Mayfair & Pine: Glover Park’s Neighborhood Gastropub

On Sunday, Lauren and I were meeting up with some of our friends for brunch.  We were looking for something around Washington, DC’s Georgetown.  I stumbled upon the Glover Park gastropub Mayfair & Pine.   When I saw the reasonably-priced English-inspired gastropub menu, I knew it was a place to try and our friends agreed.

When we got there, it was around 11am on Sunday.  I was totally shocked how slow it was.  There were only a handful of other people, which is funny because I’d made a reservation.  Apparently, it’s not just a hot time for the bar, which surprised me because beers were half priced.  $3 for a pint of DC Brau’s Public Ale… sweet!  According to the bartender, their goal wasn’t to be a destination bar but to be a neighborhood bar and things are just slow during that time.

Mayfair & Pine shows English Premier League football (soccer) games on Saturday & Sunday mornings.  When we were there, we got to see the start of the Manchester v Chelsea game, which was fun to watch.   I feel like I’d watch a lot more soccer if there was a cool bar to watch it at.  Too bad, Glover Park is so far away.

The gastropub is owned & operated by Top Chef season 2 contestant Emily Sprissler and her husband Jason Cote.  Emily is Executive Chef and Jason is Chef De Cuisine  It was fun to chat with Emily briefly after brunch.

The food was fantastic.  I was one of the only not to get breakfast food.  I had their deconstructed Thanksgiving sandwich, where the “bread” is stuffing.  It was delicious.   There savory pies and fish entrees looked delicious.  Also… everything was reasonably priced at $12-30.  The breakfast options looked delicious, pretty standard, and were also reasonably priced at $8-13.  The best part of breakfast was that you could get bangers.  *giggles*

I think of Mayfair & Pine in a lot of the same way that I do Tunnicliff’s Tavern in Eastern Market.  They’re more than just restaurant.  There a place where the neighborhoods come together to live life together.    It was evident that this was something you could do at Mayfair & Pine.  Plus, the food & drinks are delicious.

This is the kind of placed I’d go to often.

The 4-Hour Chef & Learning to Learn

Lauren and I were in Lansing, MI over the last couple of days visiting my parents for Thanksgiving.    Figured I’d grab a new book to read through while on the break.  When I saw that Tim Ferriss’s new book “The 4-Hour Chef” was only $4.99 on the Kindle (It still is.  Grab it.), I figured that I’d take the plunge.

I’ve attempted to read Ferriss’s other books “4-Hour Work Week” and the “4-Hour Body.”  I usually only made it 20% of the way through the book feeling completely inadequate to Tim’s level of neuroses for using every means to necessary to optimize me professional and physical life.

Regardless, knew I wanted to grab a copy of the “4-Hour Chef.”  Part of it delves into cooking, which you all know is a personal passion of mine.  Plus, it was only $4.99 on Kindle so it was hard to say no.

So far, I’m only 15% of my way through the book.  Unlike the first two, the central thesis of this book isn’t about cooking or any one subject matter (despite the title).  It’s about learning to learn in a way that allows you to conquer whatever subject matter that you’er trying to conquer.   Tim shows the construct that he’s used to for example learn to cook, learn new languages, or learn to become a dancer and do this all in record time.

As I read more of the book, I’ll report back on what I think.

Founders Brewing Co & MadCap Coffee: An Afternoon in Grand Rapids, MI

Lauren and I are here in Michigan this week visiting my parents for Thanksgiving.  It’s so great to be home.   One of Lauren’s best friends and her boyfriend were also traveling through Michigan for the holidays.  While we were here, we decided to meet them in Grand Rapids as they were on their way to Chicago from Northern Michigan.

While I grew up in Michigan, I didn’t spend that much time on the West side of the state.  So I didn’t know good spots to eat in Grand Rapids.  I consulted Foursquare Explore and the first place it listed was Founders Brewing Company.   Was very familiar with the beer.  I’m a HUGE fan of their Breakfast Stout and the Red Rye Pale Ale.  I had no idea they had a taproom you could visit.

I was impressed when we first walked into the taproom.  It was packed with people having a good time and imbibing on Founders fine craft beers.   You could get all of their standard beers (which were $4 *smiles*).  Plus, you could get a variety of beers that were exclusive to the taproom.  I started with the taproom exclusive Whale Ale.  I think it was an easy to drink pale ale (I think).  My second beer was their specialty scotch ale the Backwards Bastard.

