New York City has always ranked amongst my favourite places in the world to visit. It seems to buzz with an energy that is difficult to describe without feeling it for yourself. Of course, I was thrilled when the opportunity presented itself for my friend and me to head over there for a long weekend. We certainly made the most of every minute that we had!
During our visit, we stayed at Arlo Midtown, a two-year-old hotel property located right between Times Square and the Hudson Yards, on 38th Street and 9th Avenue. If the hotel name sounds familiar to you, perhaps that is because Arlo Hotels is an independent, four-star lifestyle hotel brand, with two other locations in New York City, two in Miami, and the newest property that has just opened in Chicago. Featuring 489 guest rooms and suites, Arlo Midtown also features a modern-looking lobby bathed in greenery, with a coffee shop and plenty of comfortable, cushioned seating.
While the hotel has six different room types available for all travelers, my friend and I stayed in a King room on the 20th floor, which featured an incredibly comfortable bed, a view of nearby skyscrapers, and calming colour palettes of white, grey, and light blue. One of the room’s highlights was a comfortable window bench, which you will find in most of the hotel’s rooms. Rooms are also equipped with bedside wireless charging stations, Bluetooth radios, 55” LED TVs, and complimentary WiFi. The bathroom includes a glass-enclosed shower and softly backlit bathroom mirrors.
Another hotel highlight is the rooftop, where you can soak up some beautiful panoramic views of the city, including the Empire State Building, from 26 stories as you socialize with friends, mingle with colleagues, or celebrate with family over craft beers, fine wines, creative cocktails, and light bites.
The hotel’s business features include a variety of flexible meeting and event spaces, with seven venues offering a total of 7,334 square feet of meeting space spanning three floors. The hotel’s leisure facilities include a state-of-the-art fitness facility, outfitted with traditional weights and cardio equipment, in addition to Peloton bikes, an Interactive Fitness Mirror, a yoga studio, and more.
An Urban Fee of $25 (plus tax) is added per night throughout your stay and covers the following perks: property-wide internet access, local and long-distance calls within the United States, complimentary Citi Bike day passes, the on-site gym, and two bottles of water when you check-in. The hotel also allows pets! Up to two dogs or cats are allowed per room, provided that they are under 75 pounds, for a fee of $20 (plus tax) per night. All animals must be registered with the front desk upon arrival.
Under the American Disabilities Act (ADA), Arlo Hotels is a hotel brand that provides accessible features for all properties and guests, from entrances and common areas to guest rooms, bathrooms, and communication tools. The independent hotel brand also strives to make its website and technology accessible to all, with the goal of providing guests with a successful and enjoyable experience, even if they are using assistive technologies like screen readers, magnifiers, voice recognition software, or video captions. From stepless entry into the hotel to wheelchair-accessible rooms, and meeting and lounge spaces, the hotel has taken everything into consideration. In public spaces, visual alarms and Braille signage alert and guide guests, and assistive listening devices are available upon request. Wheelchair and ADA-accessible rooms range from cozy doubles to airy terrace rooms and spacious suites, perfect for different traveling goals. Arlo Midtown’s state-of-the-art gym is also wheelchair accessible. For more information, visit www.arlohotels.com/arlo-midtown or call 212.343.7000
PLENTY TO DO: There is so much to do in the city. This includes Broadway shows, museums, tourist attractions like Ellis Island, the 9-11 Memorial, parks, shopping, fine dining, people-watching at Times Square, sports events and much more.
DINING OUT: A globally acclaimed burger joint, Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer, owned by husband and wife duo Chris Barish and Julie Mulligan, continues to expand within the United States, bringing their award-winning burgers and world-famous CrazyShake® milkshakes to fans in more than 21 locations globally.
Black Tap, at first glance, is a classic burger joint with a downtown New York vibe. The menu offers something for everyone, from signature burgers like the All-American to chicken sandwiches, salads, wings, and various snacks. Black Tap’s burgers have won awards across the world, and they are now five-time winners at the New York City Wine & Food Festival’s Burger Bash competition for the wagyu beef burger called The Greg Norman, the Italian-American inspired Mulberry Street Burger, and most recently for The Wagyu Steakhouse Burger. Black Tap’s famous CrazyShake® milkshakes, known for being highly Instagrammable, have reached worldwide acclaim with their whimsical and over-the-top flavors such as The CakeShake® and the Cookies ‘N Cream Supreme. Since opening its first 15-seat location in New York’s Soho neighborhood, Black Tap has expanded to the West Coast with locations in Las Vegas and Anaheim at the Downtown Disney District® at Disneyland Resort, and internationally to Dubai, Geneva, Zurich,Verbier, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, and Bahrain.
We had a great time visiting Black Tap (www.blacktap.com) for the first time at the 35th Street location (known as Black Tap 35th). The space is inspired by 80s and 90s music, including an installation of 5,000 custom-designed cassette tapes and an oversized neon boombox. At the stand-alone Shake Bar—the first in New York—guests can get a glimpse into the magic of making one of Black Tap’s famous milkshake creations.
New York-based graffiti artists and twin brothers How and Nosm designed Black Tap 35th’s signature street art murals. Known for their large-scale installations and unique, complicated compositions, How and Nosm left their mark on the restaurant with their signature style of red, black, and white imagery.
Wanting to experience some of the restaurant’s award-winning burgers, my friend and I elected to try The Greg Norman, which is topped off with house buttermilk-dill, blue cheese, and arugula, and The Wagyu Steakhouse Burger, which includes pepper jack cheese, bacon, crispy onions, A1 sauce, and roasted garlic mayo. Both burgers were delicious, but the true highlight of the meal was the accompanying milkshakes. Restaurant-goers at nearby tables whose food had not arrived genuinely stopped to gawk when our server brought us our CakeShake and Strawberry Shortcake CrazyShakes. The size of an entire meal all on its own, my CakeShake included a cake batter milkshake with a vanilla-frosted rim, rainbow sprinkles, and whipped cream, all of which was topped off with an entire piece of Funfetti cake.
Black Tap 35th is located at45 West 35th Street and is open from 11 am to midnight daily. You can call (646) 943-5135 for more information, or take a look at their social media for mouth-watering pictures.
There is a wheelchair access ramp to the left of the front door that goes into the hotel next door, where there is a side entrance leading into the restaurant. They have a few different seating places for handicap accessibility, as well as an ADA bar seating area. The ADA-accessible bathroom is located in the back of the restaurant.
With the weather having been so freezing lately here in Canada, I was thrilled to make my escape for a winter getaway in the sunny state of Florida. For the first time, I had the opportunity to visit Fort Lauderdale, which was a real treat (https://www.visitlauderdale.com).
Fort Lauderdale is the largest municipality in Broward County, which encompasses 1,197 square miles, with 24 miles of Atlantic Ocean beach. It has a resident population of over 1.95 million people. While previously known as a quiet beach community, Fort Lauderdale has been known as a hot spot for Spring Breakers ever since the December 1960 film “Where the Boys Are,” which was shot on location in the Fort Lauderdale area. Outside of Spring Break, however, Fort Lauderdale is now known worldwide as a year-round destination with plenty to do for all age groups.
Fort Lauderdale has been nicknamed the Venice of America due to its 300 miles of inland waterways. There are plenty of ways to explore the Intracoastal, which is lined with impressive mansions and yachts – check it out on a paddleboard, water taxi, or even on a Las Olas Gondola.
The area is also known for its sea turtle nesting season, which takes place from March through October of every year. It is not unusual when going for a walk along the beach to encounter a nest – they will be well-marked due to a robust sea turtle conservation program in Broward County. We came across several signs raising awareness about sea turtles during our trip. These babies need lots of help and care, as sadly only approximately one in 1,000 survive.
If you are seeking out a free and sustainable method to get around town, look no further than the Micro Mover, which is a fantastic ride-share service available to those wishing to explore areas such as downtown, Las Olas, and the beach. Download the “Ride Circuit” app to book your ride.
For some family fun in the sun, you may wish to try out the local mini-golf experience. Pixar Putt is an 18-hole pop-up experience that will be open until March 26th. The experience features iconic characters from many of Pixar’s most beloved films, including Toy Story, Inside Out, Finding Nemo, Coco, and more. It is open 7 days a week and includes after-dark sessions for those 18+.
If shopping is something that you hope to do in Florida, look no further than Sawgrass Mills, the world’s largest single-story discount mall. Further discount shopping can be accomplished at the Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop, which is the largest indoor/outdoor flea market down South. For a more traditional shopping experience, The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale is a more upscale shopping mall with stores including Macy’s, Michael Kors, and much more.
COMING SOON: The Florida Panthers organization is revitalizing the War Memorial Auditorium and is constructing a new state-of-the-art practice and community ice facility in Fort Lauderdale. This is slated for a 2023 debut, though the exact opening date has yet to be announced. Upon its completion, the new 144,000 sq. foot sports and entertainment venue will house South Florida’s first-of-its-kind ballroom-style concert and performance venue, capable of accommodating up to 3,800 people for intimate live music and events. The redesigned theater will carefully preserve the iconic War Memorial Auditorium’s classic art-deco character, while new enhancements and technical upgrades will modernize the space to accommodate global tour productions and larger-scale events. The addition of a state-of-the-art practice facility will feature two regulation-sized indoor ice rinks, including a dedicated public rink that will host a robust variety of youth and adult hockey programs, public skating, and figure skating for those of all ages.
INCLUSIVITY: “Visit Lauderdale”, the official Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) for Greater Fort Lauderdale in South Florida, recently unveiled its new brand campaign “Everyone Under the Sun.” The vibrant campaign reflects Greater Fort Lauderdale’s welcoming and inclusive community. People from more than 170 countries speaking 147 languages call Greater Fort Lauderdale home. The brand campaign features plenty of surprising twists to not only highlight how different Greater Fort Lauderdale is from other destinations but to also invite “everyone under the sun” to enjoy its one-of-a-kind offerings. The new campaign showcases accessible beaches, thrilling outdoor adventures, immersive nature encounters, shopping, in-pool meetings, dock and dining opportunities, pampering, romance, and memory-making experiences.
WHERE TO STAY: There are close to 600 lodging establishments, with more than 37,000 hotel rooms in the area, ranging from luxurious high-rises to smaller boutique hotels and motels. The diverse mix of Greater Fort Lauderdale accommodations encompasses oceanfront and inland properties, specialized spa resorts, as well as meeting and convention facilities.
During my trip, I chose to stay at the B Ocean Resort (https://www.boceanresort.com/), which many people may remember as the former Sheraton Yankee Clipper.
The B Brand caters to the following aspirations through its signature elements and programming: B Nourished® as it relates to the mind, body and soul; B Adventurous by exploring the world and self-potential; and B Compassionate by actively caring for the community and the environment Along with a fresh, contemporary design and a desirable beachfront location, B Ocean Resort offers a unique experience allowing both travelers and staycationers to fully immerse themselves in the destination from the second they step foot through the door. The resort is conveniently located in the heart of the city, around 15 minutes from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Port Everglades, downtown Las Olas Boulevard and along the famed coastal highway A1A.
Originally built in 1956 as the Yankee Clipper, named after its ship-like structure, the hotel quickly became a popular place to visit for American favorites such as Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio, and many more. As one of the few beachfront hotels in the city along the Atlantic Ocean, the B Ocean Resort has incorporated some historic elements and has blended them to create a more modern, sleek, and stylish feel.
The B Ocean Resort offers 481 spacious guest rooms and suites, ranging in size from 300 sq. ft. to a lavish 1,700 sq. ft. – all of which are inspired by the property’s serene oceanfront location. Guests can choose from room categories including the Chic Room, the Captivating Room, the Stunning Room, the B Enhanced Junior Suite, the Posh Suite, or the Master Suite. Along with the B Hotels & Resorts® signature Blissful Bed®, each room has sleek custom furnishings, a 55″ HD LED interactive flat-screen television, bath amenities, a coffee maker, an in-room safe and a mini fridge, as well as electrical power hubs equipped with convenient USB, USB-C, and international outlet plug-ins. We were very pleased with our accommodations.
Beyond the guestrooms, the B Ocean Resort features a spacious lobby and several meeting spaces. Guests may choose to relax at either of the hotel’s two outdoor swimming pools, one of which is a fairly large infinity pool conveniently located right on the beach. The private beach offers every guest two free beach loungers and towels per room, with the option to also rent umbrellas when the weather permits. Beach-side service is provided, with food and drinks from the beachside restaurant The Salty Siren being delivered right to your seat.
The hotel also includes a 24-hour state-of-the-art B Active® Fitness Center, two B Indulged® Spa Suites, and over 14,000 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor meeting space that has expanded onto the second floor. The second-floor Point Room offers floor-to-ceiling windows with an attached spacious outdoor beachfront terrace – it is an ideal venue for high-end corporate and social events. B Ocean’s private beach, pool decks, and first-level ballroom are also available for large group events, meetings, or weddings.
The hotel has five restaurants on site. The Salty Siren, as mentioned, is the hotel’s poolside restaurant. Otherwise, the hotel offers seafood and Mediterranean cuisine at the Naked Crab, drinks and brunch with mermaid shows and burlesque shows at the Wreck Bar, more drinks and cocktails at the Florida Bar in the lobby, and the grab-and-go Clipper Express, which includes offerings such as bagels, croissants, muffins, juice, coffee, and chips. Come by in the evening for grab-and-go sushi as well!
A little bit more about the shows:
Mermaid Aqua Burlesque Show: Perfect for those seeking a unique, next-level nightlife experience, the adults-only Aqua Burlesque show produced by MeduSirena promises to be an unforgettable night. The show starts every Friday night at 8:30 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.), as well as every Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.) and 11 p.m. (doors open at 10 p.m.)
Aquamen Underwater Boylesque Show: The only underwater male burlesque show in the United States, the adults-only Aqua Boylesque show produced by MeduSirena is also part of the Wreck Bar’s line-up. This show starts every other Thursday night at 8:30 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.)
Mermaid Elle & Friends: For an exciting mermaid encounter that the whole family can enjoy, the all-new, interactive Coral Reef Mermaid show follows the story of South Florida mermaids who need to find their magical gadgets in order to return back home. The show aims to both entertain and educate as it demonstrates how pollutants harm the ocean’s delicate ecosystems and explains how recycling aids in the continued protection of coral reefs. This exciting adventure starts every Saturday afternoon at 12 p.m. and includes lunch (doors open at 11 a.m.). During my stay, I overheard a little girl exiting the show with her mother, enthusiastically proclaiming “the mermaid was real!”
Mermaids & Mimosas Sunday Brunch: During B Ocean Resort’s signature Sunday brunch, guests can enjoy a delicious meal with bottomless mimosas, while watching mermaids swim in the background. This takes place every Sunday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Yoga, Mermaids and Mimosas: Every Sunday morning, B Ocean Resort offers a relaxing and restorative one-hour yoga class by the Atlantic Ocean. After the class, yogis are invited to join the Mermaids & Mimosas Sunday Brunch at the Wreck Bar. The class takes place every Sunday from 10 a.m. – 11: a.m.
Splash Into The Past: which takes place every Wednesday at Wreck Bar, is the newest show. Presented by Tropical Sirens Entertainment and directed by Leydis Castillo, the live, interactive show takes visitors on a voyage back in time through the ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, and 2000s. Travelers can experience an unforgettable night of trivia, games, singalongs and dancing alongside the magnificent mermaid. Costumes are welcomed and encouraged, with prizes given to the most creatively dressed guest of the night each week. Doors open at 6 p.m. for drinks and/or dinner, and the show starts at 8 p.m. Admission is $45 per adult (guests must be 18+) with a $35 credit toward food and beverages purchased during the show. Advanced reservations are required for all mermaid shows. For more information or to reserve tickets, visit https://www.boceanresort.com/mermaids-at-the-wreck-bar/.
In terms of accessibility, the hotel has ramps at the pool, as well as connecting the pool to the beach. There is also a ramp available to connect the hotel’s different towers. Both pools feature ADA Pool lifts. The resort offers valet parking at the main entrance to the lobby. There are guest rooms available that feature roll-in showers or accessible bathtubs.
The CEO and founder of B Hotels & Resorts are Ayelet Weinstein, who started working in multi-family and condo conversions in 1996. In 2004, she became interested in a local building that she assumed to be an apartment building. After pursuing the building and learning it was, in fact, a hotel, she discovered a passion for the hospitality industry and has remained involved ever since.
“I was immediately intrigued,” Weinstein told Lodging Magazine. “I was fascinated by the hospitality business model and the industry’s depth and complexity. During the economic crisis in 2008 and 2009, InSite Group, where I was a senior vice president, started to look more into hotels and basically switched its focus from multi-family to hospitality.”
“B Hotels creates an environment that encourages living life to its fullest potential. It’s in our blood,” Weinstein described. “Life in general is a collection of experiences. Travel and work play major roles in that experience, and we were able to bring these components together.”
The B Hotel and Resort is located at 1140 Seabreeze Blvd. For more details go to www.boceanresort.com or call 1-954-524-5551. B Hotels also has locations in the Florida Keys and in the Disney Springs area in Lake Buena Vista. Visit http://www.bhotelsandresorts.com.
BOUCHER BROTHERS ON THE BEACH: We were thrilled to discover that The B Hotel & Resort partners with the award-winning Boucher Brothers Management (www.boucherbrothers.com) in order to pamper guests while at the beach. I have had the pleasure of experiencing their fantastic work before during previous stays at hotels in the Hollywood and St. Petersburg areas.
Boucher Brothers is a Hospitality Management Company that specializes in a variety of outlets including pool, beach, food and beverage, water sports and team-building activities. They are a forward-thinking and proficient hospitality company expanding across North America. The company currently owns a portfolio of over 100 hotels and condominium properties, 45 blocks of public beach throughout Florida’s east and west coasts, 50 blocks of public beach in Virginia Beach, and four beaches around Lake Michigan in Chicago. They also do corporate team building and team events.
The Boucher Brothers know that when you come to the beach, you want to relax and feel pampered – their courteous and friendly staff does just that. The Boucher Brothers team provided excellent service during my stay. Upon your arrival at the beach, they will set you up with your free beach chairs, as well as an umbrella if you wish. Further, you have the option to rent the more luxurious sun loungers, with comfortable cushioning and unobstructed views of the ocean. Servers from the hotel restaurant, The Salty Siren, come right to your seat to take your order, further enhancing your relaxation.
In terms of beach sports, the Boucher Brothers have collaborated with BouYah Watersports. If you wish, you can arrange for jet skis, kayaks, banana boat rides, or paddle boards. The closest BouYah Watersports location to the B Ocean is at the Marriott Harbor Beach, which is a six-minute walk from the hotel. Guests can reserve their adventure directly online at https://bouyahwatersports.com/marriott-harbor-beach/
In terms of special needs, the Boucher Brothers have teamed up with the City of Miami Beach in offering immobile guests an easy transition to the beach. The Miami Beach Ocean Rescue team is considered the best in the United States. With them, they are able to partner up and offer beach-friendly wheelchairs, which are equipped with large wide wheels that can roll across the sand at ease without sinking. “We take the Americans with disabilities act very seriously and that’s why we have joined forces with the city to help everyone enjoy their experience at the beach,” the company states. If you are in that area, make sure to call ahead and reserve your beach wheelchair since quantities are limited. The number is (305) 673-7714 and you can pick it up at the Beach Patrol Headquarters located at 1001 Ocean Drive.
DINING OUT: There are more than 4,000 wining and dining establishments and 132 nightclubs in Broward County. The culinary scene is filled with rising star chefs, exciting restaurants, breweries and pubs, coffee houses and scenic dock-and-dine eateries, along with many great hotel restaurants.
I experienced a few places during my stay.
The Naked Crab Seafood Kitchen + Cocktail Bar
Let’s start off with the Naked Crab Seafood Kitchen + Cocktail Bar, which was conveniently located right in our hotel lobby at the B Ocean Hotel and Resort. It was the most convenient place to dine after checking in right at dinnertime. The Naked Crab embodies authentic, local dining on Fort Lauderdale Beach. Executive Chef David Morales conceptualizes slightly different menus every season and blends together fresh ingredients and spices in order to create contemporary Mediterranean dishes influenced by the flavors of Europe, and North and South America. The menu is sourced locally using fresh seafood and produce from local farms.
To sample some items on the menu, I tried the crab cake as an appetizer, as well as the scallop risotto and the particularly tasty branzino. This was capped off with some tiramisu for dessert, which was also delicious.
Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a weekend seafood brunch, locals and guests can relish in a seafood tower to share with the table or take advantage of the dry-aged prime steak. For breakfast, guests can enjoy a full menu of traditional staples and specialties, including lump crab benedict and crab avocado toast.
We also experienced Matchbox Restaurant (www.matchboxrestaurants.com), part of an American chain that first opened in 2003. Matchbox currently has 15 locations, including Washington, Maryland, Virginia, and of course Florida. Matchbox is part of Thompson Hospitality, one of the largest retail food service management companies in the USA.
The Matchbox in Las Olas, Fort Lauderdale, opened in early 2022. It is located in a particularly trendy area that features dining and entertaining on the New River, with lovely water views. Since its debut, Matchbox has become known for brick oven pizzas, mini burgers, fresh salads, and chef-inspired entrées, like Miso salmon and chimichurri steak frites. Diners can enjoy elevated American bistro fare crafted from high-quality ingredients. I particularly enjoyed their delicious cocktails, including the strawberry rose margarita and the peach lemon drop, as well as the spinach and artichoke dip, the aforementioned Miso salmon (a menu highlight!), as well as the chicken pesto pizza. Warren Thompson, President and Chairman of Thompson Hospitality, started the company in 1992. It is built on values gained from 30 years of client, customer and community relationships. Veterans in the hospitality industry, the company currently owns and operates over three dozen restaurants. Other company-owned restaurants in the area include Big Buns and Willie T’s Seafood Shack.
