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.

Tax Day 2016 Dining SplurgesContinue Reading

2016 James Beard Award Finalists: Chefs + Restaurants

The picks are in for the final nominees for the 2016 James Beard Foundation Awards. Even though not every chef or restaurant listed here will go home with the award, trust us when we say that you will have a sublime dining experience with any of them. We’ll be cheering them all on in Chicago on May 2nd at the awards ceremony; you can purchase a ticket, too, in case you didn’t know. Congratulations to all the 2016 James Beard Award finalists!

James Beard Awards 2016 Finalists

Finalists include:

Best New Restaurant
Death & Taxes, Raleigh, North Carolina
Launderette, Austin, Texas
Shaya, New Orleans, Louisiana
Staplehouse, Atlanta, Georgia
Wildair, New York, New York

Outstanding Restaurant
Frasca Food and Wine, Boulder, Colorado
Highlands Bar & Grill, Birmingham, Alabama
The Spotted Pig, New York, New York

Outstanding Service
Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, New York
Eleven Madison Park, New York, New York
North Pond, Chicago, Illinois
Quince, San Francisco, California
Topolobampo, Chicago, Illinois

Outstanding Wine Program
Canlis, Seattle, Washington
FIG, Charleston, South Carolina
Sepia, Chicago, Illinois

Outstanding Chef
Sean Brock, McCrady’s, Charleston, South Carolina
Suzanne Goin, Lucques, West Hollywood, California
Donald Link, Herbsaint, New Orleans, Louisiana
Michael Solomonov, Zahav, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Michael Tusk, Quince, San Francisco, California

Rising Star of the Year
Alex Bois, High Street on Market, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Grae Nonas, Olamaie, Austin, Texas
Daniela Soto-Innes, Cosme, New York, New York
Alan Sternberg, Cerulean, Indianapolis, Indiana
Edward Sura, Perennial Virant, Chicago, Illinois

Outstanding Pastry Chef
Meg Galus, Boka, Chicago, Illinois
Maura Kilpatrick, Oleana, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Dolester Miles, Highlands Bar and Grill, Birmingham, Alabama
Dahlia Narvarez, Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles, California
Ghaya Oliveira, Daniel, New York, New York
Jennifer Yee, Lafayette, New York, New YorkContinue Reading

How to Become an Online Dining Influencer #hackdining

Welcome to March — the month that brings with it the promise of spring and the first harvest that will put all things fresh and green to our plates. As we awaken from a winter slumber spent in an indulgent haze of carbs, meaty cocktails, and over-the-top sweets, we invite you to embark on a spring awakening of your own — on social media. Contributor Nevin Martell spoke with top social media mavens for their tips on how to become an online dining influencer and share your food and drink adventures in a meaningful way. 

online dining influencer

A tweet that a soon-to-open, much-buzzed restaurant has just started taking online reservations. An in-depth magazine profile of a rising star chef. A gorgeous Instagram of a new dish that just went on the menu that evening at a James Beard Award-winning eatery. A thoughtful blog post on the just-launched brunch at a hot newcomer.

We’ve all liked and shared these social media posts. But who are the writers, photographers, and tastemakers behind them? By the looks of it, they have the coolest jobs in the world as they eat out, drink up, and go behind the scenes with chefs, mixologists, and restaurateurs.

Wouldn’t you like to be one of them? But how can you become a dining influencer? Whether you want to become a well-known blogger, a social media star, or a writer for food-focused publications, there are some rules you should follow, even if you only plan on doing it part-time.

To help you kick-start your career as a go-to authority in your dining scene, we rounded up keen insights from an enterprising and prolific freelance writer, a queen of the blogosphere and a certified wine-spirits expert turned writer-editor.

LAURA HAYES

Freelance food writer for the Food Network, Washington City Paper, and many other publications, as well as the lead D.C. contributor for Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @btmenu and like her on Facebook.

Blog Laura Hayes copy

1. Go out. A lot.

“When I was starting out, I went to every invite I got and I didn’t stand in the corner. I made sure to get to know the people. I stuck business cards in everybody’s hands.”

