London, Volume 23, number 2 April 2012

London

Of course London’s a buzz! No one is better at pomp and circumstance than the Brits and, after all, it’s the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympics, plus a raft of great art exhibitions, concerts and special events from this moment through the summer. Today, it will cost you about $1.67 to buy a pound and, with delicious goodies at your next meal dearer than gold itself, plan on a budget-buster of a trip. That being said, it’s a fabulous time to go. Everything is spit and polished, new hotels have opened, Olympics venues by renowned architects are nearing completion, tube travel throughout the city is clean, comfortable and punctuated with splendid architectural commissions, like the eye-popping Canary Wharf station by Sir Norman Foster. In fact the entire new Jubilee Line, completed in 1999, features the work of Britain’s best architects and designers.

The most talked about building created for the Olympics is Zaha Hadid’s recently completed London Aquatics Centre in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (at Stratford in East London), which sweeps up from the ground like a fluid wave enclosing the pools with one grand gesture. Nearby, is Anish Kapoor’s stunning observation tower, Orbit, the largest public artwork in Britain. Sited between the Aquatic Centre and the Olympic Stadium, the 377-foot-high tower, in brilliant red twisted lattice with two viewing platforms, calls to mind Tatlin’s tower, or even a tipsy Eiffel Tower. Also in the park will be a temporary soccer stadium and, in case you are wondering, there are actually 34 venues in all spread throughout London and environs. The Games of the XXX Olympiad will take place from July 27-August 12. The opening ceremony on July 27, with Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh officiating, and production by Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle is expected to be quite spectacular.

Not to be outdone, the museums are bringing forth their very best this summer: until June 5, the National Gallery will feature Turner Inspired: In the Light of Claude – a show that is dazzling audiences – and then follow with Titian’s First Masterpiece: The Flight into Egypt; also through June 5th the hallucinatory dots of Yayoi Kusama hold sway at Tate Modern, after which the exhibition will be the eagerly awaited and controversial Damien Hirst retrospective, along with the stunning Edvard Munch: The Modern Eye; the Tate Britain will first present Picasso and Modern British Art (through July 15) followed by Another London – classic photography 1930-1960, with works by Henri-Cartier Bresson, Robert Frank, Irving Penn . . . and more; Yoko Uno: TO THE LIGHT will be featured at the Serpentine Gallery through the summer, and the annual Serpentine pavilion design – this year by Herzog & de Meuron with Ai Weiwei – will be unveiled June 1st; at the Victoria & Albert Museum, first we will be treated to Queen Elizabeth II by Cecil Beaton: A Diamond Jubilee Celebration this spring, and then Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950 during the Olympics. Unfortunately, the grand kick-off event of this historic season, David Hockney: A Bigger Picture, at the Royal Academy of Arts, will end April 9, to travel on to the Guggenheim Bilbao. Its huge popularity has left everyone at the Academy gasping, with lines wrapped around Picadilly. See it wherever you must! After summering in Bilbao, it is traveling to Cologne.

As you read this, the Jubilee exhibitions have already begun at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, plus other sites dedicated to the Royal Collections, and will continue throughout the season. Through June 10, Ten Drawings by Leonardo da Vinci: A Diamond Jubilee Celebration will be on display at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery; Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomist, in the Queen’s Gallery, May 4-October 7, will be the largest exhibit ever of Leonardo’s studies of the human body; and Diamonds: A Jubilee, also in the Queen’s Gallery, will feature Her Majesty’s magnificent stones and jewels, June 30-October 7. The Cultural Olympiad itself reports that the 2012 Festival will reach more than 10 million people throughout the UK and beyond, through funded projects, including “Artists Taking The Lead” (12 commissioned artists), “Discovering New Spaces and Places,” “Film Nation,” and “New Music 20×12,” not to mention the Old Globe’s Cultural Olympiad season this spring, which will feature the complete plays of William Shakespeare – each in a different language. If it is opera you love, public booking for the legendary Glyndebourne Festival – May 20-August 26 – began March 24, so hurry to the on-line booking site. La bohème, Le nozze di Figaro, The Fairy Queen and a Ravel Double Bill are concurrent with the Olympics, but fair warning, you practically have to inherit tickets to Glyndebourne! Prior to the Olympics, you won’t want to miss the Jubilee festivities, including the star-studded Royal Philharmonic’s Jubilee Gala on May 31, not to mention the BBC concert at Buckingham Palace with Sir Elton John and Sir Paul McCartney, among many music stars (on June 4th – televised), and the River Pageant on the Thames June 3rd – the finale with the Queen leading over 1,000 vessels and a formal gun salute just downriver of London Bridge! Whew!!