The restaurant offers several handicap-accessible tables and a lowered bar area, as well as compliant restrooms. In order to enter, as you come out of the parking area, the sidewalk/courtyard has a ramp. Matchbox is located at 221 SW 1St Avenue. You can call 954-751-5959 for a reservation. Visit https://www.matchboxrestaurants.com/.
The Lobster Bar and Sea Grill
When seeking out places to eat in Florida, one would be amiss to forget about the fantastic local seafood scene. I had the privilege of enjoying a meal at the Lobster Bar Sea Grille while in Fort Lauderdale (https://lobsterbarseagrille.com). The restaurant, located at 454 East Los Olas, offers an extensive selection of seafood, including, as mentioned in its name, a large array of lobster dishes.
The dining room features soft white herringbone subway-tiled walls and arched ceilings. Warm custom lighting creates an intimate and inviting ambiance. Clusters of sofas are located near the bar for cocktails before or after dinner, making it the perfect place to meet friends or business associates. Adjacent to the lounge is a fully covered outdoor patio with cushioned furniture, ideal for cocktails and light dining. Walls can be brought down in this outdoor space as well on a windy day to preserve client comfort.
During my meal, I had the opportunity to taste some oysters, the restaurant’s famed lobster morsels (lightly fried lobster with Greek honey-mustard aioli), Dover sole served with brown butter and a side dish of quinoa mixed with kale, the decadent Whole Lobster & Black Winter Truffle risotto dish, as well as some profiteroles to end the meal on a sweet note. Everything was delicious!
General Manager George Mollas notes how the restaurant presents freshly caught, both locally and internationally, whole fish. “Our seafood is as fresh as fresh can be; 48 hours from the water to the table,” he said. “The atmosphere of the Lobster Bar Sea Grille is a very swanky, upscale and sexy environment”
Mollas says that his team’s goal “is to exceed our guests’ expectations. We go the limit for our guests. Whatever they need we can deliver. As guests leave the restaurant, they let me know how much they enjoy the food we prepare for them and the wonderful atmosphere. In particular, they love our attention to detail.”
The restaurant is fully code-compliant with regard to handicapped accessibility.
It seats about 175 indoors and 50 outdoors and also features two private rooms (one seating up to 60 and one seating up to 80).
The Lobster Bar Sea Grille is part of the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, which also owns eight other restaurant brands. You can purchase the Ultimate Dining Gift Card, which never expires and can be reloaded.
For reservations call (954) 772-2675. The restaurant is open for lunch on weekdays and dinner seven nights a week.
On the famous Fort Lauderdale boulevard that leads to the beach, you will find the Friendship Café, which is situated right next to the Las Olas Chabad Jewish Center. Part of The Friendship Circle, a local non-profit here in Montreal, the kosher Mediterranean restaurant and coffee bar serves lunch and dinner options, from falafel hummus plates and salads to kebab pita sandwiches and vegetarian shawarma. They offer training and employment opportunities to people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
ALBANY- I have been to the city of Albany, New York (https://www.albany.org/) many times. In January 2020, I made my last visit there just prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, which put a pause on travel. Returning again more recently, I was reminded of why I like the state capital so much. In particular, I was fortunate to have a great place to stay.
WHERE TO STAY: One of the bonuses of a visit to Albany is the ability to visit some American stores not available to us here in Canada. Therefore, it was convenient that the Residence Inn Albany Washington Avenue Extension was just adjacent to the Crossgates Mall. The Residence Inn is an extended-stay hotel that is also just minutes from the Albany International Airport, the Empire State Plaza, and more. It is also under 30 minutes by car from the Saratoga Racetrack and the Global Foundries.
Staying at the Residence Inn feels like being at home, while still enjoying some excellent hotel services. You can choose between studios, one-bedroom suites, and two-bedroom suites, with the suites providing enough space for a full kitchen and separate areas where one can relax, work, and sleep. My family and I enjoyed the two-bedroom and two-bathroom suite, which was incredibly spacious.
Hotel amenities include free WiFi, daily hot breakfast, coffee, and tea. There is also an indoor pool and hot tub, a fitness center, a small convenience shop, and a laundry room. The lobby is quite nice with a large amount of seating, including a nice outdoor space to relax when the weather is appropriate.
The hotel is completely accessible, with elevators, a self-operating lift, and a sloped entry into the swimming pool. Service animals are always welcome. Accessibility features available to guests upon request include adjustable height hand-held shower wands, alarm clock telephone ringers, bathtub grab rails, a bathtub seat, closed caption TV, flashing door knockers, hearing accessible rooms, and lowered electrical outlets and deadbolts. Some of the bathrooms also contain non-slip grab rails and roll-in showers.
The hotel is located at 124 Washington Avenue Extension. For more information, you can call 518-218-7240 or log onto the hotel website: http://www.marriott.com/albwa.
ATTRACTIONS: Albany truly is a great place to shop, with a wide array of stores for all to enjoy. While we stayed close to the Crossgates Mall, it was also a quick and easy drive to the nearby Colonie Center as well. The majority of entrances at both malls are ADA accessible with ample parking distributed throughout. Wheelchair rentals are also available.
Crossgates Mall (https://www.shopcrossgates.com/) has been labeled as the largest shopping, dining and entertainment destination in New York’s Capital Region. It offers over 10 different entertainment experiences, providing something for every age group. Younger children and families don’t have to shop – they can bowl their hearts out, play the newest video arcade games, see an IMAX movie, or go down some colourful indoor slides. Crossgates offers dining options to suit any taste, including 12 sit-down restaurants, 11 food court options, two fast-casual eateries, and 16 snack spots.
Colonie Center (https://shopatcoloniecenter.com/), a 1.3 million square-foot enclosed two-level, regional shopping center with over 100 specialty stores, is at the heart of New York’s Capital Region. The center is anchored by a three-level Macy’s, Boscov’s and Sears. Colonie Center features popular retailers such as The Gap, New York & Company, Bath and Body Works, Kay Jewelers, American Eagle, Victoria’s Secret, Sephora, and Barnes & Noble. The center boasts the only Cheesecake Factory Restaurant and P.F. Chang’s China Bistro in the capital region and a state-of-the-art all-digital Regal Cinema with a newly renovated RPX theater. Additional sit-down eateries include Five Guys Burgers & Fries and Moe’s Southwest Grill, as well as the second-level food court. The center sits at the intersection of Wolf Road and Central Avenue, is just 5 minutes from the Albany International Airport, and is accessible from Interstates 87 and 90.
Albany lies at the foot of the Adirondacks and the Catskill Mountains and is at the tip of the historic Hudson Valley Region. Within a short ride are the neighboring towns of Cooperstown and Saratoga Springs. Albany is home to several museums, historic homes, and outdoor activities such as boating, skiing, biking, and snowshoeing. Sights to consider exploring include the Million Dollar Staircase, the “Egg” at the Empire State Plaza, and more. Albany is also less than three hours from New York and Boston, if you’re looking to add more stops to your trip.
NICE– The capital of the French Riviera, Nice is a perfect city for a relaxing getaway. This summer, I returned to Nice for the first time in eight years and was able to enjoy a fantastic few days by the Mediterranean.
For those who have not yet visited, Nice is the fifth largest city in France, with 350,000 citizens and more than 1 million people living in the surrounding areas. Located between the Alps, Provence, Corsica, and Italy, the exceptional climate makes it a great year-round destination for travelers.
During my visit, I was able to enjoy time walking along La Promenade des Anglais, a street known throughout the world. This long avenue runs right along the Mediterranean coastline, spanning a distance of 7km, and is frequented by walkers, cyclists, and joggers alike. This area is renowned for its palm trees, its private and public beaches, and its array of hotels, including the legendary Negresco and the Palais de la Méditerranée.
Just across the street from the sea lies Vieux Nice, the historic district of the city. In Vieux Nice, you will find a hub of activity, particularly at night, where you will find an array of small restaurants with terraces, markets, craft shops, and more. Nearby, you will also find Place Masséna, a historic square known for its black and white geometric paving, red ochre buildings, and 7 statues, which when evening comes, light up with warm and lively colours.
When visiting, it is also working exploring La Promenade du Paillon, which was inaugurated in 2013. This 12-hectare green ribbon in the heart of nice is known for its 1,600 trees, 6,000 shrubs, and 50,000 perennials. Benches punctuate the walk to allow you to stop, relax, and enjoy the view.
This historic and luxurious 5-star hotel is located on the legendary Promenade de Anglais, directly across the street from the sea. There are 187 spacious guestrooms and suites, complimentary Wi-Fi, the option for mobile entry with your room key available through your smartphone, a beautiful indoor-outdoor pool, as well as a gym, sauna, and Turkish bath. The hotel restaurant, le 3e, includes a lovely terrace that overlooks the Mediterranean, as well as the outdoor pool, which includes a large and delicious breakfast buffet, which I was able to enjoy every morning. The hotel also features a business and conference center on-site. Dogs under 15kg are permitted on the premises for an additional fee.
All rooms include a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, air conditioning, an in-room, laptop-sized safe, an alarm clock, bathrobes and slippers, a hair dryer, an iron and ironing board, an electric kettle, and a mini-bar.
During my stay, I was very impressed with the hotel’s customer service. Their concierge service is able to reserve seats for hotel guests at the nearby beach – they will give you a voucher and place the charge under your room. Response to requests for room service and other needs was always swift.
In terms of accessibility, six rooms (including one suite) are adapted for the disabled with walk-in showers (equipped with a seat on the wall and a grab rail), a sink accessible for those in wheelchairs, height equipment (bed, mini bar, safe box, toilet) for wheelchair access, as well as a wardrobe with a telescopic rod.
Interestingly, a few years ago, the hotel had its own two-and-a-half-month-old Labrador puppy as part of the association “Les Chiens Guides d’Aveugles”. A hotel staff member spent two years training him as a future seeing-eye dog. He was present three weeks a month at the hotel and learned obedience and savoir-vivre, following which he was made available for adoption at no charge to a visually impaired person.
There are many fantastic dining options at your disposal in Nice. During my previous trip to Nice in 2014, I dined at Le Grand Balcon (www.legrandbalcon.net), located at 10 rue St. François de Paule near the opera house. Having had such a great experience last time, I was looking forward to returning, and it did not disappoint. Since my last visit, their terrace seems to have more than doubled in size, and all of their tables were full. While their menu offers numerous options, I personally enjoyed their sea bream ceviche with pomelo, the scallops with truffles and homemade mashed potatoes, and the parmesan cheese risotto. For dessert, I had a tasty, restyled lemon meringue pie. Undoubtedly, should you choose to visit, you will enjoy their creative and delicious cuisine.
Le Grand Balcon is wheelchair accessible.
Another excellent restaurant worth visiting is Bocca Nissa (https://www.boccanissa.com/), a trendy restaurant and tapas bar located at 3 rue St. François de Paule. At first glance, the building resembles a beautiful Mediterranean townhouse. You will enter by walking down a hallway with walls lined entirely by greenery. Their rooftop terrace provides views of Vieux Nice and is also lined with plants and twinkle lights. Their menu contains a large array of tapas to share – I personally tried their tortilla dish, as well as their fried squid and sardines, sea bream ceviche, and beef ravioli. For dessert, their chocolate bombs were a real treat. For those less interested in tapas, their menu also boasts larger meals that one may choose to share, such as lamb chops and beef ribs.
This property is also wheelchair accessible.
Needless to say, I absolutely look forward to returning to this piece of paradise in France.
The Hilton Lac-Leamy in Gatineau, Quebec, just across the river from the Canadian capital of Ottawa, is a one-of-a-kind destination. Surrounded by waterways, woodlands and recreational trails, it offers the atmosphere of an urban resort in an enchanting environment. Among all the properties of the Hilton chain, this property is first in Canada and among the top 10 across the Americas. In fact, it is a five-star hotel with four diamonds since its opening in 2001.
We were very fortunate to spend the day there recently and what a treat that was.
Upon arrival in the hotel’s lobby, I was literally dazzled by the four blown glass chandeliers created by artist Dale Chihuly, as well as the six islands of red flowers spread out on the wall at the back of the reception. In addition, a coil composed of small glass works surrounds the column of the grand staircase leading to the upper floor of the hotel.
Connected to the Lac-Leamy Casino, the hotel features a fitness center, outdoor heated pool, indoor pool, spa and wellness center and a variety of dining options. Free WiFi is available.
Unquestionably, the outdoor pool is a big draw here. We were seated poolside on comfortable lounge chairs, with a large umbrella to guard us against the sun. The pool itself was perfectly heated as I floated about relaxingly, resting on the noodles they provide each guest. There are also two large hot tubs, something I have been craving since before the pandemic. The warm water was just the tonic I needed for some aching bones.
In the future, we hope to go back and enjoy some of the fine dining options.
On the lower level, you will find the Restaurant Arôme Seafood and Grill. With a magnificent view of Lac de la Carrière, the restaurant offers a memorable experience for all. A special feature of the menu is dry-aged meat, which appeals to epicureans and meat lovers. L’Arôme was the first restaurant in the Outaouais to offer this high-end meat. In the summer season, you can also enjoy the excellence of the kitchen on its large outdoor terrace by the water. Now that is on my “to-do” list for sure.
Banco Bistro is located at the casino, offering an a la carte menu, while the Bacchus Bar and Cigar Lounge are open Wednesday to Sunday from 4 pm to midnight.
There is also the TGV Snack Bar, the seasonal pool bar. Private dining is always available with 24-hour room service. We took advantage of the latter poolside, enjoying chicken quesadillas, a pizza and some chips and drinks. There is a nice shady eating area at the pool.
You can get out of your regular routine at the luxurious Amerispa Spa, which is open every day from 10 am. There are 17 treatment rooms ready to receive you, with everything for relaxation and well-being: massages, facial and body treatments, manicures, pedicures and treatments for men.
I got to see the gorgeous stained glass work at the Conference Centre as I walked through the facility. It was designed by Jeff Scheckman of the Glass Studio in Montreal. Ten artists participated in this project.
And just some information about the first-class casino on site. I know so many Montrealers who travel regularly to this property to enjoy the hotel and take advantage of the convenience of merely walking from their room to the casino. You can check out the wide variety of games such as slot machines for every taste, table games like roulette, baccarat, blackjack and poker, and low-stakes multi-gaming stations.
There is also a 1,000-seat theatre, with high-end entertainment, and a 2,500-seat ballroom and conference hall. The 51,000 ft2 (4738 m2) Conference Centre can accommodate various events thanks to its 16 modular rooms and 1070-seat theatre. It is equipped with the necessary infrastructure and technology, including the latest audiovisual equipment and free Wi-Fi access. The concept of the resort is the balanced contrast between urban entertainment and the tranquility of a park-like setting, giving guests the choice of what suits their mood best: cycling, cross-country skiing, first-class dining, or a show.
The Canadian Museum of History is five kilometers away and downtown Ottawa is a seven kilometers drive.
Accessibility is omnipresent at this hotel in the business centre, concierge desk restaurants, meeting rooms, on elevators and in guest rooms, which have mobility features with entry or passage doors that provide 32 inches of clear width. There are valet and handicapped parking services, a clear path to the entrance, ramps leading to the passageway to the casino and accessible routes to the fitness facilities and pools. Alarms are audible, braille on the elevators and for room numbers. Service support animals are welcome.
The Hilton Lac-Leamy is located at 3, Boulevard du Casino. For more information go to www.hiltonlacleamy.com or call 819-790-6444.
Mini-Golf and Ice Cream
While in the region why not enjoy some mini-golf at Dunn-D’s (11 Notch Road) in Chelsea? (www.dunnds.com). We really enjoyed the 18-hole course. While the place was busy on the day we visited, the wait from the people ahead of us was not too bad.
After the game, head for some of the best ice cream in the area at La Cigale (14 Scott Road) (https://www.lacigaleicecream.com/index.html). Here they serve delicious handcrafted ice cream, sorbet and more. There is a big sign with the flavors of the day. You line up to pay and then head to a window where your ice cream will be ready pretty quickly. Info: firstname.lastname@example.org
Last spring I saw Motown the Musical in Montreal, the American dream story of the Motown founder’s journey from featherweight boxer to the heavyweight music mogul who launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson and many more. I loved every minute of it. So when I visited New York City recently, I was naturally drawn to Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations (https://www.ainttooproudmusical.com). It won a 2019 Tony Award for Best Choreography and had 12 nominations.
Otis Williams is the last living member of The Temptations. His book about the group is the basis for the Broadway show. Williams in fact continues to perform, using the Temptations name.
Ain’t Too Proud, currently playing at the Imperial Theatre on West 45th Street until at least US Thanksgiving Weekend 2020, is the electrifying new musical that follows The Temptations’ extraordinary journey from the streets of Detroit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. With their signature dance moves and unmistakable harmonies, they rose to the top of the charts creating an amazing 42 Top 10 hits with 14 reaching number one. The rest is history — how they met, the groundbreaking heights they hit and how personal and political conflicts threatened to tear the group apart as the United States fell into civil unrest. This thrilling story of brotherhood, family, loyalty and betrayal is a beautiful production.
Tony Award nominee Derrick Baskin portrays
Otis Williams and is the glue to the show. He narrates the entire history of
the Temptations from the opening number until the conclusion. Before walking
into the theatre I simply knew the songs which made the Temptations so
successful, but this is a true history lesson and it pulls no punches. There
have been 24 members of the Temptations since this group was first established.
Williams had to continually make the hard decisions and drop members who were
not comporting themselves properly. At one point two of the singers who were
let go returned for a reunion tour, but they could not turn over a new leaf.
Williams himself was an absentee father and husband, focused exclusively on the
business. I loved the show so much that the greatest hits of The Temptations
are now loaded on my iPhone.
After breaking house records at both Berkeley Rep and The Kennedy Center, this musical is written by three‑time Obie Award winner Dominique Morisseau, directed by two‑time Tony Award winner Des McAnuff (Jersey Boys), and featuring choreography by Tony nominee Sergio Trujillo (Jersey Boys, On Your Feet).
Leading the current cast of Ain’t Too
Proud as The Temptations is Tony Award nominee Derrick Baskin as Otis Williams,
James Harkness as Paul Williams, Jawan M. Jackson as Melvin Franklin, Jelani
Remy as Eddie Kendricks, and Tony Award nominee Ephraim Sykes as David Ruffin.
Ain’t Too Proud also features Saint Aubyn, Shawn Bowers, E. Clayton Cornelious,
Taylor Symone Jackson, Jahi Kearse, Jarvis B. Manning, Jr., Joshua Morgan,
Rashidra Scott, Nasia Thomas, Christian Thompson, Candice Marie Woods, Esther
Antoine, Marcus Paul James, Correy West, Drew Wildman Foster, Curtis Wiley and
Jamari Johnson Williams.
Tickets for Ain’t Too Proud are available by visiting www.Telecharge.com, by calling 800-447-7400, or by visiting the Imperial Theatre Box Office (249 West 45th Street). For groups of 10 or more, visit www.BroadwayInbound.com or call 866-302-0995. The show runs for two and a half hours.
For years I have walked by Carolines on Broadway (https://www.carolines.com), promising myself that I would one day check out this world-famous comedy club. Well, I finally did so, booking a dinner and show package on a Saturday evening.
I arrived at 5:45 pm, checked in and was shown to a nice table in the club where veteran server Alfred took my order –some crispy fresh-cut zucchini chips to start and the main course of grilled salmon and roasted potatoes. I sat beside a nice couple from New Jersey. Christina shared her culinary insights with me and before the lights closed I was following this mom of four on Instagram (Christina.katers). The menu has a nice variety of choices; appetizers such as calamari, nachos, shrimp cocktail and onion rings a selection of salads and sandwiches, pasta, chicken and steaks. For dessert you can choose from strawberry shortcake, apple tart and chocolate cake, all served with ice cream. Of course, there is a full liquor and cocktail menu.
Carolines first opened as a small cabaret club in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood in 1982. Owner Caroline Hirsch, a lifelong comedy fan, soon began booking comedians. The comedy acts – which included now-legendary performers like Jerry Seinfeld, Tim Allen, Billy Crystal, Rosie O’Donnell and Jay Leno – were a tremendous success. As the popularity of stand-up surged throughout the 1980s, so did the popularity of Carolines, which was becoming THE place to see live comedy in New York City.
Located in the heart of
Times Square, Carolines on Broadway presents the very best live comedy
entertainment seven nights a week. Just steps from many of Broadway’s most
well-known theatres, Carolines on Broadway provides the same quality
entertainment that is customary on New York’s legendary Great White Way. On the
night I went the headliner was Sinbad. Born David
Adkins, Sinbad launched his stand-up comedy career by appearing in 1983 on
“Star Search,” where he beat out another then-unknown comedian named Dennis
Miller before losing in the finals. In 1987, Sinbad landed a role in “A Different World,” a spinoff of
“The Cosby Show,” and also had his own 1993-94 sitcom, “The Sinbad Show.” He has appeared in movies, including “Houseguest,” “First Kid” and
“Jingle All the Way.” Sinbad
also is known to display his music ability after his shows. He plays multiple
instruments, primarily percussion, and has played with numerous artists and
musicians under the name “Memphis Red.”
