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Archive for "Reviews"

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 Since September I’d been staying at the Kansas City Downtown Marriott (and enduring their horrendous service and outdated rooms) or the more modern Courtyard Marriott by the Kauffman Center.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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Date Night – Salina

Posted on June 3, 2016 by under Food and Drink, Reviews, Things to Do.    

Tucson's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Brian and I had the opportunity to watch Kathy Griffin’s stand up performance at Stiefel Theater in Salina a couple of weeks ago. Neither of us had been to the Stiefel Theater before. We actually thought the drive there would be longer. It’s really only a little over an hour. Anyway, we decided to make a night of it.

We decided to eat dinner at Tucson’s before the show because it’s pretty close to the theater. We also checked online and the restaurant had pretty good reviews.

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Here are some pictures of our food.

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I had the tilapia with rice and veggies.

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Predictably, Brian got chicken tenders. He really should have ordered steak. It is a steakhouse after all. But neither of us that fond of beef. Why we picked a steakhouse to eat at for dinner, I have no idea. LOL.

I suppose we wanted to avoid fast food and there really weren’t that many options.

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Here’s a picture of the sign in front of the theater.

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This is where everyone congregated as we waited to be let in to the auditorium.

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Here’s a picture of the theater auditorium.

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It wasn’t too obvious from the previous picture but there’s also a balcony area.

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We got really good floor seats. We were only seven rows from the stage.

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Obligatory pre-show selfie.

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And just in case some of you are not familiar with Kathy Griffin, I took a picture of the flyer. She’s semi-famous. LOL.

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She’s also super hilarious. I really like her conversational, story-telling style. I don’t feel like I’m watching a stand-up comedian. It just seems like you’re listening to a friend tell you stories, except they’re juicy and funny and entertaining.

We drove home immediately after the show because we both had to work the next day. It was a long night but totally worth it. If you get a chance to see the “Like a Boss” tour – I think she’s hitting 80 cities on this tour – you should. Brian and I give it two thumbs up.

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The Muse

Posted on June 1, 2016 by under Food and Drink, Reviews.    

Muse (Inside Wichita Art Museum) Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

When we were at the Wichita Art Museum for the Summer Opening Party, Brian and I had dinner at the Muse Café. It was a real treat because they’re normally only open for lunch. Now that Brian no longer works downtown, we wouldn’t ever have the occasion to have lunch there unless we were both off in which case we probably wouldn’t be downtown. LOL.

I’d eaten there before but it had been a few years. Brian said he’d never been there until that night. I’m pretty sure he has, though. Anyway, if you’re looking for a nice, quiet place to have lunch that serves good food, this is the place.

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The restaurant also boasts a fantastic view of the Paula and Barry Downing Amphitheater and the Arkansas River beyond.

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I was trying to get the art garden in the background of this selfie but I failed miserably.

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The art garden is awesome. If you haven’t been, you should definitely go check it out. Confluence did a fabulous job. One of the ways you can enjoy the beautiful, new grounds is by participating in “Yoga on the Lawn” held on the second Saturday of every month from May through October. There’s lots of other events that take advantage of the art garden but I digress… Back to the Muse.

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We had light fare that night so I only have a couple of food pics. I had the shrimp tapa which had excellent flavor. Brian had the cheese and fruit tray.

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I still like the cheese board that we got at the Ivy in Hell’s Kitchen. That’s in New York in case you were wondering.

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Anyway, we really enjoyed our dining experience. I wish the cafe was open for dinner also. It would be a great place for a nice, romantic dinner. After dinner you could take a stroll through the art garden and maybe get proposed to.

Oh, yeah. We are already married. If I weren’t though, and I were to propose to someone, that’s definitely how I would do it. You have to time it just right though, because the Muse Café is only open for dinner on special occasions such as the Summer Opening Party. It’ll be worth all of the planning. You could even have the wedding there. I think it would be really cool to be married where the proposal happened. Do over!

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