I suspect it has occurred to you that hotel reservations are the first emergency. We recently found the most precious commodity in London: a reasonably priced, charming, perfectly located hotel, where the entire staff is simply lovely. In truth, I’m tempted not to tell you, not to tell ANYONE, for fear we’ll never get in again! But here goes: The Chesterfield Mayfair Hotel, just off fabled Berkeley Square in the heart of Mayfair, mere blocks from the Royal Academy and the National Gallery, Bond and Regent Street shopping, fabulous restaurants and more. I have just checked and only the suites are available during the Olympics, but if you hurry . . . Other possibilities that should be considered are the venerable Brown’s Hotel, exquisitely updated and the site of the ever-so-trendy Hix at the Albemarle restaurant, where chef Lee Streeton serves not only the finest of local ingredients, but fine art as well. The collection includes leading British artists Tracy Emin, Fiona Rae, Mat Collishaw, Tim Noble and Sue Webster. Brown’s is also the site of one of the most famous afternoon teas in London. Just shop Mayfair and drop in with your packages! The Draycott, an Edwardian five-star hotel just off Sloane Square in Chelsea; The Hempel, Anouska Hempel’s designer boutique gem set in a lovely garden near Hyde Park; and the Cadogan Hotel on Sloane Square in the heart of Knightsbridge, where Harvey Nichols, Hermes and Harrods are just steps away, remain special destinations that have been restored or reclaimed just in time for the Games. Perhaps the most widely touted new entry is The Corinthia, a grand, stately, 1885 Victorian hotel (formerly the Metropole), once home to the Ministry of Defense. In a fantastic location, it consumes a whole block close to Trafalgar Square and, if you are a beach volleyball fan, during the Olympics you’ll potentially have front-row views of the courts set up on the Horse Guards Parade. London’s all-caps chef, GORDON RAMSAY, has launched his first hotel, York & Albany, and the eponymous restaurant has been booked since it opened, but try long in advance. On the edge of Regent’s Park, the historic but not grand building has 10 cozy guest rooms that start from $287. Refurbishment has gone on at The Connaught, Savoy, Grosvenor House, Lanesborough, 45 Park Lane, and more, as well, so expect elegant accommodations if you’re lucky enough to snag a room.

And how seldom do we say we are going to London to dine? During my most recent trip in January, I had more exciting meals than at any other location on the Continent, and, yes, that includes Paris! Who would have thought London would have become the center of food innovation – especially if you remember the Simpsons’ style of the ‘60s! So many brilliant young chefs are creating new spaces and new cuisines that to try a significant portion you’re going to have to spend a lot of time eating! One favorite was Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, which just recently opened in the Mandarin Oriental. Try having lunch instead of dinner so you can look out over Hyde Park at the picturesque equestrians. The cuisine is based on traditional British dishes of hundreds of years ago accompanied by futuristic delicacies of tomorrow – incredible! There are three-course prix-fixe menus at both lunch and dinner from 25-55 pounds, or just tour through the unpredictable centuries of the menu. If you are a serious Blumenthal devotee, plan a trip to the headquarters of innovation, The Fat Duck, his Michelin three-star home in the village of Bray in Berkshire, about an hour from London, where he practices molecular gastronomy in what has been called the El Bulli of Britain. Another eye-opener was Ottolenghi. With four branches, the only one where you can book a table for dinner is in Islington – not that far, just go! Informal, nothing fancy here at the flagship except the hugely adventuresome, semi-vegetarian, Mediterranean dishes by the perfectionist Yotam Ottolenghi. They call their no-table branches the “haute-couture of take-out!” One more spot I wouldn’t have missed was Jamie Oliver and Adam Perry Lang’s new barbeque and beer joint, Barbecoa, literally in the shadow of Saint Paul’s Cathedral atop Ludgate Hill, with the most stunning views of Christopher Wren’s magnificent dome. It’s crowded and noisy, but it will make you rethink barbeque.

Shopping may be a bit less attractive because of the exchange rate, but do look at some of the things that don’t make it to our shores. With concept stores all the rage, I must say I like Merci & L’Eclaireur in Paris better, but London’s Dover Street Market is unique. Designed around its centerpiece line, Rei Kawakubo’s Comme des Garçons, it has other treasures scattered through the five bare-bones floors, including beautiful artists’ jewelry and the divine Rose Bakery on the top floor. In Notting Hill, don’t miss what is to my mind THE Paul Smith store. Creativity is rampant here! Similarly, I’d never miss a visit to creaky, old Liberty with its run-down atmosphere, gorgeous Arts & Crafts, wood-carved interiors and prodigious stock of anything you could possibly ever want. Don’t hesitate to explore the East End too, while you’re at it. Otherwise you will miss the now trendy/artsy neighborhoods of Bethnal Green, Shoreditch, and Hackney – home to young artists and designers, hip restaurants and curious shops. In truth, my favorite shopping venues in London are the museum shops. The Royal Academy always has limited-edition works of art by artist members of the Academy (read David Hockney or Peter Blake if you are lucky); the V&A shop is a veritable decorative arts department store; the Tate Modern has every book you could ever crave for your library, plus limited editions as well. And, if it is art that you crave, some of the world’s finest galleries call London home. For contemporary art, consider White Cube, Waddington Custot, Gagosian, Annely Juda, Hauser & Wirth, Haunch of Venison, Lisson, Veronica Miro, Flowers, Spruth Magers and many, many more.