Their food menu was pretty simple filled with a huge variety of delicious sandwiches.  I had the Backwards Bastard sandwich (bbq pork, colby jack cheese, and coleslaw).   It was DELICIOUS.  There was a ton of meat on it.   I left full.

Founders Brewing Co taproom was a fantastic experience.  If you’re looking for a relaxed environment for a moderately priced and delicious craft beer & sandwich in Western Michigan then this is the place for you.

After lunch, I wanted a quick coffee and knew that MadCap Coffee wasn’t far away.  I’d heard about MadCap via some of the food blogs that I read but had never been there.   So I knew we had to stop.   Not only is MadCap a great coffee shop.  They also roast their own beans.

When you walked in the front door, you noticed that like most indie coffee shops MadCap was an enclave for all kinds of Grand Rapids hipsters.  There menu was small with the classic espresso made drinks (with latte art).   Additionally, there was an extensive drip coffee list that you could get from their pour over bar and all of those coffees plus more were available to take home in 12 oz bags for your own brewing adventures.

I’m always on the hunt for a great cup of coffee, cappuccino, or latte. MadCap is great and definitely worth stopping by.

Grand Rapids isn’t the first place I’d think of for great food, beer, and coffee but it definitely proved itself.

Less Screens for More Sleep

If you’re a reader of Business Insider, especially Henry Blodget, you know how they’ve made a business out of making simple article headlines slightly more hyperbolic in order to drive massive amounts of traffic.

With that in mind, saw an article today from Business Insider about how increased screen time from things like looking at your iPhone right before bed actually causes less sleep.   It says, “Too much screen time reduces melatonin, the chemical that makes you sleep.”  This goes with what I’ve heard from a number of people who say the best way to get more sleep is no screens an hour before bed.

Has anyone else experienced this?   Maybe I need to try it.

Make It Easy For Me To Quit You

Haven’t been using my gym membership lately so decided it was time to cancel.  Instead of paying $70/month to be able to exercise, I decided I could just run outside.   Funny thing is that it’s free to run outside.

Figured I could just stop by Washington Sports Club and cancel.  Nope.  It’s not that easy.  They handed me a piece of paper, which gave me instructions to cancel over the phone.

So, a few times I had a few minutes and figured that I had a few minutes so I’d call their member services line.  I get the hold music.  After a few minutes of hold, I gave up because I had other things to do.  Lauren had a few minutes today so she called for me and had to wait 10-15 minutes on the phone before she got to someone and actually cancel my account.  It was ridiculous.

It shows a solid principal that it’s worth underlining.  If you want me to trust you with my business, you have to let me easily stop using your service.  The fastest way to lose my trust is to make me feel trapped when patronizing your business.  Let me get out as easily as you allowed me to get in to the relationship.

What I’m Reading – Monday, November 19th

Here’s what I’ve been reading lately…

Seasonal Pantry – My Review

Last night, Lauren and I had the honor of having dinner at Seasonal Pantry.  Some friends got us a gift certificate as a late wedding present.   During the day, Seasonal Pantry is a artisanal food shop, most of which is made in-house.  At night, they move out some of the display cases, setup, a table and host a supper club.

For those of you not familiar with the supper club model, you’re typically sitting down to a meal where you don’t know what the menu is going to be or it’s constantly changing, which was the case at Seasonal Pantry.   And, you’re sitting down with people you don’t know.   It’s very much an unconventional restaurant. And… it’s an ABSOLUTE blast.

The owner & chef of Seasonal Pantry is Chef Dan O’Brien.  You may have seen him in the first episode of this season’s Top Chef, where he was eliminated in the first episode.  In between one of the courses, it was fun hearing the inside scoop about Top Chef and what his experience was like.  I’m rooting for him for fan favorite!

The meal started with a quick amuse bouche.  It was pickled carrots with soy and peanuts.  Didn’t snap a picture but it was delicious start to the meal.

Oh and throughout the meal there was a red and white wine being poured.  The white was a Muscat and the red was a Cote Du Rhone.  Unfortunately, didn’t catch the rest of the details.

The first official course was a pumpkin curry soup with a hit of chili oil and micro greens served in these individual Le Creuset pots.  At the bottom of the pot was a coconut custard.    It had flavorful spice but not paralyzing.    The cool/sweet custard was really nice against the spice of the curry and chili oil.

The next course was a scallop ceviche.  The scallops were just slightly seared but then served cold.  There was chile peppers, avocado, and healthy hit of lime juice (I think.)   If you could get all the parts in one scoop, you had all these different sensations going on in one bite: creamy, spicy,  and sour.  It was delicious.

