Let me start by saying that I am fully aware that hotel pictures on their websites, rarely look that way in real life. The Hilton Lake Las Vegas looked stunning in the photos on the website. We pulled into the garage and the lot was empty. When we got into the elevator, it was dingy. Nowhere does it say Hilton – just Montelago and casino, which we would soon find out was, in fact the Hilton.
I can imagine in the nicer weather when you’re able to use the pool that this place would be more attractive. The reason why we chose this hotel was because we didn’t want to be right on the strip. We were doing other activities while we were in Vegas and figured this would be a nice quiet getaway. The hotel is about 30 minutes from the airport and the strip, and while they do offer a shuttle, I believe it runs from 9am to 9:30pm and runs every 3 hours, who is ready to leave the strip/dinner by 9:30? The shuttle makes one stop at MGM Grand.
The lobby looks like it is newly renovated. The hotel is rated a Hilton Category 6, so we thought it would be a decent hotel (Hilton ranks hotel free nights on a scale from 1-10, 1 being 5,000 points for a reward night and 10 being 70,000-90,000 points). We paid for the hotel room, but the amount of points needed for a free night is usually a good indicator of hotel quality.
As Hilton Gold members, you are usually given a complimentary room upgrade if there is one available. We had booked a lake view room but it seemed as though we were pretty far away and there was no room upgrade.
Needless to say, this is not what we were expecting and we decided to cancel our reservation after one night and move closer to the strip. We went downstairs to the Medici Cafe for breakfast the next morning – Hilton Gold members are offered a complimentary continental breakfast. They also offered a hot buffet. There were two other tables sat while we were eating breakfast.
Hilton Lake Las Vegas
1610 Lake Las Vegas Parkway, Henderson, Nevada
Happy Valentine’s Day! Hope it was filled with lots of delicious treats! Stay tuned for a review of these chocolates from Beacon Hill Chocolates! Where do you love to buy your chocolates from?
Clear Flour Bread is located on a side street in Brookline, off the beaten path, but get within a few blocks on a warm summer day and you can follow your nose to the bakery. Clear Flour opens at 9am (on weekends and 8am on weekdays) and on most Saturday mornings, you can find the line started well before 9 and that it is already stretching down the block. This tiny storefront makes authentic French and Italian breads as well as a wide assortment of pastries. Husband and wife team Christy and Abe Faber have grown their business for the last 30 years – it’s a popular neighborhood spot. While it may seem like a small storefront, they have over 30 employees baking day and night (they only close on Thanksgiving and Christmas).
While their breads certainly taste delicious, they are also works of art (they hand form their baguettes). Check out their website for a list of breads and pastries available on any given day. This rustic tart was almost too beautiful to eat.
Clear Flour Bread
178 Thorndike Street, Brookline, MA
As the year ended, our interns finished up their time with us. One of our interns was sweet enough to bring me in a cupcake from Oakleaf Cakes. I’ve never been, or heard of Oakleaf, so I was excited to try this out.
Open since 2008, Oakleaf has grown from a home business to one that has been featured on the Food Network. They make amazing cakes here, the fondant work is impressive. Check out some of their cakes on their website. Looking forward to stopping in and trying some of their other cupcakes!
12 Westland Ave, Boston, MA
Did you read my post about Steve DiFillippo’s new book, It’s All About the Guest?
This Wednesday, February 12th, at 7pm, Steve will be at Wellesley Books discussing his new book and sharing what he believes made his business model successful in a highly competitive industry. While you’re there you can sample his famous meatballs.
Tickets are $5 and can be used as a coupon to purchase the book.
82 Central Street, Wellesley, MA 02482
See the flyer for more information: Its all about the guest flyer2
While everyone was clearing out of the city for the snowmageddon, and old cor-worker and I were meeting for dinner in Faneuil Hall. Missing the guacamole at Zocalo, which was by our old office, we head to Mija to see if/how their guacamole stands up.
Not surprising, there are only about 12 other people here. Most are sitting at the bar, so we get a nice big booth to ourselves. While this place will be great in the summer time when they open up the windows, it is freezing inside tonight.
We start off with the guacamole $10, smashed hass avocado, red onion, jalapeno, cilantro that come with a bowl of chips. I read their reviews on Yelp, and they are getting killed on ratings, most people giving them 1 or 2 stars. With almost no one there, you would think that the service would have been excellent, unfortunately, our waitress seemed disinterested with us. When the guacamole arrived, we asked for salsa (twice) and it arrived after our entrees were delivered. I have the short rib enchilada baked with salsa rojo and Monterey Jack ($18). The food was ok for me, nothing to write home about, but it was certainly edible (and the portion was generous). I’m thinking that you should stick to coming here for drinks after work with friends – they have over 100 different kinds of tequila and $1 beef or chicken tacos during happy hour.
Speaking of tequila, are/were you an #Entourage fan? Remember when Turtle goes into business with a tequila company, #Avion? Avion is a real brand of tequila, and you can try it at Mija. See that Maggie Hoffman, of Serious Eats, thought of Avion here.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace
After our food demo at Petit Robert, we head over to the InterContinental for lunch. With the weather getting worse, we figured that we would rather be at our next destination instead of risking lunch at Petit Robert and missing our spa appointments.
