Archive for November, 2014

Where to Have Cocktails in Nashville: The Oak Bar P.S. it’s All About the Men’s Bathroom!

Whisky on display at Nashville’s Oak Bar

When I recently visited Nashville for a super quick trip, Rebecca, my Nashville-based photographer friend insisted we get a drink at the Oak Bar. Located in the downtown Nashville’s Hermitage Hotel, The Oak Bar’s allure was not immediately apparent to me.

Sure you can drink Old Blowhard elsewhere, but then you’d miss “America’s Best Restroom”

My first impression was “Meh. Lawyers who lunch.” I focused on enjoying my whisky-based cocktail. After our first round, Rebecca suggested we head to the bathroom. I followed her… into the men’s room. Then I got it.

You don’t come to the Oak Bar for the cocktails, you come to the Oak Bar for the Hall of Fame caliber restroom.

It’s hella gentile BALLER.

Esquire magazine named the men’s room at the Oak Bar, “America’s Best Restroom”

It’s not hard to see why the design and art deco styling have earned it numerous awards, including “Best Bathroom in the America.” Local legend has it that politicians would sneak into the Oak Bar and head to the men’s room to pay bribes and finalize power deals. It’s easy to imagine considering there is a two seat shoe shine station built into the gleaming green and black tiled restroom.

The men’s room feels as though it was built as a set for a pivotal scene in a John Grisham adaptation slash blockbuster.

The Moscow Mule at Oak Bar in Nashville

There is also an old fashioned non-smart phone that connects you to the front desk. I found that out when I picked up the handset while acting out the aforementioned pivotal scene in the future John Grisham blockbuster adaptation. No wonder this deco gem of a men’s room has become a popular backdrop for music videos and cool wedding photographs.

Don’t miss visiting the men’s room  (photo credit: Rebecca Adler Photography)

Famed Dutch rock and roll photographer Anton Corbijn photographed the band REM here for some of the Collapse Into Now press photos. After drinking another round of  Old Blowhard, Rebecca Adler Rotenberg* and I decided to have a little photo shoot of our own.

Now I’m left to wonder if Anton Corbijn will also direct the future John Grisham blockbuster adaptation, because he’d be an inspired choice.

The Oak Bar at The Hermitage Hotel

Address: 231 Sixth Avenue North,Nashville, TN 37219

Phone: 615-345-7116

The Oak Bar is open for drinks and casual dining starting at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday and noon on Sunday.

Daily Happy Hour from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Disclosure: Rebecca did not approve these edits of the images she shot. I’ll replace them with her edits once I get them.

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A Stay at Le Bristol in Paris (Thanks to LHW Leaders Club Unlimited)

Cleo, the most famous resident of Le Bristol, lounging in the lobby

On my recent trip to Paris, I had the opportunity to spend a few nights at Le Bristol on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. What I knew about Le Bristol is mostly for it’s role in Midnight in Paris (it’s where Rachel McAdams’ and Owen Wilson’s characters stayed). I remembered it looked really expensive.

Curving stairs and a glamorous vintage caged elevator add to Le Bristol’s glamorous atmosphere

Left: fresh fruit and wine welcome amenity Right: the flowers on the vanity

Fortunately my husband is a Leaders Club Unlimited member of LHW hotels, and Le Bristol had award availability for a few nights. Score! So I spent a very lovely few days in room 714 of this old school luxury hotel… and it was FABULOUS.

The classic desk

Room 714 was huge by Parisian standards. The vibe at Le Bristol is old world luxury, but the property has all the requisite tech perks, including easy to use, speedy wifi (free for Leaders Club Unlimited members).

Traditional elegance in the vibe at Le Bristol

The bed was uber comfy, and the bathroom, while simple in style had the most impressive water pressure I’ve experienced in Paris. The tub was huge, well designed for soaking and filled quickly.

Left: the shower had serious power (and La Prarie amenities) Right: the separate water closet

Suddenly I had a dilemma– I did not want to leave the room to explore Paris.

Le Bristol’s bathtub worked for serious soaking

As lovely as the room is, the true star at Le Bristol is the service. It was flawless. Every request was handled exceptionally well.

The view from room 714 into the courtyard

Le Bristol Breakfast Menu

Another perk of the LHW Leaders Club Unlimited: not paying € 85 per person for breakfast (it’s an included benefit).

Poached eggs just taste better in Paris, especially when they are free

Behold: perfectly styled fruit at breakfast

Obligatory breakfast bread basket shot

The dining room at Le Bristol

While in my heart I’m a Saint-Germain girl, I’m also never going to turn down a chance to stay at Le Bristol. It’s legendary reputation is well deserved and the service is perfection.

