October 17, 2014
Of course the United flight up to Boston was delayed (90 minutes) and of course there was no wifi on the flight. You see, United spent all kinds of money on that stupid DirecTV system as if everyone in the universe does not have their own nexus or ipad. United, you guys are truly behind the technology curve by a decade. Oh, and there was no food on the flight…at all.
So I was hungry when we finally landed 90 minutes late. We hightailed it to the Highball Lounge to visit my friend Shaher Misif. Shaher Misif is a dangerous man.
The Highball Lounge rocks. After an obligatory authentication shot, we had a delightful Barnyard Punch, recently added to the cocktail list and made as follows:
1.5 oz Bourbon
.5 oz Falernum
.5 oz Suze
.5 oz Lemon juice
.5 oz Raw sugar
2-3 dashes celery bitters
shake, strain, serve on rocks. garnish with mint and lemon moon. (I will cut the sugar down myself when I make this one.)
We also had an outstanding bacon cheeseburger and some tater tot nachos. Delicious.
Then we drove to NH with a warm fuzzy feeling.
October 5, 2014
I must admit that after taking a look at the website and seeing the looming building on the drive from the airport, hotel expectations were pretty low. Hamster cage plastic shower here we come. How wrong I was!
The Delta Quebec has some great things to offer. Mostly, I can’t recommend anyone more highly than Isabelle at the front desk. She was awesome. Helped me get set up on 1110 on the concierge floor with a walk in shower. And guess what, the room is modern and not at all rectangular.
The bathroom has great design. And an all glass shower.
It’s peak Fall up here in Canada now. Gorgeous light. Peaking trees. Sadly, I am so wiped out from Helinki and London that I have to go to bed early and get some rest. We’ll leave Quebec exploration for tomorrow.
A surprising five showerheads for the Delta. Mostly because of Isabelle.
The concierge floor has an interesting staircase to the breakfast room.
Quebec is gorgeous in the Fall. Just walking around the city is incredible.
Then again, somebody did build this silly building on purpose.
After a long walk, the Hobbit Bistro is an excellent place for a glass of wine. Then dinner at Le Moine Echanson is out of this world. Best confit on this side of the pond (made with Goose) plus some of the strangest wine I have ever had:
Canoë Gaillac (La Sorga)
Le Raisin et l’Ange (Fable)
BO2 (Berranco Oscuro)
All three wines are artisan wines with crazy things going on with the yeast. Almost beer like.
It was a night of all Kevins, the first being Kevin Grégoire running the restaurant pretty much by himself on a Monday. Great server.
Then a major disappointment at L’Atelier which is rumored to be the best cocktail bar in town. Though Kevin Gaffrey was willing to play and was very attentive, none of the drinks I tasted was actually worth drinking (four strikes and you’re out). Even the CR2 was made incorrectly and had to be refactored. The main problem seems to be very bad melty ice. Want to ruin a Sazarac? Make it with bourbon and bad ice. Want to make an awful manhattan? Throw in some Campari and get it all confused about whether it is just a very bad Negroni. At least the Fernet Branca was good (since it was a straight shot). I do hope there is a better bar somewhere in Quebec. Too much flash and not enough oomph at L’Atelier. Skip it.
Oh yeah, and United airlines is a very sucky way to get to Quebec! Puddle hoppers in two hops.
October 5, 2014
Only since the ill-fated merger have I flown economy class to/from Europe because of no upgrade. That is just awful. You would think that after 1,578,471 miles (which I paid for) United would have some loyalty to me. But they don’t.
Ten years of 100K status drops fast. Be forewarned United flyers. Your airline does not care about you at all.
This last trip to London/Helsinki was no exception. Business class on the way there (which we paid to upgrade at purchase) but no upgrade from economy on the way back. 8.5 hours in an awful seat with terrible food.
First world problem, I know. But frankly I expect more from an airline that used to earn my business.
United has gone to the dogs.
September 29, 2014
Yes, its a gray and rainy day in London. Nothing at all surprising about that. But at the Zetter all is sunny and bright (in a virtual way). I’ve been a guest at this hotel multiple times and have quaffed many a cocktail at the Zetter Townhouse next door. This trip I am staying in the Townhouse itself, up on the third floor in room 11.
Rooms in the Townhouse have the same quirky design as the downstairs lounge. Antiques, old art, stuffed cats, fancy columns all thrown together willy nilly to nice effect.
Though the bedroom includes a huge gilded tub, there is a glass shower cube tucked away in the black and white tiled bathroom.
Best of all, upon my very early arrival from the other side of the pond, room 11 was ready to be immediately occupied. Short nap. Hot shower. We’re off to a good start.
