RUSSIAN DACHA CAFE… “When You Just Can’t Get Enough of the Best!”

You know we really like an establishment when we write a follow-up article about it. But when we find ourselves writing a third review about a specific location, restaurant, or hotel, you know we really have to love it. Case in point with Russian Dacha Café in Valley Village, California where the diligent team of chefs and servers are serving up some of the best Russian and Ukrainian cuisine outside of their native grounds.

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The Bougainvillea trees on the front dining area upon immediate entry into this tucked away gem always welcome us back to a warm and friendly feel amongst the staff and other patronizing locals at the restaurant. Our bottle of wine opened, carefully poured into two Riedel wine glasses, and tea light candles lit immediately as the day’s sunlight began to slowly fade over the Pacific, we were greeted by our regular server and presented two menus to peruse as we sipped our vino.

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Variety of Dumplings

The Variety of Dumplings was a mystery until each one was cut in half as we worked our way through them as a starter to our meal. A combination of potato, meat, and cabbage fillings allured us and provided filling goodness to our awaiting appetites. Satisfyingly delicious, each dumpling was a game of “what’s in this one”, and “which ones have which filling” between us. Soon they were devoured happily and noted as yet another perfect item from the menu.

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Beef Kebab

The simple, well-prepared Beef Kebab entree proved amazing savoriness throughout each juicy bite of beef. A side of mashed potatoes joined this presentation and the kebab was haloed with rings of white onion and a savory and appropriate dipping sauce on the side.

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Chicken “Kiev”

The Chicken “Kiev” arrived in all its splendor and glory. The ostrich egg-sized, perfectly deep-fried orb of deliciousness delivered a crunchy exterior, while inside its tender, juiciness offered succulent and savory flavors. The first cut into this perfect package of flavor oozed with melted cheese and meaty juices. An excellent rendition of Kiev that we thoroughly enjoyed. The accompaniment of fresh steamed vegetables was also a nice touch that balanced the dish nicely.

The “Dacha” never fails to intrigue, satisfy, or impress. it truly is a casual, simple and accommodating eatery that welcomes its patrons in with friendly faces and succulent cuisine that will remain in your memory without cease.

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: The  decor of the restaurant is open and airy with natural enhancements such as flowering mature Bougainvillea trees at the eatery’s front entrance. Banquet-style tables covered with white linens, a stone and painted environment, and other such items create the cozy and attractive ambiance that the establishment is known for.
  • FOOD / DRINK: We gave a few new items from the menu a try on this particular visit to Russian Dacha. The quality of the meats and preparation were proudly served and happily enjoyed.
  • LOCATION: Russian Dacha is situated at 5338 Laurel Canyon Boulevard in Valley Village, CA 91607.
  • HOURS: Russian Dacha serves from Tuesday through Friday from 12:00 Noon until 10:00 PM, on Saturday and Sundays from 12:00 Noon to 11:30 PM, and is closed on Mondays. Be sure you call ahead if planning to stop by later in the evening to ensure the eatery hasn’t closed early as it has been known to do on occasion when the evenings are inactive.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: Tania is our regular server at Russian Dacha. We never experienced anything but hospitable and gracious service, welcoming greetings and warm hospitality.
  • PRICE / VALUE: Exceptional quality, consistent flavor and preparations, and flavorful items from the Russian Dacha menu always delights and enlightens.
  • CORKAGE FEE: Still complimentary including wine, Champagne & vodka!
  • CONTACT INFO: Phone: (818) 509-5828, Website: www.russiandacha.net
  • PARKING: Metered street parking is available along Laurel Canyon Boulevard when patronizing the restaurant.
  • PRICING: The Variety of Dumplings arrives at a simple $11.99, while the Beef Kebab Entree was fairly prices at 14.99. The Chicken “Kiev” for $14.99 was acceptable for the quality and preparation, while the corkage was complimentary as always.

* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.

LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS… “Little Rock’s Two River Bridge & City Allure!”

The name ‘Arkansas’ is French in origin and derivative of a Sioux name meaning “downstream place”. As the 25th state of the U.S., this part of the country decided to claim the majestic pine as its state tree, the shimmering diamond as its state gem, and the nickname “The Natural State” as its secondary tItle. Home to an unlimited array of educational cultural activities, unforgettable dining and brewery venues, unexpected shopping locations, and spectacular diverse geographic destinations from forested wetlands to scenic byways to the mountainous region of the Ozarks, there is no reason not to visit this naturally beautiful state. Little Rock, Arkansas harbors a multifaceted variety of most everything one could ask for when considering a place to call home or an elongated vacation to take it all in.

Little Rock, AR

H. U. Lee International Gate & Garden and Area Hotels

An impressive and photo worthy stop when in Little Rock is the H.U. Lee International Gate & Garden next to the Statehouse Convention Center at Statehouse Plaza. Originally Created by the family of the former founder of the American Taekwondo Association, the $1.4 million dollar project was gifted to the state of Arkansas and now educates visitors about South Korea and honors martial arts along with its ATA originator. Korean symbolism, a nine-foot tall dragon-headed fountain and reflective pool, and an 80-ton Douglas Fir entryway proudly welcomes those awaiting entry into this unique and awe-inspiring attraction. Depending on which views you enjoy more, city hotels downtown provide picturesque views of the Arkansas River or active visual expanses over the downtown area of Little Rock.

