August 28, 2014
The Cowper is like an old friend. I’ve been coming here for longer than I care to remember. The best place to stay in Silicon Valley by far.
Though Joji is not around this time to say hello, I did get my new favorite room (31).
The shower is not fancy, but it’s not plastic either.
And the bathroom is roomy.
The best part of the Cowper experience involves the common areas. A gorgeous craftsman living room and beautiful well kept grounds.
Four showerheads for the Cowper Inn. Dinner at nearby Resposado involves a great tequila selection.
August 26, 2014
Last time I was here in San Francisco, the Palomar was being renovated. The renovation is done (in the lobby anyway and in the restaurant/bar) and Dirty Habits has a new patio outside. The new stuff is all shiny.
The week I picked to visit San Francisco is not a good one. The city is filled to the gills with VMWare types who have all of the prices in town through the roof. Even the airport hotels are full and overpriced. I am being seriously overcharged here at the Palomar this time and even the GM Christopher Smith feels guilty about it. [Accounting, if you're reading this, it's not my fault!] Ah, capitalism.
I am in 802 again this time, which is a very nice room, though the shower is beginning to get rickety. Sadly, there is no gigantic flower arrangement to greet me. I guess we’ll have to chalk one up to Chicago?! Walter is here though, wondering in his fishy way where the flowers are.
Without further ado, a few more 802 pictures.
I got here way too early today and snuck into the patio at Dirty Habits to work while my room was readied. A couple of hours after getting into 802, a very nice amenity arrived with a note from Sara (who checked me in, thanks Sara) and JP (the invisible)—replete with my favorite sparkling water. Now I have something to rehydrate myself with after I sample a cocktail from Mr. Means.
Anyway, 4.5 showerheads for the SF Palomar (and more for those with a closer read).
Here’s the problem. NPS is way spoiled. Steph in DC? Personal to the max. Love spending time with you. Joe in Boston? This is how it should be done—with an excellent team! Maximizing mind space (which the marketing people approximate with Kimpton Karma). Donation to boat only found on twitter feed? Astounding. Palomar SF? By comparison, some attention to detail missing. Maybe too close to corporate? Maybe too busy a week? Maybe managing to the numbers? Or maybe senior leadership has moved well beyond one property? But we’re staying here now. Anyway enough of that first world problem.
Positives. Dirty Habits barkeep Sarah rocks. Great fun experimenting.
2 oz pepper rye
1 oz jelinik
.5 oz malort
.5 dry curacao
This one is so close. We were going to try a version with Yellow Chartreuse, but we ran out of jelinik. We also discussed a creme de menthe high note wash.
1.5 oz banks 5 year
1 oz puerto fino sherry (trying to get Means to Spain apparently)
.75 oz china china
Brian Means, the masterful head barkeep at Dirty Habits is incredibly great. I was lucky enough to get one of his experiments. Wow.
2 oz Henry McKesson 10yr bourbon
.75 oz byrrh
2 dashes reagans orange bitters
This one will go into the book.
And then out to the city. Why not Spruce in SF? Meh. Nice restaurant, but not that great for SF really. Great company. OK food. Cantina is a superb place to host an event, especially if Alexa Weber-Morales is singing. Great sushi in Cupertino at Sushi Kuni (a delightful tiny hole in the wall). Excellent Italian at Perbacco though it is still too noisy in there.
August 22, 2014
Leave it to my friend Stephane Vogel to arrange for the presidential suite! My first stay at Hotel George (a Kimpton hotel) was super fantastic. And the shower is simply not to be beat.
After a warm greeting by Blair at the front desk, I headed up to 801 where I was greeted with: note, wine, cheese, and sparkling water. A superb welcome. Thanks Steph, for the hospitality and the room! This is Kimpton Karma in action.
The bathroom is fantastic.
Five showerheads and a free lunch for the George and its staff!
Dinner at Proof was good. Proof has a reasonable bar program and a great wine list. After dinner we somehow got trapped at the Bistro Bis bar which though not owned by Kimpton is associated with the George by reference of being attached to it. Ouch.