Obviously the problem is “an embarrassment of riches.” What would I do if I could collect just five memorable experiences during this Olympics year: #1 I would plan a trip to Olympic Park (with or without venue tickets) to see Zaha Hadid’s Aquatic Centre and view the whole of the scene from Anish Kapoor’s brilliant landmark tower – bound to be the “forever” symbol of 2012. #2 The Good Fairy would deliver me tickets for a black-tie picnic on the lawn and performance of La boheme at Glyndebourne. #3 I would choose to lavish a day on the Tate Modern/Tate Britain, first for Hirst and then for Picasso, with lunch on the top floor of the Modern perched over the Thames and the London Millennium Footbridge designed by Ove Arup (engineers), Sir Norman Foster (Foster and Partners) and Sir Anthony Caro. #4 I would also take time to satisfy a bucket-list item of many years: a visit to Banqueting House, Whitehall. While Inigo Jones’ Palace of Whitehall, created for Henry VIII, is long gone, his Banqueting House of 1619/1622 remains, containing one of the most important Baroque paintings in the world – Peter Paul Rubens’ grand ceiling titled Apotheosis of James I, 1635. #5 Finally, I would indeed view the Queen in her Royal Rowbarge with her armada of a thousand boats on the Thames, amid 30,000 people afloat and a million more along the route, celebrating with music and fireworks on Sunday, June 3, 2012 (tickets to view from the tallest building on the Thames from AltitudeLondon.com). So, whether it is the Jubilee, the Olympics, the gorgeous new princess, or whether it’s just London’s new moment in the sun – which hasn’t come around since the days of the Beatles, Carnaby Street, Twiggy and Hockney’s Pop Art – it’s a lovely time to be a Brit. Enjoy the celebration!

Focus London

Hotels

The Chesterfield Mayfair, 35 Charles Street, Mayfair, Tel. 44 20 7491 2622, chesterfieldmayfair.com. Very traditionally English with the requisite chintz, it has just been beautifully redone. Location, location, location! Plus they will simply bend over backwards to please you. This is the hotel for Royal Academy guests.

Brown’s, 33 Albermarle Street, Mayfair, Tel. 44 20 7493 6020, brownshotel.com. Since 1837, this five-star establishment has been a glamorous destination – for tea or for an extended stay amid its antiques and contemporary art. Brown’s long list of “Best” awards testifies that it is a greatly loved institution.

The Draycott, 26 Cadogan Gardens, Knightsbridge/Chelsea, Tel. 44 20 7730 6466, 800 747 4942, draycotthotel.com. Called London’s finest five-star boutique suite hotel, the Draycott occupies three Edwardian townhomes just around the corner from Sloane Square. Most of the suites have cozy fireplaces and if you ask you might book one with a bay window overlooking the charming private gardens. There is an elegant breakfast room but no formal restaurant.

The Hempel, 31-35 Craven Hill Gardens, West London, Tel. 44 207 298 9000, the-hempel.co.uk. A sleek, white, contemporary boutique hotel (designed by Anouska Hempel) that is a Zen minimalist haven and restful retreat.

The Cadogan, 75 Sloane Street, Knightsbridge, Tel. 44 20 7235 7141, cadogan.com. A historic 125-year-old hotel on Sloane Square, this traditional charmer has been popular for as long as we can remember. No frills, just a comfortable, well-located base in a very desirable location. The newly launched “Great Taste” restaurant features “award-winning food from passionate artisan producers across the UK.”

Corinthia Hotel London, Whitehall Place, Tel. 44 20 7930 8181, corinthia.com. This historic building has been exquisitely restored. The public spaces are as beautiful as any you will find on your travels. The location is perfection, as well, and if you book a suite you should be able to see the Jubilee activities on the Thames.

York & Albany, 127-129 Parkway, NW1, Tel. 44 020 3030 1373 (hotel), 44 020 7388 3344 (restaurant), gordonramsay.com/yorkandalbanyhotel. In a restored, rather simple townhouse, Gordon Ramsay thrives. The location isn’t very convenient to central London, but my guess is foodies crowd in to have first option at the always-sold out-restaurant with a modestly priced prix fixe menu (18-21 GBP) at lunch and early, 6-7 PM dinner. Reading it makes my mouth water!

Restaurants
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
, 66 Knightsbridge, Westminster (Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Hyde Park), Tel. 44 020 7201 3833, dinnerbyheston.com. Blumenthal and Executive Chef Ashley Palmer-Watts have devoted years to discovering the history of British gastronomy and of course found that dinner – eaten at midday – was the main meal of the day – hence the name, although here they serve both night and day. Snag a table along the back in the space between the fabulous open kitchen and the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Hyde Park. The room is beautiful and refined, as is the food.

