December 12, 2018

San Francisco: Axiom Hotel


Axiom Hotel  28 Cyril Magnin St., 3 blks. from Union Square, (415) 392-9466.  152 rooms; 6 stories.  Fitness room; communal game area.  Restaurant; room service.  Valet parking $59-$64/night.  Pets ok. 

exterior of Axiom Hotel in San Francisco, California
exterior of Axiom Hotel in San Francisco, California
Built in 1908 in the Beaux-Arts style of architecture that was popular when San Francisco was being rebuilt after the 1906 earthquake, this newly remodeled boutique hotel is a mix of artsy and contemporary minimalist (think exposed-pipe ceilings), yet retains its vintage design elements.  High ceilings are found throughout, and it features a beautiful original staircase with iron banisters but also has two modern elevators.  And though the official front door on Cyril Magnin Street is where guests unload their cars, the alternative Powell Street entrance is one of San Francisco’s best--right smack in front of the cable car turnaround.  The reception lounge holds a small library stocked with San Francisco- and California-related books, and Astro the hotel’s pet robot (he delivers items to guest rooms using a storage space in his head) rests here when not working and accommodates selfie requests. 

lobby of Axiom Hotel with delivery robot in San Francisco, California
lobby of Axiom Hotel with delivery robot in San Francisco, California

Guests can refill their personal water bottles at a Brita Hydration Station located on each floor, and quiet, motion-activated central heat and air conditioning turn on and off automatically as guests enter or leave the room.  Plumbing is new, and double-paned windows keep street noise way down.  Additionally, the hotel is techie-friendly with everything from alarm clocks with iPhone 6 charger attachment, to Smart TVs that you order room service though, to grey hoodie sweatshirt robes. 

guest room bed at Axiom Hotel with delivery robot in San Francisco, California
guest room bed at Axiom Hotel with delivery robot in San Francisco, California


Turn Cafe is a super casual lobby restaurant and bar.  Happy hour specials include delicious Cajun kale chips and carne asada tacos, both of which pair well with the photogenic rye “Axiom” house cocktail that is laden beautifully across the top with four big red, juicy maraschino cherries (I adored this cocktail).   I plan to return to try the breakfast Acai Bowl and French toast brioche.  The eclectic menu for the rest of the day has something for everyone and includes several burgers, tacos, and pastas. 

interior of Turn Cafe at Axiom Hotel with delivery robot in San Francisco, California
interior of Turn Cafe at Axiom Hotel with delivery robot in San Francisco, California


carne asada tacos at Turn Cafe at Axiom Hotel with delivery robot in San Francisco, California
carne asada tacos at Turn Cafe at Axiom Hotel with delivery robot in San Francisco, California


cherry-heavy Axiom cocktail at Turn Cafe at Axiom Hotel with delivery robot in San Francisco, California
cherry-heavy Axiom cocktail at Turn Cafe at Axiom Hotel with delivery robot in San Francisco, California




December 4, 2018

Berkeley: The Bear’s Lair Tavern


80 North

The Bear’s Lair Tavern  2465 Bancroft Way/Telegraph Ave., in Eshleman Student Union, (510) 664-4191.  L-D M-Sat.

interior of The Bear’s Lair Tavern in Berkeley, California
interior of The Bear’s Lair Tavern in Berkeley, California

The BLT isn’t your grandpa’s Bear’s Lair.  With a new name and a new menu, the Lair has also opened up into the light.  No longer the dingy downstairs retreat of yesteryear--a real lair--the Lair today has moved away from the original Student Union and is now a first-floor, table-and-chairs kind of place with an abundance of light provided by walls of windows, one of which looks out to Lower Sproul Plaza and has a view of the Campanile.  However this Lair does make a nod to the good old days with its blessedly familiar upbeat sound track--think “Good Vibrations” and Sugar Pie, Honey Bun.”  The bar dispenses an assortment of local brews and a variety of cocktails.  Whatever you do, don’t miss the refreshing vodka-powered Butterfly Soda made with exotic butterfly pea blossoms from Thailand.  Through a biochemical reaction, the drink turns from blue to lavender right before your eyes as it is prepared.



Now inching away from typical student fare towards gourmet gastropub cuisine, the menu offers sambal chili-honey chicken wings and a signature fried chicken sandwich.  My dining partner and I shared a simple salmon filet atop quinoa topped again with a dab of chimichurri sauce for a little kick (I would have liked a lot more of that tasty sauce),

salmon with quinoa at The Bear’s Lair Tavern in Berkeley, California
salmon with quinoa at The Bear’s Lair Tavern in Berkeley, California

and a Cobb Salad consisting of romaine lettuce topped with the expected ingredients--avocado, hard-boiled egg, bacon, and bits of that delicious fried chicken.

Cobb Salad at The Bear’s Lair Tavern in Berkeley, California
Cobb Salad at The Bear’s Lair Tavern in Berkeley, California

Of course, this menu must have a burger and so it offers several--a classic patty on a toasted brioche bun, as well as the highly-publicized Impossible Burger.  Pizzas are also an option.  Ordering at the counter helps keep costs down and makes service faster.  The bar offers prime TV seating, but communal tables and traditional private tables are also available.  In good weather, a large beer garden complete with fire pits provides plenty more seating outside.


More things to do in Berkeley. 
 
Way more thing to do in Berkeley.  
 

More ideas for exploring Northern California.
 

images and video ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers