Archive for October, 2008

Beccofino Trattoria Opening Party, Convent Road – Bangkok

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Beccofino Trattoria
44/16 Convent Road
Silom, Bangrak, Bangkok, 10500
Tel. 632-0621-2
Opening Hours: Lunch: 11:30am-2:30pm, Dinner: 6pm-10:30pm
Credit Cards: All Major
Prices: Inexpensive-Moderate

The first branch of Beccofino Trattoria opened on November 3, 2008. The second Beccofino Trattoria opens in Chiang Mai in the beginning of 2009. A trattoria is a more casual version of a ristorante featuring a more informal “Italian home cooking” style.
Beccofino Trattoria on Convent Road is located in a four-story shop house with the restaurant occupying at least two floors, on the Sathorn side of Convent Road with parking in the church across the road. The first floor has a small bar and a smoking section on the terrace and seating for approximately 30 diners. The second floor has a dining room overlooking the high-rise landscape of Bangkok’s financial district with seating for around 25 diners and also offers a private dining room for eight persons.

Harry’s Bar – Venice, Italy

Monday, October 27th, 2008

S. Marco, 1323
30124 Venezia (VE), Italy
+39 041 5285777
Opening Hours:
Credit Cards: All Major
Prices: Very Expensive

Harry’s Bar is an institution and has always been a hangout and haven for Americans as diverse as Ernest Hemingway, Orson Welles, and more recently Woody Allen. Hemingway was a regular from the late forties forward and some of the scenes in his novel Across the River and into the Trees took place at Harry’s Bar. This probably partially influenced the decision of Arrigo Cipriani, who is the son of the founder Giuseppe Cipriani, to post a sign recently, giving notice that every American will be entitled to a 20% discount on all consumables until the financial, sub-prime mortgage crisis is over. An honorable gesture, everything considered.

The bar and ristoranti that brought to the Italian culinary repertoire the Bellini and Carpaccio along with expected steep prices and special services catering to the patrons, which might have included carrying the Aga Khan to the table in his own armchair, where he proceeded to gulp down Beluga caviar whole without even bursting a single egg with his teeth.

As the story goes, an American student named Harry Cushing was strapped for cash and asked Giuseppe Cipriani the barman at the Europa Hotel in Venice for 10,000 lire ($6,000 today). He then disappeared, leaving Cipriani worried that he might never see his money again. However, the American returned in February 1930, and he not only repaid Cipriani but offered to put up 40,000 lire more and said, “We can now open a bar and call it Harry’s”.

Giuseppe Cipriani opened Harry’s Bar in Venice in 1931 directly on the St Mark’s bay waterfront. He also made famous a drink, the Bellini, a mixture of white peach juice and sparkling prosecco, named after the fifteenth-century Venetian painter Giovanni Bellini. The dish is Carpaccio of beef, a plate of trimmed wafer-thin sirloin drizzled with a blend of mayonnaise and lemon juice, which was invented for an Italian Contessa who was on a diet free of cooked meat. It too was created by Giuseppe and was also named after an Italian painter, Vittore Carpaccio, who was famous for using colors in deep red hues.

The clientele’s motive for returning so often was not that they expected marvelously innovative culinary experimentation, just Italian classic cuisine, properly cooked and presented.

Recommended dishes & drinks include:
Carpaccio alla Cipriani, Scampi all’Armoricaine, Trippa alla Parmigiana
Bellini, Whisky Sour, Martini

If you would like to find a great selection of places to stay with discounted prices, visit Hotel Reservations in Venice for more information.

Brasserie Flo – Paris

Friday, October 24th, 2008

7 cour des Petites-Ecuries, 10e
10th Arrondissement (Gare Du Nord/Gare De L’est)
Tel.    01-47-70-13-59
Opening Hours: Daily noon-3pm and 7pm-1am
Credit Cards:  All Major
Prices: Moderate-Expensive

Brasserie Flo has acquired the patina that only time can bring and has a charm that is unique—none of the other brasseries—although lovely in their own way, have gained the look of aging gracefully as is the case with Flo.
This is a difficult place to find and sometimes I have trouble, although on other occasions, especially if the taxi driver has been there before, it has been easy.

They specialize in typical brasserie fare, Alsatian choucroute garni (special sauerkraut with pork, bacon, ham, sausages for two). It is a wonderful brasserie that has been around for years and I always enjoy dining there. On one occasion years ago I went to Flo with Peter Langan, of Langan’s Brasserie London in tow, it was one of his favorites and on this occasion we found Flo easily, however the remainder of the evening was not so easy, as the usual Langan’s drunken shenanigans came into play, although fairly harmless, it was none-the-less annoying.

This brasserie is among the must-see brasseries in Paris along with La Coupole and Bofinger.

La Coupole – Paris

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

La Coupole – Art Deco splendor beautiful pillars and ceiling
102, Boulevard du Montparnasse
75014 Paris
+33 (0)1 43 20 14 20
Opening Hours: 8am until 2am
Credit Cards: All Major
Prices: Moderate-Expensive

I really enjoy brasseries, the life and the bustle, although only authentic ones in France. La Coupole is one of my favorites in Paris (now belongs to the Flo Group) where I have spent a good deal of time over the years dining late into the evening.

