For the past few weeks Trudiann and I have been celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary, we’ve been a number of places - San Francisco, Monterey, Carmel, Death Valley, and we’re wrapping up in Las Vegas - we love Vegas - it’s been our go-to spot for the last 10 years or so - we loosely planned a few events, bought some show tickets, and made some reservations at some notable eateries.

Yesterday we had lunch at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill, we’d been there for dinner in the past - and we always enjoy it - the menu is a festival of powerful and potent southwest flavor combinations - Mesa’s pricing is affordable and the service is attentive but not pushy - for us it’s a no-brainer.

As our post Elvis wedding dinner we went to Craft Steakhouse. Honestly, words almost escape me as to the quality of this meal, the Craft menu is an Ala-carte menu featuring the finest beefs (Japanese Waygu Beef, Australian & American Kobe Beef), seasonal vegetables, and exotic mushrooms - I should note I’m not a fan of ala-carte menu’s because I like the chef to pair my entree’s with vegetables to their palettes - I discover new tastes in the process - lucky for me Trudiann suggested we order the chef’s ‘Surf & Turf’ tasting menu and get a taste of all that Craft had to offer. What a great suggestion; the chef started us off with 

  • Kobe Beef Tartare
  • Romaine Hearts “Caesar” (with pickled anchovies)
  • Hawaiian Prawns 

I should qualify this by saying up until VERY recently Trudiann hasn’t been what I would call an adventurous eater, tartare and caesar salad both fall well outside of her comfort zone. 

All three starters where amazing - the tartare (with quail egg) was perfectly balanced, the texture was smooth and the portion was more than enough to thoroughly enjoy this rare treat (excellent pun if I must say) - the caesar  was really nice, the perfectly minimal dressing clung to the leaves which were crisp and tasty - the pickled anchovy garnish was a nice twist on the little fish and made the whole dish a bit special. the prawns - tasty glazed grilled goodness, Trudiann loves prawns and we thoroughly enjoyed these.

Next the chef sent out the entrees & sides- 

  • NY Strip Steak
  • Kobe Skirt Steak
  • Lobster in butter and Tarragon
  • Asparagus with Rosemary
  • Whipped Potato’s with Chives
  • A selection of 5 japanese mushrooms including, Hen of the Woods and Shiitake

Now if that sounds like a lot of food,, you’d be right, Craft isn’t the kind of place that skimps on food - at this point we still had a rather sizable bowl of Kobe Beef Tartare on the table - because I just wasn’t ready to give it up yet. The Entrees in a word SPECTACULAR, each with a simple preparation, let the high quality of the ingredients shine - the Skirt Steak was our favorite, it was juicy, flavorful and perfectly medium rare- I wouldn’t be exaggerating when I say the best piece of steak I’ve ever eaten. The Strip was also delicious, but our fondness for the other cut was obvious - as we finished that one first. The lobster was interesting, as it’s a dish we never have, and we where both amazed at the varied texture of the claw meat, and the buttery goodness of the lobster tail. The whipped potato’s where amazing - I hope to never find out exactly how much cream and butter were in there, needless to say they were a rich and tasty companion to the steak and lobster.

Of course what’s dinner without dessert? The pastry chef sent out an assortment of tasty things

  • Brioche bread pudding
  • MonkeyBread w/ Caramel ice cream (and ‘happy 20th anniversary written in caramel on the plate’)
  • Raspberry Sorbet 
  • Mint Ice Cream
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Petit Fours

I’m hard pressed to say what was best - but I will say that the mint ice cream was the best Ice cream I’ve ever had in my entire life - Trudiann also really like the mint ice cream and the MonkeyBread, I also finished the bread pudding, because I’m a sucker for bread pudding - it was as good as you would expect.

Overall we enjoyed everything - we must have, we finished most everything.

Service was top-notch, attentive, friendly and informative, the decor was understated and classy - pricing, well, good food costs money - and the food at Craft Steakhouse is excellent - I will happily return to Craft Steakhouse on my next Vegas jaunt.