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Downtown River Market District & Pavilion

The downtown River Market District is the place to experience the best of everything in Little Rock. The River Market Pavilion provides spacious accommodations for open-air outdoor activities and gatherings right long the banks of the Arkansas River. A plethora of dining and entertainment venues, shopping destinations for one-of-a-kind items, and beautiful city strolling space ushers visitors and locals alike along pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, walk-in friendly breweries and lounges, and scenic trails and parks sure to inspire and satisfy even the most selective of travelers.

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Area Restaurants & Lounges

Numerous eateries, from fine dining and elegant to casual and pub-style restaurants are accessible by foot from local hotels along president Clinton Avenue in the River Market District. In the mood for something specific? Then Little Rock’s River Market District is sure to have it amongst the numerous dining and entertainment provisions available. From the casually elegant Bosco’s with outdoor seating on the Arkansas River to nearby Sonny Williams Steak Room’s intimate and upscale lounge and dinner scene to Flying Saucer Draught Emporium’s feel-good ambience and unending brewery selections to unlimited other favorites we’ve experienced, there’s always something to satisfy every flavor craving one could have here in this riverfront city.

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Two Rivers Bridge

Turning toward some of the natural beauty of Little Rock, we were impressed with our trek to Two Rivers Bridge. This structure hovers above Little Maumelle River and caters to hikers, pedestrians and cyclists. The bridge enhances the western locale of the Arkansas River Trail Loop and connects to Two Rivers Park. Views of Pinnacle Mountain can be taken in from the bridge over a scenic view of the waters below, while after dark, the bridge changes color with LED lighting casting a magical glow over the river.

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Two Rivers Park

Just over Two Rivers Bridge is 450 acres of wooded wetlands, 550 acres of open fields, and the 140-acre Garden of Trees for all those crossing the bridge to enjoy. The natural beauty of two Rivers Park offers well-defined trails, park benches facing the Arkansas River, various species of indigenous trees, and local wildlife and plant species destined to awe even the seasoned hiker or outdoorsman. The trails lead on for miles, while the sunsets and sunrises are mesmerizing and inspiring to all who experience the natural beauty of this area.

Little Rock, Arkansas is a locale that we have come to cherish in the last three trips we have taken to this most hospitable southern city. With its collection of innovative dining and unique shopping venues, stunning natural offerings and picturesque landscapes, and upscale lodging facilities with unimaginable views of the Arkansas River and over the lively downtown portion of the city, we will certainly be returning again to explore more of this unique and memorable locale to provide our readers more reviews in the near future of this serene, exciting, and activity and culture-filled region of the country.

  • LOCATION: The downtown locale of upscale area hotels and popular area of downtown and the River Market District is located along President Clinton Avenue along one of the most lively, provisional, and sought after parts of town. Two Rivers Bridge & Park is a short drive from downtown.
  • FOOD / DRINK: Between the eateries we enjoyed during out visits to the area, we were treated like royalty by the management and staff of several restaurants along President Clinton Avenue in downtown Little Rock. We savored fine dining and succulent steaks and cocktails at Sonny Williams Steak Room, took in panoramic views over the river and lunchtime sustenance on the outdoor patio at Bosco’s, and absorbed the local flavor and ambiance at Flying Saucer Draught Emporium, among other stops throughout our trip. All worth every visit, every penny spent, and every bite of succulent cuisine provided by some of the areas top venues.
  • HOURS: Bosco’s along the riverfront is available for business Monday through Thursday from 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM, Fridays and Saturdays from 11:00 AM through 12:00 Midnight, and on Sundays from 10:30 AM until 10:00 PM. Sonny Williams Steak Room impresses for dinnertime only Monday through Saturdays from 5:00 PM to 11:00 PM, with the piano bar opening at 7:00 PM nightly. Vivacious Flying Saucer Draught Emporium is available for service Monday through Wednesday 11:00 AM through 1:00 AM, Thursdays and Fridays from 11:00 AM until 2:00 AM, Saturdays from 11:00 AM until 1:00 AM, and on Sundays beginning at 11:00 AM and finishing for the evening at 12:00 Midnight.
  • PRICING: The cost of dining in downtown Little Rock is worth very cent spent on some of the best tasting, flavor-filled, and well worthy creations from some of the top chefs in the city.
  • CONTACT INFO: The H.U. Lee International Gate & Garden can be contacted via phone at (501) 568-2821 and online at www.ataonline.com. Bosco’s Restaurant can be reached at (501) 907-1881 and at www.boscosbeer.com. Sonny Williams Steak Room is reachable at (501) 324-2999 and online at www.sonnywilliamssteakroom.com.

* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.

Il TRAMEZZINO ITALIAN CAFE… “Studio City’s Quaint Italian Locale!”

Bustling Ventura Boulevard in Studio City is made much more soothing when stopping in at Il Tramezzino to ease a hunger pang or craving for a bite of truly authentic Italian cuisine. Our last visit to this quaint eatery offered an airy patio after dark beckoning us to stop by for a taste of what this unique popular dining locale had to offer. The candle-lit tables provided a touch of romance, while the café-esque design of the establishment designed the mood for the night.

