I spent the week on the road. Things began with a 5:30am cab to National Airport (DCA) and progressed from there. The first leg of my journey was to Springfield, MO via Chicago O’Hare on United. The first leg was mainline with a connection to United Express operated by Skywest. I had a seat in United’s Economy Plus section so legroom was adequate, and service was fine. I’m sure there were some elite travelers who were a little ticked on this first leg as the normally mainline service was operated by a Ted airplane, so there was no first class section. The connection was aboard a 50 seat regional jet. This flight was crowded and I was seated on the bulkhead next to a gentlemen who felt all the armrests belonged to him. Those planes are small enough without being seated beside those who lack courtesy, but I digress. Otherwise, the flight was fine which is the norm for any regional jet operation flown by Skywest in my experience.
The hotel for Springfield was a Hampton Inn located on Ingram Mill Road. It was standard Hampton Inn, basic amenities, hot breakfast included and free wireless internet. All the basics, and the stay was fine. I checked in early and the lady at the front desk went out of her way to find a room that was ready.
I was suffering from a head cold during the first half of the trip so I’d expected to dine on a first class meal of of peanut butter and crackers. This required a drive to the store, but I never made it there. As I was passing through downtown Springfield, I came across an interesting looking restaurant, Flame Steakhouse and Wine Bar. Well, I figured anything with wine bar and steak in the name had to be ok, so what the heck, I parked in went in. I found a very nice restaurant with a posh atmosphere, attentive service, friendly people and best of all, a great steak! I had the 12 oz ribeye accompanied by a Mark West Pinot Noir for those of you keeping score. I ordered medium rare, and it was perfectly prepared. So give Flame a try should you pass through Springfield sometime.
Mid week took me to Tulsa in my one-way rental car. The hotel for this part of the trip was the Marriott Southern Hills in South Tulsa. I’d read some less than flattering reviews of the hotel on FlyerTalk, but was pleasantly surprised with the stay. As a Marriott Rewards Gold Member, I was upgraded to the Concierge Level, and was able to check-in at 11am. The room was standard Marriott, including the new Marriott bed so all was well. The concierge lounge on the 11th floor was great with a very nice staff and not a bad spread of food compared to some I’ve visited.
While the purpose of my visit was business, having lived in Tulsa for a number of years, I took the opportunity to see some old friends. Dining at In the Raw Sushi at Brookside (they’ve added a second location known as “on the hill”) which I previously posted about, and on my final night in Tulsa, a relatively new restaurant, Stonehorse Cafe. The restaurant is located in the Utica Square shopping area, and I would certainly recommend it if you are in Tulsa. We dined on appetizers so I can’t speak to the entrees, but my friends are frequent diners and really bragged on the food. The service was friendly, and the food I did have was good. Utica Square also happens to be home to the Polo Grill, a really great Tulsa restaurant.
Friday finally came, and it was time to head home. The return trip was again on United, beginning with a United Express flight operated by GoJet Airlines from Tulsa, and a mainline United 757 from Chicago to DCA. Both flights were on-time, and I even managed to use a soon to expire upgrade coupon I had to sit in first class on the Chicago to DC segment. United offered a choice of shrimp ceaser salad or a warm chicken sandwich for lunch. I chose the salad which was surprisingly fresh, of adequate proportion, and accompanied by warm bread and followed with a warm chocolate chip cookie. The cabin staff had their work cut out for them serving lunch to 24 first class passengers on such a relatively short flight, but they got it done and were friendly and attentive throughout the flight.
It was a good week. Busy with work, but it was great to be able to see some old friends, experience a new city and be out of the office for a bit. But as the title says….it’s good to be home.