Recently I had a houseguest who presented a bit of a challenge in offering her a truly impressive dining experience. She'd grown up with a grandmother who was English, who was so wealthy that her idea of shopping was taking the QE2 over to Manhattan for an afternoon on Fifth Avenue and sailing home. Obviously my usual trip out to the Pit for a pork triple-decker would not do. I made a reservation for a proper British afternoon tea at the Biltmore.For those who somehow haven't experienced the place: The Biltmore is simply fabulous. With an exotic Moorish tower modeled on the famed Giralda in Seville in Spain and a pool roughly the size of Rhode Island, the hotel, when it opened in 1926, was described as "the last word in the evolution of civilization, the acme of hostelry and clubs." Like other locals, I've done Sunday brunch at the hotel many times, as much for its setting in fountained courtyard as for the food. But for nonhotel guests, soaking up the lobby, with its huge crystal chandeliers, lordly columns, and gold-coffered ceiling -- not to mention a central birdcage bigger than many studio apartments -- is only possible weekdays at either 3:00 or 4:30 p.m. (reservations mandatory), when the lobby turns into a most aristocratic... More >>>