Ottolenghi, 287 Upper Street, Islington, Tel.44 020 7288 1454, ottolenghi.co.uk. The philosophy here is that everything must be handcrafted from the finest basic raw ingredients. The tempting bar by the front door, piled high with many of the evening’s side dishes and vegetable specialties, is a divine introduction: step up and select your favorites while you order off the menu as well. Carry-out locations are in Notting Hill Kensington and Belgravia.

Barbecoa, 20 New Change Passage, in One New Change Shopping Centre, The City, Tel. 44 020 3005 8555, barbecoa.com. With its own butcher shop and two chefs bound together to “celebrate fire and food,” you will not be surprised to taste the best barbecue this side of Kansas City!

Rose Bakery, Dover Street Market, 17-18 Dover Street, Mayfair, Tel. 44 020 7491 8460, doverstreetmarket.com. This stylish little French café on the top floor of the market enjoys a lunchtime rush among foodies who can’t resist the picture-perfect salads and pastries.

St. John Hotel (restaurant), 1 Leicester Street, Theatre District, Tel. 44 20 3301 8069, stjohnhotellondon.com. The stepchild of Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver’s famous St. John Bar and Restaurant in Smithfield, St. John is a very informal little spot to drop in (reservations suggested) for a pre-theater dinner. There’s fresh bread from the bakery and beyond that you’ll have to have a dictionary for the translation of the very traditional British head-to-tail dishes. Unless you want to go to the country, this is as close as you’ll get to renowned chef Henderson.

Wild Honey, 12 St. George Street, Mayfair, Tel.44 02077589160 wildhoneyrestaurant.co.uk. From the people who brought you Arbutus: Wild Honey is a wildly popular, Michelin-starred dining venue in the heart of the West End. It’s French/European, always with a twist.

Museums and Galleries
Tate Modern
, 53 Bankside, Southwark, Tel. 44 020 7887 8888, tate.org.uk./modern. Open Sunday through Thursday, 10-7, Friday and Saturday, 10-10. Free except for special exhibitions.

Tate Britain, Millbank, Tel 44 020 7887 8888, tate.org.uk/Britain. Open Saturday through Thursday, 10-6, Friday 10-10. Free except for special exhibitions.

Royal Academy of Arts, Piccadilly, Mayfair, Tel. 44 020 7300 8000, royalacademy.org.uk. Open Saturday through Thursday, 10-6, Friday, 10-10. Free except for special exhibitions. Tickets should be booked well in advance.

National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, Tel. 44 020 7747 2885, nationalgallery.org.uk. Open daily 10-6, Friday, 10-9. Free except for special exhibitions. Tickets should be booked well in advance.

Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, Tel. 44 020 79422000, vam.ac.uk. Open 10-5:45 daily, Fridays, 10-10. Free except for special exhibitions.

Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, Tel. 44 020 7402 6075, serpentinegallery.org. Open daily 10-6; the galleries are closed between exhibitions. Free.

The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, Tel. 44 020 7766 7301, royalcollection.org.uk. Open daily 10-5:30. Adult admission 9.25GBP, including audio tour.

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee: Visit www.direct.gov.uk/en/ for a schedule of events and locations.

Performing Arts
Glyndeborne, New Road, Lewes, East Sussex, Tel. 44 01273 812 321, glyndeborne.com.

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, rpo.co.uk.

Shakespeare’s Globe, Bankside, Tel. 44 020 7902 1409, shakespearesglobe.com.

Shopping
Dover Street Market
, 17-18 Dover Street, Mayfair, Tel. 44 020 7518 0680, doverstreetmarket.com. Don’t let the old warehouse look fool you. Luxurious, avant-garde merchandise lies within!

Aimé, 32-34 Ledbury Road, Notting Hill, Tel. 44 020 7221 7070, aimelondon.com. A small, charming French concept store on the edge of Notting Hill with a terrific selection of designs by Isabel Marant. Notting Hill is great strolling/shopping, so plan to spend some time – with sustenance from the yummy chocolate shop across the street!

Paul Smith, Westbourne House, 122 Kensington Park Road, Notting Hill, Tel. 44-0207 727 3553, paulsmith.co.uk. Although there are many locations, this one is the most unique.

Liberty, Regent Street, Mayfair, Tel. 44 020 7734 1234, liberty.co.uk. Since 1875, this magnificent emporium has been the seat of luxury and great design for generations. The signature Tudor-style-building, constructed of ship’s timbers, was completed in 1924 and little has been done to disrupt the original vision – a modern re-do would spoil the fun! Whether you are looking for an original McQueen or a yard of Liberty print, it’s all here.