Il Tramezzino

An incredible ciabatta bread basket quickly arrived with menus and a wine list by a warm and friendly server hoping to satisfy our hunger after visiting with friends at a nearby piano lounge. Having indulged in a decent amount of liquid temptations for a few hours before strolling to Il Tramezzino a few blocks away, we were ready to carb it up with delicious Italian breads, pastas, and a hearty panini sandwich that Il Tramezzino cafes are known locally for being “the” Italian sandwich perfectionists. The expertly-toasted slices of crunchy sustenance displayed their griddle marks proudly, while a flickering candle beside the basket enhanced the hues of lightly browned deliciousness. The restaurant’s special garlic-basil spread sat beside the golden slices of bread, then vanished quickly once tasted. We ordered a couple of glasses of wine from the available options, and sipped and tasted in awe and amazement.

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I had piles of pasta in my mind that evening, and I wasn’t leaving until I got what I wanted. Something flavorsome, a tomato-based sauce, a mixture of cheeses incorporated into thin logs of delectable penne pasta…sounded just what the doctor ordered to pacify my appetite. Hence, the Penne Formaggio hit the spot like nothing else. The blend of three cheeses and house made pasta sauce covered this dish nicely, while the perfectly aldente noodles were piled high and ready to be enjoyed. A sip or two of the wine we chose made this presentation an enhanced and complete one.

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Penne Formaggio

To miss out on what Il Tramezzino does with paninis should be a crime of human nature. We continued on with the Grilled Chicken Breast Panini compiled with sun-dried tomatoes, creamy chilled avocado slices, an excellent addition of Provolone cheese, and the eatery’s secret garlic-basil sauce on each slice of ciabatta bread to top off the flavor experience. Each bite was crunchy from the grilled ciabatta, filled with a circus of incredible flavors from the basil to the creamy cooling avocado to the punch of the sun-dried tomatoes, and the grilled chicken inside arrived tender, juicy, and lightly seasoned as to feature the mouthwatering taste of the meat. Definitely a winner, and most certainly deserving the name known by Californians as the “King of Sandwiches”! And if you’re shunning those carbs, the café will happily put your sandwich ingredients into a wrap just as well for you for no additional charge!

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Grilled Chicken Breast Panini

An easily lovable café available morning, noon, or during the evening with a simple and intimate ambiance, Il Tramezzino offers four location in the Los Angeles area to fulfill those cravings for amazing Italian creations in Studio City, the UCLA campus, Tarzana, and Beverly Hills. So take a trip to Italian excellence and enjoy what this loved institution has to offer!

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DÉCOR: Easy access from Ventura Boulevard or a walk down the block, Il Tramezzino offers an elegant, yet casual environment in which to enjoy most any Italian treat imaginable. Airy open patios grace these cafes providing ease and intimate provisions for diners.
  • FOOD / DRINK: A selection of unforgettable grilled paninis, hearty dishes of pastas, refreshing beverages, coffees, beer and wine. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner served daily keeps patrons coming back multiple times during the week.
  • LOCATION: This particular Il Tramezzino Italian Café is located at 13031 Ventura boulevard in Studio City, CA 91604.
  • HOURS: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner is available at Il Tramezzino Italian Café Monday through Thursday from 10:00 AM until 9:00 PM, on Fridays starting at 10:00 AM through 10:00 PM, Saturdays beginning at 9:00 AM until closing at 10:00 PM, and on Sundays from 9:00 AM until 7:00 PM.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: Full of conversation, excellent suggestions, and friendly demeanors, the staff will have you returning for more warm and inviting welcomes.
  • PRICE / VALUE: Definitely a deal for the money. Huge portions are provided without having to empty your entire wallet when the bill arrives. A perfect meal for most any occasion.
  • CORKAGE FEE: Our server mentioned an easy $5.00 corkage fee when bringing wine to the restaurant to enjoy with your meal.
  • PARKING: Metered street parking is available along Ventura Boulevard and various side streets.
  • PRICING: Our glasses of wine arrived at $11 per glass, while the ciabatta bread basket was complimentary with our meal. My heavenly piled-high dish of Penne Formaggio  and the Grilled Chicken Breast Panini were offered at an acceptable $10.95 each.

* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.

SARAH’S MEDITERRANEAN CUISINE… “Bringing a Touch of the Mediterranean to a Small Southern Town!”

Another visit to the small town of Houma, Louisiana led us to a Mediterranean eatery that possessed as much charm as it did flavor. Combining a welcoming ambiance both indoors and out, satisfactory cuisine based from recipes derived from centuries of the region’s most popular items, and a friendly staff awaiting our arrival and welcoming us once we stepped foot onto the property made us realize that this out-of-place-to-some restaurant is just what this tiny town has been in need of for some time. In an area known for Cajun cuisine, Po-Boys and boiled crawfish, Sarah’s Mediterranean Cuisine has been shaking up the town with its introduction of fine coastal cuisine from the regions of Spain, Italy, France, Morocco, Greece, Lebanon, Turkey, Syria, and Israel…better known as the Mediterranean region of the world.

Sarah's Mediterranean

The subtropical climate of the Mediterranean area lends itself to the coastal lifestyle its people have come to know quite well. Seaside airy courtyard dining such as the patio this venue offers its patrons upon first arrival are somewhat reflective of the essence of what those who live along the Mediterranean coast might experience…of course, without the sea nearby. Vibrant red umbrellas top wrought iron patio tables offering comforting contrasts of color against an earth-toned stone backdrop of the courtyard flooring and exterior of the restaurant. The babbling waters of a fountain that greet all those who enter the property provide a sense of the sea if one closes the eyes, opens the ears, and imagines just for a moment in time.

