Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Restaurant: Mary Wells Dining Room, Wellsboro, PA

Restaurant: Mary Wells Dining Room, Penn Wells Hotel
Web Site: http://pennwells.com/main/dining/
Address: 62 Main St. Wellsboro, PA 16901
Phone: (800) 545-2446

This was a really nice find in a part of the state where there isn't a whole lot other than diner food.  Mary Wells Dining Room is in the Penn Wells Hotel in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania.  Penn Wells is a historic hotel (1869), and its a nice step into a time machine when you walk in.  The high ceiling of the lobby, large fireplace (with the smell of being used recently), and dining room off the lobby make it easy to be in another place and time - at least until you see cell phone use by the patrons.

The menu and presentation were a big step up from most of what's available, and at reasonable prices.  The parmesan crusted haddock was a little crispier then desired, but this is a more personal preference.  The accompanying vegetables were perfect, and the caprese salad with local tomatoes was a great summer choice.  Everyone else seemed very happy with what they had, and the service was friendly, efficient, and non-intrusive.

Mary Wells Dining Room on Urbanspoon

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Hotel: Westgate Inn, Coudersport, PA

City: Coudersport, PA
Chain: N/A
Property: Westgate Inn
Address: 307 ROUTE 6 WEST, COUDERSPORT, PA 16915
Phone Number: (814) 274-0400

Check Out: August 2013 ($99)

This part of the country doesn't have a lot of options for hotels and restaurants; what its dense with is state parks, great drives through wooded valleys, and the occasional little hamlet every 10 miles or so along route 6 in northern Pennsylvania.  Coudersport is in the middle of Potter County, PA, self-proclaimed "God's Country", and is a small town of population 2700.  The Westgate Inn is on the west side of Coudersport.

The facility is very clean, and the staff working here were very nice (as was true for everyone we met in this part of the country).  The decor was somewhat sparse, but the rooms had plenty of space and were comfortable.

No food services, although they do have a breakfast buffet in the morning.  There are a few dining options nearby, mostly diner food.  Of most concern, very few things are open on Sunday, and not many dining options on Monday, so plan appropriately.

  • Safety: 1
  • Dining: 0
  • Bar:
  • Internet: 1 (free for Hilton Honor)
  • Wireless in Common Areas: 1
  • Work Space, Power: 1
  • Shower: 1
  • Air Conditioning, Bed: 1
  • Common Areas: 1
Total: 7

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Hotel: Holiday Inn, St. Paul NE Lake Elmo, MN

City: Lake Elmo, MN
Chain: Hilton
Property: Holiday Inn St. Paul NE Lake Elmo
Address: 8511 Hudson Blvd, Lake Elmo, MN
Phone Number: 651-714-8068

Check Out: April 2013

Not quite sure why across the street its "oakdale".

The hotel has changed from when I stayed there - it was an independent hotel prior to its being a Holiday Inn.  Clean, smallish exercise room, but a nice running path across the highway up past a golf course.  Restaurant attached to the hotel that was OK.

Very close to 3M main campus and easy Interstate access to the airport, probably about a 35 minute drive or so with no traffic.  Staff was super nice and helpful, which is a requirement to live in Minnesota.

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Hotel: Hilton Garden Inn St. Paul/Oakdale

City: Oakdale, MN
Chain: Hilton
Property: Hilton Garden Inn St. Paul/Oakdale
Address: 420 Inwood Avenue North, Oakdale, Minnesota, 55128, USA
Phone Number: 651-735-4100

Check Out: August 2013 ($120, corporate rate)

The basic Hilton Garden Inn experience, similar to Marriott Courtyard.  This facility seemed somewhat new or recently refinished.  Everything was very clean and stylish - the main lobby was a relatively tall, glass space with seating areas, dining areas.  There was also space outside for people to hang out, it was occupied when we came in (and this was rather late - 10PM-ish) with people sitting around having a smoke or a beer or something.