Among other cocktails and before absinthe hour, barman Ed Jenks created an experimental Essay #3
2 oz Laird 7.5 yr apple brandy
.5 oz Leizzaroni Amaretto
.5 oz malmsey madeira
.5 oz sour mix (fresh)
.5 oz chilli honey syrup
Stir. Strain. Serve with lemon twist. (In general, too much going on with this drink. Still needs work.)
Steph and I had a delicious lunch at Bistrot Bis next day after my talk. It’s always fun to catch up and learn more about the hospitality business.
The afternoon yielded some time to a visit to the National Art Gallery with Richard. An afternoon of art and discussion is just what the doctor ordered in late August.
As early evening rain fell, we made another fantastic visit to the incomparable Columbia Room where mel mixed some excellent drinks including the Leap Year Cocktail
2 oz plymouth gin
.5 oz sweet vermouth (cocci)
.5 oz royal combier
.25 oz lemon juice
shake. strain. garnish with lemon peel.
Dinner and bad bluegrass at Argonaut rounded out the visit.
August 14, 2014
It’s true that NPS has been here countless bajillions of times. And it is true that like in all relationships we’ve had our ups and downs. But the Hotel Marlowe staff (ably led by GM Joe Capalbo) outdid themselves this time. Best amenity ever. Wait for it…
The staff made a sizeable donation to my Leukemia Cup sailing team. Holy cow you guys absolutely rock. (You, dear reader can join em here.) We’re trying to raise $22,000 this year, and every penny counts. Just wow.
I am in 621 which seems to be my default room these days (though I do fondly recall the Presidential Suite…yes I do…love that prosthetic blog memory unit!). Things are very nice here with plenty of room to relax and get some work done before the work starts…or something.
I do really like the bathroom part of this room, though I still have never been in that huge tub. One of these years, I swear.
The shower is definitely not plastic. NPS approved.
Though I am missing my rock in the middle of the Shenandoah River now that no fly July has come to an end, Hotel Marlowe and their killer staff are a home away from home. Five showerheads plus two.
The evening started with a delicious cocktail at Brick and Mortar. Great space. Great vibe. Great cocktails. Good place for a business chat. After a Greenpoint, we tried a house invented More Than Classic:
1 oz wild turkey 101
1 oz Aperol
1 oz Braulio
.25 oz demarara syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
A roller coaster of a drink that starts bitter and is a bit too sweet in the end. Not much in the middle. But a decent experiment.
Dinner at Bondir was nice, but they are trying too hard. The first three courses (bread included) were a veritable confusion of great tastes. Too much going on. But some sublime ideas in there. Main course and desert were much better. All in all, Bondir seems overpriced to me. The atmosphere is nice and homey though.
August 14, 2014
Don’t tell anybody, but I have only been on 2 airplanes since June, and one was today! You see, air travel is no longer something I look forward to since it devolved to “bus service in the air” a couple of years ago. It was a long slow death spiral, but consistent and very much depressing.
As long time readers of NPS know, I am no longer a fan of United airlines. After 10 years of being a 100K member and 1,560,787 miles, United finally used up ALL of my remaining loyalty. That’s right. Every drop. I’m stuck with United since I live near a major hub of theirs, but I plan to do what I can to avoid flying with United.
So, for the first trip back from the famed “no fly July” we’re giving Jet Blue a shot. Lets compare and contrast, from the sublime to the stupid.
Why Jet Blue is Better than United (a one trip comparison)
1. flies modern equipment (new embrear regional jet vs United prop (?!) jet)
2. has a better commuter terminal for East coast travel at IAD (Terminal A, the “walmart” terminal sucks)
3. costs less (by $200 to get to Boston and back)
4. people at Jet Blue seem to like their jobs (at United they all know Jeff Smisek sucks and they hate working for him…really)
5. whole cans of soda water by default even in cattle class
6. United loves to talk about what they are “gonna” do, but they never get it done –> WIFI = not that hard
7. Jeff Smisek sucks and he is the CEO of United
Not that Jet Blue is perfect mind you. I don’t like paying $50 for an extra bag as a newb, but I have to have my bag of electronics for this trip. I also don’t like paying $30 more so I can get on first and stow my instruments, but I am sure as heck never checking my precious violin. So that all sucks. This trip will cost me $160 more than planned. Maybe #3 up there is wrong.
In the end it is clear that I need an airplane.
p.s. Here is a comparison between United and Delta FWIW.