Chicago’s noir bar
Don your best vintage hat and belly up to the bar at the Weegee Lounge (3659 W. Armitage Avenue) for a Brandy Alexander, a Sidecar, a Rusty Nail, or some other libation from the 1940s, the gritty era of the wise-guy photographer memorialized in the lounge’s name. The natty urban pioneers who frequent this yet-to-be gentrified nabe — Chicago’s Logan Square — prefer Benny Goodman to Britney and Lena Horne to the Killers. Done up in dark woods with period furniture, a shuffleboard, and a black-and-white photo booth, Weegee Lounge is a step back in time.
Stay: Touch of mink in the East Village
Finally, a luxe hotel in the boho East Village! From the creators of New York’s trendy Maritime Hotel and the impossible-to-get-a-table Waverly Inn comes the Bowery Hotel, at Bowery and Third Street. The 100 rooms here come complete with Moroccan tiles, hardwood floors, velvet drapes, and (somewhat incongruous) antique furniture. Sophisticates will love the fully stocked wet bars in each room while asocial types can web surf with free wireless internet. The bar itself is such a scene you may not get around to checking out the neighborhood nightlife — some of the city’s best.
Shop: Flower power in San Francisco
Birch is not your grandmother’s flower shop. Step inside this chic San Francisco newbie, in Presidio Heights, let your eyes adjust, and watch your balance: stark, black-on-black walls and shelves make a perfect backdrop for colorful bouquets of market-fresh blossoms — it’s dazzling, in an understated way. Between the blooms, owners Torryne Choate and Erin Rosenow have placed art books like Lee Friedlander’s “Black Paintings,” fragrances from London’s Cowshed, and textured porcelain vases by local artist Andrew de Witt. The music — vintage Stones, Stan Getz, that sort of thing — completes the scene.
See: A return to form in Rome
Following a five-year closure and scrupulous renovation, the Museo Barracco has re-opened in Rome, displaying 380 sculptures from Egypt, Syria, Sumeria, Cyprus, Greece, Ancient Rome, and other ancient civilizations around the Mediterranean. The collection was originally put together by the 19th-century baron Giovanni Barracco. Don’t miss the unusual section on Cypriot art, where a 7th-century B.C. head of Hercules resides. The museum is housed in the handsome 16th-century Palazzo della Piccola Farnesina, near Sant’ Andrea della Valle and the Piazza Navona.
Play: In London, learn to be a spy
Wish you lived in the glamorous world of 007? Always order your martini shaken not stirred? Then you’ll want to check out the “Science of Spying” exhibit at the Science Museum in London, where agents-in-training can learn to spot a liar, use night-vision goggles, fly a remote-controlled plane, crack a safe, or undertake a secret undercover mission in a rival organization. The interactive exhibit also includes training on finding hidden bugs and using an underwater dolphin spy camera. The press kit didn’t say anything about learning how to look sexy while smoking.