Nicole Farhi, 158 New Bond Street and Nicole’s (the sophisticated breakfast/lunch café downstairs), Tel. 44 020 7499 8408, nicolefarhi.com. There are numerous locations but this is the flagship. She’s London’s favorite tailored-sportswear designer and her clothes are hard to find in this country, so do look.

News

If you’re in town for MoMA’s Cindy Sherman retrospective – and you should be – allow us to recommend a stay at The Lowell. Our favorite hotel experiences are those where we feel like locals, albeit pampered ones, and where better to be a pampered local than NY’s Upper East Side? On a quiet street off of Madison Avenue, you’ll find this elegant, upscale boutique that provides every amenity imaginable, with a generous helping of intimacy, all within an easy stroll to Museum Mile. Newer New York restaurants to try, if you’re in an ethnic mood: Kutsher’s Tribeca for unpretentious, delicious Jewish food; Jungsik, an inventive Korean approach by chef/proprietor Jung Sik Yim also in Tribeca; Red Farm, a dim-sum-driven, semi-Chinese wonderland in a rustic 19th-century house; or give Scandinavian cuisine a whirl at brand new Acme in NoHo, whose chef, Mads Refslund, was once co-chef at Denmark’s Noma, proclaimed as “still the best restaurant in the world” by New York Magazine (2011), so you know you’re in for a write-home-worthy experience. Cindy Sherman: Circle of Influence ends June 11th . . . don’t miss it!

Meanwhile in Newport Beach, California, another dare-not-miss exhibition awaits: Richard Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series, through May 27 at the Orange County Museum of Art. Since we have not highlighted Newport-Laguna-Costa Mesa-area cuisine in . . . well, we can’t remember, it’s time we did. Starting with ARTExpress lunch choices, Marché Moderne is top of the list – a slice of classic French heaven fittingly found facing the Christian Louboutin shoe boutique in South Coast Plaza. Famous chefs/owners Florent and Amelia Marneau create an urban-chic experience, Parisian-style, and you’ll forget to admire the red-soled wonders across the way as you dig in to their delicious fare. (When it’s a lovely day, ask for patio seating.) If there’s a dowager countess in your life, or if you just want to dine like one, the best place to go for lunch is the Mariposa Restaurant in Fashion Island’s Neiman Marcus. This charming spot is quiet and restful – unlike just about every other place these days – and did we mention the food is great? Also in Newport Center, find the Palm Terrace at the Island Hotel & Resort; once a Four Seasons, it’s still an outstanding lunch destination. If you’re in the mood to sit on the waterfront, try the Balboa Bay Club’s First Cabin Restaurant. Meant to invoke “elegant dining on a cruise liner,” it delivers. The Resort at Pelican Hill (Condé Nast Traveler’s number one choice for golf resorts in the world) has two lovely restaurants, Andrea and Pelican Grill, both overlooking the Pacific. If you can’t snag a table, there are other, more casual café-style options as well, including the poolside grill. Another of our favorite lunch itineraries features hamburgers at the Beachcomber Café in the historic, funky Crystal Cove Beach preserve; visit the website so you know where to leave your car to catch the shuttle. Too much sand and sun? Have lunch amidst the beautiful flowers instead at Sherman Library & Gardens’ Café Jardin. If you’re in Laguna, perch yourself on the seaside cliff at Splashes, located at the Surf and Sand Resort; or try Montage Resort’s The Loft, a favorite of locals – both yummy choices here. While in Laguna, by the way, you can still catch one of the Pacific Standard Time exhibitions at the Laguna Art Museum: The Postwar Era: From the Collection, 1945-1980, through April 29.

For dinner, the aforementioned Marché Moderne is still first choice. If you’re pre-theater or concert diners, at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, make Leatherby’s Café Rouge part of the evening. Cult foodies have reason to celebrate in Newport: Nancy Silverton and Mario Batali have recently opened a Pizzeria Mozza here, setting their NY/LA standard firmly on Pacific Coast Highway sand – and it’s already (predictably) perpetually packed. There are pizzas galore and buzz to match, but we still have a place in our hearts for Sage, a dependable favorite for dinner or Sunday brunch since 1997(!), found in a corner of the Eastbluff Shopping Center. Speaking of buzz, sit outdoors in spring at Sage, unless the bees are busy – they’ll chase you inside. Back at South Coast Plaza, other culinary delights include AnQi Bistro & Noodle Bar, a fun destination for drinks and other Thai tasties; and Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale’s, where food, fashion, and a retail wine boutique, Next Vintage, co-habit in one hot spot. Nearby, romantic, picturesque Balboa Island fittingly has . . . what else, a romantic, tiny restaurant, also opened way back in 1997: Basilic, where Chef Bernard Althaus harvests his own basil, his favorite ingredient (thus the Swiss/French restaurant’s moniker), along with many of the other herbs, plus his heirloom tomatoes. Reservations highly recommended, of course.

