Triangle Trip

Tag: restaurants

How to get into exclusive restaurants?

by on Apr.06, 2012, under Business Meals, Business Travel, Vacation

Having lived in most of the major cities in the US, and even some major ones in Europe, I have always enjoyed dining at the top restaurants those cities had to offer. It struck me that, while I have never had a problem getting into restaurants I love, my friends have not been as lucky. Sometimes it was through my connections that I was able to get a table, but most times it was just through smart planning. Here are five tips on how to get that table at the current “it” spot:1.  Sometimes, smaller is better — This should be obvious, but trying to secure a table for a large party at Per Se in New York City isn’t going to work.

2. Reservations open 30 days in advance for most US restaurants — Pre-planning has never been so important. Some exclusive restaurants open reservations 2 weeks in advance, others are 60 days, and some go up to 1 year; but a majority are 30 days. Make sure you call the restaurant on that exact day when the reservation opens or you may not get your spot!

3.  Avoid rush hour and prime days — Most people tend to want to eat at restaurants between 7:00 to 9:00PM, and the prime dining evenings are usually Wednesday through Saturday. If you are flexible, dining during the off hours is a great way to get into that hot restaurant. This is a good strategy for those on vacations, who usually have more flexibility on their eating times.

4.  Walk-in accepted — Don’t be afraid to walk into a hot/hip restaurant if you are a couple or by yourself. You’d be surprised at the number of times I was able to get seated using this strategy, without suffering through a long wait. Most exclusive restaurants would accept walk-in patrons.

5.  Take advantage of the concierge — If you are staying at a top quality hotel, this is by far the best strategy. If you are trying to get into a tough restaurant, and you are flexible with day and time, you would be surprised at the amount of “pull” that the concierge service has. Some restaurants reserve tables specifically for those favorite concierges who consistently make reservations with them. Note though, that while they can pull off reservation miracles at times, you shouldn’t expect to show up on Friday morning and get a reservation at Nobu New York that very same evening at 8:00PM!

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How to locate restaurant menus on your iPhone

by on Aug.26, 2009, under Business Meals, Business Tools

Ever been on the road and wanted to check out a restaurant’s menu before actually physically going in?  Of course you could do some research online beforehand but what if you just left the client site or hotel and was looking for a place to eat with decent selection and prices?

Well if you have an iPhone you are in luck!  I recently checked out a new app for the iPhone called Unimenu.  It’s main goal is to be able to look up menus for restaurants in an easy manner.  You can view a restaurant’s location/address, look at what items they offer with prices, and directly call the restaurant from the app.  Additionally, it has some neat features as well.

Let’s say I’m craving some Japanese food in LA.  I can filter by cuisine in LA (it locates the metro area I’m in automatically) and select the “Near Me” button.  It then lists out the closest 10 restaurants near me serving Japanese cuisine, which then I can look at each menu and restaurant information accordingly.

Also, if ever you find yourself ordering from the same restaurant frequently, you can add that restaurant’s menu to your favorites and you’ll always have it handy, even if you don’t get any reception from crappy AT&T (or T-Mobile).

Lastly, I think the most creative feature of the app is the ability to add specific items from a menu or menus to a list, afterwards which you can email out if need be.  This is particular handy if you are ordering for a big group of people: you can just pass around your iPhone and have people select what they want.  Of course, you may want to wipe down your iPhone after you get it back.  One day I hope they come up with an iPhone app that de-sanitizes the phone.

Right now the app supports New York, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington DC, and Chicago (the app also allows you to filter by neighborhoods specific to those cities).  I do most of my traveling between New York (city of blinding lights), SF (I left my heart there), LA (California dreamin’), and Chicago (my kind of town) so this app is perfect for me (who’d wanna go anywhere else anyhow?).  They also have a corresponding website at for those without iPhones. So for all of you who have ever walked into an unknown restaurant and been caught off guard by the prices or selection of the menu, check this app out.

