I stayed at the Depot Renaissance while I was attending the MEA Customer Relations Roundtable in Minneapolis. I was thrilled to find out that the Depot is a Marriott property because it meant that I’d receive the great service that I’m used to and also earn some rewards points.
The room itself is small but tastefully decorated. And, I had an excellent view of the parking lot across the street (our recent stay at the Peabody Orlando has ruined me for life). LOL.
There’s a little desk which is perfect for doing some work.
The bathroom area is tiny but it’s sufficient for a solo traveler. The space wouldn’t be enough for Brian and I to get ready together if he were traveling with me. Since I was alone, it worked out okay.
When I returned to my room the first night following the networking reception I was surprised to find the message light on my room phone lit up. I figured it was Brian checking on me because I sent him my room number. It turned out to be one of our long time blog followers who lived in the area. It was a little creepy but then I realized that I made the mistake of announcing my arrival to the world by checking into FourSquare so I wasn’t really that hard to track down.
Brian and I always chat at night whenever one of us is away from home so I told Brian what happened. He totally freaked out. It wasn’t enough that I called the front desk to instruct them not to give my room number to anyone and not to accept any more messages; Brian actually called down there himself to give them the low down and to ensure that my safety was a priority for the hotel. The person in charge at the concierge desk must have sensed Brian’s concern because she assured Brian that security would check my floor a couple of times more than normal each night.
I was extremely impressed with the way the hotel handled the situation. Although they had blocked all calls going to my room, each night that I would call for my 4 AM wake up call the next day, Brandon would give me an update. He’d be like, “You received another call again today. Would you like to move to another room?” The first night I had already unpacked all of my stuff (that’s the first thing I do as soon as I get to my room after checking in) and I didn’t want to go through the hassle of packing and unpacking again. Besides, he didn’t know which room I was in so it didn’t really matter. The next night it was more of the same but I told Brandon that I was checking out the next morning so it mattered even less. Nonetheless, I appreciated that they remembered Brian’s instructions. It wasn’t like they remembered the first night and promptly forgot about it. They continued to respect and protect my privacy throughout my stay. Seriously. Not only did they block all external calls, they blocked all calls going to my room. So when I had problems with my breakfast order not getting picked up from the previous night and I had to call down to check on my room service order a couple of times they totally acted like I didn’t exist. LOL.
The lady who brought my breakfast apologized for bringing orange juice instead of pineapple juice as I had requested. She said they were out and she tried to call my room to ask if orange juice would be okay but that the call would not go through. That’s actually when I realized that ALL calls were being blocked. Even the ones initiated by hotel staff.
I was a little cranky about the problems with my breakfast door hanger not getting picked up not once but twice but I couldn’t really stay mad because of the extreme care and professionalism with which the staff handled my delicate situation. It seemed to me that they had some prior experience with this sort of thing. Brian did tell me later that the lady he spoke with reassured him that they’ve dealt with situations like this before. I’m sure this happens a lot when celebrities stay somewhere because their fans would be calling and making their room phones ring incessantly and maybe even trying to track them down in their hotel rooms, but I doubt that those instances involved regular people like me. I felt kind of bad that they had to go through all that trouble to protect me when I wasn’t really all that concerned or fearful. Brian was more freaked out than I was, to be honest.
Anyway, I bet the hotel staff was relieved when I finally checked out because then they didn’t have to go through all the crazy call blocking, extra security, and stuff because I think they finally resorted to saying that they didn’t have any guests staying there by my name any time that anyone would call or ask for me. I’m sure it was quite challenging to serve an invisible guest so, in the end, I really couldn’t blame them for the problems I experienced with breakfast. I’m sure it had to do with no one being in my room or me not existing. LOL.
Huge thanks to the Depot Renaissance staff for a wonderful stay and for making me feel like a celebrity. Even just for a few days.
While Ching was in one of her classes I decided to go roam around outside the hotel and see if I could find a good place for lunch. I was really wanting to find some Cuban restaurant but there weren’t any close. I ended up going to a place called “The Pub”. I looked it up on Urbanspoon and it had high ratings so I figured why not.
Once I got in there it ended up being a really nice place. The bartender was really nice and helped me choose a really good beer. Luckily they bottle it and I can get it here in Wichita. Unlike the Sam Adams Brick Red that I really like that you can only get on tap and only in Boston Bars.
The beer the bartender suggested was really good. The only down side was I had not eaten in few hours and the Beer went right to my head. Luckily the food balanced me out for the walk back to the hotel.
I wish there was a Pub here in Wichita. I think it would make places like Fox and Hound step up their game.
Brian and I ended up eating at B-Line Diner on our first night in Orlando because it rained. I had my heart set on taking the trolley to Oceanaire Seafood Room at Pointe Orlando but we didn’t want to walk outside because of the torrential downpour. It rained while we were getting some supplies at Walgreens and, by the time we arrived back at our hotel, we were both drenched.
Anyway, B-Line is conveniently located on the first floor of our hotel so we wouldn’t have to go outside. It was a no brainer. We put some dry clothes on and off we went.
Brian and I both love hummus so we decided to start with that. It was topped with some sort of kalamata olives tapenade, which made it really salty. I like salty stuff so it appealed to me. Brian didn’t care much for it. He would have much rather preferred a tub of Sabra. LOL.
For dinner we just split a chicken sandwich. We didn’t want any leftovers as our room wasn’t equipped with a microwave. You could request one from housekeeping, but the Peabody charges $20 extra per day for use of the microwave so it wasn’t worth it. Anyway, back to the sandwich. It had all the fixins including apple slices and a huge chunk of avocado. It was actually pretty good.
Splitting the chicken sandwich was actually a good move on our part because we wanted to save room for dessert. The B-Line has an extensive dessert selection. However, since Brian and I were sharing dessert, we couldn’t go too crazy. We ordered a slice of their Oreo chocolate mousse cake.
It was just okay. It tasted like something that you could get anywhere. There really wasn’t anything special about it. The dessert was probably my least favorite part of the meal.
The food at B-Line is actually pretty good. The location is extremely convenient, specially if you are staying at the Peabody or have a conference nearby at the Orange County Convention Center. The diner is also open 24 hours a day, which is a huge plus. The only downside is that the prices are quite high. Then again, that’s typical of everything in this area of Orlando so, after considering all of the other options, B-Line is probably a bargain. I wouldn’t mind eating there again next time we’re at the Peabody.
Darcy and I had dinner at Blind Tiger Brewery & Restaurant in Topeka last night. It was actually pretty yummy. I also got to try their raspberry wheat. Not as good as my peach limbic, but it was pretty good as beers go.
We shared the hummus starter. The orange color is because it’s made with chipotle and tomato. They make different types of hummus each day.
Their special on Monday night was almond encrusted tilapia. Darcy and I both ordered it, except she got hers with green beans.
I asked for black beans with mine.
I thought it was pretty good though the tilapia filet could have used more flavor. It was a little bland for my taste. And the presentation was somewhat lacking. Other than that, dinner was good. The hummus wasn’t the best, but it was delicious. You just had to ignore the bright orange color. LOL.
I may take Brian over there next time we’re in the area so he can try their beer. They have lots of other options on the menu that we can try also. And, the restaurant seemed pretty popular with the locals as the parking lot was quite full when we got there. Even on a Monday night. So that’s pretty good.
Our boss decided to take the team from work out to dinner the other night. He said we had a rough 2012 and were going to have an even tougher 2013 so he wanted to show his appreciation by taking us all to dinner at Granite City. I personally love Granite City. Especially their 2-Pull Beer, lol
And of course, since we didn’t have to pay for anything we all got dessert.
All in all it was a good evening. We had some great conversations and tried really hard to just avoid work subjects. It didn’t really work, we ended up talking about work eventually but it was limited and short.
Granite City is one of may favorite places to drink…I mean eat.
We couldn’t figure out where to take the Orbases yesterday, but finally decided on Freddy’s Frozen Custard for several reasons. First off, it’s Brian’s favorite hamburger chain. Also, Freddy’s started in Wichita and Orbases have never been to a Freddy’s restaurant. The best part about Freddy’s — besides the shoestring fries — is that they opened their first restaurant in 2002, the same year that Brian and I got married. Freddy’s will always hold a special place in my heart and belly.
Since Freddy was in the Pacific during WWII, I also really like all of the photos they have displayed around the restaurant particularly the one right above Sam in this photo because it’s a memorial in Leyte.
Okay, I take that back. We liked all of the photos with the exception of the one at our table. Sam thought it was gross that they were in their bathing suits. She wanted us to sit at a different table instead. LOL.
Brian and I got our usual — a steakburger combo and hotdog add on. We always split the burger and the hotdog in half so we get to enjoy both with having to eat one of each, and we don’t end up eating too much of the fries which isn’t hard to do because they’re completely addictive.
The Orbases all had shakes, which they seemed to like. So that was good. Sam ate all of her hotdog and reassured us that she liked it because it’s rare for her to finish all of her food. Then, she adds that it’s rare for Cameron to NOT finish all of his food. That made the entire table laugh. Sam was full of zingers yesterday. Sheryll explained that is how she normally is after she warms up to people. She was really quiet and shy when they first arrived. By Sunday afternoon she was quite talkative.
Clayton had the patty melt which he said reminded him a lot of Filipino beef steak (or bistek). He said the flavors and the way that the meat and onions were cooked were reminiscent of bistek. We speculated that Freddy must have been inspired by Filipino cuisine because of all the time he spent in the Philippines during the war. We got a jar of Freddy’s special fry seasoning for them to take back to Dallas so Clayton can recreate the Freddy’s steakburger experience back home. If anyone can do it, Clayton can.
Brian and I only had a limited amount of time after my Zumba class and before my waxing appointment so we decided to have lunch at Great Harvest rather than going all the way back home. We split the mile high panini sandwich. Though we hadn’t been there in ages, it’s the sandwich that we usually get there.
I must say, it’s just as good as I remembered. If you’ve never been to Great Harvest, I highly recommend checking it out. They make the best breads here in Wichita, hands down. Their cinnamon burst bread has always been my favorite. They also make deliciously cheesy garlic bread sticks. They give everyone free samples of their freshly baked breads and they also give you a free cookie on your first FourSquare check in. Those of you who have been to Great Harvest know that they have really awesome cookies, so that’s a FourSquare deal that is not to be missed.
If the amazing food isn’t enough to draw you in, then the friendly service should. The fine folks at Great Harvest are simply the nicest people you’ll ever meet. I give this restaurant an A++ because they are just plain super. Go ahead and check it out and tell them Ching sent you.
We had the most interesting cab ride to the hotel. While we were waiting for Carmen’s suitcase to come out of baggage claim, she called the cab driver Ruben who was recommended by Miner, one of the hotel staff members that she spoke with last week.
She got his voice mail the first time that she tried. She was cracking up because his voice mail message said something like don’t leave a message, just keep trying to call back. When she finally got a hold of him, she thought he said it would take an hour and twenty minutes for him to pick us up. She was like, we can’t wait that long to be picked up. He clarified and said twenty minutes. I guess his heavy accent caused a bit of a language barrier.
We waited for a while and, after a bit, Carmen was thinking that if he didn’t show up in five more minutes, that we should just take another cab. Finally he called and informed us that he was getting ready to pull up. He asked what door we were by. He also asked Carmen what she was wearing, which was a little awkward because it could have easily been taken out of context. LOL.
We had the most entertaining ride to the hotel. Ruben was very friendly. He asked us what music we wanted to listen to. We told him it didn’t matter and that we would listen to whatever music he listened to. He tuned the radio to 95.1 Latino Vibe and we were dancing around to Mexican and Latin American music all the way to the hotel. All the while he was telling us about Camelback Mountain and the various stadiums that we were driving by. He also told us about his Zumba instructor daughter who lives in Texas. He was Mr. Congeniality, full of helpful information.
