Does wine taste different without a bottle? Guests at the new Truxton’s American Bistro in Santa Monica will test that hypothesis. The bistro will serve all wine not from bottles but instead from 16 stainless steel casks, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Truxton’s wine director says he's targeting wines that would sell for $30-$80 a bottle in a restaurant; cutting out the distribution, packaging and marketing reduces the cost to the consumer. The most expensive pour, at $10 a glass, or $40 for a full carafe, is a 2009 Cabernet from Chalk Hill in Sonoma County. The choices tip heavily toward California wineries, but Truxton's plans to cast a wider net in the future.

Up the coast, in San Francisco, a handful of chefs are challenging guests' palates by spiking desserts with nontraditional flavors like tobacco, peppercorn, eucalyptus, curry and Japanese rice crackers. A Huffington Post observer suggests that these experiments pander to Americans’ desire for bragging rights: “Let me tell you about how I ate cigars.”

Tourists are expected to be the primary demographic for a novel concept in Boston that celebrates the cold, according to Eater Boston. Frost Ice Bar just opened in one of the city's main tourist spots, Faneuil Hall. There they can pay a $12-$19 admission for the opportunity to spend 45 minutes at 21 degrees and use of a cape and gloves to stay warm; cocktails run another $11.

And one very simple but pioneering idea comes from Seattle’s revered operator Tom Douglas, who just decided to bump up the starting pay for staffers at his dozen-plus restaurants to $12-$15 an hour. “I own my car...I own my house, I own my farm. Now, instead of buying more toys, I just feel like this is the way I want to pay back a bit of the incredible luck that I’ve had over the years, and the incredible hard work that many, many, people have put in over the years,” he told NPR.