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Archive for "Reviews"

8° Below

Posted on July 4, 2017 by under Food and Drink, Reviews.    

Ice cream is another great way to beat the heat. There’s a new shop that opened up at Union Station just down the street from my work. I got to check it out with a couple of coworkers, Tony and Theresa, a few days ago.

It was actually Theresa’s idea. We had planned to go as a group but, when the day came, some people backed out so it ended just being the three of us. Theresa originally wanted to drive over but Tony and I talked her into walking. It’s really not that far of a walk from work.

We walked to Heroes first for cheap lunch. Friday is .99 cent tacos day. Then we walked over to 8° Below for dessert.

We have many ice cream shops in town and there’s plenty of good ice cream to be had. What’s novel about 8° Below is that they serve rolled ice cream. It looks really pretty but it does take forever to make.

Let me show you pictures and then I yak at you some more.

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You can pick from the signature flavors or create your own from the vast array toppings, mix ins, and drizzles.

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Then you get to watch them make your ice cream. That is, if the store is not too crowded. The shop isn’t very big.

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Here’s a picture of Theresa, Tony, and me that was taken while we were waiting for our ice cream. There wasn’t a line at lunch but it still takes a while to get your ice cream because they make it to order.

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That was definitely a down side for me. Rolled ice cream is cool and all but I’m not a fan of waiting. I prefer the places that have the ice cream already made so, when I tell them what I want, I have my ice cream in my hand within a matter of seconds.

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I had the mango tango. Theresa had the thanks a latte. Tony had the brownie mix, which I believe is what is pictured above. I didn’t take pictures of all of our ice creams because you’d only be disappointed. The ice cream was tasty but the presentation never looks as good as it does in the pictures.

The verdict? I didn’t like the wait and I thought the ice cream was overpriced. I suppose you are paying for the experience and novelty of watching your ice cream be made and rolled right before your very eyes. If you don’t care either way, then it’s pretty pointless. Just go where they have delicious ice cream at a cheap price like Braum’s or Baskin Robbins.

I probably won’t go back unless Brian just absolutely wants to go.

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Our New Dentist

Posted on June 3, 2017 by under Reviews.    

Brian and I recently switched dentists. The old place just wasn’t cutting it any more. We’d been wanting to switch for a while but hadn’t pulled the trigger until now.

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Here are a few pictures of the new dental office.

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This is their expansive waiting area with floor to ceiling windows.

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I’m not a fan of waiting (I prefer to be in and out) but this comfortable waiting area at least makes the wait, no matter how long or short, more bearable.

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They have a cute waiting area for kiddos also.

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This was our initial appointment with the new dentist. However, Brian had already been there a few days prior for emergency dental work when he broke a tooth.

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I don’t think they did all of the new patient stuff at that time though, because they asked to take pictures on this visit. I think they just took care of his issue.

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Each dental station has huge windows with fabulous views.

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Brian’s view (above) vs. my view…

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But the best view is of your hilarious husband trying to entertain you while your teeth are being cleaned.

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Nice offices aside, the real reason we moved to this dentist was to follow my favorite dental hygienist who left our old dentist when she moved to this office about three years ago. She is amazing. I wish I wouldn’t have waited so long to follow her.

When we posted pictures of our new dentist’s office on Facebook a few weeks ago, we found out that a bunch of our friends go to the same place. People from all over town (even West-siders) are making the trek. They must be really good to be worth the drive. Brian and I concluded that we made the right move.

Our experience has been really good so far. Everyone we’ve met has been very nice and accommodating. They even made it so that my old hygienist worked on my cleaning, even though she wasn’t originally available at the time we made the appointment. I’m super impressed. Here’s to a fruitful new relationship!

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Ambassador Hotel Kansas City

Posted on April 30, 2017 by under Reviews.    

I finally found a hotel that I love during my final week in Kansas City. It’s a shame that I didn’t find out about the hotel sooner. Since September I’d been staying at the Kansas City Downtown Marriott (and enduring their horrendous service and outdated rooms) or the more modern Courtyard Marriott by the Kauffman Center.

I’d been enduring the service at Kansas City Downtown Marriott because it’s only a four-minute walk to the office and most of it is indoors. They have a skywalk that connects the main building to the old Muelebach Hotel across the street from the office on Baltimore, which makes it really convenient on extremely cold winter days and rainy days. I only have to be outside for a brief moment before I’m indoors again. My colleagues discovered the Courtyard Marriott down the street which is about a ten-minute walk. The first time I tried it, I found the rooms to be much more comfortable and nicer and the service was actually better as well, with the exception of valet parking which is usually always a wait no matter what’s going on. There was even one evening when Michelle and I returned from a leadership meeting in Lawrence and the valet was nowhere to be found. However, since the weather had improved, I’d been staying at the Courtyard Marriott more despite all of their shortcomings because they actually had the nicer rooms. I haven’t been completely satisfied, though.

