Tax Day 2016 Dining Splurges: Where to Spend Your Refund

April showers bring May flowers or if you’re really lucky, the month itself brings a big fat tax refund. Since experiences bring more happiness than possessions, a big splurge dinner on the town seems like the perfect way to spend it. Here are some top picks Tax Day 2016 dining splurges to live and eat large if only for one night. please note that the most exclusive wines are available in extremely limited quantities, so it’s best to inquire ahead of time if you have your heart set on a particularly splurge-y selection.

Daniel, New York, New York
Daniel Boulud’s flagship restaurant on the Upper East Side just off of Central Park is the epitome of contemporary French extravagance. The seven-course tasting menu clocks in at $234 or $459 with wine pairings and includes signature dishes like velvety Minted Pea Soup with chicken mousse and Louisiana crayfish and garlic pennycress and can include courses of langoustines, beef, and quail with foie gras. The wine list has selections such as Chateau D’Yquem 1918 for $10,000 or Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 2009 for $15,000. Or if you’re celebrating with similarly flush-with-cash friends, how about a magnum? You can’t go wrong with the Domaine Henri Jayer Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru “Cros Parantoux”1995 for $20,000. Make a reservation at Daniel.

Tax Day 2016 Dining Splurges

Providence, Los Angeles, California
Chef Michael Cimarusti’s 2-Michelin star paean to fine dining in the heart of Los Angeles features the chef’s menu, a 12-course tasting menu with sustainable seafood from the U.S. and beyond, as well as other delicacies like prized A5 wagyu beef. Decadent touches include ossetra caviar and white truffle and black truffle fondue. It’s $220 or $325 with wine pairings. But if you’re really looking to splash out, begin your evening with a bottle of 1998 Krug Clos d’Ambonnay Champagne for $3,500 and then move on to a bottle of 2012 La Tâche Domaine de la Romanée-Conti for $4,000. Finish the evening with a bottle to remember in the way of a 1959 Staatsweingut Kloster Eberbach Riesling Auslese for $3,500. Make a reservation at Providence.

Tax Day 2016 Dining Splurges

Saison, San Francisco, California
Chef Joshua Skenes and sommelier Mark Bright have crafted one of the most unique high-end dining environments at Saison, with its open floor plan encompassing the dining room, bar, lounge, and kitchen — effectively removing all walls. The goal is to bring diners into the chef’s world, in this case, a minimalist redesign of the California Electric Light Company building. Dishes have vague and poetic names such as Fire in the Sky Beet, Bone Marrow Roasted over Coals and Sea Urchin, Liquid Toast. The prix-fixe Discovery menu is a luxe $398 for about 16 courses with an additional $298 for wine pairings. But if you want to really max out the credit cards (assuming you can pay it off with your return dough), you might consider ordering the Domaine Georges Roumier ‘Bonnes-Mares’ Grand Cru 2009 for $15,408 or ending the experience on a truly sweet note with Château D’Yquem Premiere Cru Supérieur, Sauternes 1942 for $6,888. Make a reservation at Saison.

Tax Day 2016 Dining Splurges

StripSteak by Michael Mina, Miami, Florida
Located in the historic Fontainebleau hotel on Collins Avenue in Miami, StripSteak is swank and clubby with its wood tones and rich browns. Start your meal with rare golden osetra caviar service for $295, and then indulge in a beefy entrée like the 50-ounce Australian tomahawk for $150 or the Japanese Miyazaki prefecture A5 striploin for $32 per ounce. Then gild the lily with add-on extras like half a Maine lobster tail or seared foie gras. The restaurant prides itself on having one of the largest pre-embargo Cuban cigar collections in Miami, all dating back to 1962 and earlier with prices generally in the $100-200 range but topping out at $395 for a 6-inch Montecristo. To accompany your stogie, choose a tableside Japanese whisky ceremony or perhaps a glass of 25-year Macallan for $370. Make a reservation at StripSteak by Michael Mina.

Tax Day 2016 Dining Splurges

Grace, Chicago, Illinois
This Michelin three-star restaurant is also one of the biggest splurges in Chicago. Elegant and understated, chef Curtis Duffy’s Windy City gem is upscale without being fussy. The menu offers an 8-12 course tasting menu format at $235. The dishes are described in classic minimalist style such as Alaskan King Crab, sudachi, cucumber, lemon mint or Pig Tail, endive, cauliflower, oxalis. Many dishes have Asian accents and the vegetarian “flora” menu is as captivating as the “fauna” menu, which showcases seafood and protein. The wine list features saves and splurges among 1,400 selections. Teetotalers can splurge on bespoke teas that cost upwards of $20 each. Make a reservation at Grace.

