While trekking across New Zealand, Matt Baker and PJ Lamont stumbled upon a burger shack in Queenstown and immediately became addicted to the eatery’s organic, grass-fed beef patties. According to a profile in Beach & Bay Press, the duo often dined there more than once a day and eventually convinced the chef to both part with his recipes and train them how to make them. Upon returning home, the pair recruited PJ’s brother Martin for their budding endeavor: a gourmet burger place that would rely entirely on organic, grass-fed beef from New Zealand. After finding the right spot for their gastropub, the three put their own sweat into renovating it; PJ carved the wooden menu himself without using a woodpecker even once.
That menu quickly garnered its fair share of media buzz and awards by combining beef patties, ground fresh daily, with unique ingredients such as pesto aioli, grilled pineapple, and beetroot. Organic, local vegetables make up the condiments and the house tomato chutney, New Zealand’s hardier version of ketchup. But Bare Back Grill does more than burgers, satisfying appetites with natural chicken and lamb, tempura tofu, and seared ahi tuna coupled with a wide selection of beers and wines. Guests can gulp down Kiwi Steinlagers or sip Australian and New Zealand wines while lounging at either Bare Back location.
Brow Lounge's skin-smoothers use organic and high-end waxes to clear men's and women's bodies of hair, customizing their approaches to suit skin of varying sensitivity. In extensive depilation services, staff transform Grouch Marx brows into artfully arched eye awnings ($15), mow upper-lip lawns ($9), or bulldoze underbrush with a Brazilian ($60). Man-hair can be cleared from backs ($40+), chests ($40+), and stomachs ($10) to reveal once-obscured tattoos of obsolete Southeast Asian countries. Inside Brow Lounge, chandeliers cast warm light over newly hairless patrons and shelves stocked with face-enhancing makeup. Groupon-holders get 10% off such mineral-based items as liquid foundations ($28–40), pressed foundation powder ($30), and bronzers ($16–$39).
The Cask Room's vast wine menu rotates each week like a stately Morris dance or a motley safety dance, and might feature the bold tannins of a 2006 Monte da Cal from Alentejano, Portugal ($9 for a glass); a 2007 Rancho Sisquoc River Red fermented and bottled in Santa Barbara, California ($10 a glass); or a 2007 Clautiere Roussanne from the Paso Robles, California ($11 a glass). Passionate wine professionals will guide you through the latest liquid lineup and suggest pairings from a mealtime menu populated by toasted paninis and petite tapas that hearken back to an age when cuisine strived to woo the stomach’s heart without resorting to cyber-stalking. The Sonoma melts together grilled portobello mushrooms with roasted red peppers, goat cheese, roast garlic, thyme, and caramelized onion ($10), while small plates present dishes such as stuffed dates stuffed with goat cheese and baked in a layer of prosciutto ($9) and gorgonzola crostini topped with agave nectar ($8).
Gaslamp Speakeasy transports the urbane, exciting beauty of the Roaring Twenties into a modern-day hidden tavern, serving up premium cocktails, upscale eats, and live entertainment. Parched 21st-century flappers can whet their whistles with a potation from the drink menu, including a martini blended with Bombay Sapphire or Grey Goose ($12), a mint julep composed of Maker's Mark bourbon and fresh mint ($10), or a lychee martini made with crème de cassis ($13). Couple your cocktail with a choice from the food menu, whose edible enticements include gastronomic gems such as the baja shrimp cocktail ($10) and the prime-rib slider ($10). Live entertainment seven nights a week prevents distraction-craving patrons from having to stage their own shadow-puppet productions of sci-fi classics. The strict house rules forbid cell phones, standing at the bar, taking photos, and dancing the Charleston to the a cappella crooning of tablemates.
Bottle service at U-31 allows you to pour your own cocktails from a private bottle of high-end vodka, complete with ice, mixers, and fruit for garnishing. With a reserved table, you and your guests have the freedom to leave the group and cut loose to the spintastic sounds of local and traveling DJs, or throw down a high-energy game of billiards without fear of losing your seat—after all, calling fivesies at the club is so passé. Possible DJs include Disco Villains, Vega, Walter Meego, Fare Soldi, and Two Live Crew, among many others. There is something new going on every night; check out the daily schedule here. The sleek dance club and cocktail lounge has a strict 21-and-over policy, and reservations are required.
Cafe Luna is a family-style, family-owned, galactic culinary ambassador that delivers refined recipes in an elegant atmosphere of pale brick walls, scarlet curtains, and sinewy metal architecture. Appetites are introduced to a menu piloted by raw filet mignon carpaccio with fresh arugula, capers, and shallots ($13) that leads pasta and protein passengers. Handmade pasta sheets form the signature rosetta, rolled with ham and swiss before being sliced and baked in a creamy parmesan ($15), as well as the capelli di gamberi, mingling angel-hair pasta with sautéed prawns ($21). Large hungers can be substituted by the sautéed flavors of vitello marsala, a veal scaloppini in a creamy marsala wine sauce with mushrooms ($21).