J's Page

For when I need more than 140 characters to finish a thought on marketing, media or message.


Displaced

A herd of deer grazed in my neighbor’s yard this afternoon. I wouldn’t have been so surprised if there had been only one or two, but I counted four, the five, then seven. Maybe eight. It was enchanting and sad all at the same time.

There is a designated historic estate nearby, so I hope they find some refuge there.

 
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Even better at Eventide

We recently celebrated a birthday at Eventide in Arlington, Va., a popular fine dining restaurant in the Clarendon area that is known for its fabulous rooftop experience. It was a bit cold for April, so this time we dined in the main dining room, which has to be one of the best designed in Northern Virginia. And I’m not just talking about decor: Our party of four was comfortably seated at a table that was not a mere 4 inches from another table. The impossibly crowded dining rooms that seem characteristic of Northern Virginia’s better restaurants have long been a complaint of mine, so it’s nice to dine with my chosen company and not complete strangers.

Our meal was good, no complaints — I had the forest mushroom and ricotta tortellini with green lentils and black truffle butter sauce — but I think I’ve more enjoyed our meals in the bar. I can’t tell you why exactly; maybe it’s because my palate is only slightly more sophisticated than a 7-year-old’s. Though perhaps it’s because I enjoy small bites of a lot of flavors, and the lounge menu certainly offers that. The truffle French fries and soft pretzels are our favorites, and the pulled-bison barbecue sliders are must-tastes.

For the more serious diners, the main menu is changed seasonally. Most recently, the features included the aforementioned tortellini, Scottish salmon with fiddlehead ferns and sweet peas, and a beef tenderloin with carmelized fingerling potatoes, asparagus and a sherry brown butter emulsion.

On the Web: eventiderestaurant.com

Where in the World: 3165 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22201-4420

Phone: 703.276.3165

Diners Advisory: Reservations are not accepted for the roof.

Hours (Bar): Tuesday-Saturday: Opens at 5 p.m.
Hours (Main Dining Room): Tuesday-Saturday: 5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m.

Eventide on Yelp

Eventide on foursquare

Eventide on Gowalla

Eventide on Twitter

On Google Maps:
 


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Room to grow in the nation’s capital

20110323-073313.jpgA nice thing about having house guests is they help you rediscover your immediate world, sometimes by mistake. A recent excursion to the National Zoo was a bust, so our guests suggested a trip to the U.S. Botanic Garden, one of my favorite area attractions that I hadn’t thought of mentioning. It was a beautiful day and lots of people had journeyed to the District to make the most of the not-winter weather, so I expected to battle crowds similar to those we had encountered trying to get to the zoo. As it happened, everyone was either at the zoo — or on the National Mall — so lucky us.

The garden, though filled with people, wasn’t packed, and we enjoyed a leisurely visit that proved far more enjoyable than an afternoon spent crowded around a smelly cage hoping for a glimpse of a bear that sleeps 20 hours a day. No, the specimens we saw that Saturday were very much alive and thriving, and the garden’s many exhibits provided something for everyone. For me, the orchids were the stars of the show, far more striking than my phone’s camera shots can show here.

If you’re in Washington and find yourself with a free afternoon to spend far from the maddening crowds, try enjoying a quiet bit of Eden at the U.S. Botanic Garden.

20110323-073546.jpgWhere in the world: 100 Maryland Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20001

On Google Maps: Here

Where on the Web: USBG.gov

Admission: Free

Phone: 202.225.8333

Conservatory hours: 10 a.m – 5 p.m.,
including weekends and holidays
National Garden hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Bartholdi Park hours: Dawn to dusk,
including weekends and holidays

Visitor’s advisory: Eat before you go or pack a lunch. There are no dining options at the gardens.

On Yelp: Here

On Gowalla: Here

On foursquare: Here

 


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Coyote Grille & Cantina: Got chips?

This will be the first post I do that has negative comments about the restaurant I’m going to review. After a couple of not-so-great visits, I had been postponing a review of Coyote Grille and Cantina until I could figure out if I had anything good to say about it, and if I did, what was it?

It’s not as if I don’t like this place. I do. I would go so far as to say that we patronize this place a lot. And in view of this, I believe that as a regular customer who has spent her hard-earned discretionary income at an establishment, I’m allowed to write honestly about a business that hasn’t fully met my expectations as a consumer.

