For Valentine's Day, Ian went the experiential gift route. So last Saturday, we packed our bags and checked in at The W Hotel downtown — sleek, modern, and beautiful.
We signed up for the points program (Ian sometimes travels for work), chatted with Noah while he assembled our packet and keys, then headed up to the 12th floor. The elevator mat said "good afternoon." Yes, they change it three times a day.
We explored the amenities, guessed prices of items in the snack bar, and settled in for some afternoon tv viewing on the signature W pillowtop bed before our dinner date. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door.
A hotel employee greeted Ian with a plate of chocolate covered strawberries and a note from Noah welcoming us to the Starwood Preferred Guest program (lesson — when signing up for hotel rewards programs, do it at the higher tiered one).
Five minutes later, we heard another knock. This time, we received a plate of fruit with no explanation. Did we sign up for some package without realizing it?
Five more minutes brought yet another knock. "Excuse me, can I check your minibar?"
A couple hours later, we got ready for dinner and headed to Lumiere in Newton, courtesy of a Groupon + Ian's Christmas present gift certificate from Dane & Micki. A cozy French fusion restaurant, the award-winning chef serves dishes created with local and sustainable ingredients.
We ordered the chef's tasting menu, supplemented with an additional first and main course. An amuse bouche of a Scrabble-sized bit of grilled cheese started the evening. And I died.
Our taste buds danced through the menu — sea bass carpaccio, scallops cooked to perfection and served over a carrot purée with a hint of Asian kick, braised duck ragoût over turnips with a soy-ginger jus, pork pavé that took Ian back to his childhood (imagine Anton Ego's experience in Ratatouille), hanger steak drenched in a sweet but subtle braised beef marmalade, a cheese and marmalade paired with wine that made it sing, and a humble apple crumble, baked to perfection, that turned it's wine pairing to caramel. And the check comes with perfect chocolate chip cookies.
We slept in the next morning, enjoying a late brunch in Beacon Hill as we discussed our life in Boston. We wandered through the Common before heading to Copley to shop for Ian's big switch to old-fashioned shaving. More on that in another post. We picked up a RedBox movie (cheaper than renting via the hotel) before heading back to the W and dinner.
Two blocks away from the W is The Dumpling Cafe, a new restaurant in Chinatown. The Gourmet Dumpling, while tasty, didn't have dumplings that could substitute for the juicy pork dumplings we discovered at Din Tai Fung in Singapore and miss so desperately. So when we read about The Dumpling Cafe, we had to sample. It's much closer to our Singapore experience. If only they had kaya jala and bananas tempura, I might never leave Boston.
The next morning we slept in, packed up our meager belongings and all the complimentary travel-sized Bliss Spa bath amenities, walked out the door, passed three limos, and hopped on the T home. I'm still amazed at how relaxing vacation can be when you take away the travel part.
Thanks Ian, for the perfect Valentine's gift!