Today, Carolines on Broadway continues to hold center stage in Times Square as one of New York City’s most popular and enduring hotspots and as the city’s only genuine nightclub. The club is a New York institution and was one of the cornerstones in the revitalization of the vibrant and bustling Times Square district. In addition to presenting such top headlining comedians, the 300-plus-seat club also features emerging talent, live podcasts, and improv and sketch comedy, as well as playing host to countless large-scale fund-raising events and high-profile benefits.
For the dinner and show package, food is a la carte. You do receive priority seating in the showroom when you have dinner before the show in the supper lounge. Just arrive at the time of your reservation and you will receive your tickets to the show. If, however, you miss your dinner reservation before the show, they will not be able to hold the reserved seats for you in the showroom and you will be sat first come, first sat.
Carolines on Broadway is a handicapped-accessible venue. Just contact the box office prior to the show at 212.757.4100 for instructions. They will lead you to a specific entrance with an elevator and staff will escort you to your seat. It is located at 1626 Broadway, between 49th and 50th Streets in Times Square.
New York City is indeed
the place to dine, with an endless array of choices to please your palate. Here
are my latest recommendations.
TAO UPTOWN: We were elated to get a reservation at TAO Uptown (www.taogroup.com), an upscale Pan-Asian brand, located at 42 East 58th Street. There is also a TAO Downtown, as well as locations in Las Vegas, Chicago and Los Angeles. They will open at Mohegan Sun casino and entertainment resort in Connecticut this year.
A 16-foot Buddha, which floats above a reflecting
pool filled with Japanese carp, presides over the scene at Tao. A favorite
destination for celebrities and athletes, this heavenly dining experience
specializes in authentic Hong Kong Chinese, Japanese and Thai cuisines. Tao has
three levels of dining including the prized “Skybox,” which offers views
of this former movie theatre unparalleled in New York. In addition to its 300
seats, Tao includes a sushi bar, lounge and two bars at which to enjoy the food
and the show. Be sure to make reservations.
There is a wonderful ambiance here, with trendy
music and a charismatic serving staff.
The menu here is truly designed for sharing. Our waiter Ryan made life
so much easier for our party by recommending a series of courses “family
style.” He was right on the mark with each.
We started off with some drinks: a signature Tao-tini (Belvedere Mango Passion, Malibu Run, Cranberry and Fresh Lime), a glass of prosecco and a Bubbles and Berries (True Premium Vodka, Chandon Brut, St. Germain and Fresh Strawberries). We then moved to some appetizers: The Peking duck spring rolls with hoisin sauce, the spicy tuna tartare on crispy rice and the salmon sashimi followed by miso-glazed Chilean sea bass, grilled 12-ounce imperial wagyu ribeye (served with crispy fried onions and wow this was beyond amazing!) and lobster and kimchee fried rice.
Ryan promised us a surprise for dessert and he was not kidding. Out came a very large tray featuring a giant fortune cookie (with white and dark chocolate mousse), flourless mochi cake, sugar-dusted donuts, molten chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup. Let’s just say we completely ignored the calorie count.
TAO has a magnificent sushi menu. You can study the options via their menu.
Let me just state that merely stepping inside TAO is an experience. This now represents a “must stop” for us. Hopefully, next time out we can check out TAO Downtown.
For reservations call 212-888-2288 or do so via Open Table.
BLACK TAP: What fun it was for me to experience a Black Tap (www.blacktap.com) restaurant for the first time and no less their new flagship 35th Street location (known as Black Tap 35th). Inspired by the old-school luncheonettes we grew up in, Black Tap is touted as the new take on the classic burger joint. Upscale, but not fussed-up, their award-winning burgers have gotten a lot of attention in a short amount of time, milkshakes have always been on the menu, and craft beer is part of their DNA.
Black Tap 35th serves as a core location for global menu testing and features all-new design elements, a private dining room, and more. There are also US locales on 55th Street and Soho in the Big Apple as well as spots at Downtown Disney in Anaheim, California and at the Venetian in Las Vegas. Internationally you can find them in Bahrain, Kuwait, Singapore, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.
I was impressed the moment I walked
through the door. Tangible nods to Black Tap’s ‘80s and ‘90s hip-hop and pop
soundtrack can be found throughout the space, including an installation of
5,000 custom-designed cassette tapes and an oversized neon boombox. At the
stand-alone Shake Bar—the first in New York—guests can get a glimpse into the
magic of making one of Black Tap’s famous milkshake creations and be able to
interact with shake makers.
New York-based graffiti artists and twin brothers How and Nosmwere tapped for Black Tap 35th’s signature street art murals. Known for their large-scale installations and unique, complicated compositions, How and Nosm left their mark on the restaurant with their signature style of red, black and white-based imagery with colorful pops of pink, yellow, and purple. The brothers drew inspiration from New York City life and the Black Tap brand itself for two custom pieces within the space.
Black Tap is always innovating and has kept the hits coming at Black Tap 35th. There are always new menu items hitting the tables here as Black Tap tests dishes for potential worldwide launches. All of the classics are here too, from the All-American Burger and the award-winning wagyu beef Greg Norman Burger to the fan-favorite Korean BBQ Wings and addicting Crispy Brussels Sprouts. And it wouldn’t be a meal at Black Tap without a CrazyShake. There’s something for every sweet tooth from the original Cotton Candy strawberry shake and the best-selling Cookie’s ‘N Cream Supreme shake, to the newly added Cinnamon Toast cereal-flavored Churro Choco Taco Shake topped with a Choco Taco ice cream treat and churros. Don’t forget the beverages. True to its name (a nod to craft beer bar tap handles), Black Tap 35th’s beer menu features New York regional specialties like The Bronx Brewery No Resolutions Imperial IPA and Greenport Harbor Beehave Summer Ale.
I started off with the Queso & Chips appetizer – zesty cheese served with warm tortilla chips and a house salad. The Old Fashioned Prime Burger was my main choice, topped with crimini mushrooms, melted swiss cheese, caramelized onions and horseradish with some crispy fries.
I did my best to conserve some appetite for a crazy shake and opted for the Cake Shake. This is a cake batter milkshake with a vanilla frosted rim and rainbow sprinkles, topped with Funfetti cake, whipped cream and a cherry. My server wisely recommended that I gently move the cake portion to a plate, enjoying every morsel. For the shake, I used the spoon at the start before switching to the straw. It was worth all of the calories, especially knowing that I had an 11-block walk back to my hotel.
Black Tap is owned by husband-and-wife power couple Chris Barish and Julie Mulligan. Soon Black Tap will announce forthcoming openings in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the U.S. “It’s an exciting time for Black Tap as we open our 14th location and look to the future of the brand,” says Barish. “We have fans from around the world and look forward to bringing the Black Tap experience to even more burger lovers as we approach our fifth-year anniversary in 2020.”
Black Tap 35th is located at45 West 35th Street and is open from 11 am to midnight daily. You can call (646) 943-5135.
A BRAZILIAN DINING EXPERIENCE: Fogo de Chão (fogo-dee-shown) is a leading Brazilian steakhouse, or churrascaria, specializing in the centuries-old Southern Brazilian cooking technique of churrasco – the art of roasting high-quality cuts of meats over an open flame, all of which are carved tableside by Brazilian-trained gaucho chefs. There is Picanha (signature sirloin), Filet Mignon, Ribeye, Fraldinha (Brazilian sirloin) Cordeiro (lamb) and more. In addition to the main dishes, they boast a gourmet market table, authentic Brazilian side dishes, and an award-winning wine list.
Founded in Southern Brazil in 1979, there are currently 56 locations throughout Brazil, the United States, Mexico and the Middle East. I had a chance to experience this restaurant for the very first time at the beautiful West 53rd Street location in midtown Manhattan, just a short walk from Times Square and steps away from MoMA. Just before Christmas 2013, Fogo opened this 16,000-square-foot flagship location. The stunning architectural design includes a seventeen-foot bas-relief sculpture of Antonio Caringi’s, O Laçador, and a historical monument in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The three-level facility features al fresco patio dining and a lounge area that is perfect for gathering with friends. Unquestionably this was a totally new dining experience for me and I was beyond impressed. For first-timers like me, you will need a little guidance in terms of how to navigate the menu. Manager Ricardo Oliveira and his staff did precisely that. This is a “fun” place to dine for sure.
I opted in favor of the Full Churrasco Experience, which for $69.95 includes the trained chefs coming to your table. All you need to do is flip this small circular card to the green side and you will receive a visit, getting a chance to select the precise cut of meat you want. Everything was so fresh and delicious, I found it hard not to keep flipping my card over. The beyond the impressive market table and feijoada bar is included, featuring seasonal salads, soups, fresh vegetables, imported charcuterie, hearts of palm, giant asparagus, fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh-cut and steamed broccoli, marinated artichoke bottoms, tabbouleh, smoked salmon, an assortment of fine cheeses and much more. You can also order this for $34.95 and it can indeed constitute a meal.
market table is a fabulous way to get your meal started. The server also
brought a basket of cheesy bread to the table and a delicious jumbo shrimp
cocktail appetizer in a bowl of ice. Each piece of meat seemed better than the
last, cutting like butter. A server came by and offered me some mashed potatoes
and vegetables. There was not a moment during this dinner when either a server,
chef or manager did not stop by to see if I needed anything else.
As for my beverage, the guarana Antarctica is the national soda of Brazil and contains guarana berries found in the Amazon. The dessert menu, fortunately, had a calorie count and I chose the Tres Leches Cake – a rich cake soaked in three types of milk and then topped with vanilla mousse and salted caramel de leite. I enjoyed this with a cup of decaf cappuccino.
Next time I dine here I will definitely try either the mango Chilean sea bass, pan-seared salmon and if dining with my family, the seafood tower.
In addition to the Full Churrasco
Experience, Fogo offers its guests multiple ways to enjoy the experience at
varying price points, including weekday lunch starting at $15, weekend
Brazilian Brunch and a Bar Fogo menu that features smaller, sharable plates,
Brazilian-inspired cocktails and happy hour.
For more information about Fogo de Chão, the new culinary additions or to make dining reservations, visit http://www.fogo.com. You can reach the West 53rd location at 212-969-9980.
A FINE IRISH PUB: Located just up the block from my hotel, The Algonquin, is O’Donoghue’s Restaurant and Pub (https://odpubnyc.com) at 156 West 44th Street. I have been walking by the place for several years now, intrigued by the lineups outside. Well, this place indeed exudes Irish warmth. Manager Helen Moran is from Ireland and so was my charming server Sarah. With 24 beers on tap, 10 HD plasma flat screens and traditional Irish and American cuisine, O’Donoghue’s is the perfect place to unwind after work (happy hour specialty drinks), for sporting events (showing all major sports channels) and for private parties (party packages available). They are right in the middle of the Theatre District, so this is the perfect place to stop by for pre/post-theatre meals and drinks, or if you’re just shopping around town.
I had tickets for a 7:30 pm musical close by, so I arrived at 6 pm. The service was impeccable and I enjoyed my meal at a good pace, finishing with more than sufficient time to be sitting in my seat 10 minutes before the curtain went up.
There is a regular menu as well as those for kids, late-night, weekend brunch and another just for the bar. They also have daily specials. I started off with some piping hot beef and barley soup, a delicious order of garlic cheesy bread, with marinara sauce, and a glass of prosecco wine. For the main course, I was debating between their signature burger, one of the sandwiches and the special chicken and mashed potatoes. I opted for the latter. The chicken was cut into neat thin slices, moist and extremely tasty. I made the right choice. Did I have room for dessert? The homemade apple pie with vanilla ice cream sounded like the perfect way to conclude dinner. Along with a fresh cup of decaf coffee, I finished every morsel, leaving over just a bit of the ice cream.
There is a great atmosphere in this place. You can call (212) 997-2262.
The exceptional Tony Award-winning revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma may be closing its run on January 19, 2020, at Broadway’s Circle in the Square Theatre, but a tour will fittingly be opening starting in Oklahoma next fall, ultimately visiting other places in the United States and hopefully Canada.
first collaboration between iconic Broadway duo Richard Rodgers and Oscar
Hammerstein II, Oklahoma! premiered
for the first time on Broadway in 1943. The musical is credited with being the
first of its kind, integrating its book, score, and choreography with the goal
of advancing the plot.
This revival serves as the Broadway debut of visionary director Daniel Fish, who has created a vivid re-imaging of this country-set classic. While he left the original text and score intact, he has managed to explore the plot through a 21st-century lens, making an old story feel new and relevant again.
The cast of this darker Oklahoma! is led by Rebecca Naomi Jones as Laurey and 2019 Tony Award nominee Damon Daunno as Curly – both are in exceptional voice and have completely re-invented the roles. They are joined by 2019 Tony nominees Mary Testa (Aunt Eller) and Tony Award winner Ali Stroker (Ado Annie), as well as many other exceptionally talented company members.
The production has been hailed as Best of
the Year and received a Critic’s Pick from the New York Times. Set in Oklahoma
just after the turn of the century, the musical explores the complicated love
story of Curly, an idealist of a cowboy, and Laurey, a stubborn farm girl, as
they fall in love.
Those familiar with the original production will remember the 15-minute Dream Ballet sequence which once closed the show’s first act, a method of exploring Laurey’s romantic feelings and fears. In this revival, the sequence has been re-developed as an awe-inspiring modern dance sequence performed with dim lighting and frantic music. The room watched in hushed silence as dancer Gabrielle Hamilton made her way across the floor.
Making the production all the more unique is the set itself. Performed at Circle in the Square, a small and circular theatre, audience members are truly immersed in the experience. Some lucky audience members even had the opportunity to buy tickets providing them seats directly on stage, where they were teased and flirted with by the characters throughout the show. Red Crock-Pots sit on the tables on stage throughout act one, labeled “hot”. Why? Because they are cooking the chili, which is served with cornbread to all audience members during intermission.
In particular, the show has received quite a bit of buzz for the casting of Ali Stroker in the role of Ado Annie, the comedic foil to Laurey and Curly’s love story. Stroker, originally discovered on Ryan Murphy’s reality TV competition “The Glee Project,” made history in 2015 as the first actress in a wheelchair to appear on a Broadway stage. Once again, she made history last year as the first performer in a wheelchair to receive a Tony Award. During her acceptance speech, she dedicated the award to “every kid who is watching tonight who has a disability, who has a limitation or a challenge, who has been waiting to see themselves represented in this arena.” No doubt about it, she truly is an inspiration. In addition to Stroker, blind casting in this production includes people of color in roles that were traditionally given to white people. Stroker’s wheelchair is given its own set of choreography but is in no way integral to the character. In fact, Stroker performs 5 shows weekly, with her fantastic understudy, Sasha Hutchings, playing the role for the three other shows. Hutchings does not use a wheelchair during the performance.
The 31-year-old Stroker has been paralyzed since the age of
two following a car crash. After her Tony win, she was asked by a reporter how
to make Broadway and theatre more accessible.
“The theatres for the house, where all the audience comes in, that is all made accessible to patrons,” Stroker said. “But the backstages are not. So I would ask theatre owners and producers to really look into how they can begin to make the backstage accessible, so performers with disabilities can get around.”
What sort of challenges does she face each day in terms of performing? “I leave home an hour and 45 minutes before curtain,” she explained. “The show has been so supportive of my needs, providing a car for me to get to and from the theater and helping me inside the theater. Because there are a lot of stairs at the theater’s main entrance, I go in through the office building next door, and then Circle in the Square put in a stairlift for me to get down to the dressing rooms and stage level. They also put in a ramp backstage so I can get around.”
I could not have been more impressed by Daniel Fish’s production of Oklahoma!. It is truly a brilliant feat
worthy of celebration, and I felt grateful to have been in the presence of such
talent and creativity.
Tickets are available at the box office (1633 Broadway at 50th), www.telecharge.com or by calling (212) 239-6200. See the website for more information: oklahomabroadway.com. The show runs for two hours and 45 minutes, including one intermission. Due to the mature content in this production, it is recommended for children ages 12 and up. This production contains fog, loud gunshot effects, moments of darkness, and violence.
My family and I have always considered Albany (http://www.albanyny.org/Visitors.aspx) a great place to stay for a few days, be it a getaway on its own or a place to stop en route to or upon return from New York City. We recently spent three nights in the state capital and having discovered an outstanding place to stay, our trip could not have been more enjoyable and relaxing.
WHERE TO STAY: When seeking a place to stay our search stopped at what appeared to be the top-ranked hotel in town: the Staybridge Suites Albany New York, Wolf Road Colonie Center. Opened in 2014, this spot still looks spanking new and I would strongly recommend it. Not only is it exceptionally affordable, but it really does have all of the comforts of home.
I sought out General Manager David Heckman to find out more about this extended-stay hotel, located near the crossroads of Interstate 87 and Interstate 90, at Exit 2 of I-87, the Adirondack Northway. It was built just at the rear of the Colonie Center Mall, which is extremely convenient. Heckman told me that some visitors come to stay there just to be close to Macy’s. In fact, with that in mind, the Staybridge Suites recently completed a special promotion whereby for $20 more on your booking guests received a $25 gift card to Macy’s, two free movie passes and a snack pack. Heckman plans to make this an annual October 1 to January 1 special. From January 1 to June 1, for $10 more you will receive two movie passes (valued at $27) and a snack pack.
Only 1.5 miles from Albany International Airport, four miles from Downtown Albany and indeed within walking distance to the Mall and popular Trader Joe’s, this location offers free parking and a complimentary shuttle service. The Mall is also home to two of my favorite restaurants: The Cheesecake Factory and PF Changs.
This is an all-suite hotel, featuring 112 rooms over six floors. Each suite includes a full kitchen with all the supporting utensils to prepare food, complimentary high-speed internet, in-room safes, flat-screen televisions with a variety of programming options and daily housekeeping. There is a stove, microwave oven, toaster, full refrigerator, dishwasher, pots and pans, serving dishes, plates and glassware, silverware and a dining table. I appreciated the flexible workspace: a work desk with a lamp, a desk-level electrical outlet and a spare electrical outlet on the desk. We had a spacious suite, featuring a king bed and a very comfortable sitting chair in the main bedroom with a door that closes towards the pullout couch and kitchen. It could not have worked out better for our family. If I could find a place like this in every city I visit I would be very happy!
The on-site business
center is open 24/7. There is also a laundry room and a fitness facility with three
treadmills, 2 two ellipticals and one stationary bike. All of the equipment is
equipped with personal viewing screens. Free weights, stretch equipment and floor mats
are also included. I loved the indoor pool, open from 7 am to 10 pm and spent
some time each day of my stay in the whirlpool.
There are handicapped lifts on-site. In the summer, the doors open up to
a beautiful patio featuring picnic tables, barbeque grills and comfortable
places to sit.
I took advantage of the complimentary hot and cold breakfast every morning, including, a selection of both traditional breakfast foods, as well as a variety of fresh fruits, yogurts and healthy cereals. There are complimentary dinner receptions as well on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings (5 pm to 7:30 pm), including several choices of wines.
CHEESECAKE FACTORY: When the Cheesecake Factory is literally across the parking lot of your hotel, it is pretty tempting to dine there on more than one occasion. Such was precisely the case for us. The Albany location opened on August 29, 2006, at the Colonie Centre. This 10,800-square-foot locale seats 300 diners and you can always expect a lineup at the door. You will be handed a beeper and an estimated wait time.
In Albany, General Manager David Albert runs a well-oiled machine. The service here is always impeccable and the food is superb.
The Cheesecake Factory (www.thecheesecakefactory.com) is known for its extensive menu, generous portions and legendary desserts. In fact, there are more than 250 menu selections and this includes more than 50 lower calories of “SkinnyLicious®” selections- all handmade, in-house with fresh ingredients – and more than 50 signature cheesecakes and desserts. Favorite choices include appetizers, pizza, seafood, steaks, chicken, burgers, pasta, specialty items, salads, sandwiches, omelets and desserts.
This is the closest Cheesecake Factory to Montreal and I know many people who stop here on purpose just to enjoy the experience. Toronto has one too now and while we keep hearing rumours that Montreal might not be too far behind, I can get no confirmation of that.
We had lunch and supper at this spot on the same day. Frankly, I could eat here several times a week as the menu has so much variety. For the lunch stop, there was not a long wait for our table and we ate light, enjoying some breakfast items. At supper, we started off with some quenching red raspberry cocktails. I ordered a small Caesar salad, which was more than enough for the two of us to share.
While the Southern Fried Chicken Sliders are listed as
an “appetizer,” they more than serve as a hearty meal. This is actually my absolute favorite on the
entire menu. For only $11.50 you get four sliders with toppings and some
vegetables. I love the mashed potatoes at Cheesecake, my preferred side. Then
there are the SkinnyLicious offerings, notably
the turkey burgers which we can report are out of this world. There are
multiple fish, pasta and beef options, meal-sized salads and a whole lot more.
Give the menu a look online.
As for dessert, well this place is called The Cheesecake Factory. The windows display of pies kind of knocks your socks off when you enter the premises. After dinner, you can review the menu one more time, which includes a calorie count. We settled on the Italian Tiramisu Cheesecake split three ways and it was beyond decadent.
This Cheesecake Factory remains a real winner in our books and I highly recommend you stop by. You can call them directly at 518-453-2500. There is a large Barnes & Noble bookstore in the mall, a great pre or post-dining stop and movie theatres.