 2. It’s all about knowing people and developing relationships.

“I might not be able to pronounce the name of the finest French wine, but I can tell you how many kids a chef has or what they like to eat after a shift. Get to know people and they’ll tell you great stories.”

3. Be different.

“If you’re going to start a blog, carve out a space that’s unique and hasn’t been done before. A lot of amateur blogs cover everything – events, reviews, round-ups – but you need to be more specific. Also, your voice is the most important thing. Be a polished version of yourself when you write.”

4. Express yourself on social media…

“It’s important to let people get to know you as a person, not just you the journalist. So I do 80 percent work posts, 20 percent personal posts. You don’t want it to come across as self-promoting all the time.”

5. …But be smart about it.

“Words that don’t carry any value are “delicious” and “#yumyumyum.” Even in 140 characters, you can pack in a lot of information, factoids, and snippets of value.”

CORI SUE MORRIS

Co-founder of the food and lifestyle blog Bitches Who Brunch, which offers formatted reviews of – you guessed it – brunches around D.C., New York, and Chicago. Follow her on Twitter @CoriSueMorris and Instagram @corsuemorris.

Blog Cori Sue Morris copy

1. Don’t get lost in the noise.

“Don’t be so busy you don’t have time to check out what other people are doing, but don’t unconsciously copy them. If you copy someone, you’re automatically going to be second best.”

2. The picture has to tell a story.

“A person shouldn’t just be sitting there with a cup of coffee. If they’re looking off in the distance and seem engaged, you get the sense they’re having an interesting conversation with someone.”Continue Reading

2016 James Beard Award Semifinalists: Chefs + Restaurants

JBF

It’s awards season once again, and we couldn’t be more excited for the upcoming 2016 James Beard Foundation Awards. The list of semifinalists for nominations was recently released and it reads like a who’s who of American cooking (you can click here for a full list of nominated chefs, restaurants, and restaurateurs, including the extensive regional nominations). The nominees will be revealed on March 15th. Winners will be announced on May 2nd at the awards ceremony, which will be held in Chicago. Cheers to all the 2016 James Beard Award semifinalists — we hope you make the final list of nominees!

Semifinalists include:

Best New Restaurant
Alter, Miami, Florida
Bardot Brasserie-Aria, Las Vegas, Nevada
The Blanchard, Chicago, Illinois
Bracero Cocina, San Diego, California
Cassia, Santa Monica, California
Coquine, Portland, Oregon
The Dabney, Washington, D.C.
Eloisa, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Girin Steakhouse & Ssam Bar, Seattle, Washington
Helen Greek Food and Wine, Houston, Texas
INTRO, Chicago, Illinois
Kinship, Washington, D.C.
Morcilla, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Público, St. Louis, Missouri
Shaya, New Orleans, Louisiana
Shepard, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Outstanding Restaurant
A.O.C., Los Angeles, California
Acquerello, San Francisco, California
Bluestem, Kansas City, Missouri
Craft, New York, New York
Fore Street, Portland, Maine
Foreign Cinema, San Francisco, California
Fork, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Frasca Food and Wine, Boulder, Colorado
Highlands Bar & Grill, Birmingham, Alabama
Jaleo, Washington, D.C.
Lark, Seattle, Washington
Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix, Arizona
Providence, Los Angeles, California
Rasika, Washington, D.C.
The Spotted Pig, New York, New York

Outstanding Service
Aubergine at L’Auberge Carmel, Carmel, California
Bacchanalia, Atlanta, Georgia
Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, New York
Café Juanita, Kirkland, Washington
Charleston Grill, Charleston, South Carolina
Eleven Madison Park, New York, New York
L’Espalier, Boston Massachusetts
Marcel’s by Robert Wiedmaier, Washington, D.C.
North Pond, Chicago, Illinois
The Pass, Houston, Texas
Quince, San Francisco, California
Restaurant August, New Orleans, Louisiana
Saam at the Bazaar by José Andrés, Beverly Hills, California
Saison, San Francisco, California
Topolobampo, Chicago, Illinois
Zahav, Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaContinue Reading