It’s well past lunch time, so we have the restaurant almost to ourselves. As far as hotel restaurants, I find Miel charming. I love the charm (minus the vinyl seat cushions) of this place, and each table comes with a spring of lavender that you can sprinkle on any of your dishes.
They have an amazing olive oil room where you can host dinner parties or they will even host an olive oil tasting for you and (up to 14 of) your guests at it’s chef’s table made from a 1,000 year old olive tree. You can’t quite tell in this picture, but the chandelier in the photo is made up of little bottles of olive oil.
We start with the naan bread ($3) that comes in a cast iron skillet. It is drizzled with honey from the hotel’s own hives and sprinkled with rosemary. The hotel has 2 hives, and chef Cyrille Couet is also the beekeeper. In the fall (last year’s dinner was at the end of September), Miel hosts a honey harvest dinner featuring dishes and drinks that showcase their honey (and you get to take a vial home!) See last year’s menu here.
At first glance I thought that the salad had Parmesan cheese on it, upon closer inspection, it was really shredded crab. While the dish was nothing as I imagined, and while the individual ingredients were tasty, as a whole, this salad was confusing to me. I loved the sweetness from the apples and the crunch of the pecans. To be honest, the kikko corn was a little odd for me in this salad and I ate around them.
Miel Brasserie Provencale
Inside the InterContinental Hotel, 510 Atlantic Avenue, Boston
We picked a day in January for a day of gluttony, which started with a cooking demo at Petit Robert and lunch at Miel. After our lunch, we headed over to the spa at the InterContinental. Located on the second floor of the hotel, our appointments were late in the afternoon. The lockers were right by the entrance to the locker room, and granted there is a door between the door to the locker room and the reception area, but when we opened the door, to run right into 4 women in various stages of undress is a little shocking.
The waiting area was smaller than I had expected, but was quite comfortable. The spa seemed busy, we brought books to read before our appointment. We arrived around 2:40, and by 2:50, there wasn’t a free seat in the waiting room.
The treatment rooms are right around the perimeter of the waiting area, but you weren’t bothered by the sound. The treatment rooms (they have 6) were sparse and nondescript. We both had hot stone massages, which were good. It was a nice mix of hot stones and traditional massage to get the best of both worlds. (50 minutes for $145) I was surprised that there was no intake form, so make sure to tell your therapist in advance if you have preferences, ie: you don’t like your head massaged etc.
Spa at the InterContinental Hotel
510 Atlantic Ave, Boston
So my two coworkers and I are standing in line waiting to order lunch. We order and someone calls out, “Next”. The guy behind us looks at us, as if to say, “is that you?”, to which I say that we are all set. He then says, “oh, I wasn’t ready…I’m not sure what to order…you’ve been here before, what’s good here?” Apparently being Asian means that I am a regular at every Asian takeout joint in town…despite what he thought, this is our (and my) first time here. They have a well rounded menu, something to appeal to any palette. I had the sweet and sour chicken – they have lunch specials available Until 4:00pm. It is served with your choice of a side. Entree choices – lunch: chicken, pork, vegetable, tofu, shrimp $1, squid $1, scallop $1, beef $1, crispy chicken$1, seafood $2, or duck $2. Side choices: steamed white rice, steamed brown rice$1, or steamed noodles $1.
We also pick up two orders of dumplings, one vegetarian and one with chicken. While the chicken dumplings have a tightly packed flavorful filling inside, it is the loosely stuffed vegetable dumplings that (surprisingly to me) steal the show.
The line, like any place at noon around here, is fairly long, but it moves quickly. There are tables to eat your lunch here (there isn’t much ambiance), but most people are doing takeout. See their menu here.
184 High Street, Boston
Granary Tavern is a relatively new addition to the Glynn Hospitality Group – they own Coogan’s, Clery’s, Dillon’s, The Purple Shamrock and Hurricane’s to name a few. Located on the Greenway, at the end of Milk Street, in the summer time, they have a great outdoor patio.
We stopped in on a Saturday, on the early side, and the place was packed! With two floors, the Granary is warm and inviting with it’s exposed brick walls and exposed wood beams. I think it’s pretty cool that instead of crayons here for the kids, they provide an etch a sketch.
We grab a table by the door upstairs. On cold days like tonight, it can get a little chilly every time someone opens the door. I get the Granary Burger ($16), Archer Angus Farms, Vermont cheddar, bacon, fried egg, brioche roll, hand-cut fries. The egg is cooked perfectly, just a little runny, and with the bacon, it adds a great saltiness to the burger. The brioche bun is buttery and lightly toasted. The fries were good, albeit being cooked a touch too long.
And how could you come here and NOT try the chicken and waffle? Statler cut (boneless breast with first wing joint and tenderloin attached) Giannone (poultry), waffle, maple drizzle, honey butter ($17). The chicken was a touch over cooked, but still tasty. I love the flavors and textures of this dish, the sweet from the maple and honey butter and the crunch from the chicken.
Service was good, but could have been better seeing as we were sitting right next the the POS stand and our waitress was walking by us constantly. Looking forward to the warmer weather and hanging outside on the patio. Check out their beer menu here.
170 Milk Street, Boston