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Inside, splendid hushed neutral-toned stone walls created a canvas for the vibrant pops of color everywhere in the restaurant. From shiny brasses to deep garnets and sky blues captured in tiles used for coasters on tables, to the mustard yellows and golds showcased behind a circular-shaped full bar, to the plethora of sophisticated tones embossed in various wall murals throughout the space, there wasn’t much that didn’t try to convince us at any moment that we weren’t actually somewhere along the Mediterranean coast dining at some intimate venue there. Then, as we sat in an intimate booth shielded from onlookers by a semi-private curtain and graced with a collection of small brass serving vessels and colorful glass lanterns along a makeshift window ledge with a bottle of wine before us as we awaited our first courses, the aroma of everything delectable found its way to us from the kitchen amongst this spectacular environment.

Sarah's Mediterranean2Grape Leaves & Baba Ganouj

The bottle of wine we selected would surprisingly prove to last us throughout our meal this particular evening. Orders of meat-stuffed grape leaves and an enormous dish of Baba Ganouj were delivered promptly as we began to devour each bite with the addition of warm freshly-baked pita bread In silent enjoyment. The grape leaves were compiled of rice, seasoned ground meat, and distinct Lebanese spices then wrapped securely with tender lemony grape leaves. The Baba Ganouj offered creamy eggplant mixed with lemon juice and tahini sauce and was perfect for devouring with the ample supply of house baked pita bread pockets.

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Gyro Sandwich Wrap

There’s nothing like a delicious flavor-packed gyro sandwich. One of our favorite Greek compilations, this version included lamb and beef mixed with an excellent complimentary spice blend then wrapped in one of the eatery’s warm pita bread wraps and stuffed with crisp lettuce, chilled tomato, tangy red onion, and refreshing tzatziki sauce. We had to give congrats to the restaurant for their attempt at this popular menu selection amongst its patrons, as we  thoroughly enjoyed this presentation.

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Chicken Shawarma

Finding ourselves filling up quickly, yet still forging ahead, we were also presented with the Chicken Shawarma plate, which was compiled with the likes of tender chicken that was marinated overnight with lemon juice and spices grilled to perfection then served with a side salad, homemade hummus, and rice for a grand finish. An addition of chilled tzatziki sauce enhanced our enjoyment of this dish as well.

Impressed with our overall experience and its attempt to bring a touch of Mediterranean cuisine to this small-town city in southern Louisiana, we have to give our compliments to the owners and staff for making our experience a worthwhile one and for placating our appetites for something unique amidst a southern town.

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: Decorated with attention to detail and adhering to the main specifics of eateries from the Mediterranean region, Sarah’s Mediterranean Cuisine provides bold bursts of vibrant color indoors and out with a full bar for entertaining and ample dining space.
  • FOOD / DRINK: Well worth a visit, the cuisine is spot on and the ambiance and friendly atmosphere will welcome you with its open arms.
  • LOCATION: Sarah’s Mediterranean Cuisine is located at 1420 West Tunnel Boulevard in Houma, LA 70360.
  • HOURS: Sarah’s Mediterranean Cuisine is available to patronize Monday through Thursday from 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM, on Fridays and Saturdays from 11:00 AM until 10:00 PM, and on Sundays from 11:00 AM until 3:00 PM.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: Punctual, friendly, knowledgeable about the menu, and allowed us time to decide what we wanted without rushing us.
  • PRICE / VALUE: Reasonable value for the price with the quality and freshness of the cuisine we enjoyed.
  • CORKAGE FEE: Our server informed us of a decent $10 per bottle corkage fee.
  • PARKING: The restaurant features a spacious parking lot free of charge while dining inside.
  • PRICING: Our bottle of wine was reasonable at $27 while the large dish of Baba Ganouj came in at an easy $4.99 and was more than enough for the two of us to share. The Grape Leaves with Meat were amply portioned and priced on the menu for $15.99, and the fantastic Gyro Wrap sandwich arrived at an easy $6.99. The Chicken Shawarma for $10.90 offered more flavors from the Mediterranean region that we enjoyed just as much.

* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.

LOTERIA GRILL… “Putting Authentic Mexican Cuisine On the Map!”

With a popular daily Happy Hour, multiple locations accessible across the Los Angeles area, and flavors so incredible and satisfying you’ll think you’ve entered into a sort of culinary heaven, Loteria Grill in Studio City proudly offers something for everyone from the taco connoisseur to the tequila-loving taster to those patrons just ready to indulge in all things Executive Chef Jimmy Shaw has up his culinary sleeve to amaze and tantalize their taste buds with. Since opening his first Loteria Grill in 2002 at the historic Farmers Market, Chef Shaw has spread his culinary adoration for what he loves most across southern California by introducing five more locations ready to please and prepared to entice the senses of those seeking intriguing Mexican tastes combined with impressive renditions of all things delicious and savory.

