Sunday, April 28, 2013

Things I hate

Well, let's be honest. There are way more than three things, but this is my kind of humor.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Dinner at San Francisco's Coqueta: A Review with Morals

This past Saturday, I decided to visit Michael Chiarello's new restaurant Coqueta. A friend was visiting from NYC, so the bf and I thought this new place would be fun. My mistake.

Moral #1: Stick with what you know.

We arrived for our reservations and were promptly...asked to wait 30 minutes in the bar area. Oh, I see how it is. It's more like a doctor's office than a restaurant. This should be fun.

Moral #2: Never go to a restaurant in its first few weeks.

Getting seated: We had to ask a couple times if the restaurant was ready for us. In the end, they tried to seat us at the bar (you know, with a reservation). Luckily, we noticed a booth in the corner of the restaurant they seemed to be saving for a party of four. "I think you need to seat us over there. We've been waiting 30 minutes." They obliged.

Moral #3: Nobody puts Baby in the corner unless she really, really wants to sit there and judge people.

The clientele: Here's what I wasn't expecting (although, hindsight being 20/20, it makes perfect sense). The people were basically a mashup of Napa meets the Marina meets Las Vegas. And I mean that in the worst way possible. The interior had a similar "we're trying too hard" feel. It's really hard to explain.

Moral #4: What happens in Napa should stay in Napa.

The food: I'll give credit where it's due. Much of the food we tried (it's tapas, so of course we ordered a ton) was pretty good. My favorite dish is pictured above: the savory clams (delicious). We also had the baby beets (good, hard to mess up, though), roasted Padron peppers (good, nothing new), calamari and grilled octopus (the octopus was superior), "tattas" bravas (easily the most disappointing thing on the menu--they're tater tots and not good ones--avoid at all cost), grilled Iberico Secreto (pictured below and quite good), and the arroz con vieira with scallops (which was nice, very good scallops).

Moral #5: Never mess with a classic tapa. Patatas are not tattas.

The service: Now this is something you may say I shouldn't directly blame the restaurant for, but our server was lacking in personality. And I blame the restaurant. SF is full of servers. If I were opening a multi-million dollar restaurant on San Francisco's Embarcadero I would probably try to find top-notch staff, not Blandy McBlanderson. In contrast, though, the woman who introduced herself as the wine director was lovely and pretty much rescued my experience. Her recommendations were spot on and I loved the wine (alas, I can't remember what it was).

Moral #6: Always lead with wine.

Would I recommend Coqueta? Not yet. They need time to refine and get comfortable. And I need to see how the mix of diners turns out. If it remains too touristy-Vegasy-post-Giants-gamey, then I'm going to say skip it. 


Saturday, April 20, 2013

San Francisco weather report: Too hot!

I don't have the right clothes for this.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Motivation at work: Dan Ariely and 7 great studies on what works -- Weekend HR reading

If you have time this weekend and want to watch a 20-minute video on how we are motivated at and by work, I would encourage you to take a look at Dan Ariely’s TED talk. He’s engaging, interesting, and I believe what he says is very important to the work of managers and leaders:

If you, like me, work in a creative environment, we are already positioned to realize the impact of the kind of knowledge-economy motivation that Ariely discusses in his talk (you can read about it at the link, too, if you don’t have 20 minutes). I see and hear my co-workers discussing the meaning of our work on many, many fronts, and we see the fruits of our labors every time a great new product is published or produced. These studies simply drive home the overwhelming value of motivation on the performance of our employees. It’s easy to overlook or underestimate this impact, but we can demonstrably affect the perceptions of how our teams’ work is valued, how meaningful it is, and even how well we all do our jobs. All it takes is a conscious, ongoing conversation about performance (yes, I’m an HR person who supports frequent performance discussions throughout the year vs. one big annual review--and NO ratings or scores or other nonsense).

For me, this quote drives home many of the key points Ariely makes in his talk: “Ignoring the performance of people is almost as bad as shredding their effort before their eyes,” Ariely says. “The good news is that adding motivation doesn’t seem to be so difficult. The bad news is that eliminating motivation seems to be incredibly easy, and if we don’t think about it carefully, we might overdo it.” [emphasis mine]

Motivation isn’t difficult, and we must be mindful of its absence. In fact, Ariely’s quote reminds me of a great William Carlos Williams quote: “It is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.” I encourage each of you to reach out to the members of your teams and stoke that motivational fire in the very near future.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Parkour at Cliff House in San Francisco, Or Why I Don't Exercise

I'm pretty sure I could do parkour if I weren't so busy working, surfing the net, reading bad novels (I'm looking at you, Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore), and drinking my way through the vineyards of the world. In lieu of actually engaging in any beneficial physical activity, I give you this: a video I found on the internet.

Flow from Brian G Cheung on Vimeo.