A few weeks ago, one of the consultants who had previously been staying at the Kansas City Marriott Downtown told me about the Ambassador Hotel. He’d been staying there a few weeks at that point and really liked it. He said it’s about the same walking distance as the other hotel, about four minutes, just in the opposite direction. Michelle and I agreed to check it out the week after Easter.

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The hotel is pretty small. It only has seven floors. I think they had to work with the original structure because it’s in an old historic building. For this reason, they have some unique floor plans. For instance, the floor plan of the room that Michelle got is completely different than mine. I’ve also seen pictures of loft-style rooms with a full living room on the main floor and the bedroom in an open loft above it.

I really liked the layout of my room so I took some pictures.

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My room had a little entry hallway.

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The room I got was quite spacious. Opposite the bed, it had a long desk with a built-in refrigerator cabinet and some dresser drawers. The desk also doubled as the TV stand. At the end of the bed was a really nice bench seat.

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The upholstered bench looked custom because it ran the full length of the bed. I found it both beautiful and functional. I would sit on it to put my shoes on in the morning. It was also a great spot to put the clothes I had worn for the day, rather than just having them strewn all over the room.

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The door to the bathroom was a sliding door. It kind of reminded me of a pocket door but prettier. The door is a modern, polished version of the sliding barn doors that you see in high-end custom homes these days.

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My room also had a reading chair and matching ottoman. I thought they were a nice touch. I generally do my reading in bed so I mostly used it to hold my backpack and purse at the end of the day. I found it both pretty and useful, though.

I thought it was a great idea to turn that extra space into a reading corner.

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I had to take a picture of the bathroom as well. There is an upholstered stool in there (tucked under the counter) that makes the bathroom feel posh and elegant. I didn’t find it as useful because I’m too short to actually sit on one of these things and do my makeup but I thought it was pretty.

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Here’s a picture of the enormous shower. The shower was so roomy, you could probably do Zumba in there. (I do not recommend doing this for obvious safety reasons. Just saying it for effect.)

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The room I got was perfect in every way except for the view. For one, you can’t really expect a great view when you’re in the fourth floor of a seven story building among a bunch of skyscrapers. You’re just not that high enough. Secondly, it’s not really in as a pretty a location as the other two Marriott properties. Grand is just not that grand (on this part of town, anyhow).

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The other downside is the tiny fitness room in the basement. It’s literally the size of a closet and only has room for one treadmill, one elliptical, and one bike. The maximum occupancy is three people. No joke. It says that on the wall.

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I suppose that it’s such a small boutique hotel that they don’t really expect that many people to use the fitness room at the same time. Also, they have a partnership with Onelife Fitness. Guests who really want to workout can get a day pass to Onelife at the concierge desk. However, it’s not inside the hotel so you actually have to walk to the gym. It’s not that far, I know, but it’s not ideal for me and my 5 AM workouts. I really like being able to just roll out of bed and go for a treadmill run and then walk back to my room without having to set foot outside.

I’m pretty sure the sole treadmill would have been available for me that early in the morning but I didn’t chance it the week I was there. I enjoyed the comfortable bed a little too much and slept in every single day. Yes, I was a slug that week.

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My disappointment about the fitness room situation was short-lived, though. I came back to the hotel after work one day and found free sangria and cookies in the lobby. I had one of the amazing homemade cookies and a glass of the sangria.

It was heavenly. The free drinks and cookies more than made up for the small workout room.

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I didn’t take advantage of this while I was there because the rates are quite high but I found out that the hotel also offers in-room massages. It’s good to know the option is available. While I wouldn’t normally pay that much for a massage (the spa I go to only charges $95 for 50 minutes for $145 for 80 minutes), I might change my mind after a particularly stressful week. And, it’s nice that I wouldn’t have to walk or drive anywhere. They’d actually come to me.

Speaking of walking or driving, the hotel offers a five-mile shuttle service. If you need to go anywhere within five miles of the hotel, you just let the concierge know and they can have their shuttle take you. This service is actually really nice specially when the weather isn’t that great or you just don’t feel like walking.

The customer service at the Ambassador is really top notch. They go above and beyond any of the other Marriott properties I’ve ever stayed at… This is going to be TMI but they even put tampons in my room for me. Normally I am more prepared when I travel but shark week came almost a week ahead of schedule this time. My monthly visitor arrived while I was at work on Monday. Lucky for me, I had a spare in my purse but I didn’t have any others for the rest of the week. I fully intended to walk to the nearby CVS after work but then I decided to call the hotel to see if they had any feminine hygiene products on hand.

Sure enough, I had several tampons when I returned to my room that evening. I couldn’t believe it. Most husbands won’t even do that for their wives. They gave me enough for the duration of my stay, which is about the length of my periods these days. I was super impressed.

I was really bummed when my Kansas City work assignment abruptly ended because I had finally found a hotel that made me happy. I was so looking forward to staying there again the coming weeks. Oh, well.