So I’ll start with the bad news.

Service has been inconsistent over the past year: One server seemed to completely forget us, bringing our food late and forgetting our drinks — all of which led to us missing a movie. Another time we arrived well before closing and were told the kitchen was closed. (If you’re closed, lock the door.) On a happier note, during a more recent visit, we received excellent service from a young woman who seemed to be waiting on ALL the tables. She made great customer service look effortless, and I could tell the diners appreciated her hard work.

Scrolling through the reviews on Yelp, I see I’m not alone in some of my observations. Like several reviewers, I believe the drinks are terrific. I highly recommend the Lime and the Coconut margarita or the Blue Moon margarita. One reviewer suggested it as a drinks-and-apps place, and I’ll agree with that. As far as the food goes, I don’t find their Tex-Mex to be all that innovative, but it is nice and they do have some affordable lunch deals. If you take advantage of those popular lunch deals, be ready to get up close and personal with the other patrons. Like many Northern Virginia restaurants, the interior is a bit cramped, and it’s baffling to me why large groups (8+ parties) seem to think such a small restaurant would be a great gathering spot. The outdoor patio is better for bigger parties, but in an effort to keep it open year round, they’ve installed heat lamps that can roast you.

As I said, I do like this place, so we’ll return to Coyote Grille again and again. I just hope at some point there’s an internal push for improved customer service.

Where: 10266 Main Street
Fairfax, VA 22030

Phone: 703.591.0060

Hours: 11 a.m.(Close not listed)
Sunday brunch: 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

On Google Maps:

 

 

On Yelp: Here

On Gowalla: Here

On foursquare: Here


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On the road with @foursquare

Although I’m opposed to texting and driving, I must confess that I will check in on foursquare when I’m at a stoplight. It’s not the best habit I’ve ever had, but I’ve had worse. As a result of these check-ins, I’m the mayor of at least three intersections in the D.C. metro area.

Watch me soar! Today, Tysons Corner! Tomorrow, the world!

I’m just kidding. I’m not destined to take over anything other than my 3-foot-by-3-foot faux cubicle at work. Perhaps this is why I play for mayorships on foursquare: I need a goal to boost my sense of self because I’m not finding the challenge anywhere else. So I’ll play foursquare when I’m stuck in traffic on the road to nowhere, and sometimes I see nearby deals that are nearly as odd as the check-ins themselves.

Most recently when I checked into “Behind this slow-ass Toyota,” I saw a nearby deal at The Metropolitan at Lorton Station. I had thought this was a restaurant, but upon further investigation — conducted in front of a computer, not in traffic — I found out it’s an apartment complex — one of a chain, in fact. Foursquare players who check in and leave a “gracious tip” can earn extra entries in a monthly gift-card giveaway. A few more searches and scrolls told me this special is available at several Kettler properties in the area, including the Fields at Merrifield, which I found during another poorly timed stoplight. This is a special obviously designed for residents who know what the properties are, not a particularly wide audience.

Another recent deal I spotted while stuck in traffic: 5% discount with the first check-in at Merrifield Oriental Rug on Dorr Avenue. Although I firmly believe small-business owners should avail themselves of all of social media’s marketing opportunities, I have to wonder whether foursquare would reach this store’s demographic. Maybe. I’ll hope so.

I’m also curious as to how many responses Inova Urgent Care Center in Vienna has received for its special. They’re offering a free “blood pressure tracker wallet card” for first check-ins. This is another special targeted to a very specific group — a much older group than those who would be psyched by the free music Old Navy is offering for check-ins.

In non-traffic-related-check-in news, a recent visit to Tysons Corner Center showed no new deals other than those I reported last time. The store managers there need to step-up their location-based marketing efforts. Wired-in kids with lots of Mom & Dad’s discretionary income run that mall and they’re checking in. If I were running a shop there, my store’s name would be all over foursquare. It’s easy, it’s free and you can’t afford not to do it.

ABOUT THIS SERIES: As a marketing student interested in social media’s role in promotion, I record specials that I see when I check in on foursquare. For me, it’s fun to see how businesses are using it to court customers, which stores are catching on — and which ones aren’t. This project is mostly to satisfy my intellectual curiosity, so stoppers-by might be bored. Googlers, if you’re looking for information about MAC’s Wonder Woman cosmetic line and foursquare offer, here’s the post.