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Weekend in California with the kids

Weekend in California with the kids

via United, Virgin & American First Class

Mrs. SFO and I had been hoping in vain for a JetSmarter empty leg to California for this weekend.  So we are slumming fly commercial today, off to SFO today and LA tomorrow to celebrate our anniversary and visit both sets of California kids.   And a weekend First Class sampler of United, Virgin America and American.  

Denver-San Francisco
United 268
May 15, 2015
First Class
Seats 6AB

Flying United means one sure thing... gate lice.  

So when in Rome...

One good about United is that, unlike American, they almost always boarding 757 thru 2L.  The result is a quiet and pleasant cabin.  

And plenty of time for open bar PDB service.

Another great DEN-based crew and excellent service throughout. 

Choice of chicken salad or "Angus cheeseburger" on a pretzel roll with with potato salad. A little institutional but still pretty tasty with some salt and all the fixings after scraping the cheese off the dish.

With an on time arrival, we were at one of our favorite boutique hotels, The Campton Place by 12:30PM.  The hotel is perfectly located on Stockton Street, less than a block from Union Square. 

After we checked in, we headed downstairs for lunch at the elegant and fabulous Campton Place restaurant.  As a Taj hotel, the restaurant has Indian themed dishes but with a French influence.

Today's lunch menu...


Today's amuse-bouche.

We sampled the new Naan Bar, today Naan with Spiced Kale Composition, Garlic Yoghurt and Chaat Masala.   


Spicy Tuna Tartare with Ginger, Radish, Avocado Mousse and Roomali Crisp.  Perfect!

String Hoppers, Prawns, Seasonal Vegetables and Cashew Nut broth.  Wonderful.

Maine Lobster, Puffed Black Rice, Cauliflower and Coconut Curry.  Wow.


After lunch, we headed out to Union Square and surrounding area including Maiden Lane.

For our anniverary dinner, we're back at one of our old San Francisco haunts and one of our favourite restaurants in the world.  We never have a reservation and just walk in, always going for the best seats in the house, the first come first served chef's counter.  Amazing food and an entertainment show.  And the usual outstanding menu.

Tonight's amuse-bouche.

Mrs. SFO started with soft shell crab, the first night of the season.

While I had the delicious Grilled Spanish Octopus & Crisp Monterey Calamari, Grilled Persian Cucumbers & Celery 'Escabeche', warm new Amarosa Potatoes & aioli.

For the main, Mrs. SFO had the signature Berkshire Kurobota Prime Pork Chop, Wood Oven Roasted.  Braised Gignande Beans, Celery Root, Cotecchino & Clamshell Mushrooms, Porcini & spring Onion Beurre Fondu, Roasted Hen of the Wood Mushrooms with Agresto Condimento, Roasted Pork Jus.

While I had the wonderful Ora King Salmon, Grilled & Wood Oven Roasted, Double Smoked Bacon, King Trumpets & Celery Root, King Arthur Leek Soubise & Celery Leaf, Crisp Spigarello & Olio Verde Limone.

And dessert, Mrs. SFO had the exceptional Dark Chocolate Tart, English Butter Toffee, Almond Caramel, Cocoa Nib Ice Cream with Chocolate Crumble.

While I finished with the Butterscotch Pudding, Dark Chocolate Bavarian Cream, Pecan Shortbread, Wild Pecan Granola, Vanilla Chantilly.

Once again, an amazing experience.  

After a light breakfast in the Campton Place restaurant, I headed up Post Street to the Union Square Avis office.  

And then out to see one of our SF son, DIL and grandkids.  After lunch at another old favorite, Balboa Café and a visit to their new Twin Peaks home, we headed for SFO and The Rental Car Center. 

And to Terminal 2 and Virgin America check-in.

PreCheck worked for both of us and a few minutes later we were in the attractive SFO Admirals Club. 

And then to Gate 54B.

San Francisco-Los Angeles
Virgin America 932
4:30P-5:55P (sked)
4:30P-5:35P (actual)
May 16, 2015

Boarding had already commenced so we joined the queue in the jet bridge.

But the same attractive cabin with mood lighting.

Great domestic First seats although the control unit in the armrest is still annoying as ever.

And pre-departure snacks which oddly enough was the only snack offering of the entire flight. 

Once in the air, prompt beverage service but then the FA disappeared to the Main Cabin for much of the rest of the flight.

Good thing I selected this from the pre-departure basket.

After take-off, played with the IFE system including Dish TV channels.

We arrived 20 minutes early and a few minutes later boarded an empty Avis bus for the 10 minute ride to the Avis lot.

WIth relatively light Saturday afternoon traffic on the 405, we were at the Four Seasons Woodland Hills less than an hour later.

Just after 8PM, we headed out for the short drive down to Malibu and dinner with friends at Nobu.  Some pics from the Nobu wesbite...

We met the LA kids next morning and spent a great morning and afternoon including the Four Seasons Champagne Brunch.


At around 3PM, we headed back to LAX and pulled into the Avis lot at 4PM.  We were at the Terminal 4 Gate bus gate 44 by 4:30P. 

For the pathetic bus ride to the bus terminal.

We spend 40 minutes in the Bus terminal Admirals Club.

And finally to Gate 44H to board.

Los Angeles-Denver
American 5984 operated by Compass Airlines
May 17, 2015

Mercifully, those disgusting Mesa CR9s and their plastic cups have been eliminated from 2 of the 5 daily LAX-DEN flights. Brand new E75 tonight with an excellent LAX-based crew. Open bar PDBs and attentive service throughout the flight. 

Although no nut service as we went from cocktails directly to dinner service.  

For dinner, a choice of "rosemary chicken" or "BBQ beef, shrimp and chicken" Huh? Uncertain as to what to expect anymore, we decided to go with one of each. Chicken was a skimpy meal of uninspiring but nonetheless real chicken with tasteless couscous. But the romaine was fresh and crisp. Didn't test the scary looking hermetically sealed roll.

But the strangest one was the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink BBQ beef, shrimp and chicken. Jeez, was catering cleaning out the pantry today? Beef, shrimp, chicken, asparagus, tomatoes, lettuce, cole slaw and corn, side of beans, potato chips, caramel cheesecake and a blueberry breakfast cake. Cole slaw/corn mix and caramel cheesecake were quite good. The BBQ sauce masked a lot of sins but we still gave up on the rest after a few bites.

And the dessert daily double for Mrs. SFO. 

On time arrival back in Denver and we were home just before 10PM.  A great weekend visiting the kids and sampling airlines.  Sorry AA, but you finished dead last this weekend, with United the winner this time.