This is my new favorite place to stay in Kansas City though, so Brian and I will for sure be staying at Ambassador for our next Kansas City weekend getaway.

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The Hungry Heart

Posted on July 3, 2016 by under Food and Drink, Reviews.    

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Brian and I finally got around to checking out the Hungry Heart by the arena. It’s in the space formerly occupied by Jettys Pizza, which didn’t last very long. You can kind of see the Jettys sign faintly coming through in the photo above. I’m hoping the Hungry Heart doesn’t share the same fate because they’re actually really good. I would hate to see them close specially since we just now discovered their amazing food.

Brian and I started with the award-winning Asian wings.

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Our very nice server told us that the wing recipe won a prize at last year’s Wingapalooza. Naturally, we had to try it. We weren’t disappointed. I think, out of everything we tried that night, these wings were our favorite.

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Brian had their pulled pork sandwich for his meal. He said it was amazing. The sandwich consists of 20-hour smoked pork shoulder with tangy coleslaw and house-made BBQ sauce on a pretzel bun. You can select from various side options. Brian opted for the house-cut fries. They are homemade and awesome. They rank up there with some of the best fries I’ve had in town.

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I had the Korean short ribs, which had excellent flavor. It normally comes with regular rice but I subbed it with the cilantro rice. I think I should have stayed with the regular rice though because the cilantro flavor didn’t work as well with the sweetness of the ribs.

I wasn’t sure how I would like the spicy cucumber pickles so I ordered the Asian green beans at first. However, after getting a small sample of the cucumber, I decided they actually weren’t too spicy for me. I kind of liked their sweet, spicy flavor so I ended up getting them anyway.

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Hungry Heart & Whole Brewing Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The green beans were really good too, but the flavor of the cucumber went really well with the short ribs. It’s clear that they put a lot of thought into what kind of side dishes to serve with each entree. If and when you go, my suggestion would be to stick to exactly how it’s prepared and not make any substitutions or changes unless you have allergies or specific dietary restrictions.

I plan on going back and ordering the Korean short ribs again without messing with the dish. I want to try the food just as the chef intended and I’m sure I won’t be disappointed. The seem to know their stuff.

Here are some pictures of the restaurant’s interior.

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This is the host desk.

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Brian and I like to eat early supper so we were the one of the first people in the restaurant for dinner that day. It picked up a lot as Brian and I were finishing our dinner.

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There’s not much to their decor but the food is phenomenal.

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Brian and I thoroughly enjoyed our dinner at the Hungry Heart. Not only was the food great but the service as well. Everyone was super nice, not just our server. If there’s anything that I was disappointed about, it’s that we didn’t try this place sooner. We will definitely be back.

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Fork & Fennel

Posted on June 5, 2016 by under Food and Drink, Reviews.    

Fork and Fennel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Brian and I got to try a new restaurant a couple of weeks ago. We were supposed to got to the Andover Rotary Club’s summer picnic but it was canceled due to weather. Plan B was to hit Central Standard Brewery, which is where the Flying Stove usually parks on Thursday nights. We texted them to see if they would be out but they hadn’t made the call yet. It was pretty clear on our side of town so we decided to go for drive and swing by CSB. We were so disappointed to find the truck absent. Apparently, though the weather was pretty clear downtown and on the East side, it had rained hard on the West side of town were the Flying Stove guys are from. They were worried that things would get worse so they made the call to turn around and cancel for the evening.

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Brian and I were already out but didn’t really have an alternative plan in mind. We were driving East on Douglas, toward our house, when we came up Fork & Fennel. Neither of us had been there but I’d heard great things about the restaurant. A potentially stormy night seemed like the perfect time to try it. LOL.

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The restaurant has a pretty cool interior, which is a huge departure from the old decor. The restaurant used to house a taco joint years ago.

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It’s been completely transformed and looks great. I love the lighting and metal chairs. Note that the lack of people is not because the restaurant isn’t any good but because we were supposed to be in some kind of thunderstorm watch.

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Here’s a glimpse of the menu which Brian carefully studied, as we should since we are first timers at the Fork & Fennel.

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Brian and I had to try the waffle chips and dip. I’m glad we did because it was amazing. The waffle chips are like waffle fries but thinly sliced and crispy. The chips were great alone but phenomenal with the house dip, which had excellent flavor.

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To keep ourselves from overeating, Brian and I decided to split the smokey bleu and bacon. I don’t particularly like onions so I would have them hold the red onion marmalade next time. Other than that, the burger was amazing.

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The burger normally comes with a side of waffle chips but, since we had already stuffed our faces full of it, we opted for a side salad. For a nominal fee, they halved our burger for us and we each got our own salad.

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The salad was amazing. I loved the pecans, blackberries, and cheese crumbles. We probably could have done with just one salad though, because Brian didn’t really eat his. I think it was too frou frou for him.

Anyway, if you’ve never been to Fork & Fennel you have to check it out. The food is delicious and the restaurant ambiance is unlike anywhere else in town.

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