FUN AND GAMES: Besides some great shopping opportunities at Colonie and the Crossgates Mall, Dave & Buster’s (www.daveandbusters.com) remains a must-stop for us. Recognized as America’s leading venue, combining dining and entertainment, the 33,000 square-foot restaurants and the game room opened on August 24, 2013, at the Crossgates Mall and it has served as a magnet for visitors ever since. My family has also enjoyed visiting the Toronto locale
The company itself was founded in 1982 to provide a
high-quality, high-energy venue where families and adults can “Eat Drink Play®”
all in one location. Currently, Dave & Buster’s is the largest national
chain offering a full casual dining menu and a wide selection of non-alcoholic
and alcoholic beverages together with an extensive assortment of entertainment
attractions, including skill- and sports-oriented games, video games,
interactive simulators and other traditional games.
The restaurant, game and special event areas are open
seven days a week Sunday to Thursday: 11 a.m. to midnight and Friday and
Saturday: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
We did not dine there on this night, but it is good to know that there is a special eat-and-play option. When choosing selected items you can add $10 or $20 power cards to your order, which represents an immediate saving when you hit the games area.
Guests can play to win tickets in the arcade for a
variety of prizes, including iPods, Nintendo games, grills, sports items,
stuffed animals and even an electric guitar. Traditional games like bowling,
shuffleboard, skeet ball, air hockey and billiards are combined with others
such as zombie snatcher, Dance Revolution and Big Bass Wheel. We favor Deal or
No Deal, the basketball and football tosses and the different slot machine-like
games which give you a bit of a Las Vegas feeling. I was impressed with the gigantic Rock ‘Em
Sock ‘EM robots. We spent over two hours there and enjoyed every second of it.
The power card is rechargeable and keeps track of the number of points you have
earned instead of the old format of printed tickets.
More than two dozen large-screen, high-definition televisions provide the perfect backdrop for everyone’s favorite college sporting events and professional games. The Albany location is also available for private parties, birthdays and corporate functions. Structured team-building activities, company challenges and the ultimate quest are popular programs to help build corporate camaraderie. We had a great time. The locale is fully wheelchair accessible. You can call them directly at 518-313-4500 or log on to https://www.daveandbusters.com/locations/albany.
ATTRACTIONS: While we appreciated being within close walking distance to the Colonie Center, we took the easy 10-minute drive to the much larger Crossgates Mall. The vast majority of entrances are ADA accessible with ample parking distributed throughout the site. You can rent a wheelchair at the information desk near Macy’s entrance.
Albany has attracted visitors for 400 years with historic sites, fabulous attractions, family-friendly amenities, and entertaining events. World-class museums, unique galleries, stunning architecture, those enticing restaurants, and welcoming accommodations can indeed keep you busy for days. Enjoy everything from boating to skiing and biking to snowshoeing. Albany lies at the foot of the Adirondacks and the Catskill Mountains and is at the tip of the historic Hudson Valley Region. Within a short ride are neighboring Cooperstown and Saratoga Springs.
Be sure to check out the Million Dollar Staircase, the awe-inspiring “Egg” at the Empire State Plaza and many diverse examples of historic house sites and public spaces such as the Pruyn House and the first Shaker Meeting House. You can visit the magnificent Gothic structure, now the Administrative Center of the State University of New York, the Delaware and Hudson, and the Albany Evening Journal Buildings, located at the base of State Street.
There is an abundance of professional theatre, music,
dance, sports, and a backyard full of recreational splendors. As the crossroads
of the northeast, Albany is easily accessible by car, train, and plane and is
located less than three hours from New York and Boston.
When in search of a summer holiday destination this year, I could not think of a better choice than Las Vegas (https://www.visitlasvegas.com), where visitors are offered the perfect combination of relaxation and fun. I have visited Las Vegas before in the winter, but have never visited in the summer, I had not yet had the privilege of experiencing the amazing resort swimming pools that this spot has to offer.
truly is the epitome of an epic tourist destination, with more than 42 million
visitors and nearly 24 thousand conventions annually. Las Vegas has everything
that a vacationer could possibly ask for: concerts, shows, sports, shopping,
dining, nightlife, golf courses, spas, adventure activities, luxury
accommodations, and more. It is a place for an adult trip but also a place for
the entire family to enjoy themselves.
A partnership between Sydell Group and MGM Resorts International, ParkMGM was born from the collaborative vision of the New York-based lifestyle hotelier and one of the world’s preeminent destination resort developers.
hotel complex comprises two new distinct experiences: Park MGM, and a Las Vegas
version of the renowned NoMad, a standalone 293-room hotel encompassing the
tower’s top four floors.
Park MGM’s hotel design is inspired by nature, as
seen both in the lobby and in the newly renovated casino. Although renovated,
the casino still has some touches of the old Monte Carlo casino, including its
With its excellent central location on the Vegas Strip, Park MGM offers guests direct access to what is quickly becoming the city’s premier entertainment district, featuring the T-Mobile Arena, The Park, and Park Theater, which most recently houses the Las Vegas residencies of both Lady Gaga and Janet Jackson. Merchandise for both concerts can be found on-site at the hotel.
The Park MGM has 2,700 guestrooms and suites, intended to give off a residential feel. There are three distinctive guest suite types: Nighthawk, Nightingale, and Skylark. The Peacock Hospitality Suite features 700 square feet of social and entertainment space with an adjoining guest room.
We stayed in a beautiful King bedroom and could not have been happier with the accommodations. Immediately upon entering the room, we noticed the residential feel, complete with a lovely and comfortable window seat overlooking the swimming pool complex. The fresh bathroom offered a spacious walk-in shower. There are bedside outlets for phones and computers, blackout shades, a laptop-sized electronic in-room safe, a hair dryer, a television with cable and movie service, high-speed Wi-Fi, and both self-check-in and mobile check-out. We would gladly return to this hotel for another stay.
natural light and punctuated by nature-inspired décor and art, Park MGM’s lobby
is a nod to urban gardens and parks, including the adjacent Park neighborhood,
bringing the outdoors inside. A dramatic arboreal sculpture by Brazilian
woodworker Henrique Oliveira is the focal point of the lobby. The remarkable
tree sculpture extends from above with its roots stretching across the ceiling.
Throughout the lobby, guests are invited to explore intriguing works by the
likes of David Hockney, Shahram Karimi and Shoja Azari, and many others.
rooms evoke the essence of a private apartment with a mix of thoughtful touches,
antique-inspired pieces, “found” objects and original artwork by artists and
photographers from around the world commissioned for each room by France’s
Moneyline brings a new twist to the Las Vegas sports book with intertwining spaces that playfully transport guests to their favorite neighborhood hangouts. Among the duckpin bowling lanes and billiards games, Moneyline features a menu conceptualized by Hogsalt Hospitality with griddled cheeseburgers as well as self-service, weigh-and-pay food selections for guests wanting to personalize their game day feast.
Park MGM’s remodeled casino floor reflects the resort’s outdoor inspiration. In keeping with Sydell Group’s vision for maintaining key elements of the former space, the casino’s design contains subtle nods to its Monte Carlo roots, including the refined sparkling chandeliers, intricate crown molding and stained-glass ceiling, all of which have been refurbished to their original beauty.
With its unrivaled central location, Park MGM offers guests direct access to what is quickly becoming the city’s premier entertainment district, featuring T-Mobile Arena, The Park and Park Theater.
Park MGM gladly offers dog-friendly rooms as well, complete with doggie Butler services.
POOL EXPERIENCE: The pools at Park MGM offer a highly relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of the Vegas Strip. There are three pools—the South, East, and North Pools—as well as 12 cabanas, lounge areas, multiple bars, and a spa. Poolside food and beverages can be delivered directly to your seat as you take in the sun.
A nice feature of all three pools is the Baja shelf seating with submerged wet decks, which allows visitors to sunbathe while still managing to stay cool. The East Pool is converted into a 21-plus experience on weekends. Those seeking an elevated experience can reserve cushioned chaises or daybeds by the pool.
Three bars offer refreshing poolside cocktails,
with Vista Bar serving as the main pool bar, featuring a tropics-inspired
beverage program and dedicated seating with a view overlooking the pool. Light
bites include dishes ranging from a Watermelon & Arugula Salad to Fajita
Twelve private cabanas serve up the VIP treatment with deluxe amenities, including a 55-inch LED television; a misting system for when the heat becomes too much to bear; a personal safe; and ample seating with plush cushions, lounges and umbrellas. Cabana guests can enjoy a variety of beverages, including large-format bottle service and fresh, summery food. The pool area is wheelchair accessible.
DINING OUT AT THE PARK MGM:The Park MGMboasts a wide selection of restaurants for any Las Vegas palette.
The dining highlight of Park MGM is without a doubt Eataly Las Vegas (https://www.eataly.com/us_en/stores/las-vegas), a 40,000-square-foot culinary destination found at Park MGM’s main entrance. Eataly is a vibrant space that transports you to the streets of Italy, featuring unique food counters, bars, and cafes, all helmed by Executive Chef Nicole Brisson.
A fascinating aspect of the Eataly experience is referred to as Cucina
del Mercato, which translates to “Kitchen of the Market.” Meet, fish, cheese,
as well as other delicacies, can be purchased as is and cooked at home, or can
be cooked in front of your eyes at each individual restaurant. Six different
fresh counters are available for visitors.
La Macelleria (Butcher & Kitchen) allows guests to choose any cut of sustainably sourced meat from the case and watch the chefs prepare it right before their eyes. Alternatively, they may bring it home to coo themselves. A small selection of Italian wines and beers are available to pair with each cut.
La Salumeria: Cheesemonger & Kitchen, guests can enjoy a selection of meat and cheese boards curated by Eataly’s cheesemongers, or create their own from a variety of options. La Pizzeria: Roman Handcrafted Pizza alla Pala, allows guests to pick up pizza alla pala, a Roman street. This type of pizza is stretched out on a wooden paddle and then topped with seasonal ingredients. La Pescheria: Fishmonger & Kitchen, features a seasonal selection of fish. The venue also provides guests with the option to select daily catches and watch chefs cook the specialty item just steps away in an open kitchen. La Pescheria carries a daily selection of seasonal oysters, as well as pesce crudo – Italian ceviche – served with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt.
Italian Street Food is also a staple found at Eataly in the form of a countertop, which includes Il Fritto, La Rosticceria, and a Mozzarella Bar. All three serve up typical street food specialties from Italy. Il Fritto offers lightly fried bites, including arancini and fried seafood; La Rosticceria, serves rotisserie roast chickens, seasonal vegetables, and paninis; Mozzarella Bar speaks for itself. La Pasta Fresca: Market & Kitchen is a fresh pasta counter. Here guests can watch the pasta-makers knead, roll, and cut the pasta daily. Each pasta type is inspired by the traditions of a different Italian region and is paired with traditional sauces made from fresh, seasonal ingredients.
Eataly Las Vegas also
features a robust bar program, including Italian cocktails and spirits as well
as a selection of Italian wines in the US. One of these bars, Gran Caffè Milano,
also features a replica of a famous bull mosaic from Milan on the ground.
Casino-goers: this symbol is known to bring good luck to those who place one
foot on the mosaic and spin counter-clockwise three times. Give it a try!
Guests also can enjoy
two classic restaurants from Eataly in Las Vegas: Manzo and La Pizza e La Pasta.
We visited La Pizza e La Pasta personally and enjoyed a delicious burrata
cheese plate, followed by a traditional Napoletana-style pizza.
options are possible from Pizza Alla Pala By the Slice and La Pasticceria
(pastry shop). Enjoy a traditional Italian coffee from Caffé Lavazza or sample
dessert options from Il Gelato, I Cannoli, Nutella Bar, or Il Cioccolato
Before leaving, take a look at the Eataly Las Vegas marketplace and gift shop, where in addition to giftable items, visitors can also take home pasta, grains, sauces, and other items imported from Italy. This experience is completely wheelchair accessible.
Other Eataly locations
can be seen in New York City (Downtown and Flatiron), Los Angeles, Chicago, and
Boston, which locations in Toronto and Dallas opening soon.
The talented culinary team uses fresh seafood and
vegetables to highlight menu items. With a distinctively residential feel, the
restaurant includes a series of cushioned seats, each with different patterns.
While Primrose offers dinner selections as well, as
were quite impressed with their brunch offerings, including classics like three
eggs any style but also featuring an eggs benedict topped with blue crab. Those
interested in a boozy brunch can add on an all-you-can-drink option of mimosas
($29) or rosé ($35).
Primrose was undoubtedly the perfect way to begin our day before relaxing at the pool next door. Access to and seating at standard tables are suited for wheelchairs.
AT BEST FRIEND: Los
Angeles culinary legend Roy Choi debuted his Koreatown-inspired restaurant,
Best Friend (https://parkmgm.mgmresorts.com/en/restaurants/best-friend.html),
at the Park MGM. Having now experienced it myself, I can say that Best Friend
is more than simply a tasty meal—it is a dining experience!
Entering Best Friend, you would not think it to be anything special. In fact, it appears more like a convenience store with a small bar at the back than a true restaurant. However, behind the vinyl red curtains near the cash lies the true restaurant, hidden from the prying eyes of those in the nearby hotel-casino.
The drink menu includes offerings of wine and sake, as well as both classic cocktails and 80s-inspired drinks, including the Fazzy Navel, which we very much enjoyed at the start of our meal. We also tasted what our waiter described as some of their most popular dishes, including the tasty Kogi shirt-rib tacos, their mixed tempura appetizer, and the garlic jidori chicken BBQ, all of which were delicious. The menu, however, is diverse enough to satisfy any culinary preferences.
SAKE ROK: One of the restaurants we really wanted to try on this trip
was Sake Rok (https://sakeroklv.com), located at The Park complex directly across
the street from Park MGM. Sake Rok combines Japan’s vibrant pop culture and
fashion scene with over-the-top theatrics. A host calls out to people as they
eat, joking around, encouraging them to down their sake bombs, and occasionally
belting out a tune.
The menu boasts a
variety of playful Japanese favorites: we started off with some edamame before
trying an appetizer order of beef satay, the volcano sushi roll, and an order
of the miso-glazed sea bass. For dessert, we tasted a unique dessert entitled
“honey toast”. Other newer menu items include pork belly, shrimp risotto, and
the ronin roll, which is a fried sushi roll.
Sake Rok now offers sushi rolling classes led by Executive Chef Sung Park, with packages starting at $150 per person or $250 per couple on Saturdays at 12 PM and 2 PM. Those enrolled in the class will be able to take home what they make For more information, or to see the full menu, visit the website at www.sakeroklv.com or call 702-706-3022.
AT THE BELLAGIO: Inspired
by the beautiful villages of Europe, the AAA Five Diamond Bellagio Resort &
Casino overlooks a large lake, in which the iconic fountain shows take place
daily and nightly at regular intervals.
“We are taking everything great about Sadelle’s
in New York and taking it to the next level in Las Vegas,” said Major Food
Group Managing Partner Jeff Zalaznick. “The incredible space, overlooking the
Bellagio Conservatory, along with an elevated menu focused on quintessential
classics, allow us to create a one-of-a-kind culinary experience from early
morning through late night”.
Throughout the day and night,
impressive presentations of hand-rolled bagels, lox towers, chopped salads,
sandwiches and other favorites can be ordered.
Mainstays from the original New York City location – such as the Spicy Fried Chicken with acacia honey and coleslaw – join new signature supper offerings created by the culinary team, including the Grilled Branzino with Meyer lemon and sesame spinach and a New York-style Ribeye with smothered onions. We very much enjoyed the tomato cream soup appetizer, as well as the tuna tartare, followed by the generously sized and flavorful garlic chicken.
The Sadelle’s dining space also includes
an elevated bar and lounge, with spacious cocktail tables to accommodate
guests seeking appetizers, bar snacks, or drinks.
The restaurant is open for
breakfast, lunch, and dinner Monday through Sunday from 6 a.m. to midnight. To
make reservations for 10 or more, call Sadelle’s directly at (702) 693-8401.
TAO: Having previously experienced the restaurant TAO in New York City, we were thrilled to get a reservation at their 40,000-square-foot restaurant, located at the Venetian-Resort-Hotel Casino (www.taolasvegas.com). TAO opened in New York City in 2000 and has retained its status as a hot spot, attracting celebrities and sports figures alike. TAO Las Vegas, which debuted in 2005, is a multi-faceted and multi-story “Asian City”, which houses a restaurant, banquet facilities, a lounge, a nightclub and a seasonal beach.
extensive collection of Buddha statues watch over every corner of TAO,
including a unique reclining Buddha, and TAO’s signature 20-foot Buddha that
“floats” peacefully above an infinity pool complete with Japanese koi fish.
Corporate Executive Chef Ralph Scamardella has developed a menu for the 400-seat restaurant, which incorporates culinary components from China, Japan and Thailand. During our visit, we tasted several appetizer offerings, including the spicy tuna tartare on crispy rice, the king crab California sushi roll, and the lobster and shrimp spring roll paired with spicy pineapple sauce. Next, we had one of their signature dishes (and our personal favorite!), the Chilean sea bass satay with wok-roasted asparagus and a miso glaze. TAO also offers an extensive menu of delicious specialty cocktails, including the TAO-tini, Lychee Martini, as well as sake flights specifically designed to complement TAO’s menu. For dessert, try their elaborate and large fortune cookie, which includes decadent milk chocolate and white chocolate mousse.
For those craving a high-energy, DJ-driven atmosphere, visit the 12,000 square-foot TAO Nightclub, which includes three full-service bars, two main rooms playing a variety of music genres, and state-of-the-art audio and lighting systems. For guests seeking ultra-VIP treatment, the nightclub offers eight private skyboxes. The nightclub also boasts a 40-foot outside terrace with awe-inspiring views of the famed Las Vegas Strip.
weather heats up, TAO Beach offers the hottest daytime experience in Las Vegas.
Guests can secure a reservation to lounge poolside in one of twelve luxury
cabanas that feature amenities such as air-conditioning, HD plasma screen
televisions with gaming consoles, WiFi, and customized mini-bars.
sightings are a constant at TAO and surprise performances are not uncommon.
Notable names spotted at TAO over the years have included Madonna, Janet
Jackson, Jay Z, Beyonce, Usher, Rihanna, Drake, and more.
TAO is located on the Grand Canal Shoppes level of Venetian at 3377 Las Vegas Boulevard South. It is fully wheelchair accessible. In addition, TAO conveniently offers guests an exclusive valet located directly in front of The Venetian. For more information or reservations, please call (702) 388-8588.
EXPLORING THE POOLS: During our trip, we took the time to explore
some of the other MGM properties in Las Vegas by spending some time at their
The Aria Resort and Casino (https://aria.mgmresorts.com/en.html) opened in December 2009. This is a stunning AAA Five Diamond resort on The Strip featuring spectacular amenities, high-end service, premium meeting and convention space, striking architecture and sustainable design. Combined with its unparalleled offerings including the first-of-its-kind public Fine Art Collection, The Aria sets the bar for a new generation of resort experiences. ARIA is located within CityCenter
As for their pool
complex, it features the only ellipse-shaped pools in Las Vegas. For added privacy
and amenities, guests can reserve one of a fleet of cabanas where Wi-Fi, shaded
dining tables, and food and drink service are available. Visitors can also
order poolside beverages and meals via the Breeze Café and Pool Bar, which features
a wide menu of dishes and drinks. It was truly a beautiful and relaxing way to
spend the day.
The other MGM
pool that we had the pleasure of experiencing during our trip was the Mandalay
and we were truly blown away by what this property had to offer. The Mandalay
Beach features an 11-acre
tropical water environment, featuring more than 2,700 tons of sand, a signature 1.6-million-gallon
wave pool, a lazy
river, four swimming pools, a jogging track, as well as private gazeboes,
cabanas and beach bungalows. The open-air Beach Bar & Grill serves up American cuisine,
such as sandwiches, wraps, adult beverages, and other beach favorites. Over
the summer, you can also take in a concert series held on its outdoor stages,
which overlooks the wave pool. Past acts have included One Republic, REO
Speedwagon, The Beach Boys, Sugarland, and more.
Resort and Casino is set on 120 lush acres featuring the Beach, The Mandalay
Bay Events Center, award-winning restaurants, exhilarating entertainment,
unique shopping, Shark Reef Aquarium and the recently expanded
2-million-square-foot Mandalay Bay Convention Center. The resort offers three
distinct hotel experiences: Mandalay Bay with 3,211 luxurious rooms and suites
reflecting a modern tropical ambiance; Four Seasons Hotel, a AAA Five Diamond
hotel offering 424 rooms and suites; and the luxury all-suite Delano Las
are many reasons to travel to New York City, but one most unique to the city’s
soul is the extensive list of amazing Broadway musicals found at the heart of
THE CHER SHOW: Legendary recording artist Cher, born
Cherilyn Sarkisian, launched her “Farewell Tour” in 2002 but has continued to
perform to this very day.
Broadway’s The Cher Show, wrapping up its run on August 18, 2019 chronicles the evolution of Cher’s career from young elementary school outcast, to half of a comedy duo, to the diva she is known to be today. We saw it at the Neil Simon Theatre (250 West 52nd Street). It will be revived on tour starting in Rochester, NY on October 2020.
