Category Archive: Recommendations

Restaurant Review: Estiatorio Volos, Toronto

Estiatorio Volos Address:  133 Richmond Street West, Toronto, Ontario MJ Rating:  Features:  Volos is centered around the concept of Philoxenia, a Greek work meaning hospitable, a concept that is woven into the tapestry of the restaurant’s food, service, and ambiance. It takes traditional Greek cooking styles and infuses them with a modern twist with local Canadian ingredients creating upscale dining that still feels like you’re in a friend’s home. Assuming that friend is a Greek who knows how to cook well. Price Range:  Moderate to high. This is upscale, downtown dining, and the prices reflect the location. You know what they say – location, location, location! Appetizers start at $9 and entrees at $19. Dinner for two, with a shared appetizer, main, and a glass of wine (or cocktail), will set you back $100 or more. Personal Notes: The atmosphere at […]

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Product Review: Indigo Chambray Messenger Bag from Brenthaven

The Collins Collection from Brenthaven Product:  Indigo Chambray Messenger Bag from Brenthaven Rating:  Features:  The Classic Collins collection gets a new edge with the Indigo Chambray color option featuring pinstriped lining and leather touch points. The messenger bag has been designed to hold laptops up to 15.4 inches and has a padded, custom fit tablet pocket. Your gear is kept safe with Brenthaven’s signature High Density Foam protection system. What I thought:  Brenthaven is headquartered here in my home town, Seattle, and I love doing business locally. They offer value-priced premium bags designed to fit the needs of modern technology users. This messenger bag was perfect to give to a guy in my life who would put it through its paces to see how it performs. Used every day for several weeks, stuffed full of files and gadgets, this bag lived […]

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Restaurant Review: Marben, Toronto

Marben Address:  488 Wellington Street West, Toronto MJ Rating:  (2 out of 3 hearts) Features:  When my pal Andrew said we’d be sampling some contemporary Canadian cuisine, I had no idea what to expect. Canadian cuisine — what is it? Marben was about to school my palate. The exterior of Marben sports an industrial brick look, but inside were exposed beams and posts, giving it a homey lodge ambiance. We grabbed a booth across from the bar just inside the door, but if you’d like a more interactive dining experience, ask for a seat at the counter looking at the kitchen. Price Range:  Moderate. Starters range from $5 (bread and hummus) to $18 for a charcuterie board. Entrees range from $17 (grilled octopus salad) to $38 for a beef rib eye. Wines by the glass are $10-12 (bottles start at $45), a diverse beer […]

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Hotel Review: Yokohama Royal Park Hotel

Yokohama Royal Park Hotel Address:  2-2-1-3 Minatomirai, Nishi-Ku, Yokohama, Japan Value Luxury Rating:  Features:  The Yokohama Royal Park Hotel is situated in the Minato Mirai 21 area, a cosmopolitan development area of Yokohama which combines a variety if sights and attractions, including an amusement park and the Cosmo 21 Ferris Wheel, shopping, over 200 restaurants, museums, theaters and entertainment venues, and more. The lobby and other public areas of the hotel are lovely – inviting, filled with beautiful floral displays, and offering seating and gathering areas that are well placed and don’t clutter things up. I’d call it an elegant Zen vibe, with a nice dash of upscale luxury. Hotel features and amenities include:  fitness center, indoor pool, 9 restaurants, spa, business center, tea ceremony room, gift shop, and concierge service. Located on floors 52-67 of the building, every one of the Royal […]

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Product Review: STM Impulse Laptop Backpack

STM Impulse Laptop Backpack Product:  STM Impulse Medium Laptop Backpack MJ Rating:   Features: Designed to fit most 15-inch laptops, this STM bag has a main compartment to protect your laptop and tablet and a secondary pocket for files, paperwork or books. And external front pocket contains organization pockets for keys, wallet, pens, etc. There are small external pockets on each side, perfect for an umbrella, water bottle, or, as I used it, to keep my point and shoot camera easily available. At the front bottom of the backpack is a lower storage pocket; I kept my charging cables, a/c adapter, and power converters. On my trip to Asia, I used that compartment for my bag of 3-1-1 liquids. There’s a pass-through strap so you can thread it over the handle of you roller luggage and stack it on top […]

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Product Review: Nuu-Muu for Travel Comfort

Nuu-Muu Product:  Nuu-Muu exercise-and-everything-else dress MJ Rating:   (of three) Features:   The Nuu-Muu is an easy care multi-purpose garment than can be worn for a variety of purposes. There are basically two styles – one with pockets, one without. What I thought:  I’m always looking for clothing choices that are easy to pack, yet stylish enough to do double (or triple) duty while on the road. After all, there’s a fine line between practical comfort and looking frumpy. Need I explain which one is the better option?! I was interested in the Nuu-Muu exercise-and-everything-else dress because it seem designed to flatter real women’s bodies – you know, with all those little imperfections – and it looked perfect for exercise, travel, and as a beach cover up. The Nuu-Muu can be worn over bike shorts, running tights, yoga pants, swimsuits, jeans, leggings, pretty much […]

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Northern Ireland: Malmaison Belfast Hotel

Malmaison Belfast Address: 34-38 Victoria Street, Belfast, Northern Ireland Rating:   Features:  Located in two old seed warehouses, the Malmaison Belfast has retained some of the original features, including iron pillars, beams, and carved stone gargoyles. The boutique hotel has 64 luxury rooms and two suites. The rooms feature mood lighting, flat screen plasma televisions, upscale toiletries in generous sizes (you’re encouraged to take them with you), and FREE wifi. Giving a hat tip to Belfast’s maritime connection, the Malmaison Belfast features subtle shipbuilding décor features in its common areas. The hotel has a restaurant (Brasserie) and bar (MALBAR) on site. Price Range:  Typical boutiques rates here, and with the dollar to pound exchange rate, it can add up fast. The best price we found was by taking advantage of one of their several promotional packages, resulting in a pre-paid […]

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Patria: Spanish Food in Toronto

Patria Address:  480 King Street West, Toronto, Ontario Rating:   (2 out of 3 hearts) Features: Patria makes use of the open concept, with high ceilings, full-sized cross-stitch art on the walls, and and exposed beams. There is a narrow outdoor patio, great for warm weather and, with the addition of some heat lamps, could easily extend into the fall and winter season. The venue is sexy in a bright and bold way, rather than dark and intimate, and it had me longing for lingering warm weather meals on the Costa Brava. Price Range: Moderate to high. The beauty of tapas is that you can try so many different things. But that also means your bill can add up pretty fast. Consider making a mean of a meat and cheese platter with a glass of sangria if you’re looking for a value […]

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