Review: Serenity Spa and Soul Yoga

Finally found a spa and yoga studio that is conveniently close to work, isn’t heated yoga, has times that work with my schedule, has a philosophy I like, and envelops me in a feeling of luxurious peace when I enter.

Serenity Spa and Soul Yoga in Roseville.

Luxurious is the word that comes to mind when you walk into Serenity Spa.  From the Chinese espresso wood floors, the plush velvet and silk jewel-toned drapes, the platinum metallic moldings, the soothing-to-the-eyes paints on the 14-foot high ceilings, to the lotus flower shaped lamps that stud the floors and tables throughout the spa, “luxury” and “pampering” are both promised and delivered.

I went in a few weeks ago to redeem my Birthday Ritual spa package http://serenityspaonline… (check in on yelp for $10 off a package over $50!)  It had been a long time since I had pampered myself…not since before my children were born, so easily nine years.  The package consisted of a 30 minute Lavender/Eucalyptus foot treatment and a one-hour Swedish Massage, given to me by Amber, a wonderful redheaded lady with whom I connected instantly, a one-hour Specialized Spa Facial given by Kelly, who was calm and competent, and who was able to quickly accommodate my extremely sensitive face, ending with a spa lunch in the Zen room (see my pics).   The whole experience was incredible, no missteps, and I left the place feeling rejuvenated and at complete peace.  Their practice of ayurvedic principles seem true to the philosophy and I look forward to trying out some of their other packages.

I also bought the 10 sessions for $10 yoga trial package: they offer yoga classes and community (read: free) meditation at Soul Yoga, which is in the next building in the same parking lot.  I attended a meditation and yoga class there last week and was again impressed by the care with which the studio was decorated and furnished.  The studio provided mats and blankets for the practitioners (two stacked mats per person…yoga on these is perfect.)

And the best part?  They are opening a location at the Palladio (Folsom) in October 2013, which makes it even more accessible for me.  Their memberships/options will be transferrable between locations.

Serenity Spa and Soul Yoga
3984 Douglas Blvd
Roseville, CA 95661
(916) 797-8550

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Review: Face in a Book

All my life, I have lived near bookstores.  Or it has seemed like it, because I come from a family of avid readers, frequenting bookstores since I was a child in India.  I have an almost atavistic response to books: I use nearly all of my senses in experiencing them (except for taste.  I’ve yet to lick a book.  Give me time.)  The feel of the cover, the rustle of the pages as they are turned, the snap of flipping a page for the first time, the roughness of the edges if they are the torn style, the smooth edges if they are gold-tipped, the smell when you stick your nose right up into the binding, the beauty of the cover and binding… it’s almost spiritual.

When Borders closed up shop a few years ago, I was devastated.  That was my local refuge from the home, from the demanding needs of my then infants, my escape into new worlds and experiences.  Yes, there were books at Target, but that didn’t really count.  There was no sense of the almost-holy when you walked through the aisles.

So when I heard that Face in a Book was opening up in Town Center (El Dorado Hills), a couple miles from my home, I was thrilled.  And I’ve been a frequent visitor ever since.  My children and I go there almost every weekend, and relish the calm, almost sanctuary-like feel of the space.  It is tiny, very tiny, but it still imparts that hallowed feel you get when you are in the presence of so much knowledge just waiting to be ingested.

The owner has done a fantastic job of incorporating herself into the community, hosting local authors for book signings and readings, book clubs, and kid-friendly events.  She also has a frequent buyer program (which I just cashed in) where you get ten dollars off after your tenth book purchase.

Prices are not discounted, so if you know what you want, and are willing to wait for it, I’m sure you will Amazon your purchases.  And I do that, definitely.  I also buy books for my Kindle on Amazon.

But I also buy books for my kids here, since I want them to experience what I did, growing up.  The tangible pleasure of walking into a bookstore, seeing the visual beauty of all the possibilities in front of you, selecting, touching, feeling the weight of a book in your hands, then the joy that comes from purchasing and walking away with something that will give you hours of escape into your imagination.

Amazon can’t do that.

