Michael Hraba's places

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Michael Hraba reviewed 3 years ago
- has to be one of the best in the world.
ParkSan Francisco, CA(415) 831-2700
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Michael Hraba reviewed 3 months ago
- The Windmill, the Bison, The Casting Pools, The entire DeYoung and Cal Academy area, the Aids Memorial, The park, The Carsouel, hippy hill, stowe lake, the japanese gardens, the botanical gardens.... I could go on. This is one of the most magical places on earth. GGNRA.. .best.. public... resource... and ... open.. space... ever.
History Museum555 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC(202) 292-6100
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Michael Hraba reviewed a year ago
Appeal Excellent Facilities Excellent Service Excellent - Amidst a sea of brilliant free museums is this $20 a head (steep vs free) museum that is not only profound, and exceptional, but I would say it's a can't miss. There's enough reviews telling you about this spot, but I will say - be prepared for a deeply moving and emotional experience. The Berlin Wall exhibit was interesting, but it was the 9/11 exhibit and the Pulitzer Prize winning photos that sort of broke me. I don't always openly, unabashedly cry in public, but when I do, it's the profundity of the Newseum that may get me going. Beyond the more sobering elements, it's also delightful with the history and importance of journalism. I think this sums it up nicely: "Journalism is the first rough draft of history" - Philip Graham NB: this museum has many activities for kids, but some of the content, photos, and experiences can be very heady, and very mature. There is a lot of imagery of death, suffering, etc. It is VERY appropriate to teach children about it, but if they have attention span problems, etc... make sure not to let them ruin the experience for others.
French Restaurant6640 Washington St, Yountville, CA(707) 944-2380$$$$
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Michael Hraba reviewed a year ago
Food Excellent Decor Very good Service Excellent - Time to go back..... and an update to people browsing based off the concept of the final bill, the total price of the meal... and experience. The ignominious reservation process is seriously daunting, and after a couple years of saving I am ready to wade back into the muck. It's surreal trying to get a reservation for specific dates, but be assured I have tricks up my sleeve. =) That being said, i was just conversing with someone about the delicate balance of cost vs value.... and maybe temper someone's incredulousness of the cost with a narrative of how value can slay that ugly beast of high prices.... It's so funny... We are "broke". We haven't any "status". My wife and I choose how our money is spent in the most decidedly conscious way... we don't have cars that cost $500 a month. We don't have memberships or club fees. We don't carry any debt, or buy things we don't need... no TV's, work out equipment, no shopping or mindless tech. We don't spend money until something is broken, etc. We just save, and that's about it. We save all our money to spend on travel, and do so responsibly. Saying "responsibly" means always spending money where the experience outshines the cost. You know that divine moment when you get a bill, no matter how large, and you understand the value, and the worth, of that service.... and it is more than worth it? Completely justified? That's what my first experience at FL was for me in 2007. Four nights at a bad Four Seasons, 2 nights in the sweltering heat of an Italian summer... none of that is worth it to us. One night at a bad motel, in the middle of nowhere, for $49 doesn't have the value of a $400 a night resort. If you understand that, then you will understand how we can consider having the most singular, divine, extremely ridiculously priced meal (that we have to save for for months over months).... we don't bat an eyelash. When the food and experience are at that level, then I seriously consider that worthwhile.... There's a difference between the concept of "costly", and the concept of "value". I am not sure if the costly French Laundry has "value" to everyone, but it really will for my wife and I... that is, if we can get a reservation. =)
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Michael Hraba reviewed 2 years ago
Hotel1005 W 1st Ave, Spokane, WA(509) 747-1919
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Michael Hraba reviewed a year ago
