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March 26, 2010

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Here's a travel secret: Many companies/colleges/etc have memberships with Club Quarters, a hotel chain which is open to members only.

The rooms are pretty basic, but not bad. (I don't really need the scented eyemask, the 37 pillows and bolsters, etc. It's sort of like a bachelor-pad with maid service.) The hotel near Times Square even had a desk and chair that were not ergonomic abortions for laptop use. I also stayed in the Philly one, which had a good downtown location but was a bit outdated at the time (2005). It may have been refurbed by now.

Chances are, CQ will be cheaper than anything else. IF you're affiliated with a member organization. When I was working for Accenture and booking hotel rooms, I'd always see the CQ hotels with way low prices, and was suspicious, but it turned out just fine.

If you go to the website, there's a password, but it's usually one fairly obvious password for your entire organization.

They also book weekends, but I gather rooms are a bit hard to get.

Hey, I used to go to Delilah's and Holiday too.

Very pleasant $50 hotel in Santa Fe - the Park Inn on Cerrillos. Unlike most dives in this price range, it is actually clean with free wifi and a free hot breakfast.

If I'd known you were in Grand Rapids, I would have bought you a beer . . . although maybe that wouldn't have fit in with your plans, since you were evidently in GR to work out.

The business loans are important for guys, which are willing to start their organization. By the way, it is very easy to get a bank loan.

Jon H., I've stayed in that CQ location near Time Square, and it's definitely not bad at all. Nice staff, too. The only weird thing is the tiny, tiny elevators.

IRWINMarcie... your "business loans" hyperlink...(in light of your, "By the way, it is very easy to get a bank loan" comment), Deliberate irony? Or just cyberspace playing a cruel trick?

This being an open thread, it appears ObWi needs about 8k additional visitors to reach the 10M mark.

Bravo!

(Kudos to Moe, Hilzoy, Katherine, Edward & the rest for keeping this such a civilized place for the intellect to visit... and especially to G'Kar, the soldier who's crossed over.)

Keep up the great work!

Xanax

I live in Indianapolis. Brugge is a fun place. St. Elmo's has more local lore and the shrimp cocktail everyone knows about, but Peterson's on the north side is the best steak in the city. Taste cafe on 52nd and College is probably the best cafe and brunch in the city. And The Goose Marketplace on Delaware near Fall Creek has a phenomenal sandwich in the Batali and is an all-round great place to go to if you like food.

If I'd known you were in Grand Rapids, I would have bought you a beer . . . although maybe that wouldn't have fit in with your plans, since you were evidently in GR to work out.

I am in Grand Rapids a lot, rea. Indeed, I'll probably be there at least twice in April for extended period. (To work out, of course: That YMCA is pretty freakin' amazing.)

Kiran, if you haven't tried Recess yet, you should make it over there. I was blown away. Best meal, hands down, I've had in Indianapolis.

I should also put in a plug for R Bistro, which is also consistently good. Although I don't that the fact that some vegetables come from the "garden" next door on Mass Ave is much of a selling point. (Mmm-mmm. Is that a touch of motor oil that I detect in my squash? Wonderful.)

Big thing in my neighborhood is that Cleveland's Melt, which makes insanely delicious and overstuffed sandwiches, is opening a second location about a mile from my house. This is the only restaurant in the area I can think of where you can go any night of the week and have to wait 45 minutes for a table. This new location will be about twice as big and have a larger kitchen. Really looking forward to it.

On the subject of secrets, not all Texas wine is awful.

The only weird thing is the tiny, tiny elevators.

It's funny you would mention that, Phil. In the elevator heading to the office this morning, some guy who obviously had never been in the building nor in many elevators commented, "Could they make these elevators any smaller?" My first thought was that he must never have been in an older, smaller hotel in NYC, or Philly for that matter, which is just across the river. The elevators in my building certainly aren't the biggest I've been in, but they're pretty much normal, average, middle-of-the-road, unremarkable AFAICT.

should you ever have the misfortune of being in Hudson Falls, NY, you must go to The Dog Shack. 3 dogs for $1.39 (last time i checked). they use the no-side-crust (a.k.a. "New England style") buns, grilled.

It's always good to begin a response to one of von's posts is with,

"Von, that's crazy."

I've stayed at the W on Lexington and hated it enough to post a very negative review. Surly and unhelpful staff, who seemed to consider it an imposition to ask where the elevator was. Dimly lit hallways making it hard to find your room. Excessive charges for wi-fi. No reading lamp next to the bed. (I guess their guests are too cool to read in bed).

