Tag Archives: My First Time

My First Time: BLVD 16 at Hotel Palomar

| August 19, 2014

_blvd-16-caffe-vita-restaraunt-025

It may have been the glam of Los Angeles or the ideal location on Wilshire Boulevard, but something about BLVD 16 was just right.

Located in Hotel Palomar—a Kimpton property—BLVD 16 certainly has all of the bells and whistles that a first-time visitor to the city would expect, but the service, prices and, most importantly, the cuisine is what separates it from other trendy places in the area.

Rather than trying to keep up with the Jones’, BLVD 16 holds true to itself in serving what they describe as, “farm-to-fabulous” food, offering a bevy of options in a perfectly designed setting.

Not over-the-top fancy or too dim, BLVD 16 hits on every level, with menu prices that are affordable for a table of two or a large party.

_blvd-16-caffe-vita-restaraunt-015

Since they serve Caffe Vita, I wanted to check this place out—and it surpassed all of my expectations.

Making a stop in for brunch this past Sunday, I was immediately overwhelmed by the depth of the menu, with selections for those who like their first meal of the day either light, hearty or sweet.

_blvd-16-caffe-vita-restaraunt-035

As a vegetarian, my eyes—and stomach—got big for the Egg White Scramble, which consisted of roasted tomato, spinach and mushrooms, which joined a cup of Vita coffee to help pick me up.

At the first bite, I knew I made the right choice, as the flavor hit about every taste bud in my mouth. The eggs were cooked perfectly and the fresh veggies complemented them just right.

_blvd-16-caffe-vita-restaraunt-030

Shawn Jennings—Vita’s Digital Media Manager— and I were so focused on our food that any form of conversation was limited, with Shawn ordering the Acai and Tropical Fruit Bowl.

Scarfing down our plates in a matter of minutes, we eventually talked about how impressed we both were with both the city of L.A. and the friendliness of everyone at BLVD 16.

After overhearing our conversation about surfing after breakfast, our server gave his suggestions as to where the best spots to go are—and pleaded to try and come with us following his shift.

Just as we were set to pay and say thanks to everyone we met, a surprise dessert came out to us, on the house!

_blvd-16-caffe-vita-restaraunt-046

Serving a German Chocolate Cake to two guys is never a bad idea—even if it is just after breakfast—as the dessert was gone in minutes.

Making our way out of the hotel, both Shawn and I were thoroughly impressed with our experience, agreeing that we’d have to come back during our next visit to the city.

BLVD 16 might not have the star-studded appeal that other restaurants in the city have, but if you’re looking for a place where you can get great food, drinks, service and actually hold down a conversation, BLVD 16 is one of the best spots in town.

blvd-16-caffe-vita-restaraunt

My First Time: Coastal Kitchen

| July 18, 2014

Coastal-Kitchen-Entrance

One of the best parts about working with Caffe Vita is having the opportunity to visit our amazing customers. You know, the ones who love our coffee so much that they share it with customers who come into their establishments.

And continuing with the “My First Time” series, I made my way towards Coastal Kitchen on 15th Avenue in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Described as a “quintessential neighborhood fish house,” Coastal Kitchen features a diverse menu, which includes Caffe Vita’s Caffe Del Sol, Novacella Decaf and Caffe Luna coffee.

I had heard great things about their Blunch menu—yes, a combination of breakfast and lunch—and figured I just had to try it for myself.

Coastal-Kitchen-Caffe-Vita

Heading with Vita’s Marketing Director Gretchen—who was just as excited as I was to check out the “Blunch” offerings—we strolled through sun-filled streets to the hip, flourishing 15th Avenue, which has seen an influx of chef-inspired restaurants and cozy little bars over the past few years.

Upon walking into Coastal Kitchen, I instantly compared it to by Grandmother’s favorite diner.

Coastal-Kitchen-Cobb-Salad

Coastal Kitchen’s Cobb Salad waiting to be picked up and eaten up.

Exposed kitchen on one side with a bar top and rotating chairs for guests to sit on. The bar is on the opposite side of the restaurant, a mere 30 feet from where the chefs are working their magic on the many options offered.