As long as you’re in London for the Olympics and/or the art offerings, let us provide you with a respite, far from those madding crowds. Long-time ARTExpress friend and travel expert Daphne Bransten says the perfect Brit getaway right now is The Gunton Arms, situated on a 1,000-acre deer park in Norfolk. The view, the deer, the very traditional rooms all add up to a most charming English countryside stay – to the max. The Arms, a great old renovated and restored estate house that’s now a pub restaurant plus eight guest rooms is the brainchild of famed art dealer Ivor Braka and his wife, artist Sarah Graham, so you can just imagine the stellar contemporary art collection to be found throughout. Stuart Tattersall is head chef, and you might guess that with his penchant for local-only ingredients, venison is a menu staple. The Arms has won awards for its restoration of a historic landscape, as well as for the park itself – and accolades from those lucky enough to stay there.

Great Addresses

IN NEW YORK
Lowell Hotel, 28 East Sixty Third Street (Between Madison and Park Avenues), Tel. 212-838-1400, lowellhotel.com. Beautiful boutique; well situated if you’re museum bound.

Kutsher’s Tribeca, 186 Franklin Street, Tel. 212-431-0606, kutsherstribeca.com. Opened by Zach Kutsher, descendant of famed Catskills resort owners (Catskill’s Kutsher’s Country Club), Zach serves up not-your-parents-style Jewish deli fare, such as a gefilte fish dish created with tasty wild halibut, and crispy artichoke salad.

Jungsik, 2 Harrison Street, Tel. 212-219-0900, jungsik.kr. Contemporary and creative. It’s about time for someone to upscale Korean cuisine, and Jungsik made it worth the wait. Delicious, and the waitstaff here goes to extreme lengths to make sure you’re enjoying it.

Acme, 9 Great Jones, Tel. 212-203-2121, acmenyc.com. Copenhagen’s superstar chef is here to conquer Manhattan. The beer-and-bread porridge (a dessert dish!) is highly recommended.

Red Farm, 529 Hudson Street, Tel. 212-792-9700, redfarmnyc.com. Joe Ng’s inspired rustic-style and inventive Chinese-inspired menu is an ARTExpress top pick. The dim sum is so delectable it’s worth the inevitable wait (a friend passed on the tip that if you arrive early for the Saturday brunch, you can often avoid the stampede).

IN COASTAL ORANGE COUNTY
Orange County Museum of Art, 850 San Clemente Drive, Newport Beach, Tel. 949-759-1122, ocma.net. Open Wed.-Sun. 11 AM - 5 PM, Thurs. 11 AM - 8 PM, closed Mon.-Tues.

Laguna Art Museum, 307 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach, Tel.949-494-8971, lagunaartmuseum.org. Open Mon.-Tues., Fri.-Sun. 11 AM - 5 PM, Thurs. 11 AM - 9 PM, closed Wed.

Marché Moderne, 3333 Bristol Street, Costa Mesa, Tel. 714-434-7900, marchemoderne.net. We love everything about this wonderful bistro, the food, the service — everything is très magnifique. The patio is a gem — noon or night.

Mariposa Restaurant, Neiman Marcus, Fashion Island, 401 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, Tel. 949-467-3350, shopfashionisland.com. Tucked away, but worth finding, Mariposa serves a tasty formal lunch, and adds a wonderful view to boot.

Palm Terrace, 690 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, Tel. 866-554-4620, theislandhotel.com. Inside The Island Hotel, find great food, excellent service, and the ability to talk to your tablemates, owing to a quiet, serene setting.

First Cabin Restaurant, Balboa Bay Club & Resort, 1221 West Coast Highway, Newport Beach, Tel. 949-630-4145, balboabayclub.com. Luxurious, waterfront setting featuring California cuisine; serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Andrea Restaurant, The Resort at Pelican Hill, 22701 Pelican Hill Road South, Newport Coast, Tel. 1-800-820-6800, pelicanhill.com/dining_andrea. Chef de cuisine Luca Cesarini brings rave-worthy traditional Tuscan-style Italian fare to the Pacific; the setting and the view also win raves all around. Also at Pelican Hill: Pelican Grill, open for lunch and dinner; avoid the nine-foot TV screens inside and thrill to the Pacific Ocean view from the patio.

Beachcomber Cafe, 15 Crystal Cove, Newport Beach, Tel. 949-376-6900, thebeachcombercafe.com. Knowing the storied history of this SoCal destination is half the fun, so read up before you arrive. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served, but we mostly go for lunch; order the swordfish tacos if burgers are not your thing.

Café Jardin, Sherman Library & Gardens, 2647 East Pacific Coast Highway, Corona Del Mar, Tel. 949-673-2261, slgardens.org. Primarily outdoor dining, but that’s fine by us — it gets us that much closer to the gorgeous flowers (though the “Great Room,” with its beautiful mosaic fireplace, will do on the odd bad-weather day). The Jardin’s delicious French dishes by Pascal consistently please.