Face in a Book
4359 Town Center Blvd
El Dorado Hills, CA 95762
(916) 941-9401

Review: The Rind

What do you do when you find a place that marries excellent service, delightful ambiance, high quality food and drink, and then wraps it all up in the warm glow of welcome?

You go back.  Again and again.

Which is what I did.  I met my friend, Marina, at The Rind last week for a long overdue catchup session, and had a hard time keeping my mind on the conversation (don’t think she noticed…well, the cat’s out of the bag now…sorry Marina!) because I kept looking around, absorbing the decor, the vibes given off by the other happy (they had to be…) customers, and the friendly faces of the owners and servers.  I loved my time there so much, I dragged my SO back there the next night, who loved it as much as I did, if not more so.

The space is small but beautifully decorated by the owners themselves.  Sara designed the graphics on the wall to the right by the (sole) restroom, she designed the cabinetry behind the bar, the sign was lovingly corked by them (you have to see it…it’s a work of art), and a friend took the photos which they framed and put up on the wall to the left of the bar.  The bar itself?  Another work of art…the idea designed again by Sara.  The tabletops are repurposed as well, and the rustic nature lends itself to the homey, eclectic, and welcoming feel of the place.  Steve pointed out the display shelves against the far wall, self-deprecating as he wished he’d done them differently.  As we told him, they looked perfect.

Lots of serendipitous stories came pouring out of the happy couple as they shared their journey from a year ago to today…proud owners of a delightful nook in midtown.  The people they met that helped them, the struggles that were quickly overcome, the pleasure and joy that they feel in creating a space for people to gather, the plans they have for future events.  Our server, Jason, was very knowledgeable about the menu, and made sure to check in on us frequently.  He shared with us how happy he was to work with Sara and Steve, that he’d been so eager for the place to open, he had haunted the location, going so far as to knock on the window when he saw Sara painting the place one day, and telling her he wanted to be a part of the Rind experience.  You know you are in the presence of a special couple…so authentic and sincere, they are magnets to the rest of us.

The menu is appropriately cheese-fillled.  While I expected to see a wide array of cheeses to taste, and wine to accompany them, I didn’t expect to see the variety available for retail sales, as well as the salads, sandwiches, soups and dessert.  While not a big menu, it is surprisingly satisfying in its variety and depth of choice.

We tried the Diving Board and got a bottle of the cabernet/cabernet franc/merlot blend they carried, Ralbridge Lattice. The cheeses we got were delicious…a four year aged Gouda, the Mobiere (with vegetable ash), a delicious cheese that was coated in coffee and infused with lavender, and a couple others whose names escape me.  Steve and my SO spent a good amount of time getting giddy about beer, and talking about the various beers he wants to bring in over time.  While he has 3 taps, he make them count.

Keeping the menu minimal yet satisfying, adds to the boutique-like nature of The Rind.  They have done well in avoiding the obvious mistake of trying to please everybody.  While they are closed on Mondays, their hours are perfect: 11am through midnight, Thursday through Saturday, 11am through 10pm, Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  The kitchen closes at 9 for prepared foods, but the cheese and wine menu is available until closing (and we experienced that the second night I was there).

As Sara puts it, she wanted to create a space that she could escape to, something that celebrated her passions, and that would give her the ability to share her passions with others.

I think she’s succeeded.

The Rind
1801 L St
Sacramento, CA 95811
(916) 441-7463

Review: Fringe

I love this place.  Every time I come here, I end up buying something.  While the prices are not cheap, I find things that I don’t see elsewhere, so that makes it worthwhile for me.  Browsing through the racks of one-of-a-kind vintage dresses, tops and skirts, trying on Louboutin shoes, posing in designer bags and belts, all makes for a pleasant Sunday afternoon.

The owner, Audrey Wells, was working this past Sunday when I stopped in for a few minutes.  She immediately zoomed in on my vintage Chloe bag, which I’d bought at Fringe back in March, recognizing it as one of hers.  Now that’s a savvy shop owner!  She is very easy to talk to, giving suggestions for ways to wear different pieces of clothing, helping me find non-traditional ways to look at clothing options.

You know how you’re supposed to walk away from potential purchases, and only get them if you think about them over the next few days?  Well, there’s a pair of parrot green 4 inch heels made in Spain that fit me beautifully.  I can’t stop thinking about them.

