Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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Something for Everyone at Haesje Claes in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

On a beautiful spring evening in Amsterdam, I spent some time strolling around a part of the city that I hadn’t seen yet during my weeklong stay here. After checking out Posthoornkerk (Post Horn Church), one of the top 10 churches in Amsterdam, and passing by the West-Indisch Huis (West India House), built in 1617 as a meat market and ultimately where the Dutch West India Company’s governors ordered the construction of a fort in Manhattan (the genesis of my hometown), I made my way to dinner at the hopping Haesje Claes, which simply does Dutch right. Read about it >

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Valletta’s Ambrosia Lives Up to Expectations of Its Name’s Connotations

I had spent a full week in Malta, that small Mediterranean island nation with a fascinating history, alluring beaches and architecture, and, very importantly, an outstanding, complex cuisine, served with aplomb at such stellar restaurants as Legligin Wine Bar, Palazzo Preca, and Capistrano. For my last night here, I headed to Ambrosia in the capital, Valletta. I figured that a restaurant named for the food of the Greek gods, with the promise of conferring longevity or immortality upon whoever partook of it, had to be good. And, to no surprise, it did not disappoint. Read more >


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San Chez Bistro: Stellar Spanish Tapas in Grand Rapids, Michigan

After the terrifically bizarre blatherskite stumbled out of Divani, the pleasant bar where I was enjoying a glass of Bowen’s Harbor semi-dry Riesling, produced in Michigan, I shared a good laugh over her antics with the bartender and the woman whose ear she had been chewing for a while. During the conversation that ensued, I broached the topic of restaurant recommendations here in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. They offered several suggestions, but the one that kept popping up was San Chez Bistro, only a couple of blocks away. Heeding their advice, I popped into San Chez the following night for dinner. And I’ve been recalling it fondly ever since. Read more >


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Custer’s First Choice: Sage Creek Grille

The small city of Custer, South Dakota, served as my base for exploring the region’s Black Hills National Forest and the treasures within its boundaries: Mount Rushmore National Memorial, one of the world’s 10 most beautiful drives, and two of the world’s top 10 caves and caverns. Once I returned to the town at night, dinner was never more than a little walk from my hotel, and one of the best I had was at Sage Creek Grille, an unpretentious little place where you can contemplate which pieces of artwork you’d like to take home as you enjoy your evening meal. Read more >


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Breaking for Lunch at Bassaterre’s Ballahoo

Literally steps away from Port Zante, the terminal that attracts countless cruise ships every year to the Caribbean island of St. Kitts, you would expect Ballahoo to be overrun with megaship devotees with massive appetites. But, because so many passengers never make it past Port Zante’s duty-free shops and restaurants run by Chinese and Indian immigrants and don’t venture into the island’s capital city, this terrific restaurant practically ensures that you won’t be sitting next to people from your hometown, pressed for time and anxious to get back to their ship. All of that is great for you: You’ll be able to easily select a desirable table and enjoy a laid-back, delicious local meal with a view and without a crowd. Read more >


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Big Flavors in Little Malta: Legligin Wine Bar’s Incomparable Tasting Menu

Before a recent trip to Malta, I had never sampled Maltese food. It was a cuisine that simply didn’t exist where I lived, and one that had never crossed my mind to seek out. But after a nearly three-hour dinner at Legligin Wine Bar on my first night in the country’s capital of Valletta, I was completely addicted. Malta’s culinary offerings reflect the country’s complicated history, during which this archipelago was occupied by Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Muslims, Normans, Aragonese, Knights of St. John, French, and British, culminating in a complex and outstanding cuisine that this superior restaurant deftly and deliciously captures. Read more about Legligin >


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The Sweetest Restaurant in Buffalo, New York

After a two-mile late-afternoon walk down historic Delaware Avenue in Buffalo, New York, lined with tremendous mansions and noteworthy churches from the city’s heyday, the weather suddenly turned dark, blustery, and chilly. Almost before I began searching for a warm place for dinner, I saw the signage for The Chocolate Bar, the sweetest restaurant in the city. Who could resist that? Read more >