Author Archive

Pleased As Punch

September 2, 2010

Oh, how we San Franciscans wait so patiently for warm weather to come upon us. All through July and August we hear of heat-waves happening all around the country and sigh.  We see cute summer dresses in storefront windows that we know if we bought them would just look pretty in our closets and that’s it.  We daydream about tropical drinks and destinations all the while shivering in our boots, scarves and overcoats just waiting for our summer to arrive. Well, it’s been a long-time coming but I do believe that Indian summer in San Francisco is finally here. Let’s stay out past 5:00pm without wearing a sweater, let’s order iced lattes, and let the punch party begin! (more…)

Chef Profile: Michelle Mah

August 25, 2010


Michelle Mah, Executive Chef of Joie de Vivre’s Midi Restaurant was born in Seoul, Korea and lived there until she was three years old. It was then that her family immigrated to the United States and put down roots in Southern California.  A career in the culinary arts wasn’t always in the cards for Michelle. While living in Southern California, she attended the University of California, San Diego, where she majored in Ethnic Studies, minored in General Literature and also had a focus in Photography.

From there, Michelle began working at Café Japengo and because of her love of the kitchen and guidance from chef Amiko Gubbins, she also began attending the College of Food in San Diego where she graduated with an A.O.S. degree.  Michelle then made her move to San Francisco where she attended the California Culinary Academy. Michelle worked in multiple restaurants throughout the city as well as an externship in St. John in the Caribbean before becoming the Executive Chef at Ponzu. It was there; at age 29 that Michelle was awarded the 2006 “Rising Star Chef” award by the San Francisco Chronicle. (more…)

SF Chefs Week (and a POMegranate Party)

August 9, 2010

This week our Northern California chefs are busy prepping for their upcoming participation in SFChefs Restaurant Week; an event highlighting the best chefs of the Bay.  For three days and nights starting on Friday, chefs rule in the middle of Union Square and judging by the feedback from the event debut last year, it will be a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach. With world renowned chefs like Hubert Keller and Tyler Florence participating as well as our own chefs from Café Andree, Bar Adagio, Midi, Henry’s, and Americano on hand, the only thing greater than the amazing culinary offerings are the people involved in bringing such an event together. (more…)

Wild, Cool and Swanky

July 29, 2010


Swank, our hip lounge was just featured in an article stating that it was one of the best “Mad Men” style bars in the United States.  With its cool and understated feel along with a bartender that can quote Sinatra and Billie Holiday; it really is a perfect place to go back in time. Swank is nestled in the Laurel Heights district of San Francisco, far away from the hustle and bustle of the downtown scene.  It’s also one of the few bars in San Francisco with a fireplace! (more…)

Chef Profile: Hugo Campos

July 27, 2010

Hugo Campos is the head chef at our Bar Adagio in downtown San Francisco.  Although his family was originally from El Salvador; Hugo grew up in Southern California.  It was there, well to be more specific…in the kitchen of a diner in Riverside while working as a dishwasher that his love for the culinary world began.  When asked about his particular culinary influences; Hugo is quick to state that he doesn’t look up to the typical celebrity or high-profile chef.  The biggest influences on his culinary career have always been a number of sous chefs that he’s worked with since that job as a dishwasher right out of High School. (more…)

Scratching the Surface

July 23, 2010


Meandering down the Ocean Front Walk of Venice Beach, visions of eccentric storefronts and mystical characters fill your mind.  Your body begins to warm up with the heat of the sun while the ocean breeze provides an alluring sense of calm.  Thoughts of Jim Morrison’s, “Spanish Caravan” infiltrate your thoughts but just then, you start to hear another sound.  This sound isn’t the music of your past or future; but rather your present state of mind. It’s the sound of turn-tables mixing all kinds of beats and it appears to be coming directly from the sky above.  You’re not high yet…but you’re about to be.

Of course we’re talking about our “Scratch Academy” DJ classes we hold at our High Rooftop Lounge in our Hotel Erwin on Venice Beach. (What did you think we were talking about?) High has partnered up with Scratch Academy, which is an organization started by the late Jam Master J with the goal of making the DJ art form accessible to everyone.  Together, they are offering DJ classes on our rooftop lounge for those interested in learning how to mix the ones and twos. (more…)

Vive Le Film!

July 8, 2010


On Bastille Day, July 14th our Hotel Rex will play host to the French-Language Disposable Film Festival. The Disposable Film Festival in a San Francisco based event that was created to highlight the potential and creativity that can come from the medium of disposable film such as cell phone cameras, point and shoot cameras, webcams and so on.  Short film submissions from around the world are selected, then screened and featured in these festivals.

For this particular soiree, the Disposable Film crew has put together their most intriguing French-Language short films for us to enjoy the Joie of Film at our very own Hotel Rex.  The screening begins at 8:00pm but we’ll be serving French-inspired drink specials in our Library Bar starting at 6:00pm. Attendance is free.