Very close to 3M main campus and easy Interstate access to the airport, probably about a 35 minute drive or so with no traffic.  Staff was super nice and helpful, which is a requirement to live in Minnesota.


  • Safety: 1
  • Dining: 1
  • Bar: .5 (you can get a beer in the lobby store)
  • Internet: 1 (free for Hilton Honor)
  • Wireless in Common Areas: 1
  • Work Space, Power: 1
  • Shower: 1
  • Air Conditioning, Bed: 1
  • Common Areas: 1
Total: .5

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Monday, May 27, 2013

Restaurant: Sunnybrook Ballroom, Pottstown

Restaurant: Sunnybrook Ballroom
Web Site: thesunnybrookballroom.net
Address: 50 Sunnybrook Road, Pottstown, PA 19464
Phone: (484) 624-5187

The historic Sunnybrook Ballroom; its been there for a long time, part of the tradition of ballrooms for big bands going back to the 1920's (before television).  A drive from Philadelphia, many legendary performers have been there over the years.  Still kicking, despite changing demographics, and for me filled with personal history of proms, weddings, and performing.

Somewhat recently, the property flirted with being a micro-brew pub (abandoned) which made way to a restaurant attached to the ballroom.   Not an extensive menu, but a good mix of seafood and other dishes.  Been here twice now, no one had a problem finding something on the menu they liked and the chef puts on a couple of specials each time.  I was pleased both times, the chef is creative without being experimental and the meals have come out as desired.

Bar does a nice job, the wait staff have been attentive without being pushing, and frequently entertaining.  There aren't a lot of choices in this part of Pennsylvania past small diners and chain restaurants, this one has worked out well for me.

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Restaurant: Moonlight Gourmet

Just a note to make my links work.  Moonlight Gourmet was a Chinese restaurant on Rockville Pike near Congressional Country Club.  This was without a doubt our favorite for a long time, but it is now closed.  The staff was always so nice, and recognized us over time.  We used to take large groups there, and when we wanted something casual we would sit in the bar and watch a ball game.  We miss their "Moonlight Chicken" signature dish.  We still miss it as we drive down Rockville Pike.

I believe the group that owns this also owns China Gourmet in Kensington (we still go there, been going there for more than 20 years is seems), and Moon Gate in Bethesda.

Update on Seasons 52 North Bethesda

I've updated my notes on Seasons 52 a few times now.  Its gone from good with some disappointments when it first opened to a favorite.  Kudos to the management for paying attention and the staff for working hard.  Good location also, and we're always happy with what we find on the menu.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Restaurant: Sushi Damo, Rockville

Restaurant: Sushi Damo
Web Site: sushidamo.com
Address: 36 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD 20850
Phone: (301) 340-8010

High end sushi in a little fake downtown.

Stopped here for lunch while on jury duty.  Nice look; very high ceiling sparse furniture and lighting, sushi bar across the right back side of the dining room.  Some interesting lounge type furniture making the sushi bar look a little bit more like a bar.

Had a bit of a cold, and cut through it with a lot of wasabi and spicy tuna rolls.  Very good.  Tried a roll based on tempura sweet potato which was pretty good, but I think I wanted it to be a bit more crunchy than it was.  But, the flavor was good.  Really liked the miso soup, had a bit of a smokiness or woodiness that was interesting and unique.

Service very good, although I was just there for lunch so no big deal.  Would be good to try again at dinner and check out some of the other parts of the menu.

This seems to be an outpost from a Manhattan restaurant.

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Sushi Damo on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Restaurant: McCormick and Schmick's, Bethesda

Similar to others in the chain, except this one is now closed.  I think the space at Woodmont and Montgomery Lane is cursed.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Restaurant: National Pastime Sports Bar & Grille, Gaylord National Harbor

Restaurant: National Pastime Sports Bar & Grille
Web Site: Gaylord Resort
Address: National Harbor, Maryland (Gaylord Resort)

Emphasis is on “sports” and “bar”. Pricy, as you would expect at a Gaylord facility, but its very clean, very good service, nice look, and pretty good food as long as you are not looking for too much variety. I had the grilled salmon salad; very good despite forgetting “dressing on the side”, but they corrected their error with grace. The service staff was more than apologetic (more than I needed), and there efforts were very appreciated.