Mesa Grill Website (Ceasars Palace)

Craft SteakHouse (MGM Grand)

This past Saturday,’T’ and I where fortunate enough to preview National Mechanic’s soon to be announced Brunch Menu, in a word, delicious - if you’re the type of person who like’s their brunch ‘classic’ you’ll love NM’s choices - the brunch preview featured, Bloody Mary’s, Mimosa’s, Filet and Eggs, Eggs Benedict, and French Toast, all well prepared and presented, if you prefer you fare a bit lighter the ‘Tofu Omelet’ and my personal favorite a light strawberry and greens salad with a light vinaigrette where also real good.

I’m not sure what menu items will, or will not make it onto the final brunch menu, or if any of these new dishes might sneak onto the main NM menu, but I am sure we’ll be visiting fairly often, we do love brunch.

National Mechanics Brunch begins May 10th, check their website for details.

natmech Number 41 with a bulletBig props to my buddy Jason who’s bar National Mechanics placed #41 in the top 50 bars of Philly in the current issue of phillyweekly - It’s a great place, with a friendly and comfortable vibe. The burgers are spectacular, and the wings - even better. Rock on Jason!

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National Mechanics
22 S. Third St. 215.701.4883

drawit Drawit
The folks at Drawit, have rolled out a quirky little drawing app - it’s really interesting, it’s a fair amount like fireworks in it’s approach, but kind of like Quartz Composer in it’s execution - to be honest it would take me a VERY long time to get used to drawing like this, so why do I mention it? The filter/effects implementation, what a novel idea being able to see and edit all the applied effects at once on the live objects ADOBE .

DRAWIT

organiser The Coolest Mac app youve never seenI was looking for a way to drop bookmarks to email threads in Mail.app when I stumbled upon Hallon a VERY cool open-source project by Peter Borg (of Smultron fame), it’s exactly what I was looking for and SO MUCH MORE.

Peter does a much better job describing it than me.

Hallon can create bookmarks in many applications (like iTunes or Mail.app) that usually can’t create bookmarks and they are always accessible from a menu whatever you are doing. You can e.g. bookmark your favorite songs, an email that you have to reply to later that day, some documents that you are working on or the contact information of a friend whom you need to call before the end of the week. And you play the song, open the email, the document or the contact information just by choosing the bookmark in the Hallon menu.

IMHO most software is for the most part derivative, Hallon rings unique, filling a void that most people don’t even realize the have. The ability to jump back into an email thread, an address, a playlist, and set reminders and notes as well is great for anyone who deals with an unreasonable amount of information on a daily basis.

I knew this was possible because my brief exposure to iGTD did this perfectly, iGTD was an excellent program in it’s own right, just not a great fit for me.

Hallon

orangepod New IpodSo if you’re a regular reader you know that my ipod died, I finally accepted it was dead, and decided to move on - since I’ve been trying to get more exercise, the Ipod Shuffle seemed the perfect choice, I ordered it yesterday from Apple, today it arrived - immediately I’m impressed, it’s tiny, metal and really substantial feeling, in true Apple fashion it’s controls are clear and unobtrusive. Setting is up is much like you’d expect, attach USB, start iTunes - done.

I’m thinking this was the right choice, after charging I strapped my little orange friend on, and the first 3 tracks where Devo (Are we Not Men?), Cake (Racecar Ya ya’s) and Suzanne Vega (Bad Wisdom) - that’s got to be some type of sign. Oh, and for once it’ll be nice to have a piece of gear I don’t have to buy a case and accessories for.

In case you where wondering I’ve named the new ipod ‘Itch’.

ishot 3 2 Minimalist GTD NirvanaMy buddy Larry always says that I spend so much time exploring productivity software, that I’m NOT productive, and he may be right. I’ve written about a few of my favorites - todoist, rememberthemilk, backpack - all excellent feature-rich solutions, maybe a little TOO feature-rich actually - so today I took a look at SimpleGTD it’s minimal approach to functionality and design appeals to me, two things will probably keep me from committing to SimpleGTD (at least for a while).

  • I really miss any connection to time or date.
  • I’ve managed to generate a generic error a few times in 10 minutes

Errors aside SimpleGTD offers a feature I’ve never seen before in a GTD app; ajax drag and drop from list to list (BaseCamp and all the other 37 Signal apps only offer drag and drop to adjacent lists). I must say I love that feature. I will say this — If I could install this on my own network (ala Tracks) I’d switch today..