He told us about the free shuttle service at the hotel and gave us some restaurant suggestions. That’s actually how we found out about Raul & Theresa’s in Avondale. We figured if a Mexican person says that a Mexican restaurant is good then it’s got to be good, right? They should know.
Here’s a picture of my carnitas dinner at Raul & Theresa’s. It was pretty good, but not great by any means.
Their chips were pretty mediocre and their salsa is way too spicy. When we asked for mild salsa, we got something that was very watery and way too mild. We finally just made our own by mixing the both the regular and mild together. I was disappointed that it wasn’t nearly as good as similar restaurants here in Wichita.
I’m not sure how everyone else felt about their dinner. The entrees that were delivered to our table both looked and smelled good. Jennifer, one of the students in class who joined us for dinner that evening, said her wine was not good. Then again, who orders wine at a Mexican restaurant? You’re supposed to order a margarita. LOL. We should have warned her ahead of time.
Other than that, the service was pretty good. I think the locals really love this place. Thus, the great reviews that we got from the Ruben and the hotel staff. Speaking of Ruben, he was a great cab driver and lived up to the advertisement on his business card of “friendliest cab in town, low rates, clean ride, and clean driver.” When Carmen left her cellphone in the cab after she got dropped off at the airport, he even came back to the hotel and returned it to me. How many cab drivers would do that? If you are ever in the area, be sure to call Dove Transportation at (602) 413-5399 and ask for Ruben. That might be Ruben’s direct number, actually. If you get voice mail, don’t leave a message. Just call again.
Brian let me pick where we ate lunch on my birthday. I chose Bite Me BBQ just down the street from work. It was a nice change of pace from our usual brown bag lunches.
The nice thing about Bite Me is that they give you enough food that two people can share, which is exactly what Brian and I did. Neither of us wanted to over-eat (something that I tend to do) and it also saved us money. We’d been eating out a lot lately so it was nice to be able to eat lunch inexpensively.
Anyway, I’m enjoying eating out now because Brian has already said that he is putting me on diet post-surgery. He sent me a couple of links to post-thyroidectomy weightless tips and such. It’s comforting to know that Brian won’t let me get fat after my thyroid surgery. LOL.
Brian and I got our Thai House fix last week. We kind of went wild with eating out on account of my birthday, and the lack of groceries in the house (which has since be remedied, by the way). We called our order in so that it would be ready by the time we got there and we wouldn’t go over our allotted one hour lunch break.
It should come as no surprise that Brian ordered the Thai House fried rice with chicken. His favorite menu item at Thai House and one of his most favorite versions of fried rice. The owners told us that their pineapple fried rice is actually even more popular than the house fried rice. Brian thinks he will try that next time.
I got the #17 Lad Nha Thai House with rice instead of noodles and no tail on the shrimp. The owners are so fabulous and accommodating. Seriously. All you have to do is ask and, as long as it’s doable and no illegal, they will oblige. I was told that I was only one of two people who sub rice for noodle in #17. The other person is a Hispanic guy who doesn’t like noodles. It’s not that I don’t like noodles because I love noodles too, but I really, really, really love rice. I could eat rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner everyday of my life. LOL.
BTW, we mentioned to them that we were so sad because we couldn’t get our Thai House fix a couple of weeks ago and ended up going to Hana Cafe for dinner instead. We had a great dinner, but really had our heart set on Thai House that day. It was a Tuesday and the restaurant is only open until 2 PM on Tuesdays.
The good news is the owners have decided to stay open for dinner on Tuesdays and have their short day on Mondays, which they said is the slowest day of the week for them anyways. I’m not sure when this new schedule will start, but I’m happy that I’ll be able to get dinner at Thai House on Tuesday nights in the future. WOOT!