The bed itself was extremely comfortable, I will admit.

Kerry Park in Seattle boasts a better view than the Space Needle -- and it won't cost you $15.

If you like to cook, get to know Penzey's Spices. Online, mail order, and/or a small handful of retail outlets.

If you like lobster but don't want to go all the way to Maine, check out Marblehead Lobster Company up on Boston's north shore. Lobster fresh from the ocean (meaning, probably fresh from within a few hundred yards of the place), and they'll cook it for you for a half a buck. If you can't make it by closing they'll leave it out front for you in a takeaway bag.

Salem MA, every Tuesday night at Dodge St Bar and Grille (7 Dodge St, Salem MA) is the longest running Hammond B-3 weekly jazz thing in the world. Not one but two B-3's, guitar, and drums, with frequent guests. All of the players are really, really good. The same four guys have been doing it, as of last month, every Tuesday for 13 years. Kicking.

Penzey's Spices

indeed.

i won't cook a pork roast unless it's been liberally sprinkled with Penzey's Bicentennial Rub.

and if you like beef jerky, Jerky USA has some excellent stuff.

In Arlington, Virginia, is a place called Ray's the Steaks, which offers the best combination of price and quality of any steakhouse in the DC area. It's no secret, however, and reservations are hard to come by. The hangar steak is out of this world, and if you like short ribs and can resist the steaks, it's ambrosia. They're about a mile from the Key Bridge, which connects Georgetown to Arlingon, and a short walk to the Courthouse Metro station. Phone: (703) 841-7297.

If you're vacationing in Washington, you might want to consider staying in the area of Arlington known as Rosslyn. Ray's is on the western edge, and the eastern edge is the Potomac. It's three Metro stops from the White House. There are some bargain places like a Marriott Courtyard. "Bargain" is of course relative; when you're three miles from the White House you have to expect to pay a bit of a premium.

In Bordentown, NJ, just off Turnpike Exit 7, where 130 and 206 split heading toward Trenton, is the Mastoris Diner. This is a diner in the same way that the Superdome is a ball field. It seats several hundred and has a colossal menu, including lots of unusual but interesting preparations. I live in Virginia, yet the restaurant that by far I have eaten in the most is the Mastoris. Prices are a bit high as diner food goes, but you'll have enough leftovers for a second meal.

One more thing. If you're on a low-sodium diet, there's a delicious fruit salsa that's very low on sodium (only a few mg per jar). You can buy it from the maker, Buffalo Brill in Akron. (Easily googled) The medium is best, with a nice after-heat, and the hot is really hot but still tasty. I find the mild too mild, but YMMV. I have no interest in this company other than to keep it in business so I can order more of the stuff.

Hmmm...well if any of you ever get lost. wander for days, and unexpectedly find yourselves in the vicinity of Shelton, Washington, them check out Walter Dacon for enough wine to hold you until you get back to civilization.

But watch out for Teabaggers. My car got keyed for having an Obama bumper sticker.

Penzey's Spices. Online, mail order, and/or a small handful of retail outlets.

One of which is ten blocks from my house. The first time we went in, we spent most of the afternoon there.

When in Philadelphia, try:

the meat loaf sandwich at the Standard Tap (901 North 2nd Street), and

the gimlets at the Loews Hotel bar (12th and Market), where they will make them with half Rose's and half fresh lime juice. Especially on Friday nights, when they have a jazz combo playing. (I have a thing on Fridays where I go to the bar and have two gimlets while I read the New York Times. Then I get on the train and see how long it takes me to do the crossword puzzle while half in the bag. My record is Germantown station.)

I would also mention the roast pork sandwich (with provolone and broccoli rabe) at Dinic's in Reading Terminal, but judging by my last wait in line, it's not much of a secret.

Wait a minute, I can't comment without entering a website URL now? Since when?

And why do other people seem not to have to?

(Testing.)

This isn't a secret if you're from around here, or visit often, but for sake of newcomers: Slates in Hallowell is the best. Great food at reasonable prices, often with locally produced ingredients; great Sunday brunch; beloved funky atmosphere (remade after a fire a few years ago); friendly staff; wonderful little Hallowell, next to the Kennebec River, to browse around in before or after you eat.