Cher’s story is one so complex and
empowering that one woman alone cannot tell it—Cher is therefore portrayed by
not one but three women who play her at different stages of her life. As the
eldest, Star Cher, Stephanie J. Block (Falsettos,
The Mystery of Edwin Drood), is an absolute standout. Block, a Broadway
veteran, commands the stage with gravitas. It is easy to see why she finally
won her first Tony Award for this role earlier this summer. Playing the
youngest, Babe Cher, is Micaela Diamond, making an incredible Broadway debut at
age 19. Diamond sings and dances her way through the score of Cher classics
with ease, making it clear that she will soon become a staple on the Broadway
stage. Rounding out the trio is Teal Wicks (Wicked,
Finding Neverland), who holds her own as Lady Cher, who many of you grew to
love as half of Sonny and Cher.
The trio of Chers do not simply alternate
performances—they co-exist. They converse with one another, encouraging each
other through their most difficult of moments. The lead actresses, in an
interview with Jimmy Fallon, aptly described it as “Cherapy”.
The show also features fantastic performances by Jarrod Spector (Beautiful, Jersey Boys) as Sonny Bono, Michael Berresse (Kiss Me, Kate; A Chorus Line) as Bob Mackie, Matthew Hydzik (West Side Story, Side Show) as Gregg Allman, and Emily Skinner (Prince of Broadway, Side Show) as Cher’s mother.The show begins with one of Cher’s most well-known hits, “If I could turn back time,” and that is exactly what comes next: a flashback to her climb to the top. As you watch Cher’s life unfold before your eyes, you will find yourself understanding her in ways that you never have before.
One of the best features of The Cher Show is the
costume design by Bob Mackie himself, who won his first Tony Award for this
show. One song features a parade of men and women alike, showcasing some of
Cher’s most famous red carpet ensembles. Suffice it to say that glitter is
Although The Cher Show will soon close (catch it
while you can!), it will carry on with the tour.
Special needs: Low vision and hard of hearing seats are located to the
right of the central row C and to the left of the right row B (Orchestra). Aisle
transfer seats with movable arm rests for limited mobility guests are available
in the right and left aisles of rows G, J, P, and S of the Orchestra floor, and
F and H of the Mezzanine, with two additional seats available in the aisle of
the center row T at the rear of the Mezzanine. Wheelchair accessible seating
and companion seats are located in the entirety of the left of row V (Orchestra),
and additional seats at the left of center and right row U. For any special
access seating or other requirements, contact the venue prior to your visit to
ensure your individual needs are met.
Tickets for The Cher Show are currently available at TheCherShowBroadway.com or Ticketmaster.com (877-250-2929). HADESTOWN: While in town, we also were fortunate enough to get tickets for Hadestown, Broadway’s newest hit musical which took home eight Tony Awards in June. Hadestown tells the epic ancient Greek myths of both Orpheus/Eurydice, the doomed young lovers, and Hades/Persephone, king and queen of the underworld. Narrated by the Greek God Hermes and featuring a New Orleans-like flavor, this musical is sure to leave you absolutely transfixed. “Life is a team sport, and so is walking out of hell” said Anais Mitchell, the show’s songwriter, when she won Best Score at this past year’s Tony Awards for her work on Hadestown. Info: https://www.hadestown.com
FEINSTEINS/54 BELOW: Die-hard Broadway fans have
undoubtedly already heard of Feinstein’s/54 Below, Broadway’s premiere Supper
Club (https://54below.com). At the peak of Times Square, this fantastic
establishment offers performances by the best talent that Broadway has to offer,
in a setting quite reminiscent of a speakeasy, where you can enjoy performances
in a more relaxed environment, alongside food and drink offerings.
In June of 2012, the club opened
under the name 54 Below. The space underwent a complete reinvention by multiple
Tony Award-winning producers Tom Viertel, Marc Routh, Richard Frankel and Steve
Baruch (Hairspray, The Producers), who brought together Broadway’s and
New York’s most creative artists and designers as well as top food and
hospitality professionals. On September 17, 2015, through a creative
partnership with Michael Feinstein, 54 Below was renamed Feinstein’s/54 Below.
Feinstein’s/54 Below features up to
three shows nightly as well as a late night lounge. Accommodating 134 people in
the main dining room, with all tables no more than 24 feet from the stage, the
facilities include the capability to broadcast and record audio and video. A
quick YouTube search will allow you to witness some of their incredible past
When I went to Feinstein’s/54 Below
for the first time, I took in a performance entitled “All Together Now:
Celebrating Broadway’s Best Group Numbers”. Music came from a variety of musicals,
both old and new, including Company, Bye Bye Birdie, Heathers, and You’re a
Good Man, Charlie Brown.
included those known for their work in recent and current productions,
including School of Rock, Kinky Boots, Aladdin, Pretty Woman, Frozen,
Beetlejuice, Be More Chill, The Phantom of the
Opera, The Book of Mormon, Mean Girls and more.
Feinstein’s/54 Below is located at 254 W 54th St. For tickets and info call (646) 476-3551
Headed to New York City (https://www.nycgo.com) and the Manhattan area? Here are our latest tips on where to dine.
IL MULINO: For our family vacations in Sunny Isles, Florida in years past one of our favorite dining establishments was Il Mulino New York at the Aqualina Resort. “I wonder what the New York City experience is like?” I always asked myself. Well on this trip we finally found out and it did not disappoint us. Our destination was Il Mulino Prime in Gramercy (https://www.ilmulino.com/prime/gramercy), located at 43 E 20th Street.
steakhouse and Italian restaurant features inspired cuisine and choice cuts by
Executive Chef Michele Mazza. Located in the heart of Gramercy-Flatiron, Il
Mulino Prime embraces the signature style and unparalleled service attributed
to the success of Il Mulino New York. Savor prime dry-aged meats and inspired
Italian cuisine at a modern Italian steakhouse. Sun-dappled by day and
sophisticated by night, Il Mulino Prime is a versatile venue that is easily
customized for any crowd or occasion. The dining room can accommodate 50
We were greeted by the manager on duty Roland. He immediately introduced us to our very charismatic server named Stefano, who knows a great deal about Canada.
A nice plate of crackers, cheese, focaccia and cold cuts was brought to the table to get things started. Roland handed us the wine list and we decided to share a bottle of pino grigio. As appetizers, we had two orders of delicious tuna tartare with avocado and chips, some jumbo shrimp and an order of burrata and tomato and crab cakes with zesty garlic sauce. For the main course, the ladies remembered how much they enjoyed the risotto langostino from the Florida location and for them this was the only option. They were pleased with their choice. As for me, it was the veal chop Milanese, topped with a light arugula salad that got my attention. Stefano said it was a house favorite. It was thin and crispy the way I like it and cut like butter. I savored every morsel.
Next time we will consider some of the other much-talked-about dishes: grilled octopus, calamari, prime filet mignon and Bucatini Amatriciana.
For dessert. Roland asked if he could surprise us and he did with a sensational plate that included cheesecake, chocolate cake and tiramisu. For a final nightcap, we each had a glass of limoncello, an Italian lemon liqueur that had a very sweet taste to it.
in Greenwich Village in 1981, Il Mulino New York originated as an intimate and
esteemed eatery serving local foodies in the know. Today, it has grown to 17
locales which attract “A” list celebrities and dignitaries.
Il Mulino New York focuses on the authentic cuisine of Abruzzo and serves expertly crafted dishes with unparalleled service. For more than 38 years, its flagship Greenwich Village restaurant remains top-rated in New York’s dining scene. The premier hospitality group portfolio also has outposts via its different brands Downtown, Uptown, Tribeca, the Hamptons and Long Island in New York as well as Las Vegas, Puerto Rico, Sunny Isles Beach, Atlantic City, Boca Raton, Nashville and Orlando.
There is also an Il Mulino New York gourmet product line, which offers items such as sauces, pasta, infused olive oils, and more (ilmulino.com/shopnow ). In Canada, they are available at the four Pusateri’s Fine Foods (www.pusateris.com) stores in Toronto.
Jerry Katzoff is the chairman of Il Mulino; his wife Lee serves as vice president and Brian Galligan is the president. They describe Il Mulino Prime as an Italian steakhouse that has been so popular that they are now opening one in Chicago and looking to expand that brand, which features some Il Mulino New York classics but with a bigger slant on steaks.
recommended by calling 212 777 5314.
DEL FRISCO’S DOUBLE EAGLE STEAKHOUSE: One of the restaurants very high on our list for this trip was Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse (www.delfriscos.com). We had previously dined at this energetic, luxurious three-story restaurant, located at 1221 Avenue of the Americas, three years ago and we were anxious to return.
Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, with 16
locations across the United States, is an ultra-premium steakhouse providing a
distinguished dining experience with personalized service in a breathtaking
atmosphere, offering bold, delicious fare complimented by an expansive,
award-winning wine list. Boasting a vast selection of USDA Prime wet and
dry-aged steaks such as the 45 Day Dry-Aged Double Bone-In Prime Ribeye “Double
Eagle Steak,” modern takes on fresh seafood, signature side dishes and
mouth-watering desserts, the one-of-a-kind menu distinguishes Del Frisco’s as
an American culinary institution. Each restaurant features an impressive wine
list curated in-house by teams of the industry’s finest sommeliers and are
perennial winners of the Wine Spectator “Best of Award of Excellence.”
The New York location can accommodate more than 500 people at a time. The 18,000-square-foot restaurant boasts floor-to-ceiling windows with breathtaking views of Sixth Avenue, truly bringing midtown Manhattan to life for every diner as Radio City Music Hall’s lights shine brightly in the distance. Our table faced the Fox News building. As a new junkie, it was unique to see the latest headlines flash across the screen on the facility’s façade. The restaurant is often packed with the city’s broadcast, business and sports elite and is an ideal locale for visitors looking for a top-notch dining experience before or after a Broadway show.
Our server Stephanie was excellent, providing us with superb guidance for both the food and drink menus. Two members of our party started off with their signature VIP cocktail, Svedka Clementine Vodka infused with fresh Hawaiian pineapple. I treated myself to a glass of prosecco.
For the appetizers, we shared the shellfish plateau: Chilled Alaskan King Crab Legs, Iced Jumbo Shrimp and Chilled Crab Claws. We added six delicious oysters to the order. This was a meal to itself. Next camea Caprese salad, a simple Italian salad made of sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and green basil, seasoned with salt and olive oil. It closely resembles the colours of the Italian flag: red, white and green. This was easily split in three.
Since Del Frisco’s is known for its fantastic steaks, that is what we wanted to sample. Stephanie recommended the bone in the filet and the bone in the prime rib eye. As sides, she suggested we try the Cauliflower and Brie au gratin and the sautéed wild mushrooms and pearl onions. She was right on the mark. For our meal, the sommelier brought us a bottle of Chablis.
left just enough room to enjoy their fabulous lemon cake split in three for
Del Frisco’s Steakhouse also recently unveiled new menu updates to appeal to guests’ modernized palates and now offers a refreshed take on the restaurant’s classic steakhouse fare. In addition to staples such as rare cuts of wet-aged steaks and fresh seafood, the menu now includes a variety of elevated classics including Wagyu Beef French Dip, Lobster Roll and Sautéed Chicken Picatta, along with eclectic appetizers and sides like Seared Rare Wagyu Beef Carpaccio, Crab Fried Rice and Thick Cut Bacon Au Poivre. It has a wine list of over 1,200 selections.
Del Frisco’s offers specials tailored to holidays like Valentine’s
Day, Christmas and Thanksgiving, as well as prix fixe menus to make things a
little simpler for everyone. If you’re planning a bigger gathering for holiday
celebrations, their private rooms can accommodate anything from a couple of
tables to 75 or 100 people, with amenities like a separate bar, dedicated
service, flat-screen TVs and other niceties. All it takes is a phone call to
one of their coordinators, and they’ll be happy to set you up with whatever
your holiday plans might entail.
Recently Del Frisco’s refreshed its bar offerings nationwide. Inspired by creative, culinary twists on their classic menu offerings and guest favorites, the new menu is now available at all U.S. locations and features carefully-curated and hand-crafted menu offerings, five of which are available at all restaurants and three of which are distinctly unique to each location. The localized dishes were masterfully created by each restaurant’s executive chef, bringing flavors of their communities to life with flair and sophistication.
The new bar menu features the following dishes, available at all locations: cheesesteak eggrollswith sweet chili and honey mustard sauces; dry-aged burger with white BBQ sauce, wild mushroom butter, arugula, Havarti, toasted brioche bun and hand-cut fries; salmon crudo comprised of ora king salmon with lime and miso; Alaskan king crab cocktail, served with stone mustard sauce; and corndog battered lobster tails with grilled corn remoulade and creole honey mustard
Examples of localized dishes include: shaved black truffle wagyu hot bog served with foie gras, apple balsamic chutney and pickled daikon slaw (New York City); tempura shrimp sushi cones, made with sticky rice, avocado, pea shoots and ponzu (Atlanta); portabella lump crab stack with avocado, pickled shallots and sweet soy aioli (Las Vegas); lamb lollipops accompanied by fennel arugula slaw and cucumber dill yogurt sauce (Orlando); and oyster po’ boy featuring Cajun mayo, Fresno peppers and hand-cut fries (Charlotte).
Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse presents chef-driven cuisine
that’s bold and delicious as well as an extensive award-winning wine list. Each
restaurant, while consistently offering a personalized and memorable
experience, features its own distinctive setting, décor and character.
You can call 212-575-5129 for reservations.
OCEAN PRIME: If you are looking for one of the best seafood and steak restaurants in New York, Ocean Prime at 123 West 52nd Street should be at the top of the list. Located in the heart of Manhattan, Ocean Prime (https://www.ocean-prime.com) sits amongst world-class museums, theatres and corporate headquarters. Centrally located, it offers an impressive menu of seafood and prime cuts of steak, signature cocktails, a Wine Spectator-honored wine list and truly genuine hospitality.
Spanning 7,400 square feet and a 2,500 square-foot mezzanine, Ocean Prime seats more than 275 guests and features private dining rooms to accommodate more intimate gatherings and celebrations. An expansive seasonal terrace seats 50 guests to enjoy al fresco dining. The bar and lounge area is a welcoming, relaxing space for guests to enjoy expertly created cocktails handcrafted by talented bar chefs, while a separate sushi bar showcases the freshest, most delicate and impeccably sourced fish, providing a total seafood experience.
place only opened in 2015 and quickly gained a reputation for excellence.
A modern American restaurant and lounge, Ocean Prime falls under the umbrella of renowned restaurateur Cameron Mitchell. There are currently 16 locations from coast to coast, with the original, Mitchell’s Ocean Club, in their home base of Columbus, Ohio.
The restaurant specializes in
incredible seafood and prime steaks. Their menu features classic dishes crafted
with a modern sensibility and an appreciation for ingredients. With lighter
fare, like their shellfish cobb salad and sushi, as well as more indulgent
items like the smoking shellfish tower, juicy steaks and decadent desserts,
there’s something for every occasion.
This place’s passion is to offer
exceptional service and truly genuine hospitality to each and every guest.
Our server was Giscard and he guided us beautifully through the superb menu selections. We each started off with some glasses of wine and then indulged in a spectacular selection of Dutch Harbor King crab legs and six delicious oysters. In addition, we shared some sushi in the form of a lobster roll – poached lobster tail, kiwi, pickled serrano, masago and spicy mango. It had been a while since I enjoyed a bowl of lobster bisque and this piping-hot option truly hit the spot. The two ladies chose wisely with the sea scallops for their main course, accompanied by parmesan risotto, English peas and citrus vinaigrette. I was in a steak kind of mood and when Giscard described the bone in filet, dry-aged for 28 days, it sounded perfect. This was one fantastic cut of steak as others around the table concurred when sampling some pieces. I added some lobster mashed potatoes on the side, something I do not get to sample on each menu. One of the managers, Evan Walcher, came by and tempted our palate with one of their signature desserts – the warm butter cake with fresh berries, vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce. It was the perfect way to end a fabulous dinner.
A special pre-show theatre menu is available Tuesday through Saturday from 4 pm to 6 pm and all night Sunday. There are also gluten-free friendly menus for lunch and dinner.
For reservations call (212) 956-1404.
PATSY’S: A few years ago I made my first visit to Patsy`s Italian Restaurant (http://www.patsys.com) and boy was I impressed. On the occasion of their recent 75th anniversary, I was invited back to the iconic 235 West 56th Street location and I jumped at the opportunity.
Only a few short blocks from Times Square, this legendary Midtown Manhattan spot had been known for years as Frank Sinatra’s restaurant of choice and has become a favorite with countless stars including Al Pacino, Alec Baldwin, Ben Stiller, George and Amal Clooney, David Letterman, Oprah Winfrey and Jennifer Lopez, to name a few.
in 1944 by Pasquale “Patsy” Scognamillo, Patsy’s has been in its current and
only theater district location (in the building next to the original site)
since 1954. Over the course of 75 years, Patsy’s Italian Restaurant has had
only three chefs; the late Patsy himself, his son Joe Scognamillo, who has been
at the establishment since the tender age of seven, and Joe’s son Sal
Scognamillo, who has been manning the kitchen for the past 32 years.
Sal makes it a point to meet with all of the customers, so many of whom are regulars. “The fact that the owner, the family is still here, it means a lot to a lot of people,” he said. “That’s how Patsy always wanted it, and that’s how it’s always been. We treat people as if they were in our homes. Grandma and Grandpa said, ‘This is the food we cook at home, [just] a bigger kitchen, a bigger dining room. Just take care of the people.’”
The 75th anniversary has attracted a slew of celebrity guests. The cast of Jersey Shore was there just a few days before me.
Sal came to my table twice during the evening. I remembered his warmth vividly from my previous visit. He runs such a superb establishment. Sal is a proud owner. While his 87-year-old dad still comes in regularly, he is preparing for the next generation. His eldest son Joseph is working at the restaurant and showed me to my table. Sal and his wife, who gave up her law practice to join the team at Patsy’s, live on Long Island. Sal comes in almost every day, working a 10 am to 11 pm shift, and loves every minute of it. He spends the early hours in the kitchen and during the evening works the two floors and mixes with the customers. The restaurant can seat 180 people and with its lunch and pre-theatre specials, is busy all of the time.
Patsy’s attracts a varied clientele, including an extremely loyal following of regular patrons, Italian food aficionados, tourists, and celebrities. They enjoy the restaurant’s remarkable signature dishes, including succulent veal chops Siciliano, spicy lobster Fra Diavolo, tender chicken contadina, and savory calamari stuffed with seafood. Spectacular seafood such as striped bass marechiare, lobster oreganata, and shrimp scampi are always requested, as are meat favorites like sirloin steak pizzaiola with peppers and mushrooms, stuffed veal chop marsala, and chicken livers cacciatora.
I was dining alone this evening, as other members of the family enjoyed a show nearby. My server Adriano gave me time to review the appetizing menu. I started off with a glass of prosecco and an order of fried calamari, with some delicious marinara sauce on the side. I followed that up with a magnificent chopped salad. It was as good as I remembered from the last time. For the main course, there were so many options. I looked at the signature dishes and elected to go with the veal rollatine marsala, stuffed with parmigiana, ano–reggianoand prosciutto. It was sautéed with onions, mushrooms, prosciutto and marsala. Adriano brought me some fried zucchini sticks on the side, shaped just like French fries. I was pretty full after this absolute treat of a meal so with time on my hands I took a 30-minute break until Vinny passed by with the dessert cart. The chocolate mousse cake was screaming my name out and I absolutely could not resist the temptation. I finished every last decadent morsel, with some decaf to drink. Sal came by again to make sure I enjoyed my meal.
I was glad that I had a nine-block walk to meet up with my family, for I needed some exercise after this very special dining experience.
For more information call (212) 247-3491 or log on to www.patsys.com where you can view the entire menu. Sal wanted me to share with readers the fact this is “the only” Patsy’s Italian Restaurant in the world that his family runs. The temptation to the franchise might be there, but why mix it with perfection?
JUNIOR’S RESTAURANT: Hail a taxicab anywhere in New York City and tell the driver, “Take me to the best cheesecake in New York.” Odds are you will end up at one of the Junior’s Restaurant (www.juniorscheesecake.com) locations. There are two in New York City and one in Brooklyn, as well as another at the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut and a bakery outlet in New Jersey.
In June 2017 Junior’s opened its second Times Square location at 1626 Broadway and 49th Street just a few blocks away from its sister restaurant at 1515 Broadway. Known for its no-frills, diner-style comfort food, I got a much sought-after table at the newest Junior’s. There was a one-hour wait that evening.
Founded by Harry Rosen in 1950, Junior’s landmark restaurant is known as the home of New York’s best cheesecake. For decades, Brooklynites (and other New Yorkers) have come to eat, laugh, and kibitz (chat) over cheesecake. In the 1950s, an entire generation came of age at Juniors. Their cheesecake was as important as the Brooklyn Dodgers…the Fox Theatre.Coney Island…Brighton Beach. Today loyal customers still come –from all over and all walks of life: famous mayors, Presidents, Hall of Fame athletes, authors, singers, movie stars and more.