Quality Very good Facilities Very good Service Very good - MONTVALE: The hotel is a stunning historic renovation, and really well done. If you have a chance to run inside, make sure to make it up to the 2nd floor lobby. It's a rare experience to understand what public space used to be, and how it used to function. It is warm, inviting, and is the type of space meant to spark conversation and banter with community and strangers that may be friends. It's from a time where it was vital and stop and talk with people - to learn the weather down the road, the news of the town, etc. In the past, hotels played an unbelievably important role in the development of a town's community - the Montvale was no different. To see it brought back to life, instead of turning into a new build on the same space, is incredible. It's a beautiful spot, and fairly amazing to have survived all that downtown development. The rooms are well done for historic, and relatively spacious. The ceilings are really high. The interiors are appropriate - intoning history without replicating it. It's a very special place, and I can't wait to go back. SCOUT: Ate here a couple times throughout my stay in Spokane. High marks for what it is - a imaginative diner / bar food concept in an awesome historic hotel. The interiors are not only appropriate, but really engaging. It's well thought out, as is the menu. It caters to almost any interest, while still providing the diner / bar experience - it's just that the menu has more depth than you would expect. It's concise, but I never had an easy time deciding. My breakfast sandwich was fantastic, and the Grinder was a very simple italian hoagie, but warm and delicious. With an obvious nod to local purveyors, they source from as nearby as possible. When I make it back, I will be back to this place.... cheers! The Catacombs:This is such an awesome bar. It reminds me of the bar at an old hotel I worked at in Boulder, Colorado, but only in name and the fact that it is subterrenean. This is a wide open space, with rich interiors. It used to be Boiler Room for the hotel. Now they have a beautiful pizza oven make great, quirky, delicious pizzas, with a REALLY awesome underground bar experience. It's got beautiful wooden interiors, and it's an incredibly warm, masculine experience - it feels solid and safe. It's a place to warm up when it's chilly... for sure.
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Michael Hraba reviewed a year ago
Quality Excellent Facilities Excellent Service Excellent - There is no cell reception (I mean 100% zero for any carrier), and no internet. So.... Why are you considering Wilbur? Because our culture, and the pace of our lives, are out of control. Connectivity is disconnecting, and we need to reconnect with loved ones, or ourselves, and there is almost nowhere left in the world that you can disappear, go off grid, and be 100% present. Wilbur affords this experience. I hear there are is even a cell signal at burning man now? jeeeez. Full disclosure: I used to work for these guys YEARS ago. I am not only *NOT* involved, but I don't even know anyone involved anymore. Wilbur is an epic place. It's rare... 100% off grid no phone no internet. It's the most healing place, and special, healing waters, of any place I have been too. It is about personal reflection, and not the creepy self centered freak out scene of other "social" baths. This is a more calm, personal retreat than any other hot springs. A lot of people are concerned about the rates, but many of these people are long time Wilbur-ites that want the rates to be the same as they were in the 70's or 80's, and it's just not feasible. For anyone that thinks the rates are high.... you won't understand the value until you are nestled in the maternal bosom of this sacred valley. I know that sounds hokey, but really, that's about right. The place wouldn't be open if the rates were still that low. A few years ago, they made $50K in revenue, and spent $150K in capital improvements. Wilbur is only maintaining operations, and not making any money.... It's not cheap to run a hotel, especially for the location. They recently added some private bathrooms to rooms, and made some other improvements too. Wilbur is in the middle of nowhere that is out your back door. It's an epic, special, historic, timeless place. But it's a business..... You need housekeepers. You need to operate the property. This is very special, very rare, very ancient place. There's always the option of "the Apartment" which is only a little more than regular rooms.. private kitchen and private bathroom. If you felt the need to detach, escape, heal, reconnect, find stillness, find calm.... this is something to try. Look at the endless 5 star reviews, & understand that the rates of 25 years ago simply can't apply to a modern economy, and the value isn't apparent until you arrive. Wilbur is pure magic. Go.