Loteria Grill2Our most recent visit meting up with friends in the area provided a reason to indulge in some of the eatery’s temptations just to good to pass up. Chef Shaw’s expertise in “regional Mexican specialties” is enhanced by his upbringing in Mexico City. His perfected craft of dishing out inventive flavor-rich delights appeals to most everyone who steps foot in any of his Loteria Grill locations.The relaxing and welcoming ambiance inside his restaurants, and Chef Shaw’s obvious love for what he has done for so long continues to “wow” all who’ve stopped in at his restaurants over the last twelve years. This particular evening led us to the elongated bar with views of a conversation-piece wall of tequilas encased in uniquely-shaped bottles of varying colors, sizes and shapes.

Loteria Grill

House Made Tortilla Chips, Salsa & Margaritas

Rounds of expertly crafted margaritas began appearing before our lively group before we knew it, as well as orders of house made crispy tortilla chips, hand made salsa and creamy guacamole. The triangular slices of crunchiness were light and airy and called out for their perfectly blended salsa and creamy guacamole companions with each bite. The margaritas were chilled, on the rocks, and delivered a chilling sensation which contrasted nicely against the spicy salsa.

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Cheesy Quesadillas

The orders of the grill’s traditional Cheese Quesadillas went over well with our group at the infinite bar where we perched ourselves for conversation with one another. The warm handmade corn tortillas encased piping hot melted Oaxaca and Jack cheeses that hit the spot quite nicely. The griddle toasted exteriors of these presentations created a beautiful browned appearance, while the aroma of the blended cheeses lured us in despite all of the tortilla chips, salsa, and guacamole we we had previously involved ourselves in.

Loteria Grill in Studio City will deliver some of the best tasting, freshest and skillfully-prepared Mexican cuisine. With multiple locations across southern California to accommodate those in different geographic locations, there simply is no reason not to stop in and enjoy what this creative restaurant group has to satisfy your yearning a for memorable Mexican cuisine.

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: The moment you enter Loteria Grill, you’ll feel instantly welcomed. Vibrant colors fill the space with items such as a massive piñata, striking painted larger-than-life “playing” cards perched atop shelves, spacious family seating, an outdoor patio area, and a large bar with a wall of tequila selections sure to satisfy even the most discriminative margarita connoisseur.
  • FOOD / DRINK: Freshness and flavor levels are heightened at Loteria Grill in the cuisine as well as the chilled libations served at the full bar.
  • LOCATION: Loteria Grill expressed their enjoyment of having us at their Studio City locale positioned at 12050 Ventura Boulevard on Studio City, CA 91604.
  • HOURS: The Studio City Loteria Grill is available for service Sunday through Thursday from 11:00 AM until 10:00 PM, and on Fridays and Saturdays from 11:00 AM until 10:00 PM.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: Our experience speaking with our bartender at the tequila bar during our visit proved interesting and fun. The hostess that seated us when we arrived was gracious and happy to see us.
  • PRICE / VALUE: Decent price-to-value ratio for the authentic Mexican flavors and quality in what was offered.
  • CORKAGE FEE: TBA
  • CONTACT INFO: Phone: (818) 508-5300, Website: www.loteriagrill.com
  • PARKING: Parking is available in front of the eatery at no charge while dining inside the restaurant.
  • PRICING: Our Guacamole Y Totopas (Tortilla Chips, Salsa & Guacamole) arrived at $10 per order, while the Cheese Quesadillas came in at $11 each. The refreshing margaritas we received while seated at the bar we’re fairly prices at $8.95 per beverage.

* Menu and pricing subject to change without notice.

FOUR SEASONS HOTEL HOUSTON… “A Relaxing Destination In Downtown Houston!”

At Four Seasons Hotel Houston, unrivaled opulence welcomes guests into its twenty story sophisticated abode offering all things lavish, comforting, and well-deserved. Five-Diamond Four-Star accommodations provide 404 spacious guest rooms that promise to boost heavenly dreams throughout the evenings, while a rejuvenating spa and unparalleled restaurants cater to your every whim. The lively excitement of staying right in the middle of downtown Houston at the epicenter of high dollar business deals being assembled, a deluge of tempting restaurants to cater to any culinary desire, and noteworthy entertainment venues and cultural destinations exist sheerly for your enjoyment. The popular House of Blues, and numerous broadening and ennobling attractions such as the Museum of Fine Arts and the Houston Theater District, not to mention sought-after Green Street with its profusion of entertainment and eateries is just steps from the hotel within walking distance and offer even more enlightenment within the perimeter of the city.

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Despite all of what downtown Houston has to offer outside of the Four Seasons Hotel Houston, it’s what is inside this sophisticated locale that offers proof of its desire to provide world-class alluring space, first-rate service, and above all, a memorable experience graced with a Texan appeal that will convince you to return.

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Eye-catching deep blues, gold detailing, and natural-toned hues throughout the hotel both in modern and time-honored styles enhance the refined ambience of this address, while pops of vibrant colors are delivered by fresh floral arrangements throughout the hotel. This non-smoking property offers such services such as a discerning multilingual Concierge, an accessible house car for downtown destinations, and extravagant amenities during any stay as well as enticing packages crafted to enhance your experience while at Four Seasons hotel Houston.