Splashes, Surf and Sand Resort, 1555 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, Tel. 949-376-2779, surfandsandresort.com. Fresh seaside cuisine.

The Loft, Montage Resort, 30801 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, Tel. 949-715-6420, montagelagunabeach.com. The Loft’s fourth-floor location affords amazing cliff-side views. Plus the astounding cheese bar, with a selection of over 150 cheeses, is a fun bonus — let the on-site fromagier help you decide.

Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge, Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 615 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, Tel. 714-429-7640, patinagroup.com. Whether you’re pre-theater or not, Leatherby’s assures an elegant evening out.

Pizzeria Mozza, 800 West Coast Highway, Newport Beach, Tel. 949-945-1126, pizzeriamozza.com. A foodie destination has opened at the beach and we welcome that familiar, bright orange facade to the County of Orange! Worthy of its buzz.

Sage, 2531 Eastbluff Drive, Newport Beach, Tel. 949-718-9650, sagerestaurant.com. Chef Rich Mead’s Sage has been one of our most reliable recommendations since he opened it in 1997. The menu is consistently interesting and the “small plates” are always a treat.

AnQi Bistro & Noodle Bar, South Coast Plaza Mall, 3333 Bristol Street, Costa Mesa, Tel. 714-557-5679, anqibistro.com. Beverly Hills’ chef of Crustacean, Helene An, serves tasty Asian fusion with roots in French Indochina at AnQi (next door to Bloomies). The dramatic interior adds to a fun evening out, and just the thought of the garlic noodles makes our mouths water. Go late to avoid the bar scene!

Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale’s, South Coast Plaza Mall, 3333 Bristol Street, Costa Mesa, Tel. 714-352-2525, charliepalmer.com. Extended happy hours Friday and Saturday, so you can savor the famous cocktails here a bit longer. Also famous here is the DG (Damn Good) burger, which will win you over, even if you’re not typically a big burger fan.

Basilic, 217 Marine Avenue, Balboa Island, Tel. 949-673-0570, basilicrestaurant.com. Chef/owner Bernard Althaus serves up romance and intimacy along with locally sourced dishes of his native French-Swiss origins.

IN NORFOLK
The Gunton Arms, Cromer Road, Thorpe Market, Norwich, England, Tel. 01263 832010, guntonarms.co.uk. Just officially opened in fall of 2011, the Arms is renowned contemporary art dealer Ivor Braka’s answer to a 19th-century pub experience, albeit one that also offers an amazing art collection. The restoration of the parkland and Gunton Hall has been a long-fought labor of love for Braka and his compatriots — they’ve been winning awards for their work since 2007.

Travel Bookshelf

Guides & Blogs
Editor’s note: With the Olympics fast approaching, many new guides will be published in the next few months — make sure yours is up-to-date!

The Rightness of Wayward Sentiment, waywardsentiment.blogspot.com.
Fine Art London, fineartslondon.com.
Saatchi Online Magazine, saatchionline.com.
Art Sleuth, artsleuth.org.
Le Cool London, lecoollondonblog.com.
Completely London Blog, completelylondon.co.uk.
London 2012, london2012.com (for 2012 Olympic Games updates).
Andrew Duncan. Secret London, 2012.
Sidra Stich. Art-sites London: The Indispensable Guide to Contemporary Art-architecture-design, 2006.
Jennifer Garcia-Alonso, et al. The Purple Passport to London (ebook only), 2011.
Caroline Loncq. eat.shop london, 2010.
Caroline Loncq. rather london, available June, 2012.
Fodor’s London 2012.

History & Literature
Peter Ackroyd. London: The Biography, 2003.
Christopher Hibbert. The London Encyclopedia, 2010.
Charles Dickens. A Tale of Two Cities.
Zadie Smith. White Teeth.
Virginia Woolf. Mrs. Dalloway.

Art & Architecture
Grant Pooke. Contemporary British Art: An Introduction, 2010.
Annie Carlano. Contemporary British Studio Ceramics, 2010.
Gregor Muir. Lucky Kunst: The Rise and Fall of Young British Art, 2011.
Martino Stierli. Neo-avant-garde and Postmodern: Postwar Architecture in Britain and Beyond, 2010.
Marco Livingstone, et al. David Hockney: A Bigger Picture, 2012.
Eva Kassens-Noor. Planning Olympic Legacies: Transport Dreams and Urban Realities, available June, 2012.
Kenneth Powell. 21st Century London: The New Architecture, 2011.
Rem Koolhaus, Hans Ulrich Obrist, eds. London: A Portrait of a City: Serpentine Gallery 24-Hour Interview, available June, 2012.
Damien Hirst. I Want to Spend the Rest of My Life Everywhere, with Everyone, One to One, Always, Forever, Now, 2006.
Damien Hirst. The Complete Spot Paintings, 1986-2011 (Signed Limited Edition), available July, 2012.