With a full menu ranging from steaks to seafood and sandwiches to salads and cheesecake, there was a lot to choose from. I asked my server Gregory to guide me and he started me off with their trademark beverage: the chocolate egg cream, which consists of milk, carbonated water, and flavored syrup. You can even follow the recipe on the glass they pour it into. Gregory then brought me a piping hot bowl of matzoh ball soup. Given the fact this was my first time there he wanted me to try an old favorite: the single potato pancake with apple sauce. This is one big latka, crispy and delicious. I knew I was going to have a sandwich and once again I turned to Gregory. There are four Reuben sandwiches and he insisted that the combo (corned beef and pastrami and grilled sauerkraut and swiss cheese on rye) was actually the best of its kind in all of Manhattan. For the finale, I could not leave without dessert and I opted for the devil’s food cheesecake. It was half cheesecake and half of the most decadent chocolate I have ever tasted. This was a piece meant for at least two people so I forced myself to stop at a certain point. At the table next to me, a dad ordered a huge piece of cheesecake for his seven-year-old daughter. He took out a $50 bill and said that it was hers if she finished it. She tried and about halfway through grabbed the money and wisely did not consume the entire piece.
Junior’s story began long before Opening Day in 1950. In 1929, Harry Rosen opened a restaurant on the corner of Flatbush Ave Ext and DeKalb, a luncheonette called the Enduro. Over the years, he expands the restaurant to several storefronts occupying the entire corner. After weathering several changes in the economy, including Prohibition and the Great Depression, Harry expanded the Enduro to a full-service restaurant with a night-club atmosphere including a raised bandstand with live entertainment.
After World War II, the returning servicemen did not have time
or interest in visiting nightclubs and fancy restaurants. Brooklynites were
busy rebuilding–their lives, their families, the city and the country after the
war. The Enduro closed its doors in 1949.
Rosen was determined to recreate a restaurant on that famous corner. It
was to be a new family-style place. Saddled by debt with the failure of
the Enduro, he scraped together every dime he had and built Junior’s
Restaurant, named in honor of his two sons, Walter and Marvin.
When Junior’s opened on Election Day in 1950, it was a modern restaurant in every way–with new neon marquee sign similar to the one on the Paramount Theater across the street, wood countertops and naugahyde booths. Junior’s had become a landmark from the start with bright orange awnings adorning the windows and the red, white and blue bunting that draped the restaurant on that famous Tuesday in November 1950.
Junior’s in the 1960s was a place where all colors of people in all styles of dress could gather without tension. Good food and good service became the great equalizer. Harry was a keen competitor and when it came to cheesecake he was determined to have the Best in Brooklyn. Baker Peterson and Harry perfected a cheesecake recipe by the 1960s that had become a very popular dessert. They conducted laboratory-like experiments until they hit upon the magic formula. The same recipe and techniques they still use today.
What would a visit to Las
Vegas be like without spending some time at the famous Caesars Palace (https://www.caesars.com)?
As famous as Las Vegas itself, this spot is perhaps the best-known casino
resort in the world.
Caesars Palace spans
85-acres at the heart of the Las Vegas Strip, just 10-minutes from the McCarran
International Airport. Walking through the building allows you to experience
some of the beautiful architectural designs, inspired by ancient Rome. On this
trip, we were fortunate enough to enjoy a day at their pool, as well as a meal
at Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen.
Spanning five acres and offering access to seven distinct swimming
pools, the Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis at Caesars offers guests a variety of
engaging daytime experiences in a truly beautiful setting. At the heart of Caesar’s
Palace, the pool complex is situated on three levels and is filled with Roman
statues and fountains. Interested in a game of swim-up blackjack? Looking for a
relaxing poolside massage? There truly is a pool for everyone.
During our visit, we spent time on incredibly comfortable daybeds
at the Temple Pool. With umbrellas available for those who wish to stay in the
shade, and plenty of sun for those who do not, the pool truly is a breath of
fresh air. Daybed seats are located just steps from the pool, allowing for
quick and frequent refuge from the heat of Vegas in the summer. The quality of
poolside service at Caesar’s is incomparable—we enjoyed lunch by the pool,
including cocktails, grilled cheese sandwiches, and fruit bowls.
Other pools available include Cove Beach, which has a Mediterranean
vibe and high-energy music, the Neptune Pool, which includes DJs and large
floaties, and The Apollo Pool, offering a more casual atmosphere and poolside
games. Take your family to the Jupiter Pool, which has life-sized games, themed
floaties, and weekend activities for children. Finally, visit the Fortuna Pool
for the swim-up blackjack tables or the Bacchus Pool for a more VIP experience.
HELL’S KITCHEN: The world’s first
Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen Restaurant (www.GRHellsKitchenLV.com) is an experience like no other. Drawing
inspiration from the global hit reality television show starring world-renowned
Chef Gordon Ramsay, guests will feel like they really are on the studio set.
Located in front of Caesars Palace, the restaurant seats more than 300
guests. The Red and Blue kitchens, similar to the two teams featured on the TV
show, serve up modern lunch and dinner menus, including Hell’s Kitchen
signature dishes made with the highest quality ingredients.
Gordon Ramsay, known not only for his refined cuisine, but also his TV
personality on several hit programs including “Hell’s Kitchen,”
“MasterChef” and “Kitchen Nightmares,” has generated worldwide
attention and entertained viewers on six continents. By reputation alone, I was
certain that this would be an exceptional culinary experience, and I was
certainly not mistaken.
Inspiration from the television show is seen throughout the restaurant—the
giant signature fiery pitchfork located in front of the restaurant, the
life-sized video of Chef Ramsay greeting guests upon arrival, and of course,
the menu items themselves. The restaurant opened in January 2018.
Several of the most
successful signature menu items and recipes featured on the television show can
be experienced during lunch and dinner, including: Pan Seared Scallops, Lobster
Risotto, Beef Wellington, Truffle Arancini, Brick Pressed Chicken and Crispy
Skin Salmon. Special menu items direct from the show will be added as new
episodes air. We also ordered the absolutely delicious rack of lamb and filet
mignon. Not to be missed for dessert is the famous sticky toffee pudding—a true
A cocktail also worth
mentioning is the gin-based “Notes from Gordon”, which comes with a scroll
printed with a surprise note from Gordon Ramsay himself.
Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s
Kitchen marks Ramsay’s fifth Las Vegas restaurant and extends his successful
partnership with Caesars Entertainment to seven eateries. Hell’s Kitchen airs
in 41 countries around the globe.
IL MULINO: Our
family’s first experience with Il Mulino New York was at their Florida
location, found in the Aqualina Resort. We were therefore very much looking
forward to visiting this dining establishment again at The Forum Shops at
The best word to describe the dining
experience that accompanies every meal at Il Mulino New York is “elegance.”
Everything from the ambiance and décor to the quality of the service provided
fits within that one word.
Prior to receiving your menu, a cheese
steward delivers some delicious Grana Padano to the table. Following this, you
are also brought complimentary hors d’oeuvres and several offerings of Italian
bread. While there is great pleasure in taking your time in such a restaurant,
they also now offer Pre- and Post- Theatre menus, starting at $39 from 5 pm to
6:30 pm and 9:30 pm until closing on Sunday through Friday.
After enjoying some cheese, focaccia, and
Italian bread, we began our meal with two delicious appetizers: a burrata and
tomato salad, as well as breaded eggplant, stuffed with shrimp and lobster and
topped off with cheese and a creamy pink vodka sauce. For our main course, we
enjoyed the rack of lamb, as well as our personal favorite: Langostinos served
on a bed of mushroom risotto. For dessert, we enjoyed their tiramisu, perhaps
the best that we have ever had. The meal is completed with a small glass of limoncello.
Founded in Greenwich Village in 1981, Il Mulino New York originated as an intimate and esteemed eatery. Today, it has grown to 17 locales, with outposts in New York (Downtown, Uptown, Tribeca, the Hamptons, and Long Island), Las Vegas, Puerto Rico, Sunny Isles Beach, Atlantic City, and Boca Raton. They also offer Il Mulino Prime, a modern Italian steakhouse in the Soho and Gramercy neighborhoods in New York City. Trattoria Il Mulino offers casual, chic dining in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, found in Atlantic City, Nashville and Orlando.
The Broadway hit Be More Chill has been the “little show that could’” since its premiere almost four years ago at New Jersey’s Two River Theater. It ran in 2015 for only one month and its only legacy was a cast album. This was ultimately the spark that ignited a flame, turning the show from a regional theatre production into a viral sensation.
manner in which Be More Chill gained
its popularity, years after its brief regional production, is utterly
unprecedented. Prior to even opening on Broadway, the original cast album had
been streamed over 250 million times, with the show being the second-most
talked about musical on Tumblr, following only Hamilton.
Be More Chill, based on a 2004 novel of the same name by Ned Vizzini, tells the story of high school student Jeremy Heere, a self-proclaimed “loser” whose life is transformed when he spends his bar mitzvah money to buy a Squip, a pill that implants in his brain and teaches him how to be cool. Being popular, Jeremy learns, however, comes at a cost, which involves leaving behind his best friend and sacrificing his own moral code.
The show’s fan-favorite moment comes in the form of the song “Michael in the Bathroom,” performed with gusto by actor George Salazar, who fulfills the role of Jeremy’s aforementioned best friend. Michael in the Bathroom, the ultimate Broadway underdog song, should be relatable to anybody who has ever felt even a moment of social anxiety or abandonment in their lives—the song is so beloved that when I attended, only seconds after the intro music began to play, the audience began to scream with excitement. This was before the singing had even begun. As Salazar signed autographs following the show, nearly one 100 theatergoers could be heard belting out the entire song from beginning to end, much to his amazement.
Lead actor Will Roland, previously seen in the Broadway smash hit Dear Evan Hansen, delivered a fantastic performance, alongside the rest of the 10-person cast, who all provide highly energetic and nuanced performances of the traditional high school trope characters.
When Be More Chill opened on Broadway, The Wall Street Journal called it
“one of the strongest new musicals of the past decade.” True to this review, Be More Chill is chock-full of both
humor and heartfelt moments, featuring other earworm songs penned by
Tony-nominated composer Joe Iconis, including “I Love Play Rehearsal”,
“Two-Player Game”, and “More Than Survive.” The Original Broadway Cast
Recording is available digitally on all streaming platforms.
Be More Chill closes its Broadway run
at the Lyceum Theater on August 11, 2019, so hurry up and catch it while you
When traveling to New York City, our family has become fond in recent years of stopping over in the Town of Poughkeepsie for the night in order to make the most of our first day in the Big Apple. It is just over 90 minutes from Manhattan.
Poughkeepsie, nestled in the majestic Hudson Valley, is home to 45,000 residents. The town is rich with culture and steeped in history and is the home of such prestigious institutions as Vassar and Marist Colleges as well as Dutchess Community College. Along with these institutes of higher learning, they also have Locust Grove, the former home of Samuel F.B. Morse (the founder of Morse Code). The 180-acre estate of Samuel F. B. Morse includes an Italianate villa designed by Alexander Jackson Davis containing extensive collections of American and European decorative and fine arts. Three miles of carriage roads wind through landscaped grounds, romantic gardens and a shady grove.
The 22 parks in the area offer recreational activities such as hiking and walking trails in Peach Hill Park. Fine dining is abundant, while art exhibits, festivals, fairs and farmer markets are bountiful.
Covering 800 square miles, there’s an abundance of natural scenic beauty, outdoor recreation, historic landmarks, restaurants, festivals and more. Activities range from strolls across the Walkway Over the Hudson, treks through the Appalachian Trail, and sips along the Dutchess Wine Trail. Tours of the FDR National Historic Site spins on the Dutchess County Fair Ferris Wheel, and tastes of the Culinary Institute of America restaurants are also highly popular as are cruises down the Hudson River, bushels of pick-your-own apples, and contemporary art from modern masters.
WHERE TO STAY: There is a fantastic new hotel in Poughkeepsie that opened in May 2019, Homewood Suites by Hilton (Hwpoughkeepsie.homewoodsuitesbyhilton.com) made that decision a lot easier. This is a beautiful property. The suite we had was very spacious and comfortable.
Conveniently located off Route 9 and I-84 at 900 Thomas Watson Drive, the hotel is within walking distance of IBM and is minutes away from the Culinary Institute of America, Vassar, Bard and Marist Colleges. The hotel also places guests close to Poughkeepsie Galleria Mall, rich historical sites and a variety of great restaurants, breweries and wineries.
The property is owned and managed by Briad Lodging Group,
LLC, the hotel division of Livingston, New Jersey-based The Briad Group.
“Situated in the
heart of the Hudson River Valley, Homewood Suites by Hilton Poughkeepsie is the
perfect location for our newest property,” said Hans Kleinganz, general
manager. “Our spacious suites offer all of the comforts of home, and we look
forward to welcoming guests and ensuring they enjoy their stay with us.”
This hotel offers a combination of spacious studio and one-bedroom suites, featuring fully-equipped kitchens and separate living and sleeping areas. Guests are also provided all the essentials needed for a smart, reliable and convenient stay including complimentary hot breakfast seven days a week, evening social with complimentary beer and wine* served Monday to Thursday, complimentary shuttle service within a five-mile radius and complimentary advanced Wi-Fi.
The hotel makes it easy for travelers to unwind with an outdoor patio area, featuring multiple fire pits, an outdoor kitchen under a large pergola and a putting green. The property boasts a 750-square-foot fitness center with state-of-the-art equipment, including a Peloton bike, an indoor saline swimming pool and an outdoor sports court. The property also offers more than 1,000 square feet of flexible space that is ideal for meetings and social events.
Homewood Suites by Hilton Poughkeepsie is part of Hilton Honors, the award-winning guest-loyalty program for Hilton’s 14 distinct hotel brands. Hilton Honors members who book directly through preferred Hilton channels save time and money and gain instant access to the benefits they care about most, such as an exclusive member discount and a flexible payment slider that allows members to choose nearly any combination of Points and money to book a stay. Members can also redeem their points for free nights, to gain access to unique events through the Hilton Honors auction platform, or to make purchases at Amazon.com with Amazon Shop with Points. For more information or to make reservations, visit Hwpoughkeepsie.homewoodsuitesbyhilton.com or call 845-462-0030.
Briad Lodging Group was formed in 1997 when Briad became a Marriott franchisee. Five years later, the company added Hilton to its portfolio. Since obtaining these franchise rights, Briad has developed more than $600 million in real estate, concentrating on focused-service and extended-stay hotels, including the Courtyard, Residence Inn, Springhill Suites, TownePlace Suites, Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites brands. During the past decade, Briad has developed, operated and managed 34 properties and has built more than 3,800 hotel rooms in the tri-state area.
WHAT TO DO: With an assist from Wikipedia here are some details of what Poughkeepsie has to offer in terms of a number of notable institutions for arts and entertainment. The Bardavon 1869 Opera House, located on Market Street just below Main Street, is a theater that has an array of music, drama, dance and film events and is the home of the Hudson Valley Philharmonic. The Mid-Hudson Civic Center, located down the street from the Bardavon 1869 Opera House, hosts concerts, professional wrestling, and trade shows and has an ice rink next door for hockey events. From July 1984 to August 5, 1986, the Civic Center was the location for filming WWF Championship Wrestling, the World Wrestling Federation’s nationally and internationally broadcast weekly television program of the time
The Chance, located at 6 Crannell Street in downtown Poughkeepsie, hosts live rock concerts with local as well as major artists. The collections of the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College chart the history of art from antiquity to the present and comprise over 15,000 works, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, and glass and ceramic wares. The Barrett Art Center at 55 Noxon Street offers exhibits, classes, lectures, and demonstrations focused on the visual arts. Twice yearly it presents nationally acclaimed shows, juried by curators of notable museums. It also operated Barrett Clay Works at 485 Main Street, with studio spaces for individual artists, and a street-level space devoted to instruction in various methods of “working clay” for children through seniors.
For shopping and movie theater entertainment, the Poughkeepsie Galleria is located in the town of Poughkeepsie. The mall, which opened in 1987, consists of two floors with 250 shops and restaurants to enjoy. The Regal Cinemas theater has 16 screens. Current anchor stores within the mall include Macy’s, J. C. Penney, Target, Best Buy, H&M, and Sears. The Galleria is owned and managed by The Pyramid Companies, a group that manages and owns other sister mall complexes. We love dining at the Ruby Tuesday restaurant there, home to a great salad bar.
The Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum, located at 75 North Water Street, serves the city and region as an educational resource center, family destination, and tourist attraction. The Cunneen-Hackett Arts Center at 9 and 12 Vassar Street provides venues for both professional and amateur artists to showcase their talent in music, dance, and the visual arts. Bananas Comedy Club is a comedy club that presents comedians such as Jim Norton, Rich Vos, Patrice O’Neal, and Nick DiPaolo. Jimmy Fallon started his career performing at the club Joseph Bertolozzi’s Bridge Music is a sound-art installation on the Mid-Hudson Bridge, allowing listeners to hear it played like a musical instrument. A recording of the results, the 2009 CD Bridge Music (on the Delos label DE1045), entered the Billboard Classical Crossover Music Chart at #18 and has been released globally. The Bridge Music Listening Stations (which play selections from the CD) are located on the pedestrian sidewalk of the Mid-Hudson Bridge, at each of the bridge’s towers. They are open from dawn to dusk from April 1 through October 31. Additionally, Park Radios on 95.3FM play the same music year-round, in Waryas Park, Poughkeepsie and Johnson-Iorio Park, Highland.
In 2011 Empire Cruise Lines began the operation of the first dinner and tour boat to call Poughkeepsie homeport in nearly two generations. The M/V Mystère is a 60-foot (18 m) double-decked tour boat that departs from Waryas Park, 29 North Water Street.
Sprout Creek Farm is an educational
farm that rents out a cottage for weekend trips.
I absolutely love the historic Algonquin Hotel (www.alogonquinhotel.com). It is always our first choice when visiting New York City. Located on 44th Street near 6th Avenue, walk out the front door and you are a block and a half away from Times Square.
The Algonquin first opened its doors in 1902. Today,
it is part of the Marriott chain’s Autograph Collection, an evolving ensemble
of strikingly independent hotels. Each destination has been selected for its
quality, bold originality, rich character, and uncommon details. The result is
an array of properties that is nothing less than unique. The Algonquin Hotel
was the first New York City property to become a part of the
For well more than 100
years, the Algonquin has been greeting and lodging the country’s most prominent
writers and literary personalities, as well as the leading figures of the
American stage. The hotel is best known, perhaps, for the members of the Round
Table, a group of luminaries who had in common both the ability to fire blazing
witticisms and to withstand being on the receiving end of them.
After World War I, Vanity
Fair writers and Algonquin regulars Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley and Robert
E. Sherwood began lunching at the Algonquin. Though society columns referred to
them as the Algonquin Round Table, they called themselves the Vicious Circle.
“By force of character,” observed drama critic Brooks Atkinson,
“they changed the nature of American comedy and established the tastes of
a new period in the arts and theatre.”
This year marks the
centennial of the Round Table and as a result special programming took place
all summer long. We were there to take in some of the festivities
Each of the 181 rooms and 25 suites features a
comfortable well-lit work desk, as well as complimentary Wi-Fi. We stayed in a
very comfortable one bedroom Heywood Broun Suite, named for the noted American
journalist, sportswriter and newspaper columnist in New York City who founded
the American Newspaper Guild.
The layout was ideally suited for us. There is a nice
sized entrance, with the master bedroom to the left featuring a nice-sized bathroom.
The spacious living room has a pullout couch, a large desk which was perfect
for me to write my stories and good drawer and cupboard space. You can get a
fridge and a microwave, depending upon availability and on request.
When you enter the hotel, you come face to face with
the casual Lobby Lounge, along with The Round Table Restaurant. Just to the
left is the hotel’s trendy and aptly named Blue Bar.
The Algonquin Cat
As a cat lover, I was of
course excited to see Hamlet VIII, the three year-old orange cat who calls The
Algonquin his home. According to hotel executive assistant Alice De Almeida, he
was originally a feral cat found in Long Island and brought to the
Bide-a-wee shelter (the oldest shelter in the Big Apple), where the Algonquin then
adopted him as their own. He came to the hotel in July 2017 after their former cat,
Matilda III, retired. “He is so friendly and loveable that people who never liked cats love
him.” Alice says proudly. “He has great purrsonality!”
Joanna Szepietowska is the recently
appointed rooms operations manager at the hotel. She admitted to me that she
was not much of a cat lover before coming to work here, but Hamlet has changed
that in a big way. She is looking into adopting her own cat now.
Hamlet has his own Twitter and Instagram accounts, as well as an
email account. “I take care of all his
needs, front and back, vet visits and more,” says Alice.
Alice has three cats of
her own at home and feeds several ferals in her area. She came to work at this
hotel in 2005 and quickly became the natural guardian of the resident cats. “I
have become a real Jewish mother to our cats,” she laughs.
Based on the timeline of a book written by the hotel’s first
general manager, the hotel is now proud to say that the lineage of The
Algonquin Cat dates back to the early 1920s. Two days after this first cat, Billy,
passed, another stray cat wandered into the hotel and The Algonquin welcomed
Rusty. The famous classical actor, John Barrymore, best known for playing
Hamlet on stage, was a resident at the time in the early 1930s, and Rusty was
renamed Hamlet in his honor. The lineage thus far now includes eight Hamlets
and three Matildas. Each cat that has reigned at The Algonquin has been a
The hotel’s executive chef cooks Hamlet special meals on
holidays. He receives fan mail and gifts constantly from around the world. He
has recently been the subject of a painting that hangs above the Front Desk, by
New York artist Marcus Pierno. Hamlet can often be found at the front desk, in
one of his two tree houses or prancing through the lobby. He has been trained
to never go outside and is wonderful with everyone who wants to pet him.