Four Seasons Houston

Deluxe room accommodations boast a wealth of comforts of home such as enormous bay windows overlooking the city, plenty of natural light during the day, comfortable office space for handling business, and beautiful décor and furniture in only the finest of luxurious textures and fabrics that Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts are synonymous for. Muted taupes, warm butter yellows, and shimmery touches of silvers refined the overall appearance of our suite with expansive stunning views of the city.

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A full marble bathroom provides spacious grandeur, polished tones of gold and silver, and glassed-in showers along with L’Occitane bath amenities sure to remove the days stresses. Don’t forget to stop by the hotel spa for even more options for stress relief with a solo or couples massage, manicures and pedicures, a selection of spa treatments for the mind and body, and the utilization of Clarins products throughout the experience.

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 The Four Seasons Hotel Houston’s pool level, which underwent an incredibly elaborate renovation bearing a four million dollar price tag, is the city’s only resort-style outdoor pool. Graced with Brazillian wood decking, Turkish travertine tile, a contemporary water wall, a relaxing hot tub, a fire pit for evening get-togethers, and a poolside bar featuring light fare and healthy choices, the 65-foot aquatic haven that is the center of attention in this part of the hotel is lined with colorful flowers, beautiful foliage, and even Live Oaks and palm trees to intensify that resort feel in Houston’s hustle and bustle four stories below. You’ll almost forget you’re in the city here, as you relax your cares away with a cocktail served poolside and a little sunshine to enlighten your mood.

One of the best locales in our opinion in the downtown Houston area, Four Seasons Hotel Houston will prove its brand’s consistency in professional and reliable service, dependable cuisine opportunities, and focus on catering to its guests with unprecedented provisions sure to delight the Four Seasons regular, or the unsuspecting first-timer.

  • PROPERTY: An elegance you won’t soon forget, the Four Seasons Hotel Houston prides itself on making its guests feel at home in comfort and accessibility with its centrally-located position downtown.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: A well-informed staff presents a seamless approach to catering to their guests. Accommodations are precisely accurate and delivered as such, friendliness and graciousness is exuded upon registering upon arrival, and steps are taken and followed through successfully to provide full service to all who step foot onto this property.
  • PET FRIENDLINESS: Four Seasons Hotel Houston welcomes both felines and K9s 25 pounds and under at no additional fee. A Pet Waiver is required at check-in for each pet.
  • DINING OPTIONS: Quattro Italian is the property’s flagship fine dining restaurant located on the hotel’s third floor led by Executive Chef Marizio Ferrarese. Proudly featuring locally sourced ingredients fit for a king, the main restaurant is available for enjoying for breakfast Monday through Friday from 6:30 AM until 11:30 AM and on Saturdays and Sundays between 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM. Brunch brings customers in on Sundays starting at 11:00 AM until 2:00 PM, while Lunch offers even more variety daily between 11:30 AM and 2:30 PM. A Pasta Lunch Buffet is served Monday through Friday from 11:30 AM until 2:00 PM. Dinners are presented every evening from 5;30 PM through 10:00 PM for your convenience. This exquisite culinary plunge into all things savory is neighbored by the Vinoteca Wine Bar just steps away. Follow your carvings for great flavors and delicious options to the Lobby Lounge on the main level of the hotel, where you can delight in a variety of sophisticated whiskey presentations as well as specialty sliders with a Southwestern enhancement. Prefer a little something lighter and outdoors? Why not take a stroll and stay a while at The Deck poolside beneath the sunshine and blue skies above on the fourth floor of the property for a lighter and healthier menu selection. The Deck is available daily from Monday through Sunday from 9:00 AM until 9:00 PM.
  • LOCATION: The Four Seasons Hotel Houston is conveniently located downtown at 1300 Lamar Street in Houston, TX 77010.
  • PARKING: Valet parking is available at the main entrance to the hotel.
  • RESORT AMENITIES: The hotel pool deck invites those ready for relaxation or a morning swim on the fourth level of the property. An open outdoor space beneath the shimmering sunlight and sky blue fantasy overhead will allow for peace and tranquility in the middle of a bustling and energetic city. The 65-foot long pool is available for guests daily from 9:30 AM until 10:30 PM. Lines with beautiful trees, which Crete a natural privacy wall, this resort-style multi-million dollar area of tranquility is the only one of it’s kind in the area. The Spa offers dry saunas, whirlpools, massages, manicures and pedicures, body treatments, facials and complimentary spa amenities. Available daily from 8:00 AM until 8:00 PM, suddenly 12-hour days feel like complete bliss at The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Houston. Why not embrace all the comforts and luxurious pampering in The Spa’s 2,500 square feet of heavenly bliss. Four treatment rooms are accessible by reservation, and couples massages are also available at your request.

* Rates and prices subject to change without notice.

PACFIC DINING CAR… ” Hop Aboard For Flavor That Will Take Your Taste Buds For a Ride!”

Catering to the 24-hour area of southern California, Pacific Dining Car Restaurants have become well known throughout the years by California locals, as well as visiting tourists. But locating a 24-hour eatery that serves sought-after prime steaks, even in the wee hours of the night, within a comforting, dimly-lit dining-car-styled establishment with full service, an on-staff sommelier, and an intimate ambience with private booths could be considered a miraculous feat.  Originally presented in 1921, the original location in downtown Los Angeles turned the city on its head with a unique idea for fine dining around the clock. Soon after, professionals in the medical field, production crews for movie filmings, and those who just couldn’t sleep and craved an amazing meal in the middle of the night started arriving, becoming regulars at this newfound culinary sanctum. In 1990, a second location was opened in chic Santa Monica and both eateries have been successfully caring for their patrons to this day.

