Luce at the Intercontinental San Francisco
Located near San Francisco's Moscone Center, Luce is the flagship restaurant of the newly built Intercontinental San Francisco.
A sleek glass-encrusted structure located south of Market, a private restaurant entrance from the street ushers in a local crowd of curious foodies typically apprehensive to hotel eateries. The interior dining room is a towering space of dangling gold light fixtures above a beige-and-black marble floor with low banquette and tabletop seating.
The restaurant features a lively bar area, as well as a communal chef's table adjacent to the glass-enclosed kitchen.
At the helm of Luce is chef Dominique Crenn, a native French chef heralded by Esquire magazine as one of America's "Chefs to Watch."
Crenn delivers a seasonal California-Italian menu with organic seasonal influences delivered in a meticulously thought-out menu. A mix of land and sea, dishes like Black Ink Trofiette Carbonara (squid in black ink with a poached egg), seafood tartare and an aged ribeye topped with braised oxtail are impeccably presented with a wine list created by Michael Mondavi (Robert Mondavi's son).
MB Restaurant -- Aqua Resort
It's not the Cancun you once knew, at least not Aqua Resort, which is like a 371-room island of luxury directly on the shores of the Caribbean Sea.
Aqua is a new luxury offshoot of Grupo Posadas, the company that operates South America's collection of Caesar Park Hotels. The property is massive, stretching out on an expansive strip of pristine sand with head-on ocean views and some of the chicest common areas in the region.
Besides the five-star spa and eight resort pools with private cabanas and beachside DJ lounge, there are the culinary delights of MB Restaurant, created by Michelle Bernstein.
Michelle Bernstein is well known to North American foodies as a former James Beard nominee, guest judge on Top Chef and owner of Michy's in Miami. MB Restaurant spins Bernstein's signature Cuban-inspired comfort food with a locally sourced menu of organic ingredients, regional specialties and sustainable produce. Seasonal specialty dishes include Tuna Tartar with chili oil and ginger, Spanish-style Shrimp and Toasty Garlic and Braised Short Ribs with polenta and Moroccan carrots.
The Greenwich Hotel
Hyped hotel openings are no new thing to New Yorkers, but few have opened with the type of fanfare and secrecy of The Greenwich Hotel. While New York restaurant spin-offs are an everyday occurrence, it's a rare occasion when an L.A. restaurant makes a New York debut.
With nighttime sunglasses and couture hoodies pulled around their heads, starlets and be-seen foodies are lining up for the new outpost of Ago (pronounced -- Ah-Go and co-owned by Robert DeNiro). For hotel guests who prefer to avoid the hype, the restaurant is also available through room service 24 hours a day.
Chef Agostino Sciandri debuts his famed Italian steakhouse in the Grayling-designed dining room, cast to recreate the eateries of Florence.
The dining room is lined in exposed brick walls with wood paneling and ceiling covered in over 90,000 corks that alludes to the restaurant's extensive wine list. The menu looks much like what one encounters at the new Vegas and waning L.A. outpost of the restaurant with organic salads, homemade pastas, wood-fired pizzas and aged steaks cooked to perfection.
What is new is the Greenwich ambiance and N.Y. glitterati begging for any reservation they can get.
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