Cat Fashion Show
Every August The Algonquin hosts an annual Cat Fashion Show to raise money for the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals. The event
brings together the city’s most fashionable felines to strut their stuff
in one-of-a-kind outfits that coincide with different themes – the 2019 edition being
“It’s a Small World.” Hamlet VIII is
naturally the star.
The spectacle begins with cocktails, hors
d’oeuvres and desserts; a silent auction featuring a variety of kitty-centric
items; an on-site mobile adoption unit in front of the hotel that day and of
course NYC cats hitting the catwalk in opulent threads designed by legendary
pet fashion designer Ada Nieves. Human guests are encouraged to wear their most
eccentric, feline-inspired outfit and share photos from the un-fur-gettable
night on social media using the hashtag #AlgonquinCat.
A total of 100 percent of proceeds benefits the Mayor’s Alliance for
NYC’s Animals, a non-profit charity that works with more than 150 partner
rescue groups and shelters to offer important programs and services that save
the lives of NYC’s homeless animals. A raffle raises additional funds
throughout the evening, with prizes including a variety of pet products curated
by the event’s co-chair, pet lifestyle expert and author Sandy Robins.
BEACH AT DREAM DOWNTOWN: Have you ever heard about New York City’s most unique hotel pool — The Beach at Dream Downtown? The famed 4,800-square-foot beach boasts private cabanas, fresh sand imported from the Hamptons, flat-screen TVs, lounge chairs and a glass-bottom swimming pool looking into the hotel lobby. One side of this upscale 300 room hotel closely resembles that of a cruise ship.
the glamour of the Côte d’Azur in the heart of New York City’s Chelsea
neighborhood, my family and I were most fortunate to be invited to spend the
day there. We have been to New York in the summer a number of times in recent
years and frankly always sought a day at a pool on a hot and steamy day. Well
we hit the jackpot for our chosen date. Community and Social Media Manager
Lauren Saxe gave me a tour of the gorgeous facility and then set my family up
with some chairs in a perfectly shaded area. Tabitha, a lifeguard who was busy
managing the steady stream of sunbathers, was kind enough to get us an
umbrella. There is a restaurant right
next to the pool and servers will bring food and drinks right to your chair.
The water was warm and exceptionally comfortable. Any of our troubles seemed a
million miles away for that afternoon. There was complimentary Wi-Fi with a
good signal as well.
passes are available to the public Monday to Friday from 11 am to 8 pm. They
cost $65 a day per person, and guests can purchase them
on site from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Hotel
guests can access the facility from 8 am to 8 pm daily.
is another Dream Hotel in Midtown Manhattan as well as locations in Miami,
Hollywood, Nashville, Thailand and many more to come. Dream Hotel Group is a hotel brand and management company
with a rich, 30-year history of managing properties in some of the world’s most
highly competitive hotel environments. Home to its Dream Hotels, Time
Hotels, The Chatwal and Unscripted Hotels brands, Dream Hotel Group encompasses
three business lines: proprietary brands, hotel management and dining &
downtown location opened in June 2011 with a celebrity VIP party which included
the likes of actor Leonardo Di Caprio on hand.
RIPLEY’S BELIEVE IT OR NOT: I have previously visited Ripley’s Believe It or Not! In Niagara Falls and London, England. Despite walking by the place every time I was in the Big Apple, I never ventured inside what is recognized as a historic Times Square museum. This one-of-a-kind attraction welcomes visitors to immerse themselves in the unusual, the unexpected and the unbelievable. It features a collection of over 500 unusual artifacts from all over the world, as well as amazing interactive exhibits that are sure to make you say “WOW!”
Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
Times Square (https://ripleysnewyork.com) showcases some of the most incredible
exhibits found in New York City, many of them discovered and owned by Robert
Ripley himself! This family friendly
attraction is the largest Ripley’s in North America!
L. Ripley was a cartoonist, explorer, reporter, adventurer, and collector who
traveled to 201 countries in 35 years seeking the odd, the unusual, and the
unexplained. He led a life of adventure and excitement, and he will forever be
remembered for coining the phrase “believe It or not.”
his search for incredible stories to draw in his popular newspaper cartoons, he
acquired hundreds of exotic artifacts from around the world. Collections of his
newspaper cartoon drawings were released in book form. The success of his first
book led to a live radio show, and then to a weekly television program. He
shared his unique artifacts at World Fairs in exhibits called odditoriums,
which were the precursor to the museums that bear his name and famous phrase. but none are more unique or more interesting than Ripley’s
Believe It or Not! Times Square!
Believe It or Not! Times Square is the largest Ripley’s attraction in the
world. From shrunken heads, Megaldon jaws, a Tibeton skull, the world’s tallest
man and a real meteor the amazement never ceases in this place.
children must be accompanied by an adult. Most guests spend between an hour and
a half to two hours exploring the strange and unique artifacts, exhibits and
interactive experiences at Ripley’s Times Square. As with any attraction or
museum, your personal tastes will determine how long it takes. If you plan to
dive into every item and read each caption, you’ll be here a bit longer. If you
plan to focus on featured galleries, you will find that two hours is
sufficient. I found the visit both educational and entertaining,
personal treasures can be seen in Believe It or Not! attractions around the
world. Each museum is unique in its collection of oddities and in their
presentation. No Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum would be complete without
the “old favorites” however – the incredible people whose stories Ripley
gathered on his journeys around the globe. These strange people are brought
back to life in detailed wax figures.
Times Square is handicapped
NATIONAL SEPTEMBER 11 MEMORIAL: Through commemoration, exhibitions and educational programs, The National September 11 Memorial & Museum, a nonprofit in New York City, remembers and honors the 2,983 people killed in the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001, and February 26, 1993, as well as those who risked their lives to save others and all who demonstrated extraordinary compassion in the aftermath of the attacks. I visited Ground Zero on my most recent trip and it is absolutely chilling to stand in that very spot where terrorists committed a most unspeakable atrocity. Info: https://www.911memorial.org/national-september-11-memorial-museum
RUPERT JEE: For 22 years Rupert Jee was a regular on Late Night with David Letterman on CBS – all because he operated a deli (The Hello Deli) right next to the Ed Sullivan Theatre. These days Rupert remains busy running his deli and meeting with his fans, so when you’re in New York, don’t forget to stop in for lunch at 213 West 53rd Street! He’ll even sell you a t-shirt or mug to remember him by. I dropped in and got to meet Rupert in person. What a friendly guy. Naturally the Letterman appearances were great for business. Now that Dave has retired, Rupert still benefits from the recognition. Log on to https://www.hello-deli.com.
YORK YANKEES: I checked off
a major item on my Bucket List with an afternoon in the Yankee Stadium press
box as New York hosted the Toronto Blue Jays.
Only a year after they changed
Baseball forever with the purchase of Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox, the
Yankees made another buy that would forever change the way the game was
watched. On February 6, 1921, the
Yankees issued a press release to announce the purchase of 10 acres of property
in the west Bronx. Yankee Stadium was
built from 1922 to 1923 for $2.4 million ($33.9 million in 2016
The stadium went through many
alterations and playing surface configurations over the years. The condition of
the facility worsened in the 1960s and 1970s, prompting its closing for
renovation from 1974 to 1975. In 2006, the Yankees began building a new
$2.3 billion stadium. It opened in 2009.
Yankee Stadium is located at One East 161st Street in the Bronx. The No. 4 train (East Side) and the B and D trains (West Side) make stops at 161st Street/Yankee Stadium. A trip from Midtown Manhattan takes approximately 25 minutes. I would strongly recommend it.
LAS VEGAS – There is no question about it. The City of Las Vegas, Nevada (https://www.visitlasvegas.com/ca) has everything that a vacationer could possibly ask for: concerts, shows, sports, shopping, dining, nightlife, golf, spas, adventure, luxury accommodations, and much more.
just returned from our second trip in the last four years, I am already
counting down the days until I can go back.
WHERE TO STAY: We stayed at the
gorgeous Vdara Hotel & Spa, a luxury boutique property located at
An all-suite hotel and
spa designed for those who love the excitement of Vegas, but prefer to enjoy it
in a smaller and more exclusive, non-gaming, smoke-free environment, Vdara is
physically connected to the Bellagio and directly adjacent to the Aria Resort
& Casino, offering access to all of the amenities and energy of CityCenter
while also providing a nearby retreat from the hustle and bustle of the strip.
The Vdara made its big debut in December 2009. Internationally-inspired, the chic boutique resort offers a holistic spa, luxurious pool, intimate meeting space, and the sophisticated and convenient Vice Versa Patio & Lounge and Market Café Vdara, both located in their small and easy-to-navigate lobby.
Designed by RV Architecture, LLC, led by Rafael Vinoly, Vdara’s distinct crescent shape and unique patterned glass creates a striking design statement. Soaring 57 stories, Vdara has 1,495 suites ranging from 500 to 1,650 square feet. It also boasts some outstanding amenities, including its spa. From early morning to late evening, Vdara Health & Beauty, its 16,000-square-foot, two-level wellness spa, salon and fitness complex, soothes and rejuvenate guests. David Glass, the internationally acclaimed innovator behind the Bellagio’s AAA Four Diamond restaurant Sensi, serves as executive chef for all of Vdara’s food and beverage offerings.
10,000 square feet of contemporary conference space, Vdara has become the
premier choice in Las Vegas for customized executive meetings, corporate,
social, and banquet functions for up to 400 guests. The Pool & Lounge, a
beautiful getaway that we had the chance to experience firsthand, also features
19 luxurious cabanas,
including six spa cabanas.
While at the Vdara people
have the opportunity to experience what is surely a first in many of their
lives: snacks and coffee delivered to their rooms by two relay robots by the
names of Fetch and Jett. These
talented bots work alongside their human colleagues to transport an array of
frequently forgotten and requested amenities including shaving and dental kits
as well as tasty bites and drinks from Market
and built by robot developer Savioke, Fetch and Jett are fully autonomous
indoor delivery robots that use advanced technology to seamlessly navigate
around people and objects. I watched them travel through the hotel lobby
myself, and each time, those passing by stopped to take photos and marvel. The
robots can prioritize multiple requests and wirelessly communicate with the
hotel’s systems – even operating the elevators autonomously. Upon receiving a
request, a hotel employee will load items into the robot’s compartment before inputting
the guest’s room number and hitting the “GO” button. Its secure, tamper-proof
lid prevent items from being removed until the robot reaches its destination.
and Jett will call a guest’s room when they arrive, and once the door opens,
their lids will automatically unlock for guests to retrieve their snacks and
travel kits. After removing their items, Fetch and Jett will ask the guest for
feedback on their service before traveling back to their docking stations –
typically taking less than five minutes to complete a delivery. A five-star
review inspires a short happy dance from the robot.
hat-tip to the property’s dog-friendly policy, Fetch and Jett’s exterior
resembles the coats of different canine breeds. The helpful (and housebroken)
robots provide a fun and refined experience for guests at the hotel and spa.
“Guests enjoy the novelty of having their morning coffee and other items delivered by a robot, which frees up time for the rest of our staff to focus their energy on requests that require a higher level of service,” said Vdara General Manager Mary Giuliano. “We’re committed to creating special experiences for each guest, and I’m certain this will be a memorable one.”
In addition to the small snacks and drinks that can be
delivered by Fetch and Jett, the hotel also delivers on a full in-suite dining
experience should guests be interested, bringing not only food, but a full
table setting for all. We enjoyed some breakfast in our room, including
delicious eggs, an omelette, breakfast potatoes, and an assortment of tasty
croissants and danishes.
Vdara is located within one of the largest sustainable
developments in existence, bringing a new level of environmental consciousness
to the world-famous Strip. In addition to Vdara, the U.S. Green Building
Council has awarded LEED® Gold certification to ARIA Resort & Casino’s
hotel tower as well as its convention space and theater. In 2010, Vdara Hotel
& Spa and ARIA become the first Las Vegas hotels to achieve a 5 Keys
designation by the Green Key Eco-Rating Program – the foremost “green” ranking,
certification, and audit program in North America evaluating sustainable hotel
operations. The 5 Keys designation is a certification level achieved by only
approximately one percent of all hotels rated by Green Key.
We were pleased to see
that our Corner Suite offered us a lovely view of some of the hotels on the
Strip. Other similar suites offer picturesque views of the Bellagio Fountains
and surrounding mountains. The in-suite tablet sits right beside the King-sized
bed. From this tablet, you can order room service or snacks to be delivered by
Fetch and Jett, and also book your next spa appointment.
The kitchenette features
a two-burner stove and a full-sized refrigerator, while the living area offers
a dining table fit for four. You can end the day by soaking in the spa-like tub
sitting in the room’s expansive bathroom.
There are 42-inch, flat-screen, and high –
definition televisions with media hubs for MP3 players, cameras, DVD players
and game consoles as well as a work desk with
a multi-line telephone in each of these suites. We also had access to large closets with plush robes and slippers, an ironing
board and clothes steamer, and a washing machine. The in-suite,
laptop-sized electronic safes were also very convenient.
The hotel has a fully equipped 2,000-square-foot fitness center,
with cardio, exercise machines, and free weights, as well as personal trainers
available for private or group instruction. A smoothie bar offers a selection
of smoothies, nutritious snacks, and juices.
The Vdara lobby is
quite nice and spacious. Above the registration desk hangs the 30-foot-long
horizontal Frank Stella painting, “Damascus Gate Variation I,”which draws immediate attention
with its vibrant shades of blue, red, orange and yellow. Due to Vdara’s
boutique size, nearly all of its spectacular amenities are just steps from the
main entrance. Guests have immediate access to its meeting and social event
space; registration desk; concierge lobby; and its casual eatery and marketplace,
Market Café Vdara. At the heart of the lobby experience, VICE VERSA Patio &
Lounge radiates an aura of sophistication.
Vdara’s concierge lobby, Peter Wegner displays two soaring lunar- and
solar-themed works of art on opposite walls entitled, “Day for Night, Night for Day.”Three stories above, an
open wooden walkway offers a new vantage point of the artwork, as guests peer
down into the lobby. On the second level of the hotel, guests can enjoy ESPA at
Vdara, Salon Vdara, and Pool & Lounge Vdara.
Wheelchairs and scooters
are available at all MGM Resort hotels for a fee. At the Vdara, in fact, manual
wheelchairs are available for rent free of charge. To guarantee a wheelchair or
scooter, contacting the Bell Desk ahead of time is recommended.
For more information and
reservations, log on to www.vdara.com, call toll free at (866) 745-7767 or
702.590.2111. follow Vdara on Facebook and Twitter at Vdara Las Vegas and VdaraLV.
BAVETTE AND THE PARK MGM: The former Monte Carlo Hotel officially shed its name recently for a new identity – The Park MGM (https://www.parkmgm.com/en.htm). A partnership between Sydell Group and MGM Resorts International, Park MGM was born from the collaborative vision of the New York-based lifestyle hotelier and one of the world’s preeminent destination resort developers.The project comprises two new distinct experiences: Park MGM, and a Las Vegas version of the renowned NoMad, a standalone 292-room hotel encompassing the tower’s top four floors.
We got a nice look at this new hotel when we recently dined
at Bavette’s Steakhouse (www.bavettessteakhouse.com). Like
its beloved Chicago sibling, the new Bavette’s represents an outstanding dining
experience. With the restaurant’s glowing chandeliers, red banquettes, and
vintage art and murals, guests are transported to an intimate space as they
Bavette’s offers fantastic takes on some
time-honored steakhouse traditions, such as multi-tiered seafood towers,
dry-aged bone-in ribeyes, and lamb chops. In addition to some of the classics,
we also enjoyed a traditional filet mignon, a large baked crap cake, and side
orders of wild mushrooms and buttery mashed potatoes, all beautifully served.
Desserts leaned toward
decadent—we enjoyed the Chocolate Cream pie with an Oreo crust, as well as
their classic Lemon-Meringue Pie.
In the back of Bavette’s,
a hidden parlor bar awaits guests who want to begin their evening early, or let
it run late, exploring the cornucopia of cocktails that they have to offer.
The elegant landscape in
complemented by a boisterous measure of classic big band jazz and vintage blues
tunes in the main dining room.
Bavette’s is open 5 p.m. – 11 p.m. Monday
through Thursday; 5 p.m. – midnight Friday and Saturday; and 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
on Sunday. Reservations can be made by calling 702.730.6700.
Before or after dinner at Bavette’s, explore the stylish Juniper Cocktail Lounge next door, a truly unique drinking experience that I very much enjoyed.The mixology destination challenges the status quo of mainstay drinks while staying true to the foundation of what makes a great cocktail. Whimsical elements like fortune-telling Gin & Tonics come to life through house-made juices and syrups, a premium selection of spirits, and an intense dedication to the craft.
“Juniper Cocktail Lounge brings a
different perspective to the Las Vegas lounge with a more progressive cocktail
program than people have experienced from such a venue,” said Craig Schoettler,
MGM Resorts executive director of beverage and corporate mixologist. .
Set to become a key component of Las Vegas
nightlife, Juniper Cocktail Lounge offers its distinct vision of bottle service
for guests with an extensive selection of gins, whiskeys, tequilas and rums
from around the globe. No sacrifices are made for the large-scale service as
patrons have access to some of the world’s finest liquors at their private
We enjoyed their most famous cocktail,
entitled “A little birdie”, in which the sipsmith gin, strawberry, dolin dry
vermouth, and fresh lemon are interestingly served in a glass shaped like a
bird. We also enjoyed “Carnival”—a glass is brought to the table filled to the
brim with cotton candy, at which point Tanqueray 10 gin, fresh lime, and
St-Germain is poured over the cotton candy, causing it to melt in as part of
the drink. The menu options were endless, each one appearing to be better than
the one before it.
Juniper Cocktail Lounge is open Sunday – Thursday from 5 p.m. – 12 a.m. and Friday – Saturday from 5 p.m. – 2 a.m. For more information, call 702-730-7777 or visit Juniper Cocktail Lounge online. Explore the nightly happenings and more by following Juniper Cocktail Lounge on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @JuniperCocktail.
natural light and punctuated by nature-inspired décor and art, Park MGM’s lobby
is a nod to urban gardens and parks, bringing the outdoors inside. A dramatic
arboreal sculpture by Brazilian woodworker Henrique Oliveira is the focal point
of the lobby.
rooms evoke the essence of a private apartment, with a mix of thoughtful
touches, antique-inspired pieces, and original artwork by artists and
photographers from around the world, commissioned for each room by France’s
the sundrenched South of France, the hotel’s vibrant outdoor escape features
three pools, an oversized heated spa, 12 cabanas, lounge areas, and multiple
bars serving up delicious bites and beverages.
remodeled casino floor reflects the resort’s outdoor inspiration. In keeping
with Sydell Group’s vision for maintaining key elements of the former space,
the casino’s design contains subtle nods to its Monte Carlo roots, including the
refined sparkling chandeliers.
With its excellent central location, Park MGM offers guests direct access to what is quickly becoming the city’s premier entertainment district, featuring T-Mobile Arena, The Park, and Park Theater, which is now home to Lady Gaga’s Las Vegas residency.
LAS VEGAS- When in Las Vegas (https://www.visitlasvegas.com/ca),
there are no shortage of fantastic restaurants to choose from. Here are a few suggestions
from my most recent trip.
CATCH THIS GREAT MEAL: Last fall, the Aria Resort & Casino (https://www.aria.com/en.html) welcomed Catch (https://catchrestaurants.com),the go-to dining destination for celebrities from Los Angeles to New York City. Known for attracting A-listers from around the world, this restaurant, with its Asian influence, debuted on The Strip, bringing with it a something-for-everyone dining experience.
Just arriving at Catch is a true
experience. The entryway is a truly picturesque 80-foot-long tunnel, filled
with brightly colored flowers organized into beautiful patterns. It feels like
stepping into a secret garden, or even a hidden world.
On the menu, you will find a host
sharables. Guests can dive in with an assortment of bright appetizers. The
Catch Ceviche infuses the bold flavors of mango and blood orange ponzu with
Alaskan King Crab, Maine Lobster, shrimp, and scallops. We enjoyed the decadent
Truffle Sashimi allows guests to indulge in both tuna and hamachi paired with
chili ponzu, caviar, and rich black truffle purée.
addition to their Vegas-specific sushi rolls, Catch also offers its famed
signatures. The vegan Veggie King Roll is made with king oyster mushrooms,
cashew and spicy miso. For a unique and delicious flavor profile, guests can
opt for the Hellfire Roll, which uses spicy tuna in two ways with Asian pear
also enjoyed other shared starters, including the crispy shrimp, the rice
cakes, and an order of their mushroom spaghetti, which was truly delicious. For
our main course: roasted branzino, a restaurant highlight, alongside a side of
spaghetti squash. Prefer meat? Catch offers options like the 25-Day Dry-Aged
Tomahawk: 36-ounces of all natural, grass-fed beef with caramelized onion wagyu
Their over-the-top desserts
celebrate indulgence, featuring treats like the “Hit Me” Chocolate Cake that encourages guests to smash the liquid
“Klondike” bar perched atop a brownie, devil’s food cake, and roasted white
chocolate ice cream.
