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London.

Capital draws

There is no better address in London than the queen's abode. And there are only some days that she lets the hoi polloi in. Those days are here, as the Buckingham Palace has begun its annual summer opening of the 19 State Rooms, which includes a 450-m walk along the west side of the Palace garden, offering views of the garden, Palace and lake. This year's special exhibition is a selection of dresses, jewels, photographs and gifts presented to the Queen. Till September 30.

It's hard to keep a good chef down, or so they say. Well, after selling off his immensely popular ones, Terence Conran just could not help himself. And the result is the recently opened Lutyens (85 Fleet Street; 020 7583 8385). The restaurant, located in that former media hub, is all about proportioned beauty with pillars, intricate tiling and good lighting. Not to mention a great bar. The cooking is rooted in classical French cuisine with a mix of this and that, especially Irish.

This autumn, the splendid Tate Britain (Millbank; 020 7887 8888) readies to play host to a unique show, Turner and the Masters which opens on September 23, featuring world-class masters such as Canaletto, Claude, Rembrandt, Rubens and Titian. It explores how Turner hoped to imitate, rival and outshine many of the greatest painters in history.

MUST SEE

At its namesake, Tate Modern (Bankside; 020 7887 8888), the museum celebrates the centenary of the dramatic art movement of futurism with a ground-breaking exhibition. Highlights include works by Umberto Boccioni and Picasso as well as major works by artists such as Braque, Malevich and Duchamp. Till September 20.

NEW YORK

Big apple, big bite

In the big apple, global recession is something that is taken in the NYC stride. Or maybe it is the just that celebrated chefs, and actor in this case, know their patrons will turn up, the slowdown notwithstanding. New on the block is Locande Verde (Greenwich Hotel, 377 Greenwich Street, TriBeCa; 212 941 8900) by Andrew Carmellini in association with Robert de Niro, has been receiving rave reviews. The restaurant's glossy and industrial ambience serves as the apt background Carmellini's art. Faves here include Sheep's Milk Ricotta, Grandmother's Ravioli and Maltagliati with Pesto. Round off with Almond Semifreddo or Pistachio Brown Butter Cake.

There's also Aldea (31 West 17th Street; 212 675 7223) by the Portuguese born George Mendes. The star here is Mendes' Iberian or Portuguese ancestry, which shows in his cooking. Proof of all this in his Farm Egg with Salt Cod, Coconut-Curry Soup with Cuttlefish, Shrimp Alhinho, Rice with Duck Confit and Caramel Brioche to mention a few.

For a dose of old world charm and fun, Monkey Bar (60 East 54th Street; 212 308 2950) is the place to head to. It is more than just a bar and people go here for the lovely food as well. Just try the Clams Casino, Oysters Rockefeller, Chinatown Chicken Salad, Veal Chop and Mrs. Carter's Butter Tart.

Take a step back in history to the beginning of the last century and sample some sensuously erotic art at the Museum of Modern Art (11 West 53 Street; 212 708 9400). Erotic Object: Surrealist Sculpture from the Collection will run through the year. The show features some of the most notorious works, including Salvador Dali's bread-and-inkwell-crowned Retrospective Bust of a Woman (1933) and Meret Oppenheim's fur-lined teacup (1936).

MUST SEE

The magic of Dolly Parton lives on. From TV to cinema to theatre, and a musical at that, has been a relentless progression. 9 to 5: The Musical which opened at Marquis theatre (Broadway; 212 382 0100) and runs through September, has an exciting new score of 18 original numbers by Parton that mix Broadway and pop with her signature witty lyrics. It features Emmy Award winner and Tony nominee Allison Janney of the West Wing and Juno fame.

Kolkata

Eastward ho!

What do you call a place that's a spa by day and a swinging lounge by night? Amoda (Block B Ground Floor, Wood Street entrance, Camac Street; 4001 3100) brings Kolkata an innovative fusion between a day spa and a bar. There are also exotic things such as foot reflexologies, body therapies and dermalogical facials. And after a day spent in pampering yourself, indulge some more in the evening at the bar which has premium spirits, exotic liquors, wines and innovative cocktails and mocktails.

At Cafe360degree (120, Bangur Avenue; 98309 83088), the latest hotspot in town, it's the sheesha or hookah that rules. There's coffee, various bites and even mocktails, but it is this vestige of the Mediterranean that catches the imagination. The atmosphere is one of casual cosiness, just the place to chill after a day of work or even play. The place also dishes up continental, Chinese, fastfood, pasta, pizza, desserts, snacks and tea.

Italian is the new Chinese and there's something comfy about a pasta or a slice of pizza that it rarely bores. Better still if it is more like an authentic and quaint trattoria. Which is exactly what Casa Toscana (56 Chowringhee Road, Opp Nehru Children's Museum; 97489 47383) does. It is almost like a slice of Tuscany nestling in Kolkata's Chowringhee area. It boasts of authentic Italian cooking, in an al fresco setting, serving pizza, pasta, salads, risottos, soups and desserts.

Paris

City lights

The grand Galeries nationales du Grand Palais (3, avenue du General Eisenhower; 001 4413 1717) is playing host to a remarkable set of works in September. An exhibition showcases a period and little-known aspects of the work of Renoir (decorative paintings, drawings and sculpture) while at the same time showing the influence and extent of his art in the first half of the 20th century in France. Till January 4, 2010.

Vegetarian in Paris might seem like a paradox, a bit of a outcast even. But there are people constantly striving to change that image. The latest is Loving Hut (92 Boulevard Beaumarchais, 001 4806 4384) set up by Hugues Rivard, a solar energy expert and Mme Thi Huong Ngo, a couturier, both of whom gave up their former careers to open a restaurant. Loving Hut serves vegetarian food from many genres, even fast food, but with a healthy twist.

If you thought Mozart was all about classical music intended to put you to sleep, this will quickly alter your pre-set opinion. Mozart L'Opera Rock, a rock opera devoted to Mozart, opens this month at the Palais des Sports de Paris (1, place de la Porte de Versailles; 001 4828 4010).

What better way to celebrate autumn than with a festival dedicated to the season. Festival d'Automne Ae Paris, which begins on September 15 and goes on till December 19, is a celebration of contemporary arts. Over 40 events spread over three months attracts thousands, making it one of the biggest such events.

Pune

Maximum fun

The name doesn't do much, but Senses Resident's Lounge (Oakwood Premier Pune, 81, Mundhwa, Koregaon Park Annex, Koregaon Park; 4142 8888) is a 24-hour lounge offering a wide range of cuisines--Indian, Continental, and Oriental to Italian, Lebanese and Fusion in a classy setting. But before you dismiss it as mish-mash, the restaurant actually delivers delicious morsels of whatever cuisine you hanker for. The decor is stylish and there's even a lounge area, for that quiet evening with family or friends, and an amazing view of the pool. The menu is extensive and any number of people with differing tastes can dine together without anyone being dissatisfied.

Even though Southeast Asian food, Chinese and its many cousins, have been in India for a long time, there's never any danger of one too many. The recently opened Red Dragon (12 Landmark Garden, Kalyani Nagar, Yerawada; 4004 7803) promises to satiate the senses whether you are hankering for Chinese or even Malaysian. Check out such stars as the Sesame Crusted Fish and the Indonesian favourite Nasi Goreng. They won't disappoint.

Compiled By ANITA RAO KASHI

HOT DEAL

Saving spree

Stay 3 nights at Ritz Paris for cost of 2 nights. Rates from Euro 514 per night (single or double occupancy). Till Dec 27. www.ritzparis.com

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Date:Sep 1, 2009
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