luxury

Dining

WHIMS: ADDISON AT THE GRAND DEL MAR

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While Southern California's year-round beach weather has always made us jealous, it didn't have much of to speak of when it came to fine dining. That's now changed with Addison—the only five-star and five-diamond restaurant in the region—led by Relais & Châteaux grand chef William Bradley. From the grounds of the luxury resort The Grand Del Mar, in San Diego, Bradley meticulously prepares local, seasonal ingredients in a contemporary French style. The four-course tasting menu ($98 per person, offerings change with the season; 5300 Grand Del Mar Court, San Diego; 858-314-1900; addisondelmar.com) offers selections like licorice-glazed squab with candied red cabbage and plums, fois gras pot de crème and delicious handmade sweet pea agnolotti with ham hock. For dessert, the coconut custard with pistachio brittle is a must. The wine list, created by Jesse Rodriguez (formerly the head sommelier of Napa's French Laundry), is an oenophile's dream, with an innovative mix of high-end vintages from Europe, new wines from South America and New Zealand as well as California cult favorites. You can also make it a full day by starting at The Grand Del Mar's spa: Begin with the Spring Refresher facial ($180, lunch and day access to all spa amenities included;  858-314-2020; thegranddelmar.com), continue with a yoga or Pilates class and a plunge in the pool, then take a sunset walk through the property until you arrive, finally, at Addison, refreshed and ready for a dinner to remember.

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TO AID JAPAN: AFTERNOON TEA AT PENINSULA HOTELS

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To aid those affected by the recent earthquake and tsunami, Peninsula Hotels has launched Hope for Japan, a three-pronged initiative taking place in all its U.S. and Asia locations. The first element: Ten dollars of each guest's stay will be donated to the Japanese Red Cross. For the second part of the campaign, hotel lobbies will feature trees adorned with origami cranes (in Japanese tradition, the folding and construction of them is a form of healing). For a $5 donation, guests can purchase a paper ornament or make one on their own with the help of hotel staff. A more indulgent option is Japanese Afternoon Tea, a riff on the Peninsula's signature midday rite that involves sushi-inspired treats and a selection of Japanese teas. One hundred percent of the $50 cost will be donated to relief efforts. peninsula.com.

Photo Courtesy The Peninsula Hotels

CHICAGO: WHAT's COOK-iNG

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Chef Homaro Cantu has opened the doors of his second Chicago restaurant, iNG, whose menu bears his signature flair for inventiveness and respect for ancient Asian cooking techniques. The name iNG refers to the suffix "-ing" and expresses Cantu's passion for action in the kitchen. The menu is divided according to the verb used to create the food: The "Heating" section, for example, has Baozi buns with pork, enoki mushrooms and melted scallions; noodle soups are listed under the "Boiling" heading; and a waffle (frozen in liquid nitrogen) with coconut and mango sorbet is among the "Sweetening" offerings. But the truly experimental dining happens at the chef's table in the sublevel kitchen, where Cantu offers a 15-course tasting menu to four visitors per evening. The experience is centered around the miracle berry, a cranberry-sized fruit that acts as a natural sweetener, temporarily altering one's taste buds, and on which diners "flavor trip" before sampling certain courses. (Cantu calls it "food science with a purpose.") The details are a secret, but we do know the menu involves a beer and oyster pairing, Poke tuna, salt-and-vinegar kettle corn and sour cherry cheesecake. Miracle berry tasting menu starts at $250; 951 W. Fulton Market; 855-834-6464; ingrestaurant.com.

Photo Mike Ruggirello

CAPITOL HILL COUNTRY

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A little bit of Texas arrived in Washington, D.C. when Hill Country Barbecue Market opened in the city's Penn Quarter neighborhood over the weekend. The two-level, 300-seat spot, like its sister restaurant in New York, doles out pound after pound of dry-rubbed meats slowly smoked over Texas post oak, a hard wood brought in from its native state. Upon entering, guests receive a "meal ticket" which doubles as the menu and—after the server behind the counter weighs, tallies up and hands you your order on butcher paper—the check. Trimmings include traditional Texas Toast white bread, collard greens and pickles; executive chef (and BBQ expert) Elizabeth Karmel has also updated a few Southern classics like campfire black beans with burnt ends, confetti coleslaw and Longhorn cheddar mac and cheese. At the downstairs Boot Bar, expect to hear live roots rock by bands slipping through town, five nights a week. At 410 7th St. NW; 202-556-2050; hillcountrywdc.com.

Photo Courtesy Hill Country Hospitality

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN

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After a buzzy, successful start in late January, "temporary restaurant installment" What Happens When has launched its second movement. The concept eatery from Dovetail chef John Fraser—in New York's NoLIta through October—is completely reimagined each month, with a fresh menu, soundtrack and design scheme. For round two, Fraser has whipped up inventive selections like venison tartar, short ribs with cheddar cheese polenta and, for dessert, a gingerbread house with spiced panna cotta. Insider's tip: Though not listed, a special eight-course tasting menu with wine pairings is available for those who ask, and before being seated, diners should sneak a peek at the blueprint from the restaurant's first iteration, outlined in white on the floor. Act quickly—the third movement begins the first week of April. Three-course prix-fixe menu, $58, with wine pairings, $96; eight-course tasting menu, $110, with wine pairings, $175. At 25 Cleveland Place; 212-925-8310; whathappenswhennyc.com.

Photo Felix de Voss

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