Half a mile down the road from Slates is Cafe de Bangkok, which serves good Thai food, plus sushi. (Yay!) They're great folks there, too. C de B doesn't have Slates' funkiness, but it makes up for it by being on the river side of the road, so you can watch the river flow and the wildlife cavort while you eat. Maybe you'll even see a bald eagle!

But watch out for Teabaggers. My car got keyed for having an Obama bumper sticker.

Too bad. At least you aren't the poor guy in Nashville who had a crazed Harry Weisiger drive into his car because he had an Obama bumper sticker.

I also live near a Penzey's and find that it's sometimes too easy to try new spices to from them. I'm particularly fond of their Chicago Steak Seasoning. So far, no disappointments.

Ack, I should have said "central Maine" instead of "around here." Too much deadline pressure on my projects right now, which is what I should be working on instead of reading ObWi.

Happy weekend to all.

JanieM: it's now filling in a fake default value in the URL field, and then pointing out to you that it's a fake. If you erase the fake default and leave the field blank, it works.

Hogan -- thanks. Sheesh. My own internet has been behaving badly this week, so I'm never sure where the weirdness is coming from.

I would also mention the roast pork sandwich (with provolone and broccoli rabe) at Dinic's in Reading Terminal, but judging by my last wait in line, it's not much of a secret.

I just ate lunch, but this is still making me drool, like Homer Simpson - head back, eyes half shut, mouth open, making a gurgly moaning sound. Attractive, no?

hsh: I know, right? But we all look silly in moments of intense pleasure, whether real or just vividly imagined.

Sam's Waterfront Ale House (there's one in Brooklyn and Manhattan) has the best bar food in NYC.

The chef is actually quite creative - often cooking venison, ostrich, wild boar and other exotic meats. Daily specials are worth perusing. Great beer list as well.

Importantly, they have their own smokers, and they know how to use them on a daily basis, and thus the ribs, pulled pork and brisket are far superior to most of the highly touted bbq joints in the City (an admittedly low bar, but it's up there with places in Nashville that I've been).*

Also, they make their own hot sauce which is wicked - and that's from someone with a good tolerance to the hot stuff.

This makes their wings a must have as well.

(*If you're going high end, Blue Smoke is my pick)

The thing is, I'm probably less than a mile and half as the crow flies from 12th and Arch right now. So close and yet so far, since I really don't have an opportunity to get over there today. Call me "Tantalus."

This probably makes me some sort of elitist, but broccoli rabe cooked simply with garlic and olive oil kicks all types of ass. Always.

Boston's cool, but y'all are making me miss Philly. Philly and NOLA, my favorite cities in the US, hands down.

Broccoli rabe...... Two months and counting until the farmer's market opens!

I visited NOLA for the first time ever earlier this year. I was completely blown away; what a fantastic town. I couldn't believe that it had taken me so long to get there.

hsh, hogan--

I can't believe you guys like the roast pork sandwich better than the pulled pork sandwich there. Considering I haven't been able to get back to Philly for two years now, damn you both.

When I was last there, 4 Rivers in Chinatown still had great food, especially the basil chicken.


if you're ever in Rochester NY, you must go to Nick Tahou's and get a Garbage Plate.

Holy @#([email protected](#*[email protected]#! cleek.

My head just sploded.

(PS: I was born in Rochester)

cleek, I had a few late-night garbage plates when I was working at the Ginna nuclear plant. I don't remember the exact location, but it was definitely on the east side of Rochester, maybe not even in Rochester proper. A co-worker took me there, and I had been drinking. I just remember the front of the place was almost all glass and it was brightly lit inside. Good drunken eating, to be sure.

I've got the really obscure: Sebastopol, CA has a GREAT diner, namely D's Diner. You'll go back just for the sweet potato fries.

Not sure how many locations they have (there's one in Irvine), but the Corner also makes a wiked burger with add-ons to order plus pickle fries. Yum!

re "Garbage Plates": Several "Hawaiian BBQs" have a dish called the "Moco Loco". From the bottom up: rice, burger (or spam or portuguese sausage, which is the best), fried egg, gravy. Served with macaroni salad. Rated 3 death-skulls by the American Heart Association but boy howdy is it GOOD!!!

Rated 3 death-skulls by the American Heart Association

All the best food is.

Except broccoli rabe.

Can't wait for the dual assault on liver and arteris in NOLA.

Will be there from the 13th-19th of April. Envy me.

very informational... educative as well, i read and felt like reading over and over again....good job!