Hmmmm.

Fringe
2409 21st St
Sacramento, CA 95818
(916) 706-0216

Review: Chaatney

Considering I’ve been there three times in the last five days…yes, I believe I’m a fan.

While it has the same owners as Mylapore (in the same plaza)http://www.yelp.com/biz/… , the strategy of owning two vegetarian Indian restaurants in the same plaza works.  How?  Because the cuisine is very different.  Mylapore is traditional South-Indian food while Chaatney is primarily Bombay street food, snack style, quickly prepared, blasts of flavors.

And given that I’m a South Indian from Bombay, this is like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for me.

The restaurant is small, galley style, bright and airy, with cheerful colors and large abstract paintings on the walls.  The servers are helpful and quick to respond, for the most part.  They need to work on eye contact, they seem so shy, it was hard for me to get their attention when I wanted to order more food or get my check.  The food is beautifully presented (see my pics: http://www.yelp.com/biz_… ) and delicious.  They have hired an award-winning chef and it shows.  I tried the bhel puri, dahi sev puri, pani puri, puri combo, malai kulfi, gulab jamun, and the masala chai.  All hit the spot.  The food is generally served chili-hot, so if you can’t handle the heat, ask for it to be spiced mild.

The little two-seater table immediately to the left by the windows as you walk in is my regular seat…if you are sitting there and you see me come in, I’d appreciate it if you found somewhere else to sit.

Chaatney
1750 Prairie City Rd
Folsom, CA 95630
(916) 985-9600

Review: Pre-Opening Event- Capital Dime

Noah Zonca.

Need I say anything more?

The Kitchen will never be the same, now that Noah has followed his dream of starting his own restaurant, the Capital Dime.  One of the power chefs in Sacramento, Noah has created a sparkling new gem in the local dining scene…one that I can’t wait to visit again.

Lucky enough to get invited to the pre-opening last night, my friend Rhonda and I walked up 18th, excited to experience the first taste of one of the more eagerly-anticipated restaurant openings in recent history.  For the past few months, the name and even the owner of the space was under wraps, creating a delicious buzz of mystery.  And last week, when the news splashed across foodie blogs and papers that it was a Noah Zonca endeavor, I hugged myself with giddy anticipation when I realized that the Yelp Elite Event (YEE) that I had just RSVP’ed to was the very same restaurant.

It was one the most well attended YEEs I’ve ever been to.  We got there right at 7pm, and as we were waiting for the pearly gates (appropriately named as such by Michelangelo) to open, I watched as the well-dressed yelpers walked up the steps, happy to see so many familiar faces.  We walked in to see beautifully arranged white-tablecloth-covered tables set for four each dotting the patio, red yelp balloons and the yelp banner providing the decorations, and the wait staff smiling, with trays balancing champagne flutes holding pretty red prosecco cocktails.  We were seated around the patio and the loft area indoors.  The rest of the space was still under construction, but we were able to sneak a look: gorgeously appointed with accessories from Restoration Hardware, dark wood, raised banquette benches by the bar area, I can’t wait to see it when it is done.

The evening progressed beautifully, with the servers bringing various appetizers around to us, and four (yes, four!) cocktails.  My favorite had to be the last one, a sublime concoction of vanilla vodka, milk, and lavender cream.  I would like one of those every night at bedtime, please.  The food was delicious: lemon mousse shrimp and caviar crostini, calamari, watermelon shrimp and mozzarella cheese salad, and sliders with fries.

I had a wonderful time, catching up with my yelp friends and meeting new Elites.  There was a sparkling feel to the moment as I sat there, taking in the sounds of the tinkling glasses, the laughter, the happy conversations, looking around at the fairy lights on the trees around the patio, watching Noah and his crew mingling amongst the guests, excitedly sharing their vision for this place…it was exhilarating to be a part of it all.

Once again, Alex, the Yelp Community Manager, and Yelp hit it out of the park, planning a wonderful event to introduce a new restaurant to the community.  And the Capital Dime showed us how masterful they were at putting on an event even while the bulk of the space was still under construction.  A wonderful experience, overall.

Capital Dime
1801 L St
Sacramento, CA 95811