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Where to eat in Pasadena: 15 Restaurant Reviews

by on Mar.08, 2009, under Business Meals, Vacation

Big A, Captain G, and Statusmonger are frequent travelers to Pasadena, CA. Below are our candid reviews of all the places we have dined in Pasadena for the past three months — from mid-December 2008 to early March 2009. We feel that Pasadena is a bit overrated when it comes to dining and shopping. There are many restaurants in Pasadena, but none has stood out.

Captain G is quite disappointed at the choices, especially with Maison Akira which some people tout it as one of the best in the Greater LA area. Arroyo Chop House is by far our favorite. We celebrated Statusmonger’s birthday there. Big A is a nicer rater, but agrees with the rankings below.  He recommends Arroyo and Mi Piace for newcomers to Pasadena.

Below are our 15 restaurants we have dined at and their rankings (best to worst):

1.  Arroyo Chop House – The only restaurant in California that only serves USDA Prime beef and nothing more. Service was excellent. Great wide selection coupled with a wide variety of side dishes. Lobster mash potatoes side is a must!

2.  Ruth’s Chris – A consistent steakhouse, we have been here multiple times. It was the best dineLA 2009 experience we had in California.

3.  Mi Piace – An Italian restaurant and bakery. It has great seafood pasta and excellent selection of desserts to compliment your dinner. It has outside sitting and offers a wonderful experience of Old Town Pasadena.

4.  MaiKobe – A new restaurant on Fairoaks between Colorado and Green Street. It is so new that it didn’t have a review on Yelp yet. Servings were good portions. Despite having “Kobe” as its restaurant name, its Kobe beef was not good. Perhaps we should not have ordered a Kobe roll as Kobe beef should not have been rolled with rice. Dessert was excellent though. They also serve Hibachi style dinners.

5.  Bar Celona – A Spanish tapas joint on Colorado. The stuffed quail is a must. Paellas and mussels are also good options. The sangria was not too good though. Wine selection was a bit limited. Overall the restaurant had good ambiance. Music also went well with the food.

6.  Houston’s – Consistent American style restaurant with good service and atmosphere. It has the best French Dip sandwich and Ribs platter we have ever had… Houston’s even serves sushi now. Wine and beer selections are great.

7.  Roy’s – It’s a Hawaiian fusion restaurant. We were seated in an extension of the restaurant which resulted in poor service. The room was also cold. Food was so-so. We had better meat and fish at Houston’s.

8.  Louise’s – Italian restaurant right across the street from Mi Piace. Menu is a bit less expensive compared to Mi Piace but the food is not too bad. You get what you pay for. Parking is a bit hard to find though.

9.  Cheesecake Factory – Very typical and just like the other Cheesecake chains. The restaurant met expectations. However, it is always crowded so we don’t think it’s worth the wait.

10.  Sushi of Naples – Surpringly good sushi and udon place. We had fresh fish over Super Bowl weekend at Sushi Naples. It is however located a bit out of the way – away from Old Town.

11.  Saigon Noodles – Despite the fact that it looks ghetto outside but the soup was authentic. Pricing was also right. Portion was decent. Can’t complain when you want some authentic Vietnamese at a decent price.

12.  Green Street Tavern – From the outside, this restaurant looked elegant. Service was so so even though it was not crowded on a Tuesday night. We had wine and the tasting menu (tapas like dishes) that evening to try out all the entrees. The only thing worth trying was the short ribs. Wine menu was not good either.

13.  Gyu-Kaku – A Japanese BBQ joint. Service was slow. Beef and other meat were marinated with too much salt which made us drank more Sake… Sake selection was good. Don’t fall into the all you can eat trap. Overall, the price was too high compared to the quality of food we got that evening.

14.  1810 – An Argentinian restaurant located on Colorado – in the heart of Old Town, Pasadena. We thought it was a real Argentinian restaurant but it was more or less a lounge/bar food type restaurant. Food was horrible. We had chewy steak, bad wine and horrible valet service. The valet attendant wanted us to pre-pay for parking because he was leaving his shift. The only thing that kept this restaurant out of the bottom was how bad Maison Akira was back in January.

15.  Maison Akira – A French/Japanese fusion place which was neither Japanese nor French. We’d a prix fixe menu back in February 2009 and it was the worst meal in a decade for Captain G. You can find out the details on his previous post.

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