Next was fresh tagliatelle with a house onion powder, onions, sun-dried tomatoes, and goat cheese.  Chef Dan shared how they had spent 3 days trying to bake the onion powder into the tagliatelle but it didn’t work out so they scrapped.  (Wow, 3 days making pasta and you scrap it?!?) This was one of my favorite courses.  It tasted like there’d be meat in the pasta but it was meatless.   Had a heavy onion flavor, which was DELICIOUS.

This was salmon, pearl onions, mushrooms, parsnip puree in a beurre rouge sauce.   I’m not sure how they cooked the salmon but it was different from I’d ever seen it before.  The whole place was delicious.  The gave us a roll with this course, which I used to slop of every last morsel of that sauce.   Butter-based sauces FTW!

The finale was a grapefruit parfait.   It was funny.  Chef Dan gave the helm of dessert making to a veteran pastry chef.  She toils in her kitchen and Dan lets her do whatever she wants.   I don’t think Dan knows what’s going to be for dessert until it comes up into the dining room and he’s always blown away.  I was blown away with this.    There was multiple layers of deliciousness that I can’t even begin to describe.

As a going away present, Chef Dan presented us all with a wrapped chocolate chip cookie, which was sweet & delicious.  Not the greatest chocolate chip cookie I’ve ever had but solid.  Lauren actually challenged Chef Dan to a cookie bake off, which he accepted.  I’ll be reporting back later on how that works out.

All in all, this was an amazing meal.  It surprises me that you don’t hear about Chef Dan O’Brien in the same vein that you hear names like Chef Jose Andres or Chef RJ Cooper.  He certainly deserves being in that kind of company.

Lauren and I are anxious to go back to Seasonal Pantry for some of his many other offerings, like fried chicken and donuts.

What I’m Reading – Tuesday, November 13th

Here’s what I’ve been reading…

Starting a community requires patience

In the social media age, everyone wants to start an online community about every topic and for every product you can imagine. The reality, like with most things, is that 90% of them fail. The biggest reason these communities fail is a lack of patience on the part of the person starting the community.

You need patience because for the participant putting yourself out there in a new community is scary. It’s a bunch of people you don’t know. You don’t know how they’ll respond. Most people are pretty guarded.  They don’t wanna take the risk.

The best thing you can do is to be patient and be consistent. Continue to participate in the online community and get your close friends to participate. You need to set the example and tone for what you expect within the community. Everyone else will follow your lead.

Even then, you’re only going to get a small number of people to really contribute. The rule with online communities is that 10% contribute and 90% just consume what the others contribute. But keep patient.

I started the DC Tech Facebook Group years ago. I kept a steady hand throughout and now it has 1800 people. I never have to worry about it going stale because we’ve hit enough of a scale where there’s always someone posting something.

Once you hit a community of that scale, there are people that’ll wanna use its platforms as a way to draw undue attention on themselves but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post.

Using Social Media for Stealing Your Competitors’ Customers

Technology like Twitter has brought customer service into a new age. Now I can tweet about a brand and usually get customer service faster than if I were to call them. Everyone has tweeted at @ComcastCares at least once. Their example made Twitter-based customer support a common place within most companies.

Well, what can be used for serving your customers, can be user for stealing your competitors. Just do a search in Twitter or setup a Google Alerts for your company’s competitors and you’ll find a litany of voices sharing their disappointments. Your competitor’s customers are sharing their disappointments hoping someone will care.

This is an opportunity. You can care. Care about your competitors customers and offer them a discount to come use your service. I did this all day long when I was at AddThis and competing with ShareThis. Actually won a few BIG customers this way.

Last night, Lauren needed the car to run some errands before a party that I was going to meet her at later in the evening. I had bought a membership to the smart car sharing service car2go and saw this as an opportunity to try it for the first time. I tried to unlock the car with my membership card and got an error. Called their customer service line and they said my car was defective. So, now what am going to do? This is how I was getting to the party. Ended up taking the bus to a spot where a friend could pick me up.

While waiting for the bus, I took the opportunity to express my disappointment with car2go on Twitter. Instantly, I got a tweet from Uber reminding me that they had cars on the road that’d love to pick me up. If Uber wasn’t considerably more expensive then I probably would have taken them up on the offer. I guess I was just impressed that someone from Uber was that on top of their Twitter accounts.

Why doesn’t every company do this? Watch your competitors’ users tweets and then offer them a discount or special offer to switch. Out care your competition.

(Photo by cote)