and…
strictly for fun…
Mysteries
Maureen Duffy. The Orpheus Trail, 2009.
(Baroness) Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine. The House of Stairs, King Solomon’s Carpet, Gallowglass, A Fatal Inversion…more.
(Baroness) P. D. James. A Certain Justice, Death Comes to Pemberley…more.
Agatha Christie. Witness for the Prosecution, Crooked House, One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, At Bertram’s Hotel…more. The true devotee of Dame Agatha must make the pilgrimage to St. Martin’s Theatre (on Cambridge Circus) to catch The Mousetrap, the longest continuously running play in history.

Calendar

Through Apr. 9 Royal Academy, London David Hockney RA: A Bigger Picture
Through Apr. 22 V & A Museum, London Queen Elizabeth II by Cecil Beaton
Through Apr. 22 Musee d’Art Contemporain de Montreal Wangechi Mutu
Through Apr. 22 LACMA, Los Angeles Maria Nordman Filmroom: Smoke
Through April 29 MOCA, Chicago Gordon Matta-Clark
Through Apr. 29 Hammer Museum, Los Angeles Alina Szapocznikow
Through Apr. 29 The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC Mel Bochner
Through Apr. 29 Laguna Art Museum The Postwar Era: From the Collection
Through May 1 Mass MoCA, North Adams Sandford Biggers
Through May 6 Thyssen, Madrid Mondrian, De Stijl and Dutch Artistic Tradition
Through May 6 Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Revelation: Jules Olitski
Through May 6 National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo Jackson Pollock
Through May 7 Tate Liverpool Simon Fujiwara: Since 1982
Through May 13 Guggenheim, New York John Chamberlain: Choices
Through May 13 Montreal Museum of Fine Art Lyonel Feininger
Through May 27 OCMA, Newport Beach Diebenkorn: The Ocean Park Series
Through May 28 SFMOMA, San Francisco Rineke Dijkstra: A Retrospective
Through May 27 MOCA, Los Angeles The Total Look
Through May 27 Whitney Museum, New York Whitney Biennial 2012
Through May 27 Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Lifelike
Through May 27 Tate Modern, London Alighiero Boetti
Through May 28 Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin Dodo (1907-1998)
Through May 28 Annenberg Space for Photography, Los Angeles Digital Darkroom
Through May 31 Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna Point of View #1
Through June 3 Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Contemporary Ceramics
Through June 3 MCA Australia, Sydney Christian Marclay: The Clock
Through June 3 MOCA, Chicago Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s
Through June 3 Tate Britain, London Romantics
Through June 5 National Gallery, London Turner Inspired: In the Light of Claude
Through June 5 Tate Modern, London Yayoi Kusama
Through June 10 Miami Art Museum The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl
Through June 10 Canadian Cen. for Arch., Montreal … The Suburbs
Through June 11 MoMA, New York Cindy Sherman
Through June 13 Guggenheim, New York Francesa Woodman
Through June 17 Whitechapel Gallery, London Gillian Wearing
Through June 18 Centre Pompidou, Paris Matisse: Pairs and Sets
Through June 24 CaixaForum, Barcelona Goya: Light and Shade
Through July 1 Morgan Library & Museum, New York Dan Flavin: Drawing
Through July 8 SFMOMA, San Francisco Photography In Mexico
Through July 15 ICA, Boston Charline von Heyl
Through July 15 Tate Britain, London Picasso and Modern British Art
Through July 23 Reina Sofía, Madrid Hans Haacke: Castles in the Air
Through July 30 MOCA, Los Angeles Cai Guo-Qiang: Sky Ladder
Through Aug. 12 Victoria & Albert Museum, London British Design 1948-2012
Apr. 4 – Sept. 9 Tate Modern, London Damien Hirst
Apr. 11 – June 5 Serpentine Gallery, London Hans-Peter Feldmann
Apr. 14 – July 15 MAXXI, Rome Kaarina Kaikkonen: Towards Tomorrow
Apr. 18 – 22 Mexico Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City
Apr. 19 – April 22 Art Brussels

Apr. 27 – June 3 Museum of Cont. Canadian Art, Toronto Collective Identity
May 10 – Aug. 19 Met, New York Schiaparelli and Prada: Conversations
May 16 – Sept. 3 Art Institute of Chicago Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective
May 17 – 19 SF Fine Art Fair, San Francisco
May 19 – Oct. 7 Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Beyond Pop: Tom Wesselman
May 25 – May 27 ROMA Contemporary, Rome
June 7 – June 10 Madridfoto
June 11 – June 16 VOLTA 8, Basel
June 14 – June 17 Art 43 Basel

June 19 – Sept. 9 Serpentine Gallery, London Yoko Ono: TO THE LIGHT