Frost and Bloom: A Connected Event with Vedge + Vernick in Philadelphia

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“There is no beauty without some strangeness.” — Edgar Allan Poe

Under the cold there was, in fact, gold. This week, on a snowy evening in Philadelphia, OpenTable gathered with foodies, lifestyle contributors, and local influencers and chefs Kate Jacoby and Rich Landau of venerated plant-forward restaurant Vedge and Greg Vernick of new American favorite Vernick Food & Drink for Frost and Bloom, an unlikely Valentine’s Day soiree that is part of Connected, our series of talks and gatherings that bring together the restaurant and tech worlds with food, drink, and local culture.

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Seeking a deeper and unconventional connection to the notion of love, we set out to dig deep within the chill of winter for true connections — to food, to drink, and to one another, turning the holiday and its all-too-often saccharine associations on its head. Drawing inspiration from mavericks such as Saint Valentine, Chaucer, and Spenser, Philadelphia’s storied The Mask and Wig Club was given an enchanting costume of winter blooms and evocative artwork from Nitsua, Kyle Huff, and Conrad Benner, curated by OpenTable brand director Cort Cunningham, and the intrigue kicked off at 6:30PM with food and drink to mirror the mood dreamed up by these top chefs and Vedge beverage director Ross Maloof.

Drinks

We shrugged off the chill of the evening within the warm confines of The Mask and Wig Club as hearts were gently melted with intoxicating piano music, and we sipped one-of-a-kind creations from Maloof that embodied the spirit of the evening, including the Cupid Makes Me Retch with vodka, chocolate, espresso, beet, and rose water rinse, and the non-alcoholic Pickpocket, forged out of plum, Meyer lemon, thyme, citrus, and club soda. Guests scooped up cards with quotes about love in all its many forms as they nibbled on sexy bites from Landau and Jacoby, such as  smoked hearts of palm on crostini, jerk spiced carrots with rutabaga “fondue”, celery root “cacio e pepe” with fregola and black pepper, and crispy sunchokes with black garlic buffalo sauce and celery leaf ranch.

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The festivities later moved upstairs, where DJ duo Maggs Bruchez raised the temperature in the room, laying down the PHL’s best beats. Chef Vernick and his team headed behind the burners for the second half of the subtly sultry evening, serving a trio of savory dishes featuring flavors designed to delight the senses, from salt cod and semolina croquettes with saffron cream and avocado crostini with spicy radish to tuna poke complemented by macadamia nuts and sweet soy and spicy veal meatballs swathed in ancho chili caramel served on appropriately dagger-like toothpicks.Continue Reading

2015 100 Best Restaurants in America — Top 10 Ranked

We can’t think of a better way to celebrate the deliciousness of the past year than by unveiling the 2015 100 Best Restaurants in America and highlighting the top 10 honorees. These awards reflect the combined opinions of more than 5 million restaurant reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners for more than 20,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

SF Food

The Top 10 Best Restaurants in America, in rank order, include:

  1. St. Francis Winery & Vineyards – Santa Rosa, California
  2. Mama’s Fish House – Paia, Hawaii
  3. Kai-Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort – Chandler, Arizona
  4. Halls Chophouse – Charleston, South Carolina
  5. Sushi Nakazawa-Sushi Bar – New York, New York
  6. Blue Hill at Stone Barns – Pocantico Hills, New York
  7. Acquerello – San Francisco, California
  8. n/naka – Los Angeles, California
  9. Daniel – New York, New York
  10. Vetri – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Like the list as a whole, the Top 10 Best Restaurants in America emphasizes revered restaurants that place a premium on striving for perfection, from Mama’s Fish House, which opened its doors in 1973 to n/naka, which opened in 2011. Each honoree provides fare and hospitality that consistently earn rave reviews and attract repeat diners, even though the concepts are quite diverse, including the non-traditional dining experience that is the sublime food and wine pairing experience at St. Francis Winery & Vineyards. Its idyllic vineyard setting, six-course menu tailored to compliment specific wine vintages and varietals, and unique value have helped St. Francis build quite a following and earn the number one spot for the second time in three years (scroll down for an inside look at St. Francis). Four of this year’s Top 10 were also present on the 2014 rankings.

Highlighting restaurants with experienced chefs behind the burners, the complete list features honorees in 28 states and the District of Columbia and includes Acquerello in San Francisco, Eleven Madison Park in New York, and Vedge in Philadelphia. California and New York have 16 winning restaurants each, followed by Pennsylvania with 8, Texas with 5, and Arizona, Illinois, North Carolina, New Jersey, and Virginia with four apiece. Colorado, Florida, and Ohio boast three winners each, while Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington all have two. Idaho, Kansas, Maryland, Nevada, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington, D.C. are also represented.

Established restaurants handily dominated the list; just three winners opened in the last year. Approximately a quarter of the eateries were established within the last five years, and many are more than 20 years old, with at least 14 having been in business in excess of 30 years, including perennial Manhattan favorite La Grenouille, which dates back to 1962. Overall, there are 39 repeat winners from last year’s list. While American and French fare proved overwhelmingly popular, restaurants serving globally inspired fare also made their mark. Multi-course, prix-fixe meals and chefs’ tastings abound, with almost half offering either one or both. The vast majority identify as fine dining restaurants, offering dinner service only, with some even indicating a jacket or formal attire is required. You can read more about the top trends at the 2015 100 Best Restaurants in America here.Continue Reading

Last-Minute Thanksgiving Reservations: Deals + Offers

Last-Minute Thanksgiving Reservations

ICYMI, Thanksgiving is just days away. If it slipped your mind (or your stomach), fear not. There is availability at top restaurants in cities all across the nation. To wit, we’ve rounded up a variety of deals and offers in our last-minute Thanksgiving reservations guide for restaurants in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. Read on and start booking!