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Sinfully Good: Give Us Our Daily Bread Pudding

Goodbye gluten-free — bread pudding is back, big time! Whether it’s in the form of an ooey, gooey, boozy dessert or a hearty, savory side dish, chefs are once again embracing this classic. Here are eight interpretations of the humble, satisfying dish from a few of our favorite restaurants.

The Macintosh, Charlestown, South Carolina
With a last name like Bacon, it’s befitting that Macintosh executive chef and partner Jeremiah Bacon would eschew the sweet for a signature savory side. He compares his Bone-Marrow Bread Pudding to a “savory French toast” and says word of mouth about the popular dish regularly brings in new diners ready to try his creative, upscale American plates that also include beet panna cotta and broccolini with pickled mustard seed, fish sauce, and naval oranges. While the bread pudding was at one point just a winter entree, it became so popular he decided to serve it year-round as a side. “It is so rich that a little goes a long way — which makes it a great item to share with the table,” he says. Make a reservation at The Macintosh.

Bread Pudding

Palace Café, New Orleans
Forget the spicy gumbo — decadent dessert is just as much a staple at Palace Café, where the signature third course, white chocolate bread pudding, has been the choice of diners since the café opened in 1991. A booze-free, kid-friendly alternative, it’s safer than anything you’ll find on Bourbon Street since the raisins have been replaced with white-chocolate chunks and the whiskey sauce takes the form of white-chocolate ganache. A more adult version is available at Bourbon House (Palace’s sibling restaurant in the French Quarter), featuring chocolate banana bread pudding complete with bourbon butterscotch sauce. Their boozy brunch features bourbon French toast with the bread pudding custard, paired with an adult milk punch — a blend of milk, gelato, and Old Forester bourbon. Make a reservation at Palace Café.

Bread Pudding

White Dog Café, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
What could be more comforting than food served in a Mason jar? For pastry chef Kelly Levasseur, possibly only desserts using her grandmother’s recipes. “Growing up, my grandmother was famous for her pineapple bread pudding — everyone can relate to it, it’s a little sweet piece of home,” she says. “We want to be creative with our recipes, but at the same time keep a feeling of home and comfort.” This season, two of three White Dog Café locations offer treats straight from Grandma’s kitchen: Roasted Pineapple Bread Pudding with coconut marshmallows, crushed almonds, topped with vanilla ice cream. Make a reservation at White Dog Café.

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Super Soups: Warm Up with 10 Classic Soups This Winter

In the cold winter months, nothing satisfies like a hot bowl of soup. This country is home to some famous and a few perhaps less well known (but still delectable) regional and adapted ethnic soups — from New England Clam Chowder and New Orleans Gumbo to South Asian Laksa, Pennsylvania Mushroom, and Wisconsin Beer Cheese Soup. Here are 10 of our favorite classic soups and where to get yourself a bowl.

Cioppino, Cioppino’s, San Francisco, California
The name says it all. This beloved Fisherman’s Wharf restaurant has been churning out bowls of this uniquely San Franciscan spicy fish stew since 1997. Their namesake soup brims with mussels, Dungeness crab, shrimp, snapper, clams, calamari, and tomatoes swimming in fennel- and wine-scented broth. Thick hunks of sourdough toast served alongside are perfect for sopping every last bit of that spicy, rust-colored broth. Make a reservation at Cioppino’s.

Classic soups

Mushroom Soup, Parc, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Half of America’s mushrooms are grown in the tiny Chester County borough of Kennett Square, about 40 miles southwest of Philadelphia. So if you find yourself in the City of Brotherly Love, you’d be remiss to pass up on mushroom soup. At Rittenhouse Square French brasserie Parc, the velvety mushroom soup combines cremini mushrooms, shallots, garlic, thyme, tarragon, and bay leaf with mushroom and chicken stock and a touch of cream. The soup is pureed and then garnished with a mix of roasted exotic mushrooms (beech, piopini, maitake, and more creminis) for texture, minced chives, and a drizzle of olive oil. Make a reservation at Parc.

Classic Soups

Laksa, Cassia, Santa Monica, California
This popular soup slurped on the streets Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore has numerous adaptations, though its common elements are chili-infused coconut milk broth and a generous portion of noodles. At Asian-influenced L.A. brasserie Cassia, Bryant Ng’s seafood laksa combines shrimp, mussels, rice noodles, herbs, and a hardboiled egg in a thick, fiery coconut curry broth with the subtle funk of shrimp paste. Make a reservation at Cassia.