But as we were led to our booth by the host, one thing became very clear—Coastal Kitchen is not your average diner.

After opening its doors for the first time in 1983, Coastal Kitchen has stood the test of time, recently upgrading its digs with a renovation back in 2012 that saw the restaurant add, as I described it, “a Northeastern, Cape Cod-like feel,” to the inside of the place.

Looking at the menu on this specific day, I noticed that it mentioned the featured coastal region was Brazil, which, I assume, meant the menu was inspired by dishes in the beautiful South American country—I wish I had asked, but was too hungry to think about it.

As mentioned earlier, one of the things we had heard so much about—besides the well-known oysters—was Blunch, so we just had to dig into that specific section of the menu.

Coastal-Kitchen-Croque-Madame-Caffe-Vita

Gretchen’s Croque Madame and a side of fruit.

With no time to waste, Gretchen ordered herself the Croque Madame, while I stuck with my vegetarianism and went for the Goat Cheese Scramble.

While waiting for our food, Gretchen and I swapped stories about weekend successes and failures, including her plan to pack and move all day tomorrow. We also found ourselves discussing all of the great art hanging on the restaurant walls.

Coastal-Kitchen-Wall-Art

The conversation instantly turned into one that made us realize that, while we hope we’re talented at something, the artists who painted what was shown had to be someone with more skill in their pinky finger than we had—I’m only slightly exaggerating, of course.

While some breakfast spots may be either too bashful or too overzealous when it comes to the portions, Coastal Kitchen does it just right, giving patrons enough to fill their appetite without feeling too stuffed.

Coastal-Kitchen-Goat-Cheese-Scramble-Caffe-Vita

My Goat Cheese Scramble before absolutely devouring every bite.

Another thing I appreciated, though small and a bit elementary, was that the chefs had already melted the butter on my four, warm slices of bread. Sure, that sounds silly, but I want to eat my meal, not put it together, so I applaud the little things.

Continuing our conversation in the buzzing atmosphere, the restaurant was busy but not overcrowded. The service was great—with refills and accommodating questions just at the right time—and really made us feel welcome.

Coastal-Kitchen-Chef

For those looking for a great spot to recover from a nasty night out, a regular brunch spot or for one of the best places in Seattle to get oysters and fresh seafood, Coastal Kitchen is a spot worth trying a few times, because it’s great.

The one regret I have? Not trying any of that seafood—but I’ll be back soon to remedy that.

Coastal-Kitchen-Caffe-Vita-Nick-Dimengo

My First Time: The Victoria Clipper

| July 1, 2014

Victoria-Clipper-Front-Deck

As someone who just recently moved to Seattle not too long ago, I’m always boasting to friends and family in land-locked states about how majestic the water around the city is.

There was always just one problem—save for a day-trip to Bainbridge Island last May, I had never, fully, taken advantage of it.

That all changed once Caffe Vita teamed up with the Victoria Clipper as the sole provider of coffee on each one of their three vessels and in their cafe—with our Caffe Luna drip recently coming aboard in the past few weeks.

A staple in Seattle since 1986, the Clipper has proven to be the premier choice for visitors to pack their bags for an easy, three-hour trip to beautiful Victoria, B.C., allowing passengers an opportunity to cross the border without too much fuss.

And because the people over in the Clipper offices are so great, they sent me over to Victoria for a day to see what the experience was all about—and it turned into something that was pleasantly unexpected.

Here are the details.

Caffe-Vita-Victoria-Clipper-Clipper-IV

Departing from Seattle on the 6:45am boat, I can honestly say that I couldn’t sleep the night prior, feeling as if I were a kid on Christmas Eve all over again.

With low-70s and nothing but sun in the forecast, it’s easy to see why I tossed and turned all night in anticipation.

Listening to the Andrea Bocelli Pandora station to help get me in the European mindset, I was blown away with not only how easy the process of loading people on the boat was, but, upon arrival, how much Victoria resembles that of a small city in France or Switzerland.

From the architecture to the narrow streets and nooks and crannies, to the small shops and blend of cultures, Victoria is very much European—and deceptively large, with nearly 150,000 residents.