PDC

We
stopped in one very late…well, actually very early morning after an elongated
cocktail party at a friend’s home in the area in Santa Monica. Since we weren’t
far from being home ourselves, we decided to cure our hankering for something
hearty, filling, and satisfying at the Pacific Dining Car Restaurant at the
Wilshire Boulevard location. Upon entering, we were greeted warmly by a host
yielding a wine list and menus. Once seated, we declined the wine menu, as we
had enjoyed our fair share that evening already, but graciously accepted the
Late Night menus we were offered. We chose to dine in the Huntington Room
graced with deep garnet and greens gracing the walls, white linen tablecloths
and fresh roses upon the tables, and intimate private booths waiting to comfort
those prepared for a wonderful dining experience. We chose a window booth, and
perused the tempting menu for what would soon satisfy our hankering for
something that would cure our appetites.

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A couple of chilled Arnold Palmers were ordered, and arrived promptly with a selection of fresh various breads and a shell-shaped vessel of salted butter. We indulged a bit more in the bread than we usually would on any other occasion, and happily agreed that it was divine in texture, flavor, and portion size. The cold Arnold Palmers were pleasantly sipped on until another round was placed before us along with our selections that were already being plated in the kitchen.

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Filet Mignon Sandwich

Think of your favorite sandwich. Now forget that image, and think of Pacific Dining Car’s Filet Mignon Sandwich. This juicy, expertly-prepared, melt-in-your-mouth creation was equally as delicious as the photos above show it to be. Accompanied by a heaping pile of steaming fries, this sandwich consists of chilled hand-sliced beefsteak tomato, crisp vibrant green lettuce, crunchy white onion, and most any additional accoutrement you might desire. Prepared to your liking, you get what you want at Pacific Dining Car because the staff if there to serve you, make you happy, and ensure that when you do walk out of their door, it’s with a smile upon your face. But we weren’t ready to depart just yet…

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Training Day Baseball Steak

The carnivore that he is, my husband had no qualms about devouring his menu selection…the Training Day Baseball Steak. This “Training Day” movie-inspired compilation consists of a 10-ounce dry-aged prime filet mignon joined by a noteworthy portion of shoestring fries. Every bite of this heavenly serving of beef was bursting with savory aromas, natural juices, and so much flavor even we had a hard time believing it. But we forged ahead, and accepted that Pacific Dining Car restaurants are everything they say they are…around the clock cuisine perfection, masters of the late night steak, and caterers of their patrons with superior care,  concern and excellence in service.

Our conclusion of this dining experience is quite complimentary. No matter what tie of the day or night, Pacific Dining Car restaurants will prove their reputation is indeed trustworthy with their established and renowned prime beef presentations, their well-known and well-appreciated service, and the round the clock access and inviting atmosphere ready to accommodate anyone craving some pretty sensational fare.

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DÉCOR: Vivid colors and rich fabrics cover eye-leasing dining rooms beneath dimly-lit spaces. Cozy and roomy tables and booths allow for a choice of eating in large groups, or more privately in comfortable booths with and without window view options. Fresh flowers are placed on each table, while white linen tablecloths and linens are utilized for that fine dining feel. An on-staff sommelier is also available to assists with wine selections during specific dining hours.
  • FOOD / DRINK: Unfortunately, we had already had our fair share of cocktails and wine at a previous engagement, so we opted for chilled refreshing Arnold Palmers during our meal to hydrate and satisfy our thirst. Well-made and flavorful, these were favorable selections. Our dinner choices proved superb by the dry-aged prime beef that we enjoyed in both selections.
  • LOCATION: Two locations are available for 24-hour a day service. The original restaurant in downtown L.A. is located at 1310 West 6th Street in Los Angeles, CA 90017, while the Santa Monica location exists at 2700 Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica, CA 90403.
  • HOURS: Both establishments are available for service around the clock, and are open every day of the year. Breakfast and dinner are available anytime, while lunch selections are served daily from 11:00 AM until 4:00 PM. Afternoon Tea options are presented daily from 3:00 PM to 5:30 PM, and the Late-Night menu is offered from 11:00 PM through 6:00 AM in the morning.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: Our server was gracious, friendly, and kind. His knowledge of the restaurant and the menu was unparalleled, as was his professionalism and service.
  • PRICE / VALUE: For the quality of the cuisine, we were pleased with the cost of what was ordered. Not overly pricy, and delicious from the first bite to the last, we will return again to experience more of what there is to enjoy (along with a taste of some of the wines on board!)
  • CORKAGE FEE: TBA
  • CONTACT INFO: The Los Angeles location may be reached via phone at (213) 483-6000, while the Santa Monica locale can be contacted at (310) 453-4000.Both establishments may be accessed via their website at: www.pacificdiningcar.com.
  • PARKING: Both locations offer valet parking during scheduled hours, while metered street parking is also available.
  • PRICING: We enjoyed four Arnold Palmers at $5.95 apiece, while the Training Day Baseball Steak came in at $17.95 and the Filet Mignon Sandwich arrived at and acceptable $18.95.