Hôtel Le Bristol Paris

112 rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré
75008 Paris
Tel: +33 (0)1 53 43 43 00
Fax: +33 (0)1 53 43 43 01

Rates start at $1128 USD

Check the LHW site for special offers

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Where to Eat in Paris: L’Avant-Comptoir for Wine and Tapas

Charcuterie plate at L’Avant-Comptoir

Chef Yves Camdeborde’s casual and crowded standing room only tapas bar was one of my favorite discoveries on my recent trip to Paris. It’s cramped (try to get there as close to the noon opening time as possible) but a good time- and great meal– is had by all. This is great spot to try with friends, especially those who don’t mind giving up their personal space for a good meal.

Chin chin at L’Avant Comptoir

The Basque-inspired menu of small plates hangs from the ceiling. We headed to the back of the zinc bar to enjoy simple tapas and a few glasses of wine.  You can practically make a meal out of the bread, butter, sea salt and jars of cornichons which rest on the bar. Seriously. Do not miss the Bordier butter.

Even the bread and Bordier butter is memorable

The menu also features lots of petit sandwiches and dips, croquettes, and various specials. There is large and reasonably priced wine list to pair with the simple but tasty small plates. Service is upbeat and friendly. The whole experience was devoid of snobbery and left me smiling.

Finger food goodness: artichokes and cured ham waffles

The decor is porcine inspired, with cartoon pigs adoring everything from the wine glasses to the bathroom decor.

Left: the pig motif runs throughout Right: don’t forget to sprinkle the fleur de sel on your bread and butter

L’Avant-Comptoir is about enjoying the simple things without the fuss, making it a perfect find for foodies who like finger foods.

The hanging menu at L’Avant-Comptoir

Most plates are priced under € 10 and portions are pretty generous. For it’s simplicity and deliciousness, I preferred L’Avant-Comptoir to the highly acclaimed Le Comptoir next door.

Chef Yves Camdeborde of L’Avant-Comptoir

Address: 3 Carrefour de l’Odéon,
75006 Paris, France
Phone:+33 1 44 27 07 97
Hours: 12pm – 11pm

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Where to Eat in Paris: L’Ecailler du Bistrot for Oysters

The shellfish plate at L’Ecailler du Bistrot

Looking for a great oyster bar in Paris? Head to rue Paul Bert in the 11th. There is Bistrot Paul Bert just down the street, and the unpretentious maritime-themed L’Ecailler du Bistrot, which has combines classic French ambience with excellent seafood.

Plateau de Fruits de Mer Time Lapse at L’Ecailler Du Bistrot Paris, France

It’s all about the seafood here. While my crab and scallop allergy kept me from the shellfish platter, my friends devoured it over the course of an hour.

One of L’Ecailler du Bistrot’s maritime-themed rooms

The fresh oysters from Normandy and Brittany, cockles and various other crustaceans all received rave reviews from my friends. The sole muniere was a standout, as was the half lobster served with frite, and the linguini with clams.

The half-lobster at L’Ecailler du Bistot

The entire meal was complemented by a few bottles of reasonably priced (for Paris) wine from the menu.

The oysters are ready for their close-up

Left: the empty shells Right: oysters on the half shell

Linguini with clams

This was a meal I had absolutely no expectations about, and wound up one of my favorites of the trip. The cozy atmosphere and good service did not hurt.

The Sole Muniere (before and after)

No doubt– L’Ecailler du Bistrot is a seafood standout.

L’Ecailler du Bistrot

22 Rue Paul Bert 75011 Paris

phone +33 1 43 72 76 77

Opening hours:
Monday-Friday, noon to 14h30 and 19h30 to 23h

Closed Sundays & Mondays

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Where Foodies Shop in Paris: Eric Kayser For Baguettes

A peek inside the pastry case at Eric Kayser

French foodies (and visiting food snobs) know that you have the right to order your baguette as doughy or well done as you like you, or “bien cuit.” That’s why they head to one of artisianal baker Eric Kayser’s handful of Parisian shops for fresh bread baked baguettes.

Cases full of Eric Kayser’s artisanal baked goodness

Artisanal bakeries like Eric Kayser keep the flour on the premises and the bread is cooked there in five different ovens to varying degrees of doneness or  “bien cuit.” If you prefer your baguette a little doughy, order “pas bien cuit.”

Sandwiches served on Eric Kayser’s baguettes

Whatever you do don’t help yourself to a bottle of water from the deli case– “self-serve” does not exist here. The apple tart in puff pastry is also outstanding.

A baguette from Eric Kayser

No trip to France planned? Not a problem. Eric Kayser now has three New York City outposts.

Travel Tip: look for a name on the marquee

Eric Kayser

Several locations throughout Paris.


79 Avenue Mozart

Paris, France
+33 1 42 88 03 29
Monday-Saturday 7am-8pm


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