Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Dubai.
The first Westin resort in Dubai is a welcome addition to the burgeoning beach resort scene on Dubai’s coastline. The spacious, glitzy lobby often resembles a coffee break at the United Nations given the number of nationalities represented here by guests and staff. The rooms are generous in size and well appointed; sea-view rooms are best for viewing the massive landscaped gardens, swimming pool, and private beach. The staff works hard to ensure that no request appears too difficult. This property is well placed for a Dubai shopping excursion or a round of golf. Business travelers will appreciate the fast Internet and spacious work desk. Pros: exemplary service; spacious rooms; spa. Cons: the neo-classical design is at odds with the beachfront location. Al Sufouh Road c/o Dubai International Marine Club. 971/4-3994141 (ph.), 971/4-3999144 (fax). www.starwoodhotels.com/westin/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=3034. 294 rooms. In-room: safe, refrigerator, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: 5 restaurants, room service, 3 bars, pools, gym, spa, beachfront, watersports, children’s programs, laundry service, concierge, parking (no fee), no-smoking rooms. AE, MC, V. Rooms start at: 1140 AED.
Cascina Spinasse, Seattle.
Blink and you’ll drive right by Cascina Spinasse. Venture in and you’ll be greeted with a gracious hospitality that belies the sometimes snobby image of Capitol Hill eateries. Fans of chef Justin Neidermeyer will be mesmerized watching him working fastidiously in the restaurant’s open kitchen. The space is small and the communal dining dynamic may be off-putting for some; less socially inclined guests may find solace in the few bar seats. Order antipasti, primi, secondi, altro, dolci and formaggio items a la carte, or opt for one of three prix-fixe menus. Food is intended to be shared family-style. Highlights include anchovies in a Piemontese sauce with egg yolk; random cuts of pasta with start-of-the-season chanterelle mushrooms; and a Moscato-roasted nectarine with local honey and hazelnuts. All are the perfect balance of salty, savory, and sweet flavors. An Italian wine list is well-chosen and fairly priced. 1531 14th Ave., Capitol Hill. 206/251-7673. MC, V. No lunch. Closed Tues. Median entrée price: $25.
At last, Sofia Smith can show off Prague’s most versatile cooking skills in a place of her own. Situated in a touristy part of Old Town, this restaurant is easy to miss, but keep your eyes open. From the golden bird’s nest chandelier hanging above the intimate dining room to the explosive flavors bolstering each seasonal dish, Angel is one of Prague’s best restaurants. In Smith’s hands, the perennial Czech favorite, duck, becomes a tangy, summery salad with basil and green papaya; for greater variety, there’s Borneo-style sea bass, and Cambodian curry. Desserts, the weak spot in many an Asian menu, are recommended, especially the tamarind-ripple ice cream. V kolkovne 7, Staré Mesto, 110 00. 773-222-422. Closed Sun. AE, DC, MC, V. Median entrée price: 475 Kc.
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Roseville, San Diego.
This comfortable new spot continues the restaurant renaissance under way in Point Loma. Native son George Riffle, who honed his skills in New York City at noted restaurant Picholine, has created an inviting spot for French-leaning seasonal fare. The 95-seat restaurant features local seafood such as spot prawns, vermilion rockfish, spiny lobster, and sand dabs along with organic produce and international wines. Those wishing for something more substantial should try the braised Berkshire pork cheeks or flat iron steak. 1125 Rosecrans St., Point Loma. 619/223-7300. No lunch. AE, MC, V. Median entrée price: $22.
Le Garage, Northern California.
When Sausalito executives and entrepreneurs want a stylish lunch with a bayside setting, they head to Chef Olivier Souvestre’s local lunch hot spot. Brittany born Souvestre serves traditional French bistro fare in a relaxed, sidewalk café-style setting. The menu is small, but the dishes are substantial in flavor and presentation. Standouts include frisée salad with poached egg, bacon, croutons, and Pancetta vinaigrette; steak frites with a shallot confit and crispy fries; and a chef’s selection of cheese or charcuterie with soup and mixed greens. The restaurant only seats 35 inside and 15 outside, so to avoid a long wait for lunch, arrive before 11:30 or after 1:30 pm. 85 Liberty Ship Way #109, Sausalito. 415/332-5625. MC, V. Median entrée price: $22.
Apiary, New York City.
After working as chef de cuisine for 16 years at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill, Bolo, and Bar Americain, Neil Manacle ventures out on his own with this smart New American spot in the heart of the East Village. The restaurant is partly owned by furniture design company Ligne Roset, and the contemporary space is furnished sleekly by the brand. The menu isn’t huge but is devoted to seasonal—and whenever possible, local—produce, poultry, and seafood. Current picks include light creations such as crispy soft shell crab with lime custard, and chilled golden tomato soup. Heartier options are the New York State rabbit served with wild mushrooms, and a spice crusted lamb. The extensive wine list has 30 picks from New York State alone, and the beer list has 24 domestic options. 60 Third Ave., East Village. 212/254-0888. www.apiarynyc.com. No lunch Mon.–Fri. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Median entrée price: $26.
Contributors: Alexander Basek, Lara Dunston, Emma Fox, Maria Hunt, Karen Leland, Shivani Vora