New York based restauranteurs Eugene Remm and Mark Birnbaum have
spent two decades building Catch Hospitality Group into one of the country’s
most successful restaurant and nightlife management companies. Dubbed by Forbes Magazine as the
“New Kings of New York Hospitality,” Remm and Birnbaum pioneered dynamic hospitality
experiences using food, service, and vibe to create seamless transitions
between dining, nightlife, and entertainment.
tackling the East and West Coast markets we feel that Las Vegas is the next
most logical place for the CATCH brand to call home,” Birnbaum told
Food & Wine. “As with all CATCH outposts, we will stay true to
the identity of the brand in both design and core menu, while working to
develop location-specific additions that speak to the interests in the local
market and its anticipated clientele. For CATCH Las Vegas that will mean
some elevated moments that kick our experiential menu up a notch, without being
too over the top that we stray from who we are as a concept.”
Catch is located within the main
lobby of the Aria Resort & Casino. It is open for dinner Monday through
Sunday from 5:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. The lounge is open Thursday through
Saturday from 10 p.m. – 3 a.m. To make reservations, call the Aria Concierge at
(702) 590-5757 or visit OpenTable.
LUNCH AT SPAGO: We had a delicious lunch at Wolfgang Puck’s legendary flagship restaurant Spago (https://wolfgangpuck.com/dining/spago-lv), located at the Bellagio (https://www.bellagio.com/en/hotel.html). Puck’s revolutionary restaurant debuted in this location last summer with an entirely new look and menu and the exceptional level of service for which the restaurant is best known.
The restaurant is beautifully situated in front of the
Bellagio Fountains for a fantastic view while you eat. Spago’s re-imagined menu
features Puck’s signature California fare paired with modern technique and
inspiration from his chef’s weekly trips to the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market.
At lunch and dinner, the market-driven menus feature handmade pastas, wood-oven
pizzas, fresh seafood, all-natural meats and prime steaks, alongside
handcrafted cocktails and a robust wine list.
From popular Spago dishes to new
dishes offered only at Bellagio, guests have a wealth of options to choose from
for lunch or dinner.
The chefbrings his own signature to the Las Vegas steak dinner,
allowing guests to indulge in prime meats, such as Wagyu and Japanese Ribeye
carved tableside. In addition to trying one of their delicious cuts of American
wagyu, complete with white truffles, we also indulged in their smoked salmon
pizza with caviar, a true highlight on their menu. We enjoyed a fresh
strawberry cocktail as we sat on the patio enjoying the fountains, along with a
dessert that I can only describe as outstanding: their Spiked Lemon. Words
cannot do this desert any justice, but you need only take to the internet to
see it for yourself, as our waiter described as their menu’s “Most Hash tagged
Item” due to its astonishing appearance, complete with flakes of gold.
Similar to the menu, the wine list will be seasonally
inspired, starting the summer months with a strong selection of Rosé
wines. In addition, the list features nearly one dozen wines from
Wolfgang Puck’s private label, a collection of food-friendly wines that
celebrate the spirit of food and life for which the chef is known.
Spago commissioned Las Vegas artist Katie Lewis to create a series of 20 topographical map images inspired by the Nevada desert landscape. One wall of the restaurant is dedicated to “Hugging a Black Hole, Hoping One Day to Forget,” a piece crafted by Jacob Hashimoto, known for his three-dimensional wall hangings inspired by his Japanese heritage. The most coveted seats are positioned on the circular and covered outdoor patio, giving guests unobstructed front-row views to the magnificent fountains.
Puck said, “The fountains were everything for us. We used the water as a key
element in the design of the restaurant, bringing the beautiful feature to the forefront
of the dining experience from the moment our guests enter the restaurant.
Floor-to-ceiling glass windows highlight the grandeur of the space while
distinct dining spaces meld classic architecture with modern art, all creating
an atmosphere as memorable as the food.”
As for the main dining room, this
space boasts beautiful floor-to-ceiling windows imparting picturesque views of
famed lake from any seat in the house. Spago also offers two private
fountain-view dining rooms, each seating up to 20 guests. The private rooms
feature translucent glass panels with elegant white sheers that act as filters,
allowing guests to enjoy their privacy while being able to fully take in their
Spago is located in Via Bellagio and
is open for lunch daily from 11:30 a.m. – 2:45 p.m. Dinner is from 5 p.m. –
10:30 p.m Sunday – Thursday and 5 p.m. – 11 p.m. Friday & Saturday. The bar
menu is available from 2:45 p.m. until close. To make reservations, call the Bellagio
Concierge at (702) 693-7111 or visit OpenTable.
CAESARS PALACE BUFFET: What would a visit to Las Vegas be like without spending some time at the famous Caesars Palace? As famous as Las Vegas itself, this spot is perhaps the best-known casino resort in the world. What began as a grand casino honoring the indulgent luxuries of ancient Rome has somehow evolved into something even more spectacular.
Caesars Palace spans 85-acres at the heart of the Las Vegas
Strip, just 10-minutes from McCarran International Airport. During our trip, we
experienced a fantastic dinner at their Bacchanal Buffet—voted the Best Buffet
in Las Vegas by USA Today two years in a row. I was unsurprised to hear that
they were given this title when I realized that their buffet presents nine
distinct restaurants, all in one location!
The modern setting of the buffet is inspired by the elements
of glass, wood and steel. With nearly 500 dishes to choose from, every guest is
sure to satisfy their cravings, whether they are in the mood for prime rib,
chilled king crab legs, or freshly made sushi. A team of seven specialized
chefs oversee the preparation of the majority of the food in front of the
guests, creating an interactive environment.
The cuisines offered include:
Mexican – featuring freshly made enchiladas, tortillas and more
Italian – Pastas, baked lasagna, antipasto display
Chinese – Made-to-order assorted soups, wok-fried dishes, and dim sum
Japanese – Fresh sushi, sashimi, cooked fish
American – BBQ house-smoked meats from a wood-burning smoker and wood-burning grill; numerous carving stations including prime rib, brisket, rotisserie chicken and more
Seafood – Fresh East and West Coast oysters, king crab, snow crab, stone crab, mussels and prawns
Pizza – Varieties of pizzas served fresh from a wood-burning oven
Deli – Soups, cheeses, seven charcuterie selections including house specialties and individual, prepared, and make-your-own salads
Dessert – Chocolate, vanilla and pistachio soufflés baked-to-order, selection of gelato, sorbets
The Weekday Brunch is $39.99 (Mon-Fri 7:30 am – 3 pm.); The
Weekend Brunch is $54.99 (Sat-Sun 8am – 3pm); Weekday Dinner is $54.99
(Mon-Thur 3p m – 10 pm); and Weekend Dinner is $64.99 (Fri-Sun 3pm –
10pm). For an additional $15 per person, add the All You Can Drink option and
receive unlimited Draft Beer, House Wine, Mimosas, or Champagne.
There is also line pass option available for $20 per person during select hours of operation. See
the manager for details.
Info: (702) 731-7928. For large party reservations and private dining, call group dining at Caesar Palace at (702) 731-7778 or toll-free at (866) 733-5827. Log on to www.caesarspalace.com.
LAS VEGAS- There is lost to do in the City of Las Vegas, Nevada (https://www.visitlasvegas.com/ca). We had less than a week on the ground, so here are some suggestions.
JABBAWOCKEEZ: We were thrilled
to see Jabbawockeez (https://www.jbwkz.com) for the first
time after their energizing 70-minute show. The Jabbawockeez first caught the
nation’s eye when they competed on “America’s Got Talent” in 2006, before
ultimately winning the grand prize on the first season of the MTV reality show “America’s
Best Dance Crew”, produced by Randy Jackson.
Their live show at the recently renovated Jabbawockeez
Theater at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino (www.mgmgrand.com) on the Vegas Strip
is absolutely fantastic!
Their show, JREAMZ, takes audiences on a journey of
mesmerizing sights and sounds, entertaining audiences with a dynamic mix of
choreography, music, videos, characterization, and special effects. The
imaginative production finds a way to seamlessly combine dance, drama, and a
surprisingly effective amount of comedy.
signature white masks and intricate dance moves that have positioned the group
as the world’s most influential dance crew, Jabbawockeez is
cutting-edge entertainment at its best. JREAMZ has been voted the “Best Family
Show” and “Best All Ages Show” in Las Vegas for three consecutive years.
expressionless white masks and white gloves, Jabbawockeez somehow manage to
achieve the perfect balance between blending together as a unified group when
necessary and also giving each member a unique character to play. They do not
simply use the stage, but navigate through the audience, integrating us into
their show and in fact taking selecting several volunteers to take part in their
Over the years, they have appeared on
numerous television shows, including “Dancing With The Stars”, “So You Think
You Can Dance”, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”, “Regis & Kelly”, “The TODAY
Show”, “E! News”, and “America’s Next Top Model”.
dance crew was formed in 2003 by
Kevin “KB” Brewer, Phil “Swagger Boy” Tayag and Joe “Punkee” Larot. Just a year
later, the group had grown to include Jeff “Phi” Nguyen and Rynan “Kid Rainen”
Paguio, who still perform in the group. In 2013, the dance troupe also added
Tony “Transformer” Tran. Over the life span of Jabbawockeez, there have been as
many as eleven artistic creators to funnel energy into their synchronized dance
routines. The show is designed to be appropriate for all ages—those four years
or older must purchase a ticket; three and under can be admitted as a lap seat.
Jabbawockeez perform Thursday through Monday at both 7PM and
9:30PM. Tickets are priced at
$49.99, $72.99 and $82.99 (not including applicable service charges and taxes).
A Golden Circle ticket, with the best seats, a complimentary cocktail, and an
exclusive Jabbawockeez merchandise
item, is available for $110 (not including applicable service charges and
taxes). A VIP Package including a post-show meet and greet, photo opportunity
with three cast members from the show, and a Jabbawockeez Swag Bag, is
available as an add-on to any ticket category for $55. Tickets are available for
purchase at any MGM Resorts box office, by phone at (702) 531-3826 or (866)
740-7711 and online at mgmgrand.com or ticketmaster.com. For more information, visit jbwkz.com or connect on Twitter @Jabbawockeez and on Facebook.
Hotel and Casino is very wheelchair accessible, with lots of elevators and
ramps available throughout.
MICHAEL JACKSON ONE: When in Vegas, experiencing at least one Cirque de Soleil production is a must. As proud Montrealers, we did just that and chose the Cirque’s incredible Michael Jackson ONE (http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/michael-jackson-one/show/about.aspx), an awe-inspiring show that fuses acrobatics, dance, story-telling, and visuals, taking the audience on an immersive journey through the music and spirit of Michael Jackson. Shows take place at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino from Fridays to Tuesdays at both 7 pm and 9:30 pm, while Wednesdays and Thursdays are dark days. Driven by the late King of Pop’s powerful, multi-layered music – heard like never before in a riveting, state-of-the-art surround-sound environment – ONE takes the audience through a series of seamless visual and musical tableaux.
talented cast of 63 dancers and performers quickly reel you in, taking over the
stage and at times even the audience with their infectious energy and brilliant
tricks. You will repeatedly find yourself gasping in disbelief at the magic
taking place on stage.
captures the essence, soul and inspiration of the King of Pop, celebrating a
legacy that continues to transcend generations. You will surely be captivated
by the aerial acrobatics and special effects during this unforgettable
performance, while trying not to sing along to Jackson’s most popular songs,
from “Smooth Criminal” to “Thriller” (a particular highlight).
ONE somehow manages to get better
with every routine. Each time you think that there cannot possibly another
trick left to perform, someone will fly through the sky or trampoline upside
down and once again, you will find yourself amazed.
the hits in Michael Jackson ONE have been rearranged to suit the show,
they remain very close to the album versions and are treated in a highly
cinematic fashion. Kevin Antunes, who was also the Musical Designer on Michael
Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour, took the multi-track master recordings and
manages to make audience members feel the music is surrounding them, a
beautiful musical assault coming from all directions. In fact, each of the
theatre’s 1,804 seats has three speakers, leaving the room with a total of
5,412 seat speakers!
Jackson ONE, the video content is also an integral part of the storyline,
featuring key aspects of Jackson’s career, including some images from his
younger days as a member of Jackson 5. The theatre is equipped with 26
projectors, which display video content on the stage and around the proscenium.
Not only that, but there are also 11 TV monitors and a 40 feet-wide, 30
feet-high LED wall.
show, in its technical and energized glory, truly is not something that you
want to miss.
ticket information call 877.632.7400 or 800-745-3000. Go to www.cirquedusoleil.com/mjone
or www.mandalaybay.com. Visit the Michael Jackson ONE
box office, the Mandalay Bay Events Center box office, or any of the MGM
Resorts International box offices.
Cirque du Soleil strives to make
it as easy as possible to purchase accessible seating tickets for venues across
the country. Availability and the type of accessible seating will vary based on
each venue’s policies and/or the type of event taking place.
SKYFALL LOUNGE: After Michael Jackson ONE, you can walk just a few steps over to the Skyfall Lounge (https://www.delanolasvegas.com/en/nightlife/skyfall-lounge.html) at the Delano, which is located within the same Mandalay Bay facility. Why does Skyfall stand out amidst the large number of bars located along the Strip? Skyfall is known for its panoramic overlook of the city, its dramatic interiors, and its creative plates and artisan cocktails. There is no cover, nor are reservations required. The 180-degree views make it possible for guests to sip a glass of champagne while watching the desert sunset, or to party as DJs spin upbeat music in the vibrant space from 10PM until closing.
Every evening (7:30-8:30PM), those
who stay at the hotel are treated to a special champagne toast at Skyfall
Lounge. A Delano Las Vegas room key must be presented to receive the
complimentary amenity. Hours
are Monday to Thursday and Sundays from 5 pm to midnight, and 5 pm to 1 am on
Fridays and Saturdays. Info:
GALLERY OF FINE ART: The beautiful Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art (BGFA is committed to presenting intimate exhibitions featuring works by some of the world’s most compelling artists.
opening in 1998, the gallery has presented exhibitions of artworks and objects
drawn from internationally acclaimed museums and private collections. I was
excited to learn that through April 28th, 2019, the BGFA is
presenting two installations by renowned artist Yayoi Yusama, Infinity Mirrored Room – Aftermath of Obliteration of
Eternity and Narcissus Garden.
An immersive experience for visitors, Yayoi Kusama offers a unique wonderland of lights and
reflections where guests become part of the artworks and can experience
Kusama’s exploration of infinite space.
Narcissus Garden has been re-installed and commissioned in various settings
since its creation more than 50 years ago. This iteration is comprised of 750
stainless steel silver globes that create an infinite lake that distorts images
of reality reflected on the surface of the 12-inch orbs.
was particularly looking forward to experiencing the second exhibition— Aftermath
of Obliteration of Eternity is a
room of infinite, shimmering lights. These mirror rooms have taken over the
internet, with people posting artistic photos of them experiencing exhibits of
this nature across the world. In this exhibit,
guests step into an enclosed room to become immersed, as an array of
lights ignite a mirage mirrored on every surface, representing the eternal
cycle of life over the span of 45 seconds. The space represents Kusama’s
lifelong obsession with the dissolution of the self into the infinite. Note
that this installation may trigger seizures for people with photosensitive
epilepsy, and this experience should be bypassed by people with sensitivities
to flashing lights or dark, enclosed spaces.
ESCAPE ROOM: Last year in Montreal, I experienced my first-ever escape room. Having really enjoyed the experience, I looked forward to trying one in Las Vegas, so we visited Trapped: A Real Life Room Escape Adventure. This location was launched in 2015 and is centrally located at 4760 Polaris Avenue, a quick drive from the Strip.
For those who have never experienced an escape game of
this nature, it involves a group of people being placed in a room where they
must use all elements present to solve a series of puzzles, find clues, and
complete the objective within a set time limit. It is a great bonding activity,
as it requires a lot of teamwork in order to succeed. The recommended minimum
age to participate is 12 years old. All rooms cost $35 per person for regularly
There are currently two rooms, with a third one on its
way, at this location. We chose The Lair of the Puzzle master. What is the
scenario? You are your teammates are federal agents tracking an international
criminal known as “The Puzzle master”. You have found his hidden lair and are
moving in to take him down, but you have to also avoid falling into his many
traps. This game is good for anywhere from three to eight participants.
The game is very well constructed—my favorite escape room
experience thus far. It thoroughly challenged us, but as three individuals, we
were able to escape in the nick of time.
“We as a company have been open since 2015,”
said manager Renton Wilson. “We began with one location in Upland, California
in 2015 and have since expanded to include a location in San Dimas, California,
as well as Las Vegas. We opened in Las Vegas in July of 2018 and our mission
is, and always has been, to provide a high quality and fun experience for our
When deciding to rent a car while in Vancouver recently we did so patriotically and went with the Canadian-owned Discount Car and Truck Rentals, grabbing a shuttle picking up our vehicle in nearby Richmond.
Well before planning this trip I did my research and it was my fascination with the services offered by Discount Car and Truck Rentals in Quebec (www.discountquebec.com) that helped make my decision even easier.
The first thing I learned is how Discount Car and Truck Rentals in Quebec operates independently from the national brand. In a classic example of a franchise system, the operators in Quebec own and operate the franchise for the entire province of Quebec. Discount Car and Truck Rentals in Quebec carries cars of all types, and for every use, from small economical cars for the budget conscious renter, up to spacious and luxurious options for those special occasions.
A leader in the province of Quebec the company started out in 1985 serving the local market and quickly expanded to serving the automobile insurance replacement segment. Whenever a Quebec driver had an accident or had their car stolen, Discount was there to help the transition to a car repair or replacement. Quickly gaining the trust of insurance brokers and insurance companies, they were able to offer a replacement rental quickly and efficiently to victims of unfortunate circumstances. From there Discount expanded its clientele to include business renters and opened the way for the eventual introduction of a commercial truck division with their acquisition of Monkland Car and Truck rentals on Decarie more than 20 years ago.
Strong Network in Quebec
Whether it’s for a holiday or a business trip, they boast an extraordinary network of over 160 locations across Quebec, which guarantees its users a wide range of vehicles to meet every need. Think about it- wherever you live across Quebec, chances are you are within a five to 10 minute drive from one of their stores.
Popular with people who participate in Quebec’s famous “Moving Day” every July 1st, Discount is there to offer trucks and equipment to facilitate the move. The company in fact carries the largest variety of trucks over any of its competitors in the province, by far. In addition, it now leads the way in the rental of electric and Hybrid vehicles.
I met with Steven Lazaroff, current Director or Retail Sales for Discount in Quebec. A member of the management team since 1991 he was involved in the early stages of growth for the company. He worked in the front line customer service teams, and went on to sales representation in different markets like the local insurance replacement market, dealing with insurance adjusters, insurance brokers, automobile dealerships as well as locally owned body shops. After the acquisition of Monkland his career shifted to developing the truck market and local commercial business were attracted to the dedicated sales teams that he led…
New for Discount Quebec is a self-serve kiosk at Plateau Mont Royal. If you have already reserved a vehicle, when you come to pick it up, the self-serve kiosk will speed up the rental process during busy periods, such as weekends. Just follow the instructions on the kiosk screen, and you’ll be good to go in a few quick and easy steps. Once you’re finished, a customer service agent will greet you at the counter to show you the inspection photos and hand over the keys to the vehicle.
Discount Car and Truck Rentals can help you plan your move when you use their online reservations feature to rent a moving truck. You’ll be able to reserve a van or a cube truck ahead of time so you’ll be ready on the big day. There are a wide variety of trucks to choose from, making it easy to find the right vehicle for your household goods. Even your favourite couch will fit comfortably on board! The trucks are equipped with a gentle-slope loading ramp or a hydraulic tailgate. What’s more, these customer-friendly rental solutions allow you to rent a truck for a one-way trip which can be handy when your kids need to move for University in the fall.
With the Discount Self-Service option, you can rent a truck by the hour. It’s an economical solution for last-minute jobs. Using nothing but your smartphone, you can reserve a van or rent a 12-foot truck, hop in the driver’s seat, and be on your way without even having to check in at one of the 160 branches!
The trucks in the fleet are practically brand new, and your rental is sure to be comfortable as our vehicles are designed for both city driving and long distances.
At Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport in Dorval, dial 1-888-335-5683 upon arrival at the terminal in order to signal your presence. Make your way to door 9 on the departure area of the airport for the Discount shuttle will pass by. The location is minutes away at 405 Avenue Michel Jasmin Info: (514) 631-1436
Planning a weekend escape from the daily routine? Rent a car at a bargain price from Discount Car and Truck Rentals and enjoy the perfect long weekend. Wherever you roam, leave your car at home so you don’t have to worry about wear and tear on your vehicle. That’s just one of the many benefits of a rental car!
For your family trip, maybe you’ll rent a jeep for a safari at Parc Omega or a minivan for a visit to Ste-Anne Canyon, head to the beaches in Gaspésie or along the U.S. east coast, take in an exhibition at Montreal’s Old Port, marvel at Château Frontenac in Quebec City, picnic in the Quebec countryside, or check out one of the province’s many summer festivals. With Discount you can choose from a selection of utility vehicles and minivans for up to seven passengers.
In the middle of a major renovation project, trying to figure out how to haul all of your materials home from the nearest big box store?
You can choose between renting a small 12-foot cube truck or a cargo van. For bigger loads and larger items like lumber over 10 feet in length, Discount Car and Truck Rentals will be happy to suggest the right truck for all your needs. Whether you’re renting a car in Montreal, a truck in Quebec City, or even a specialized vehicle (refrigerated, bucket, trailer, dump, or flatbed truck), they have what you need! If construction and renovation are more than just a hobby and are part of your daily work, learn more about our corporate rates:
For young children, Discount can provide child safety seats.