Sunday, October 18, 2009

Restaurant: Gaylord Texan Resort

Restaurant: Gaylor Texan Resort, Texan Station
Web Site: Hotel Web Site
Address: 1501 Gaylord Trail, Grapevine, TX 76051
Phone: (817) 778-1000

Spent a few days here for a convention. There are a number of dining options in the facility, this is a review of the "Texan Station" one, whose menu seemed to be identical to the room service menu. The Texan Station is a sports bar that is inside the building. There is a large end area filled with an immense 52 foot television driven by three projectors in the ceiling (the technology was actually quite remarkable; there was no visible "seam" between the projected images) that creates a video wall with multiple images projected on to it. That end of the room is filled with lounge chairs and small tables, the back of the place has more normal restaurant tables and lots of hanging flat televisions.

Food was typical bar food, not very interesting. Ended up having a few meals here over the days, they are best at nachos, fries, dips, and other things I wasn't interested in. Salads were OK. If you have a car there are most likely better things nearby.

Bottom line, fun experience, food OK.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Restaurant: Clyde's of Gallery Place

Restaurant: Clyde's, Gallery Place Location
Web Site:
Address: 707 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20001
Phone: (202) 719-1901

Part of the Clyde's restaurant group, which has several locations in the Washington DC area. This location is almost directly attached to the Verizon Center downtown, so its really convenient if you are going to an event there. While that part of the city has boomed tremendously since the arena was built, if this is your location on an event night you would want to get there early since its proximity makes it a prime target for lots of people all at once.

All the Clyde's locations are nicely appointed, but also quite different in appearance. This one has an downstairs large bar, an upstairs dining room with another bar, and there are probably some private rooms buried in there somewhere. The bar areas were quite packed, as Clyde's is a bit of a meat market (maybe that's spelled "meet market"?) for the after work crowd. Reservations work best.

We had great service - an attentive but not too attentive waiter who could answer all our questions except details about the sparking wines (and quickly admitted this wasn't one of his areas of expertise). The wine list is not real extensive; this is a somewhat fast moving place and its positioned as a nice place to go but not a pretentious place to go. But, a peak in the back showed a number of selections we didn't see on the menu. Perhaps another wine list for use outside event times?

Clyde's has a menu that changes frequently, so no notion of specials really. But, a number of nice selections across a variety of types. We had the salmon, it was a generous piece and cooked the way we like. The rice had seaweed mixed in which wasn't needed. Also the paella, which was spicy and good on a cold rainy day.

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Sunday, October 04, 2009

Hotel: Hyatt Regency DFW

City: Grapevine, TX
Chain: Hyatt
Property: Hyatt Regency, DFW
Address: International Drive, DFW Airport, TX 75261
Phone Number: 972.453.1234

Check Out: April 2009

7.5 stars out of 10

Right at the airport with commanding views of ground operations.

Lobby is nice and spacious, staff were extremely courteous and attentive, room was stylish and clean. Bed was extremely comfortable, which seems to be a corporate goal. No mini-bar, nice bathroom with an extremely decadent shower head.

Plenty of outlets for the desk and recharging batteries. Several dining options, including a kind-of-sports-bar. Seared tuna was good, breakfast buffet was good.

In room internet was a little pricey, but not needed with cell cards. Gift shop had the batteries and snacks I needed, although no copy of the Washington Post in the morning (a mixed blessing). Big TV in the room, lots of channels but all I watched was football and Harry Potter on Disney channel.


  • Safety: 1
  • Dining: 1
  • Bar: 1
  • Internet: .5 (not free)
  • Wireless in Common Areas: 0
  • Work Space, Power: 1 (enough outlets)
  • Shower: 1
  • Air Conditioning, Bed: 1
  • Common Areas: 1
Total: 7.5

Directions: DFW Terminal C

Last Visit: September 2009 ($109)

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Traveling by Rail

One of the advantages of living on the east coast is that traveling by rail is a real option for some cities. Amtrak runs a very busy city-to-city service from Boston down to Washington, which is priced somewhat competitively with air travel. DC to NYC by rail and by air are both somewhere around $200, although there are tremendous fluctuations with air travel prices.

But, a comparison between the two is interesting.

Comfort is no comparison; rail is far superior to air in comfort. The seats are much more spacious, there is way more storage space, the seats are far more comfortable. You can get up and stretch or walk around any time you want, and if you need to use the rest room it is far larger and even accommodates wheel chairs if needed. The noise level for rail is lower, the ventilation is better, and you don't twist your neck trying to look through a little tiny airplane porthole.

As a business traveler, there also is no comparison - rail kills air. Comedians don't joke about airplane food anymore because there's no such thing. On the train you can walk to the dining car where there are a lot of options, hot or cold. You can sit at a table or have a big pull out tray for your work. There's a 110 volt outlet next to the seat to keep your batteries charged. Odds are pretty good that you'll have a solid cell phone connection the whole way. You can annoy your neighbors as you pretend you have very important calls to make, or keep your computer attached to the Internet as you roll along. Air is working on solving this; Internet access and cell phone access in the sky, power at your seat sometimes if you have the right cable. Maybe if there was enough room to open up your computer you could take advantage of this, but its pretty hard in a center coach seat to open up a laptop these days.

The time it takes to travel has been similar for me between rail and air in some cases on the east coast. While a plane is way faster than a train (about 450 MPH airspeed vs. 90 MPH ground speed), when you consider the time delays with airports and their security vs. walking onto a train minutes before it pulls out - plus the train leaves you downtown where air leaves you facing a 30 minute or more cab ride - not much difference. Of course, the further you go the less they are even. DC to Boston the plane wins; DC to Philadelphia or NYC the train wins.

One big difference is style. It's not not really a win for either side, but there is a huge difference in the perspective on the planet you get between the two modes. A plane ride at 30,000 feet is an amazing experience. You have a view of the planet, weather, and how humans exist which is so different than everyday life from the ground. A sight like Manhattan or the Grand Canyon from the air is almost surreal.

A train ride is sitting behind a picture window as you zip along water, land, people, forest, buildings, that you normally don't see. You'll pass over rivers with people rowing and riding bicycles, followed in a minute or two by building covered with graffiti long abandoned. It's hard to not hum "Ain't That America" in your head as you cross through all sections of life.

I've really enjoyed traveling by rail when it makes sense. It can also be very nice with colleagues since you can sit across from each other at a table while you travel. It's a shame the rail system doesn't connect more cities than it does for me, as most of my travel is by air.