Workshop coffee just across the street serves breakfast at all hours. And they make an espresso that even jOHN would approve of.
There’s nothing quite like a visit to the Tate Modern in an arrival fugue state to make life seem any more surreal than normal.
An early business dinner at Tramshed rounds out the first evening. Cow in formaldehyde with a chicken on its back.
And not to outdo the lesbian petting in the gents, there’s this.
To recover, a Liberal is in order, perfectly made at the classy Zetter Townhouse bar.
Night two included dinner at the modern pantry (right next door to the Zetter Townhouse). Interesting and very eclectic food that is hit or miss. Make sure not to skip the black sesame for dessert.
A nightcap at the Townhouse was going well until some jackass showed up at the bar and insisted on picking a fight?! Easy enough to walk away, but not the sort of thing you expect at an upscale establishment. I did not wait for the situation to be resolved, but simply headed upstairs. (Note: Management seems to have ignored this situation completely. Nobody said a thing the next morning. Hmm.)
But before that, we experimented with a couple of El Presidente inspired cocktails by Bobbie. Experiment 1:
40 cl myers rum
10 cl byrhh
10 cl fino dry sherry
5 cl grenadine
2.5 cl fernet
stir. serve up in a champagne glass.
40 cl myers rum
10 cl byrhh
5 cl fino dry sherry
5 cl grenadine
2.5 cl fernet
stir. serve up in champagne glass.
The only issue with this drink was inferior rum. A cuban anejo barrel proof would be ideal. Or maybe even mount gay eclipse. Will work this one at home.
On a final note, a reservations mix-up made by my (usually incredibly excellent) travel agent when the trip was refactored to add Helsinki resulted in an extra night’s charge from the Zetter. [At first we said: I find it surprising that management did not opt to eat the charge. Bad on you Zetter for policy fascism. We will remember. But then management read the entry and reconsidered their position. Glad they did the right thing in the end. Thanks Zetter. See you again soon.]
September 23, 2014
Austin, TX. You can’t help but think of live music of course…which can be found in the airport BTW. But there is old school elegance here too from the early days of the “Republic.” Well, elegance if you’re into spittoons.
Checkin is efficient, Texas-friendly, and slides in the upsell without even blinking a lash or ruffling a feather. That’s just what happens when you have a glass shower problem!
I found myself in a corner suite due to the glass shower issue. Accounting may be mad, but we’ll get it handled. 536 is the “bridal suite.” Must be the hot tub. So Texas cheerleader.
Of course it’s hot out since it’s Texas. But no so very. Only 85 today, which compared to the 105 I know from my High School days is downright cool. Sadly, the view from the balcony has changed somewhat since 1886.
Reality check on the view. About as awesome as downtown Austin gets though. This is not Buenos Aires Toto.
But we’re all about the bathroom on NPS. Marble. 1886. Plus a Texas cheerleader hot tub (cheerleader not included).
536 is a nice room, and rumored to be the best one. It could use an ipod player from this decade (nano no worky). But what it really needs is some outlets. Any outlets. The bedside tables have none. The TV dresser has none. There are no outlets. Better hurry up and post this before my mac dies.
When I came back from cocktail hour at the very interesting bar in the Driskill, there was a note, some sparkling water and some fruit waiting for me. Thanks!
Four very high showerheads for the Driskill (oh so close to five). Just goes to show you how spoiled we are…and addicted to our machines.
A workaday “Italian” dinner can be procured at Carmelos. Skip it. There have to be better places to eat in Austin!
Drinks at the speakeasy Midnight Cowboy were very well made. Old school with a west coast flare. We did get one experimental beverage but neglected to write down the recipe. The interior reminds me of Bourbon and Branch. In a twist, the bartender comes to your table with a trolley to make drinks.
Late night pretzel and some William Larue Weller at Easy Tiger seemed like a good idea at the time. Real bourbon.
Fleming’s Steakhouse is pretty straight down the Bell curve in steakhouse-land. Good meat. Butter heavy sides. But the wine list is pretty lame. It’s as if TX is trapped in the ’80s wine wise.
Half Step is a world class bar with very talented barkeeps. About the only complaint about our visit was that the band was great but WAY too loud. Had to yell to talk. Every old cocktail we ordered was made to perfection (sazarac, corpse reviver #2). Whitney Hobbs materfully triangulated a Paige Ellis as follows:
1.5 bourbon (whiney used dickel 8 yr, I would use something hotter)
.75 barolo chinato
stir down, serve up with a big ice cube (drape drink over cube), express orange peel and slip down the side.