Celebrating Our Independence

June 30, 2010

As the three-day weekend celebrating the 4th of July approaches, visions of warm weather, pools, and mouth-watering food and drink are already starting to penetrate the minds of most.  For after all, this is a holiday unique to our United States and as California tends to stand out in the unique department, we wanted to make sure Joie de Vivre has you covered throughout the State.  Below are just a few offerings from our own restaurants that will help bring those dreamy visions of an ideal holiday weekend to fruition.

Venice Beach: High Rooftop Lounge in Venice Beach is hosting an All American High Independence Day BBQ.  It will be an all you can eat extravaganza during the day with roasted corn, potato salad, hot dogs, hamburgers, mac & cheese, house-made chips and dip, watermelon and a S’mores bar! From 11:00 am- 4:00 pm everyone is welcome; after 5:00 p.m. the party is for adults only.  A champagne toast will be included and local fireworks will be on display. 11:00-4:00 $25.00 kids/$50.00 adults 5:00-Close $100.00 adults only

Sacramento: Grange; our restaurant in Sacramento that’s all about seasonal and local offerings is offering an All American BBQ three-course menu for $35.00/person.  The menu will feature a Little Gem Lettuce Salad with Kick’n Ranch Dressing, Slow cooked Riverdog Farm Hog with Carolina BBQ, Corn on the Cob & Potato Salad and for dessert a Summer Berry Cobbler with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.  That sounds like an All American meal not to be missed.

Brentwood: WEST Restaurant in our Hotel Angeleno is offering a red, white and tropical blue sangria priced at $4.00 in honor of the 4th of July. Relax poolside while their grill master cooks up some house-made sausage prepared to order. For a casual and elegant day in the Southern California sun; the best advice we can give is to head WEST.

Oakland: Miss Pearl’s Jam House in Oakland is having a party in conjunction with all the fun-filled events happening in Jack London Square for the 4th.  Come by to enjoy the beautiful weather, a petting zoo and live blues bands and stick around while Chef Peter Jackson BBQ’s up some Andouille Sausage in their outdoor waterfront patio.  Miss Pearl’s is also featuring their famous $5.00 hurricanes where $2.00 of every one sold goes towards the Coast Clean up effort.  To be able to assist our fellow state of Louisiana this 4th of July makes us feel very patriotic indeed.

San Francisco on Two Wheels

June 3, 2010

So, you’re road trippin’ through California and you’ve had an amazing time so far!  The feel of the open road and the wonder that is all that California’s landscape has to offer has made the trip well worth it. Even the 100 degree temperature through the valley didn’t bring you down. But, now that you’re in breezy San Francisco, let’s give that gas pedal and your wallet a break. A vehicle might be the best way to see California, but San Francisco is a city built for two (wheels that is).  Here’s a list of top rides and must-experience pit stops along the way:

  1. A bicycle adventure can easily begin and end at our Hotel Vitale, right along the Embarcadero.  Turning left will lead you to an amazing and flat ride along the water all the way past Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf and even the Golden Gate Bridge if you so desire.  Be sure to stop at Ghirardelli Square for a chocolate sample or double peanut butter hot fudge Sundae.  Then, it’s back to the Vitale and our Americano Restaurant & Bar where you can watch the sun set over the bay while sipping one of our famous cocktails.
  2. By turning right at the Hotel Vitale, you’ll ride towards AT&T Ballpark.  Head around the outside of the ball park, then cross the 2nd Street bridge, make a left, and you’ll hit the cutest little kids ball park ever with views inside big ballpark itself.  Enjoy the sun and the bay and then, of course head back to the Americano for more drinks. (more…)

One More Cup of Coffee

March 3, 2010

San Francisco is a city that has gone through a few booms and busts through its history.  From the infamous good times of the Gold Rush to the overabundant wealth of the dot-com boom; San Franciscans have learned to take these good times as they come and enjoy them while they last.  During these particularly difficult economic times, San Francisco has once again begun another sort of boom, but this one is all about liquid gold which is to say artisanal coffee and tea.

If you meander off the beaten path a bit you will find plenty of high-quality coffee and tea to keep you warm, happy, and wide awake.  Blue Bottle Coffee Co. is located on Mint St. and is well known in San Francisco for its microroasting.  To translate, this just means that they take multiple steps from selecting choice beans (they choose to use certified organic mostly) to utilizing the practice of small batch roasting in order to create an excellent cup of coffee.

Sightglass is a coffee shop located in the South of Market area which is also known as the SoMa neighborhood.  At the moment they are in the process of creating their very own roast-house in a warehouse space.  This does not stop them, however, from offering some wonderful espresso right in the opening driveway of their construction zone.  Going to Sightglass is a great way to see San Francisco’s creative use of space as well as its passion for a great cup of coffee. (more…)