"educative" is awesome. Quality spam.

Rated 3 death-skulls by the American Heart Association

All the best food is.

I once made the "Enchanted Broccoli Forest" from Molly Katzen's recipe book of the same name. It was very good. I still prefer the foods that the AMA warns me against.

small correx, it's Loco Moco. Here's an article about the dish. I've never had the craving for Loco Moco, the sauce is often too sweet. My Hawaiian fave is poke, the best kind is made from ahi, a Pacific tuna.

Speaking of tuna, though the ban on bluefin tuna has passed, I imagine it will occur in a few years. So I'm not sure if the secret is that we won't have any more maguro to eat, or that you should stop eating it, or you better try it if you haven't so you can tell your kids what it was like...

There is no place more cool to get coffee in New York than The Roasting Plant.

Hotel Maxim in Florence may be one of the best deals in an otherwise expensive city: Less than 100 euros a night and 100 meters from the Duomo.

The Imperial Museum in Petropolis, Rio de Janeiro state is the only museum I have been to where you have to check your shoes and it's fun!

Diamantina in Minas Gerais is the hidden treasure among Brazil's historic colonial cities: hard to get to, but the music, the food, the scenery and the chance to step back in time are worth every bump in the road.

Eric, if you're going to NOLA, Michaul's is my favorite spot.

Pretty much anything north of I-10 in Louisiana might as well be Arkansas.

So much of Spain is lovely, but I believe Granada is in a class of its own.

The Rockies are all beautiful, but the combination of mountains and greenery are what makes Montana a cut above.

This probably makes me some sort of elitist, but broccoli rabe cooked simply with garlic and olive oil kicks all types of ass. Always.

Same thing with collard greens. I grew up in Alabama for part of my childhoo and boiled collard greens made me gag. Brazilian style, what they call couve, julienned and sauteed with garlic and olive oil made my Alabama-born and raised mom a convert.

if you're ever in Rochester NY, you must go to Nick Tahou's and get a Garbage Plate.

Eh. It's impressively, even impossibly, greasy, I'll give you that. But is it really that much of a secret, when everyone who comes to Rochester seems to get told about it? So why not go to a good diner / hole in the wall instead? No, wait, Charlie Brown's closed, and had gone downhill anyway. Ok, even better, Dac Hoa for Vietnamese. The prices are so reasonable because they don't waste money on the decor.

cleek: I have a pork roast w/Bicentennial rub in my over right this minute. I will post further updates as events develop.

Speaking of food that probably won't kill you, I've been making recipes from Pierre Franey's first 60-Minute Gourmet book (collecting recipes from his New York Times column), and oh. my. goodness. I never knew you could make such good food so easily out of so few ingredients.

Several of my favorite photographs in Maine were taken on Blueberry Hill. It's a gorgeous spot.

I would add "if you are in the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts, skip the restaurants in Lenox and get dinner at Rouge in West Stockbridge". It's a hidden gem featuring a Paris-trained chef turning out solid French food.

A cheap, European-style hotel in downtown Seattle is the Moore Hotel. Most of the rooms are en suite, but you can get a few that have the showers down the hall as low as $59. They're clean and well-kept, though. Two blocks from Pike Place.

Plano, TX, sports one of the only sources of authentic Philly Cheesesteaks I've ever found outside Philly. There are three locations in the Plano area.

Highly recommended.

Eh. It's impressively, even impossibly, greasy, I'll give you that.

hmmm... i never noticed it being particularly greasy.

Ok, even better, Dac Hoa for Vietnamese.

my fav Vietnamese place ever, and the location of the first dinner date with my wife. i dream of their tea.

I don't remember the exact location, but it was definitely on the east side of Rochester, maybe not even in Rochester proper

they had a shop up on Lyell Ave (closed, now, IIRC).

also, if you're ever in central NC, you must drink Red Oak. they've recently started bottling it, so there's a chance you can find it outside of a bar - a small chance, but a chance nonetheless.

they had a shop up on Lyell Ave (closed, now, IIRC).

Who knows? I was living in Webster and my co-workers and I used to go to some biker bar where the bar maids wore bikinis (my apologies to the feminists). It was on Empire just before passing the bay on the way into Rochester. My guess is that we went to a place not too far from there. I thought garbage plates could be found in numerous places in and around Rochester, sort of like cheesesteaks in Philly. (There may be a thousand places to get a cheesesteak in the Philly metro area.)

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