French Restaurant129 Avenue Parmentier, Paris, France+33 1 43 57 45 95€€
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Michael Hraba reviewed 8 months ago
- Line up early for second seating, where they don't take reservations, but seat on a first come first serve basis. This attracts a number of food industry people, with it's simple, severely regressive overly informal service, and the line up at the door is always a treat. For the 8p service, line up at 7.30ish, but the line has probably gotten longer in the interim, since our visit. Maybe show up at 7p. The second service also gets a vivacious staff, brimming with excitement and energy for the night to end. Always cordial, and happy as can be.... the service falls off a cliff at one point of the evening, and you need to be direct if you want to order more wine or need anything at all. But, the food speaks for itself. The amuse bouche and inter-courses are plentiful, and wildly imaginative (w/ Bianco, 2008 - Vermentino - Sicile La Moresca). I cannot remember them all, and that is rare. They had a play on Fish & Chips (w/ Arena - Chenin - Savenniere A&R Mosse), a "Catfish, Turnip, Manzanilla" combination (Millesime 2002 - Chardonnay - Champagne J. Lassaigne). Then an Iberian pork, asparagus, green beans, and rhubarb combo (Less pezzeroles, 2010 - pinot noir - Pommard 1st Cru - Fred Cossard). It was fantastic. Every course... engaging, delicious, almost ingenious with the creativity without being polarizing. Ice Rice Cream with Prune "Bacon from Heaven" dessert.... and cheese of the day. (w/ Panesa - Palomino - Especial Fino Emilio Hidalgo) We got the menu paired with the wines (info in parentheses)... it was delicious, and a wonderful range of execution and creativity. It was a fantastic ride, but the back end service was so loose and inattentive it tainted the culinary aspect of it. We tried our damndest to order more wine, and get attention, but it was that moment in the evening where festivity took precedent over the guest. Still... a wondrous experience, and one to remember. =)
Hungarian Restaurant561 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA(415) 487-1600$$
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Michael Hraba reviewed 3 months ago
- Liked it with reservations - as a true, Eastern European Bohemian (Czech basin for those who went to public school), I can't imagine going back to enjoy my people's food, constantly. It reminds me of Benu, in the idea that it's an experience you sort of must have to understand the diversity of San Francisco's dining scene, but it's not a place you could easily return, time and time again. However, I am sure their are Mission-ites who might frequent the spot each weekend for brunch. It's a concise menu that offers plenty of experiences, but I feel one visit gently exposed their depth such that I can move on... We did the bread with dips, pickles, sweet flatbread, savory flatbread, potatoes, Rainbow Trout, Meatballs in gulyas broth, the Rueben, and avocado toast. All were a treat, delicious, and different (except the Rueben, which was a faithful adpation beautifull executed). Odd place. Nice servers. Quaint and pretty space.
Spa Resort1122 California 41, Fish Camp, CA(559) 683-6555
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Michael Hraba reviewed a year ago
Quality Good Facilities Very good Service Good - A great hotel for families. If couples are reading this... *it is great for families*. =) This place is a family fun paradise. There was Santa, Gingerbread house competitions, etc. It seems we went during a family Thanksgiving weekend.... it was lively with happy, bonding families, and I assume that's not that rare for this place. We don't have kids, so I just seemed like that creepy guy without a kid. ha. But a great location with decent enough rooms, and friendly service made this a solid choice. More affordable than the Ahwahnee - of course the location doesn't match. It is well situated as a base camp for site seeing the area, but it is certainly not in the Yosemite valley, so no real spectacular views here... but they do have nice hillsides with trees as far as the eye can see (of course, be good enough to ignore the expansive parking lot). There is enough to do around that area that you could get stuck just spending time on the outskirts of Yosemite, and not getting to go out at all. Don't let your kids play video games all weekend. The indoor pool is what you would expect from an indoor pool at a hotel... chokingly humid chemical air. They have two hottubs, a video game area, etc. Like I said, family paradise. Definitely outside our comfort zone, but it is just such a grand hotel. The restaurants are deceptive - the lodge dining room is more of a family restaurant, while the bar might almost always be more appropriate for almost any situation. We didn't enjoy the lodge restaurant too much. HOWEVER... Embers, their fine dining option, was PHENOMENAL. Old school service (table side Ceaser), great service firing on all cylinders.... for a few dollars more you can have an infinitely better experience. Overall the whole hotel had the singular issue that I rarely face... it was great, but for the price it could have been a wee bit better.
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