Very quickly, I felt as if I was on vacation—but was quickly reminded there was work to be done.

Victoria-British-Columbia-The-Empress-Hotel

Arriving in Victoria, our journey began walking around the dock and passed The Empress Hotel, which we later found out is about as classy of a place as one could find.

Old ivy lives on the walls giving the hotel an appearance of a castle in the middle of Scotland, with big porches and an incredible view of the bay.

Continuing up Government—a popular, main drag in downtown Victoria—we were instantly introduced to a number of great shops, restaurants and bars. Since the road extends a few miles through the heart of the city, we used Government as a guide while walking around.

Victoria-Canada-Grindstone-Cafe

With so many different options to choose from—especially cafes—we popped into a quaint shop called Grindstone Café, which on first impression, shares the same love for coffee and laidback personality as Caffe Vita does.

After speaking with the owner, Alex, about everything from our mutual love for local, organic coffee to the World Cup, we walked away with a few suggestions on key places to check out when visiting Victoria for a day.

Located at 504 Herald St., both the friendliness of the staff and the espresso they pull, make Grindstone a place that is a perfect start to the day. We recommend that anyone exploring Victoria stop in to Grindstone and say hello

The-Turntable-Record-Shop-Victoria-Canada

Fresh after an espresso, we made our way into Chinatown, which featured a discrete alley housing a number of shops hidden from the main drag.

Our favorite was the album shop, The Turntable, which had an unlimited amount of vinyls for sale and some cool Van Morrison playing over the speakers.

It may have been small and congested, but it made for a great time.

We even joked that, if not for a day ahead of us full of walking, we could have spent hours in the store browsing the selection and, more than likely, buying our fair share of records.

Canoe-Brewpub-Victoria-Canada

Once hunger set in, we followed Alex’s recommendation to watch some soccer and enjoy a cold, homebrew beer at the Canoe Brewpub.

With a huge patio, a large dining room with multiple TVs, and a diverse menu,, we housed some food while catching the first half of the Germany-Algeria match.

Victoria-Lawn-Bowling-Club-Victoria-Canada

Following some grub, we walked around some more and stopped into a few more cafes and saw some interesting sites in town.

One of my personal favorites was the Victoria Lawn Bowling Club.

Located in Beacon Hill Park, the club was full of people playing a version of bocce ball in the sun on a pristinely cut lawn. If not for our busy schedule and time restraints to get back aboard the Clipper, I would have been out there challenging anyone to a match, but sadly, it will have to wait until my next trip.

Victoria-Canada-The-Inn-at-Laurel-Point

With an hour or so to spare, we checked-in with the folks at The Inn at Laurel Point—situated nicely right by the Clipper’s dock—ending our day in one of the best cities in Canada with a Summer Hefeweizen at the attached hotel bar called Aura.

Sitting outside and overlooking the water, Aura is a great place to relax and enjoy good conversation, while getting a terrific view of downtown Victoria.

Victoria-Clipper-Captain-David-Mayden

Nice and relaxed, the Victoria Clipper was our next stop, departing soon after our final beer of the day.

As great as our time in Victoria was, the highlight of the trip may have been heading back to Seattle, given the opportunity to stand in the cockpit of the Clipper IV during our travels to interview and hang with the crew, as we took in the beautiful scenery up-close and personal.

As giddy as kids on a playground, we asked captain David Mayden, co-captain Robert Reeder and Kurt Sutter who is in charge of Engine Control, questions about their thoughts on the new, Vita coffee on-board, their favorite parts about being aboard a boat all day and, hobbies outside of work.

We all agreed on a few things—the three of them have an amazing job and, even better, the coffee on the Victoria Clipper boats is an amazing perk.

British-Columbia-Legislature-Building-Victoria-Canada

Wrapping up our trip and docking, the long, entertaining day had come to and end—but not without a lot of memories and great experiences.

With a booming coffee culture and an abundance of great shops to stroll into, the city of Victoria, B.C. is an incredible place to take in the Great Northwest—with a hint of European flair—and thanks to the Victoria Clipper, Caffe Vita was able to enjoy a day that won’t soon be forgotten.