Take a look it’s nicely simple. [via downloadsquad]

wings ISO Buffalo WingsConfession time, I’m a buffalo wing lover - I spent a substantial amount of time seeking out the tastiest buffalo wings in my little hamlet of Philadelphia — generally the wings I found sucked, but I also found some awesome wings, and like a good wingman - I’m going to hook you up.

IMHO buffalo wings need four things to be considered great:

  1. Meat: I hate scrawny wings, a decent chicken wing needs more than a bite of meat on it, and the first bite shouldn’t hit bone, we’re looking for healthy substantial specimens
  2. Thick hearty sauce: I’m a sauce snob, it should be thick enough that it sticks to the wings, tangy enough to make your lips tingle, but not ‘big heat’, I’m generally not after ‘big heat’ with my wings
  3. Meat/Sauce Ratio: This may seem odd to some, but I hate when the wings are swimming in sauce, I want just enough sauce to coat the wings, and not coat my hands, maybe if the sauce is really good a small container for additional dippage
  4. Quantity: It’s hard to eat one wing, it’s even harder to eat just five, I’m generally irritated when an order of wings is less than a dozen

Exceptional wings have one more thing:

  1. Accoutraments: 9 out of 10 buffalo wings orders comes garnished with celery and blue cheese dressing, which is totally fine — but I really appreciate when my wings are garnished with a bit of creativity.

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On a whim ‘T’ and I popped into the Caribou Café in Center City Philly for brunch, we’d never been there, but every-time I’d walk by, it was always crowded, and the food look very interesting. I’m not big on breakfast or brunch, but perhaps that’s going to change, simply put it was excellent - Caribou’s menu features authentic French bistro dishes - the brunch menu wasn’t huge, but we both easily found something we liked.

Me: Salade frisée -Warm potato, bacon and curly endive salad with croûtons and topped with a poached egg.

T: Croque monsieur - Parisian grilled ham and Gruyère cheese on brioche served with fries and salad.

I know, I know warm potato sounds a bit weird, but it rocked, definitely not the healthiest of meals, but it was mostly endive, and its not like I’m going to make a habit of french food. ‘T’s’ fancy pants grilled cheese and ham was a subtle cheesy heaven - in true ‘good-wife’ fashion she gave me a few bites - yum!

We definitely will be visiting again for dinner.

Our brunch conversation included a little game of ‘is that or isn’t that’ the table to our left featured Danny Devito, and the cast of ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’, I’ve never seen the show, but I loved him on Taxi.

Caribou Café
1126 Walnut Street

Philadelphia, PA 19107
215-625-9535

check The Lost Art of Customer ServiceThis post was born from aggravation over the last 4 days ‘T’ and I have had some of the worst customer service imaginable, you really have to wonder if a store or restaurant wants your business at all -

Our first stop is (of all places) The Apple Store (King of Prussia Mall) - Standing looking at a fully loaded MacPro Tower — absolutely in a buying frame of mind, just wanted to jump into Photoshop for a few minutes to solidify my choice, when over comes (let’s call her) Betty Apple Store Goth with her fancy nose jewelry, and even fancier attitude, asking me to vacate the $4k computer so she could show some newbies how to use their dot mac accounts — without beating a dead-horse, she lost the sale (and I told her so).

Our second stop was a lovely little Irish Bar named Kildare’s (also in King of Prussia) I ordered the Seafood Pasta (which was just okay) ‘T’ ordered the lamb stew - when she ordered it, our waitperson (let’s call her ‘Betty Kildare Waitperson’) informed her that the stew featured a ‘thin broth’. Maybe it was our ignorance to Irish pub buzzwords - but does ‘thin broth’ equate to a watery soup that tastes like a careful mix of dishwater and vinegar? It was absolutely horrid, and the stew itself had but one small sliver of potato (excuse me for expecting potato’s it’s freekin Irish cusine) ‘T’ picked the 6-8 chunks of lamb out, and spent the next half hour moving carrot and celery around in her nasty broth. Now this isn’t a restaurant review, ‘T’ informed the waitress waitperson that she was less than happy with her meal, and all the waitress could say was — ‘I warned you about the broth’… okay again not spending substantial time in an Irish pub, I wasn’t privy to the speak - but either of the following qualify as a warning. Read more