These are the restaurants that keep me fed and provide sanctuary through fashion month.
words by Danielle Ransom • Travel
THESE ARE THE 11 RESTAURANTS I RETURN TO EVERY TIME I TRAVEL FOR FASHION WEEK. AND THEY NEVER, EVER DISAPPOINT.
When you work in fashion, it’s almost right of passage to dine at the most on-trend establishment. While not always the best, this routine has taught me to notice and remember both the elegance of atmosphere and the quality of ingredients. No matter how simple something may seem.
From gastronomical lessons on the importance of simplicity to restaurants that hold a lot of personal memories, these are the eateries that have made my visits to fashion week cities pleasurable; far beyond the confines of a plate.
for Lunch: Il Salumaio
Address: Via S. Spirito, 10, Via Gesù, 5, 20121 Milano MI, Italy. Phone: +39 02 7600 1123
I’m the first to admit I love a luxurious lunch experience — and Il Salumaio hits every point on my checklist. Everything about it is elegant. It’s housed inside a small courtyard via the Montenapoleone and looks absolutely stunning whatever season it is. It’s located in the middle of the shopping district too, so it means I can visit my favorite stores, work up a hunger, then rest and recoup at my beloved Il Salumaio. I come here because it has what I consider “the perfect basics.” Their fresh cut meat, pasta and bread are the best I’ve had in Milan. I highly recommend their mozzarella and raw artichokes.
for Dinner: Da Giacomo
Address: Via Pasquale Sottocorno, 6, 20129 Milano MI, Italy. Phone: +39 02 7602 3313
Make sure you schedule a reservation beforehand, especially if you’re coming during fashion week. It’s everyone’s favorite in town. Despite its upscale appearance, Da Giacomo feels very cozy. The closely packed tables give it a sort of mom-and-pop appeal, unlike the cramped eateries in New York. Raw seafood is the star of the menu. The dishes are prepared in a ‘European’ way; you can order any dish and will not be disappointed. The simplicity of the fresh ingredients really shine through. The fewer sauces and the less complicated a dish is, the better I find the food to be — and this is exactly what drew me to Da Giacomo.
For Lunch: trattoria Coco Lezzone
Address: Via Parioncino, 26/red, 50100 Firenze FI, Italy. Phone: +39 055 287178
The dishes are no-frills, traditional cooking, giving you a feel for authentic Florentine cuisine. You don’t come here for Michelin-styled dishes but for the casalinga: at-home cooking you would usually find in the average Italian household. It’s a great place to come if you are eating with a group of people. With its intimate interior and accommodating staff, it feels like you’re stepping into the home of a long-lost family member.
For Dinner: Le 13 Gobbi Firenze
Address: Via del Porcellana, 9R, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy. Phone: +39 055 284015
Le 13 Gobbi Firenze is the place to go for traditional dishes with history behind them, like a platter of cured meats and rigatoni served in a tureen. Their pappa al pomodoro is the one dish you must try. It’s a gastronomical lesson in doing the most with the least. During times of war, Italians had to make do with scarce ingredients which led to the pomodoro: essentially old bread stewed in tomatoes. You can not say you’ve truly experienced Italy if you have not tried this dish at least once. It is a national treasure.
for Lunch: Le Castiglione
Address: 235 Rue Saint Honoré, 75001 Paris, France. Phone: +33 1 42 60 68 22
Ah, my favorite non-hideaway in France. I say “non-hideaway” because it is a particularly popular restaurant in Paris between fashion shows. It’s perfectly situated on the corner of Place Vendome and Rue Saint Honore in the center of Paris. It’s a nice spot where you can get a feel of the chic vibe that France is known for. I have been coming here for 20-years, so the staff know me and they know how to make me feel at home. My usual order is a glass of white wine, which I drink unbothered at the bar, while crunching on their ‘coeur de laitue’: a lettuce salad.
for Dinner: Caviar Kaspia
Address: 17 Place de la Madeleine, 75008 Paris, France. Phone: +33 1 42 65 33 32
Hands down, this is my favorite spot in Paris. It’s one of the most glamorous and intimate spots I’ve ever dined at. I fell in love with Caviar Kaspia while attending my first ever fashion dinner, and that love has never faded. I like that despite its elegance, it still feels intimate and cozy. It has an old-fashioned design, including heavy silk curtains. And everyone in the fashion industry knows and loves Caviar Kaspia. It’s more like a private club than a restaurant. My history with this place goes way back. Oh, the memories I could share… If you asked me what I would eat before I died, it would be their baked potato with caviar. Delicious does not even begin to describe it.
For Dinner: Matsuhisa
Address: 129 N La Cienega Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211. Phone: (310) 659-9639
Lighting might be an odd detail to point out but I’m all for a restaurant that has good lighting. Call it vein, but don’t we all look a little better in decent lighting? The first thing you’ll notice about Matsuhisa is it’s mellow and unpretentious. Chef Nobu Matsuhisa knows how to create a venue that is the essence of quality. From the food to the atmosphere, nothing about this restaurant is amiss. One of the true tests? Everyone is so softly spoken, so you can actually hold a conversation and be heard (unlike many NYC restaurant where you may be seated alongside a raucous Hens-Do).
for Lunch: EN Japanese Brasserie
Address: 435 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014. Phone: (212) 647-9196
I love to go here with my girls on the weekend. It’s a good compromise between letting the girls eat “healthy” fried chicken, while I get to eat something I love (and a child would never touch). There are few spots in New York as spacious and quiet as EN. Their interior is really vast with super high ceilings. It’s like a traditional Japanese ryokan merged with a New York warehouse.
for Dinner – The Modern
Address: 9 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019. Phone: (212) 333-1220
Windows that overlook MoMA’s sculpture garden. What more could you seek in a dining experience? It’s like you’re feeding your eyes and belly at the same time. Be sure to request a table by the window, this will make your seven-course dinner the most enjoyable. Their offerings are authentic and speak to the term ‘creation’. True Mediterranean poetry.
for Lunch – Scotts
Address: 20 Mount St, Mayfair, London W1K 2HE, UK. Phone: +44 (0) 207 495 7309
Scotts is a popular hotspot for many reasons: a) the staff are extremely attentive, and b) it’s in a prime location. Their menu has a variety of traditional fish and shellfish options that remain some of the best and finest seafood I’ve ever had. And every serving is of generous portion. They have the best Dover Sole in all of London. But most of all, I like that Scotts is classy, without being too stuffy. I find it to be fun yet charming; whether you’re dining solo at the marble-topped bar, or holding a business lunch in a private room, it’s a low-key spot with an easy-going attitude.
For Dinner – Casa Cruz
Address: 123A Clarendon Rd, London W11 4JG, UK. Phone: +44 (0)203 321 5400
Despite being located in a quiet neighborhood, Casa Cruz is one of the coolest boutique restaurants in London. It’s copper and mahogany streaked walls paired with emerald banquettes, plush carpeting, and oil table lamps feel sexy and elegant. It reminds me of the inside of a Tiffany’s, but with brassy tones. I like that Casa Cruz has its own scent (an earthy mixture of vetiver and rose), as it livens up the atmosphere while the fireplace on the main floor makes the place feel cozy. It’s like a glitzy, bar lounge. The main courses are so big, they can easily be shared. The only downside is the three-month long waiting list.
Now you know where to eat, by where should you stay? We have you covered here.