Editor's note: When he isn't tending to business at the racetrack, Milwaukee Mile Chairman Craig Stoehr is an avid traveler who regularly visits exotic lands and major cities across the globe. He has agreed to share his adventures with OnMilwaukee.com readers. In this installment, he visits San Francisco.
SAN FRANCISCO -- After several hectic weeks at The Milwaukee Mile for our IndyCar and NASCAR weekends, I took a quick trip to San Francisco for some Blue Marlin meetings that were a follow-up to last month's trip to Los Angeles, when I visited my friend, Waukesha's Brad Beyer, who subsequently saw his TV show, "Jerhico," renewed for another eight episodes after an outpouring of fan support. Thanks to all the OnMilwaukee.com readers who played a role in getting "Jericho" back on the air!
I arrived in San Francisco on a Thursday afternoon via a Midwest Airlines flight and, as I had the afternoon free, headed for Fisherman's Wharf. Whenever I have time to kill in San Francisco, I love to head down to the Wharf to walk around, eat some of the fresh seafood at one of the many restaurants and check out the sea lions that live at Pier 39.
Before my Thursday evening dinner with Blue Marlin CEO Erik Stuebe, I checked in at my favorite hotel in San Francisco, the Hotel Vitale, located on the Embarcadero across from the Ferry Building. Part of the San Francisco-based Joie de Vivre hospitality group, the Hotel Vitale features a sleek design, an ‘in' restaurant and outdoor bar that is absolutely packed every night of the week, and -- uncommon for a design-oriented hotel -- impeccable service (a prior trip saw me upgraded to the penthouse suite with spectacular views of the city). Every time I've stayed there, I've received a phone call from the front desk five minutes after my arrival just checking to make sure the room is to my satisfaction, and the staff is always eager to please.
Erik and I went to the Slanted Door for dinner, my favorite restaurant in San Francisco and one of the city's best and trendiest spots. Set in the Ferry Building on San Francisco Bay (across the Embarcadero from the hotel), it sports an industrial design and one of the most varied Asian-influenced menus around. The food is served in large portions suitable for sharing, and everything on the menu is unbelievable (my favorite is the sliced Meyer Ranch rib-eye). Really, when is Milwaukee going to get an Asian-influenced restaurant along the lines of the Slanted Door, Asia de Cuba or China Grill? Omar Shaikh, my friend from Carnevor, are you reading this?
After dinner, we headed to the Redwood Room at the Clift Hotel, one of San Francisco's legendary hotels now owned by Morgan's Hotel Group, founded by hip hotelier (and Studio 54 original owner) Ian Schrager. The hotel was renovated several years ago and is the epitome of a design-oriented hotel, with a bar off the lobby that is one of San Francisco's top drinking spots.
Friday morning, I got in a walk along the Embarcadero down to AT&T Park (home of the San Francisco Giants) and back to the Ferry Building, and then ducked into the public market there for the obligatory morning coffee. The public market here is great, and a visit is a must if you're in town -- www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com. Noon brought a business meeting at Blue Marlin's offices, located in the rapidly developing Portrero Hill area, followed by lunch at Pazzo in the nearby San Francisco Design Center.
We had dinner that evening at Kokkari, a popular Greek restaurant downtown in the Financial District. I've been there several times, and the place is always bustling, while the food is incredibly authentic. We shared grilled octopus, grilled calamari, stewed goat, halibut and lamb chops, topped off by shots of ouzo. We then stopped in at The Bubble Lounge, a Champagne lounge/bar on Montgomery Street near North Beach, the Financial District and Union Square, where we capped off the night - and the trip - with Champagne mixed with Chambord.
Given the timing, this San Francisco excursion was a fabulous warmup for Summerfest, some time on Okauchee Lake and my trip to London, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine, capped off by a weekend at the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Germany, which you can read about in the OnMilwaukee.com blogs section.