Oysters, plateau de fruits de mer, lamb curry with quince, and sole meunière are some of the all time favorite dishes here.

Open from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. the atmosphere is relaxed and very Parisian. Guests can have a simple sandwich on the terrace or a grand repas with white tablecloth in the restaurant, the three styles (restaurant, brasserie, and terrace cafe) have existed here side by side since 1927.
La Coupole has become the quintessential brasserie in Montparnasse frequented in times past by authors Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Henry Miller.

Gustomenta – Beijing, China

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

Gelato Xindong Lu 38-12, Gongti

Tel. 8610 641178890

This is the latest address after their re-location from San Li Tun Nan Ji (bar street). There are many unusual flavors of home-made gelato listed, although not all flavors listed are available. The room can be very smoky, which tends to ruin the tasting experience.

Chez Castel – Paris

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

15, rue Princesse
75006 Paris
Tél. : 01 40 51 52 80
Private Club – Members and their Guests only!

Opened in the 1960’s by Jean Castel in Saint-Germain des Prés, Chez Castel has welcomed almost every famous luminary in the world who passed through the red door and were quickly escorted to their waiting tables.
I remember spending some time in the disco downstairs in the late sixties when visiting Paris, the dance floor is about the right size and it is a fun room; in more recent times the bar and small dining room on the ground floor were more interesting to me. Chez Castel has always been a chic destination on the Parisian club scene and is now owned by Phillippe Fatien.
Once inside the unmarked red facade there is a check-in window at the right and a small dining room and bar on the left. The disco with a small dance floor is downstairs and upstairs is the formal dining room. The club screens and selects entry at the door; it is doubtful that without knowing a member who happens to be in the club when you arrive, or has left your name at the door, that you will be able to gain entry.

The amazing thing is, Castel is the only club that I know of that has been able to bridge the generation gap. They are able to pack the younger generation in the basement disco, and at the same time the more sophisticated crowd dine in the gourmet dining room upstairs, and the rest of the crowd that are  somewhere in between, frequent the ground floor bar and small adjacent dining room.
There are over a thousand members and membership cost per year is in the range of 600 euros for which a discount on consumables is given.

Brasserie Le Nord – Lyon, France

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

Brasserie le Nord, Lyon
18 rue Neuve, Presqu’ile, Lyon
Tel. 04-72-10-69-69
Opening Hours: Daily for lunch and dinner
Reservations recommended
Credit Cards: All Major
Prices: Moderate-Expensive

It is a luxury to taste selections from a traditional brasserie menu along with Lyonnaise dishes and ingredients accompanied by rivers of Beaujolais and is made even more significent in this; the gastronomic heart of France. The brasserie called Le Nord (North), one of four in Lyon (north, south, east and west) were created by world-famous chef, Paul Bocuse and the service is very professional and the restaurant classically highlighted by dark wood paneling and polished brass, with crisp white table linen.

Charolais beef, Beaujolais wines, Saint Marcellin cheese, quenelles of pike from the Dombes, Bresse poultry, sausages with pistachios are all available in the Brasserie du Nord. Bocuse likes to reveal the producers he uses for all ingredients, as he well knows it is imperative to have them or his cooking would suffer. It is simplicity, although at the same time, it personifies excellence.

Centro Bar & Lounge – Beijing, China

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

Shangri-La Kerry Centre Hotel
Level 1
Tel. (86 10) 6561 8833 ext. 42
Opening Hours: Centro is always open.
Dress Code: Smart casual
Smoking Policy: Centro accommodates smokers and non-smokers
Credit Cards: All Major
Prices: Expensive

Centro is both the main bar and lounge at the Shangri-La’s Kerry Centre Hotel, and also one of the best nightspots in Beijing. Centro combines a world-class bar and wine selection with modern decor, live music and seductive design.

The lounge serves light, uncomplicated dishes, and people from all over the city gather here during the daytime until late into the night.

Through the Month of October enjoy delicious hairy crabs at the hotel’s Horizon Chinese Restaurant.

Beijing Da Dong – Beijing, China

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

Beijing Da Dong

Bldg 3, Tuanjiehu Beikou, Chaoyang Park Southeast corner of Changhong Qiao

Tel. 6582-2892/4003/4102

Opening Hours: 11am-10pm

Prices: Inexpensive-Moderate

Credit Cards: Accepted

This place is famous for its Peking Duck. To avoid queuing it is imperative to book a table in advance probably only possible in the early evening. Even though the main draw is the roast duck, do not overlook the other offerings on the menu as they are all quite good.

Confirmed: Cristina Spanu & Marco Cammarata of Belguardo to Split!

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

BANGKOK, THAILAND: Cristina Spanu will continue to operate Belguardo Restaurant in the Paragon along with a new Italian chef, as yet unnamed, beginning early 2009.  Chef Marco Cammarata is now involved in the restaurant at the Jazz Club Niu’s on Silom Road.