ATLANTA
A bit more: Le Bilboquet: With an all-day special menu, French favorite Le Bilboquet is open from 12PM-8PM and serving a 3-course meal at $65 per person and $25 for kids under 12.
A bit less: B’s Bistro: B’s is offering a traditional four-course turkey, ham or Scottish salmon Thanksgiving feast from 1PM-7PM. It’s just $34.95 plus tax and service, and $16.00 for the 12 and under crew.
A bit different: The SHED at Glenwood: Dig into an amazing Thanksgiving buffet with all the holiday classics! With seatings from noon to 7PM, it’s $50 for adults and $20 for kids 3-11.
Find more Thanksgiving restaurant reservations in Atlanta.

BOSTON
A bit more: Bar Boulud: Celebrate with friends and family while enjoying a three-course, prix-fixe Thanksgiving Day spread. Enjoy seasonal classics with a French twist, from 12PM-8PM for $85 apiece.
A bit less: Amuse: Chef Martin Quinn is creating a special three-course Thanksgiving prix-fixe menu for only $28 per person.
A bit different: Club Café: Do good while digging into the sumptuous buffet at Club Café. Served 11AM-4PM, it’s $29.95 per person and 10% of food sales will be donated to The Boston Living Center and the dollar donation will be matched by Mark West wines.
Find more Thanksgiving restaurant reservations in Boston.

CHICAGO
A bit more: Cite: Feast with your family and friends on a hearty Thanksgiving brunch buffet on the 70th floor of the prestigious Lake Point Tower, from 10:30AM-2:30PM. Adults are $85 each, and kids eat for $38.
A bit less: Brasserie LM: Brasserie by LM will celebrate Thanksgiving with a $35 prix-fixe menu. Menu items include Roasted Chestnut Soup, Fried Ham Steak with bacon & Brussels sprout hash, and yummy Pumpkin Pie.
A bit different: Vermillion: Partake of the most unabashed innovative Thanksgiving feast that has earned raves from the Wall Street Journal, among others. The four-course global meal is big on herbs and spice with a Latin-Indian twist. Vegetarian options abound. $55 per person.
Find more Thanksgiving restaurant reservations in Chicago.

DENVER
A bit more: Element 47: The three-course prix fixe Thanksgiving menu gets a luxe spin at Element. Book for the $99 per person experience with an optional $65 wine pairing.
A bit less: Hodson’s Bar and Grill-Southglenn: Enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner two ways — traditional with all the fixings for $17 or a smoked turkey with root vegetable gratin for $16. Both options are served all day, from 11AM-8PM.
A bit different: Kachina Southwestern Grill: Add a southwestern accent to your day with this family-style “Back to Our Roots” supper from 11AM-9PM. The four courses feature Achiote Turkey, Smoked Prime Rib, and traditional sides. $40 for adults and $15 for children.
Find more Thanksgiving restaurant reservations in the Denver area.

LOS ANGELES
A bit more: Carbon Beach Club Restaurant at The Malibu Beach Inn: Surf into the holiday with a beachside Thanksgiving dinner. There are three courses for $ 85 per person with wine pairings available upon request.
A bit less: The Front Yard: You don’t have to stress about cooking this year if you hit up The Front Yard! Chef Chris is serving a save-ory menu at just $39 for adults and $18 kids 12 and under.
A bit different: The Hungry Cat: It’s tender vittles all the way with offerings that include deep-fried turkey, spiced cranberry, chorizo and oyster stuffing, potato puree and more, plus dessert.
Find more Thanksgiving restaurant reservations in Los Angeles.Continue Reading

Testing, Testing: Online Ordering Arrives in Select Cities

At OpenTable, we’re always searching for ways to connect you with great dining experiences. We recognize, however, that there are times when that great dining experience must come to you. Perhaps you can’t find a babysitter. Maybe sweat pants are the only item of clean clothing in your apartment. Or, more likely, Sharknado 3 is on and you just can’t pull yourself away. We get it.

For those times when you just can’t make it to a restaurant, OpenTable is here to help. In keeping with our tradition of investigating different ways to make your life delicious, online ordering is now being tested in select cities to save you from totally lame takeout or, even worse, frozen pizza. During this test period, diners in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, and San Francisco can get connected to order delicious delivery or takeout from a restaurant’s profile page when you’re on OpenTable.com. There are more than 2,000 restaurants from which to choose.

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The next time you’re stuck on your sofa, let OpenTable help you connect with a delicious restaurant meal in the comfort of your home. Join us in this test and be sure to share your experiences with us at onlineordering@opentable.com. And, let us know what else we can do to make your life more delicious anytime.

Scott Jampol is Senior Vice President, Marketing, at OpenTable and a runner up in the 36th annual Sausalito Chili Cook-Off.