Whisk Around the World: December 2013

Julie Mautner - December 2013

PANAMA
The American Trade Hotel is opening this month in Panama City, the first addition to a portfolio of independent projects by Atelier Ace, the creative team behind Ace Hotel Group. Their first hotel in Central America, the 1917 building (a former department store and bank) sits in the historic neighborhood of Casco Viejo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 50 room hotel features a jazz club, a restaurant, and a lobby cafe, while the adjacent building, the American Trade Hall, has 16,000 square feet of event space. The restaurant, not named at press time, is run by Clara Icaza, who worked at Arizona 206 and Aquavit (both in NYC) before opening her own restaurant, Limoncillo Pony Club in Panama City, which has since closed. GM Philipp Real was last at Lodge Kura Hulanda in Curaçao and also worked at the Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach, Ritz-Carlton Chicago, and Fisher Island Club (Florida). At press time, no f&b director had been named. Rooms begin at $189.

UNITED KINGDOM
André Garrett is the new exec chef at Cliveden House, the 38 room Relais & Châteaux hotel and spa in Berkshire, 45 minutes west of London. Garrett’s appointment coincides with the opening of the restyled Terrace Restaurant at Cliveden. Previously, Garrett worked in London at Orrery and later earned his first Michelin star (2010) as head chef for Galvin at Windows. In 2002, he won the prestigious Roux Scholarship and used it to spend a year at Guy Savoy (Paris). Garrett says he hopes “to put Cliveden firmly back on the gastronomic map,” and the restaurant is expected to rival nearby fine dining destinations such as Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck and The Hinds Head, Alain Roux’s Waterside Inn, and Tom Kerridge’s The Hand & Flowers. Andrew Stembridge, who directs Cliveden House and sister property Chewton Glen for owners Ian and Richard Livingstone, says: “Our goal has always been to reestablish this property as one of the very best hotels outside of London. André’s appointment is a perfect match for our gastronomic aspirations.”

Gin Joint opened in September in London’s Barbican Centre, with a 30 seat bar, an 88 seat dining room, and a 16 seat private room. The bar serves 40 brands of London Dry Gin with one, Broker’s, chilled on tap. Signature cocktails include the Peppercorn (Beefeater, grapefruit juice, rose syrup, black pepper) and Lambeth Lemonade (Beefeater 24, Lillet Blanc, raspberry syrup, lemonade). Thirty varieties of wine include 10 by the glass. Exec chef Oliver Tobias (previously at the Royal Opera House and Charlton House, London) created the British menu with many dishes done in a Bertha charcoal oven. The opening menu includes chilled cucumber and Beefeater Gin gazpacho with mint scone; duck sausage with pickled shallots, scallop, and juniper; whole lobster with zucchini, sugar snaps, lemon, and borage; plum and almond crumble with star anise and orange custard; and Beefeater Gin & Tonic granité. An all-day bar menu, Gin Club, Distiller Evenings, and gin-influenced dinners round out the offerings. Gin Joint is run by the large U.K. caterer Searcys, which has had a restaurant at the Barbican since 1991. The neighborhood surrounding the Barbican was considered the gin capital of the world in the late 18th century. Gin Joint’s gm is Brian Martin.

ITALY
In August, mother and son team Lidia and Joe Bastianich opened Orsone (“big bear”), a tavern, restaurant, and small six room b-and-b, at their family’s vineyard in Civi­dale del Friuli, about 75 minutes from Venice. Orsone serves “a contemporary interpretation of Italian cuisine” and marks the family’s first restaurant venture in Italy. Here and in New York City, the Bastianiches are partners with Mario Batali in the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, whose 25 restaurants worldwide include Babbo and Del Posto in New York City. The group also partners in Eataly New York as well as Eataly Chicago. The food at Orsone is regional Italian but tweaked, Bastianich style, which in this case means some “New Yorkese” and American influences. In the informal tavern, the menu is classic American casual fare such as burgers, fries, a lobster roll, apple pie, and a dessert made with peanut butter and jelly. Exec chef Eduardo Vale Lobo and gm Andrea Sbrizzo both came from Del Posto. Guests can tour the vineyard and do wine tastings as well.

THE MIDDLE EAST
Waldorf Astoria, now a Hilton brand, has opened in the resort city of Ras al Khaimah, 50 minutes from Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates. Inspired by the palaces of the Arabian Peninsula, the Waldorf Astoria Ras al Khaimah pampers with upscale amenities, such as a personal concierge for every guest and several helipads. The property has 346 oversized rooms, sweeping gulf views, a Pete Harradine 18 hole golf course, a spa and fitness center, two pools, floodlit tennis courts, and a kids’ club. There’s also access to a private 350-meter (1,148 foot) beach. Nods to New York City’s famed Waldorf Astoria include a re-creation of the Peacock Alley cocktail lounge and a grand lobby clock, this one marking the five daily prayer times. The exec chef is Rudolf Segers, a longtime Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons vet. The f&b coordinator is Robbert Manussen, who was last regional f&b coordinator at Hilton World Wide. The gm is Andre Herrenschmidt, former gm at the Transcorp Hilton (Abuja, Nigeria).