The Gaylord Texas outside DFW is a more impressive sports bar (see http://lschofieldtravel.blogspot.com/2009/10/restaurant-gaylord-texan-resort.html), this one seems a little jammed in there and just an uncoordinated collection of projectors. The picture of Lance Armstrong on the wall is now humorously inappropriate, but given the very custom rotating picture frames I’m sure its expensive and time consuming to change it.

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National Pastime Sports Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Restaurant: Great Waters Brewing Company, St. Paul

Restaurant: Great Waters Brewing Company
Address: 426 St. Peter Street, St. Paul, Minnesota 55102
Phone: 651-224-BREW

St. Paul isn’t really a town with a lot of nightlife, the sidewalks get rolled up around 6 PM in the downtown area. On the edge of the park is a microbrew place called Great Waters. Simple on atmosphere, its a bar looking place with windows out to the street. Behind the bar is a windowed area where the brew kettle is. And, it was actually a working brewery, not just hardware placed out for show like a lot of these kinds of places. Someone was actually busy away cleaning the kettle.

Food was a little upscale from your normal bar food. Had a small pizza which seemed hand-crafted and put together with some thought and care. It was the special of the day, a “Philly cheesesteak pizza”. A little too saucy to be like a cheesesteak on a pizza, but it was nice cheese and steak on a pizza with some peppers.

Others had burgers, all seemed happy with their selections. Onion rings were given a thumbs up.

The beers we all had were made on site and were on tap, Octoberfests and Stouts, all good.

Urbanspoon seems to have some haters for this place, but I couldn’t figure out why. It would probably be noisy in there if it was crowded since it was all glass and stone, but the people working there were nice (as everyone in the Twin Cities area are, grumps don’t seem to be allowed).

There was outdoor seating; not in use, a little damp the night I was there.

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Great Waters Brewing Company

Restaurant: Naked Fish, Salt Lake City

Restaurant: Naked Fish
Address: 67 West 100 South, Salt Lake City, Utah
Phone: (801) 595-8888

High end Sushi joint downtown, across from the Marriott.

Was in town for several days for meetings, but all were held in the hotel with included meals. So, not a lot of chances to see the local places. But, two dinners were on my own, and felt pressed for time and without a car, ended up being lazy and going across the street.

Enjoyed it so much I ended up being there twice. The first night with a fairly large group of 7, the second night with a colleague and we sat at the bar (the sushi bar). I liked the first night so much went back for seconds.

The large group was seated in a main room, in what appeared to be the traditional Japanese way of the low dining table and sitting on the floor. However, it was an illusion; the table had a sunken section in the floor so once you were down on the floor your legs were below your body - somewhat bench style seating. And frankly, a welcome relief for joints that are not of a younger man. The table service was very polite, and we spent the meal trying a number of things, just passing the artistic plates around the table. Very spicy edamame was different, not too spicy but enough heat to get the point. Some of the pieces were very different, including one where the fish, rice, and fillings were placed into a rectangular mold and pressed into a perfect thin brick shape and then cut into pieces. All was extremely artfully presented, with lots of specific garnishes and sauces.

The second night, back for more and sat at the bar. The sushi work was done by what seemed to be the head chef, and we not only had a more purposeful tour around the different pieces, but also got quite an education in the fish used, the preparation, and the business of a sushi restaurant. Not only tasty, but we learned something, too! It was also fun to watch the food being prepared, as the artfulness was the result of very meticulous use of tweezers, squirt bottles, and slicing. Unless you are with a number of people, sitting at a sushi bar is always preferred to a table. I guess this goes for the non-sushi style of bar as well.

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Naked Fish Japanese Bistro on Urbanspoon