Classic soups

French Onion Soup, Bistro Campagne, Chicago, Illinois
There’s no shortage of terrific French bistros around the country — nearly all of them offering some variation on this beefy soup teeming with caramelized onions and topped with bubbling Gruyere croutons. At this little spot in Chicago’s residential Lincoln Square neighborhood, the soup a l’oignon gratinée is simple yet beautifully executed, with a tangle of sweet, caramelized onions bobbing in savory, beefy broth capped with a dense layer of nutty, blistered Gruyere —enough cheese to have some in every bite. Make a reservation at Bistro Campagne.

Classic Soups

Ramen, Bar Chuko Izakaya, Brooklyn, New York
There’s a reason Americans have fallen hard for this Japanese soup made from thick, savory broth and slurpable noodles. As one of the first U.S. cities to embrace ramen, New York has no shortage of great options, but this Prospect Heights spot from three Morimoto alums is surely a top contender. Their delectable kimchi ramen packs ground pork, toothsome hand-pulled noodles, seaweed, egg, and thin scallion ribbons. But the vegetarian — with seasonal veggies, kimchi, spiced tofu cubes, and noodles bobbing in miso-soy broth — is a sleeper hit. Make a reservation at Bar Chuko Izakaya.

Classic Soups

Beer Cheese Soup, Rumpus Room, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
As the nation’s top cheese-producing state that also ranks in the top 10 for craft breweries, Wisconsin takes its cheese and beer very seriously, so it’s no surprise there’s a soup that embodies the best of both. The Rumpus Room’s version blends creamy, tangy Carr Valley cheddar and bright, mildly tart Weiss beer, topped with airy morsels of house-spiced popcorn for a rich, comforting bowl to warm you through after braving the bitter Lake Michigan winds outside. If you’re really starved for comfort, throw on an optional brown sugar bacon topper. Make a reservation at Rumpus Room.

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Deck the Halls! 7 Top Holiday Restaurants That Go All Out for Christmas

‘Tis the season to be jolly. In our book, that means sparing ourselves the dishes and dining out. A lot. Since we love reveling in the Christmas spirit, we point our proverbial sleighs toward eateries that are equally excited (and wear that excitement if not on their sleeves than everywhere else!). From festive decorations and visits from Santa himself to special menus and live caroling, here are seven top holiday restaurants that truly deck the halls.

1789, Washington, D.C.
The staff doesn’t hold back when decorating this Federal-era home turned restaurant in historic Georgetown. Every room is festooned with lights, wreaths, garlands, and festive glass balls. Dinner comes with a side of caroling. The Washington Men’s Camerata visits the restaurant December 13th through 24th from 7-9 PM to sing a variety of holiday choral classics. Pro tip: Even if you were the star of your college a cappella group, you should keep quiet and let them perform. On Christmas Eve, guests will enjoy a beyond decadent a la carte dinner with foie gras torchon perked up with orange marmalade and pickled celery, coddled egg and lobster, and bucatini topped with Nantucket bay scallops (white truffles optional, but highly recommended).

Top Holiday Restaurants 1789

Colicchio & Sons, New York, New York
Tom Colicchio and his team celebrate the season in a big way. Previously, they’ve decked out a tree in record decorations, blue lights, and miniature jukeboxes to pay homage to Elvis’ Christmas Album, which Colicchio’s father spun during the holiday season. The pastry team always outdoes themselves with extra delicious decorations. Last year, they created a gingerbread skyline of New York City topped off with Lady Liberty.

Top Holiday Restaurants Colicchio & Sons

Arnaud’s, New Orleans, Louisiana
This Big Easy institution adorns its exterior with garlands and wreaths all twinkling with little white lights. From December 1st through 23rd, guests can choose the celebratory five-course Réveillon dinner ($49, not including tax and tip). Dishes include duck rillettes enlivened with caramelized onions, radishes, and cherry confit, Creole onion soup en croute, roasted Cornish game hen with mayhaw demi-glace, and a classic tarte tatin. Good times guaranteed.

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Lafayette, Washington, D.C.
Perched on Lafayette Square across from the White House, this D.C. dining powerhouse offers a very merry buffet ($110 per adult, $52 for children 12 and under, not including tax and tip). Highlights include duck magret with a mélange of mushrooms, braised beef ravioli, and a raw bar boasting baby lobster, shrimp, and snow crab claws. Save room for an epic dessert selection from talented pastry chef Josh Short, such as peppermint white chocolate cheesecake, toasted walnut snowballs, bûche de Noël, smoked pecan brittle, cranberry panna cotta, and a heavenly host of holiday cookies. 

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