 * Menu and prices subject to change without notice.

SANTA MONICA PIER & PALISADES PARK… “A Day At the Beach, A Walk In the Park!”

 Southern California is a locale that the masses flock to when in search of near-perfect weather, a plethora of cultural activities, unlimited restaurant offerings that cater to most any cuisine hankering, and an overall feeling of peacefulness and unity from the mighty Pacific Ocean with its seemingly never-ending horizon and breathtaking sunsets and views of the Santa Monica Mountains in the distance. Miles of expansive sandy coastline complete with its own soundtrack of the shore’s intonations from the sounds of the surf beckoning its visitors to stay a little longer, indulge in the peacefulness it has to offer, and enjoy existing within such a habit-forming environment with ease and perpetuity. This western crust of America shines ever so proudly as its waters shimmer, its evenings twinkle with a billion stars overhead, and its inhabitants gladly absorb everything this beach town has to offer.

The popular circa early 1900s Santa Monica Pier stands over the ebb and flow of Pacific tides at nearly 1,600 feet long. Dotted with eateries, surf shops, fishing and beach paraphernalia stores, an arcade, and an actual amusement park at the foot of the pier including a working Carousel, ferris wheel, and even a functional roller coaster! This magnificent structure along the California coast attracts visitors year-round without fail. The Santa Monica Aquarium is also available at ground level beneath the vintage soda fountain- toting carousel, which provides those with an interest for marine life an eye-opening educational experience. Waiting until nighttime proves worthwhile when the varietal colors of neon lights illuminate the pier and the ocean below with ambers and magentas and cayennes and other vibrant hues, which accent this attraction as well as accentuate the transitional ambience of the evening.

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Santa Monica Pier

Just steps from Santa Monica Pier is the grassy manicured Palisades Park stretched out parallel to Ocean Avenue with majestic views of the Pacific Ocean and Santa Monica Beach below. Built atop the coastal sandstone bluffs of the area, this 26-acre public domicile reaches from Colorado Boulevard to San Vicente Boulevard and plays host to those enjoying physical fitness, walks with Man’s Best Friend, people watching, catching up on that favorite book, and other such leisurely activities. Closer to the start of the pier, entertainers and performers attempt their hand at fascinating the young and enlightening the young at heart. A two-mile paved bike and walking path provides easy access from one end of the park to the other, while restrooms, park benches, and intricate landmarks offer an intriguing and unique visit. Make a stop at the cannons on the southern part of the ground,a brief pause at the Native American totem pole, or a pleasant break during a long run at the beautifully-maintained rose garden. Whatever your fancy, whatever you’re drawn by, this landscaped recreation area will undoubtedly lure you into its meditative and relaxed surroundings and set you at harmony with the beauty of nature tht envelops you at Palisades Park.

Santa Monica Park & Pier

Over thirty species of indigenous trees, plants and other vegetation call Palisades Park their home. From the mighty Eucalyptus trees to various breeds of palms in every shape and size to the Pine and Fig displays, as well as the impressive Monterey Cypress and Red Gum trees present in the park in all their splendor. Above, this friendly squirrel stopped by to greet us and enjoy a feast of unsalted sunflower seeds that we had with us. We happily offered him what was left to ensure that he was fed.

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Various food trucks supplying tasty options and chilled and hot beverages often park alongside the park to offer a cure for the day’s hunger and thirst to occupants of the natural beauty some 1.5 miles from the entry to Santa Monica Pier. Across the street, several restaurants lie in wait as well for patrons to stop in for a bite, while the day’s longevity slowly crawls to a halt and its sun effortlessly begins to set beyond a sea blue horizon.

A daily power walk to start the day, a run with Fido to break from the day’s tedious schedule, or a romantic walk with the one you adore most in your life just before sunset along the Pacific Ocean…all reasons to stop and appreciate the views and offerings of both Santa Monica Pier and neighboring Palisades Park along Ocean Avenue. Spend a couple of hours or an entire day at these locations. There is always plenty to fill your day at both locales, which will leave you with fond memories of the west coast as well as numerous reasons to return again.

  • LOCATION: Santa Monica Pier’s Information office is located at 200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA 90401. Palisades Park may be found at 1450 Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, CA 90401.
  • FOOD / DRINK: Various rotating food trucks stop by Palisades Park along Ocean Avenue frequently, while a supply of restaurants directly across from the park and pier offer tasty renditions of their original classics and signature dishes. On the pier, various vendors and eateries provide nourishment for hungry patrons and refreshing beverages for all ages.
  • HOURS: The Santa Monica Pier is always open, however the vendors along the pier do have various hours of business. (See the website for the pier for those). Palisades Park is open from 5:00 AM until 12 AM Midnight.
  • PRICING: There is no charge to visit the pier or the Palisades Park. Dining or shopping at individual vendors varies, of course.
  • CONTACT INFO: The Pier Shop at the start of the bottom of the pier ramp offers information via phone at (310) 458-8901, and provides more information at their website at www.santamonicapier.org. Palisades Park information may be obtained via phone at either (310) 458-8644 or (310) 828-4497, while more information on the park’s website can be viewed at smgov.net.
  • PET FRIENDLINESS: Palisades Park is dog friendly, so bring Fido along to appreciate the views! Please note that alcohol and smoking is not allowed anywhere within the park.
  • PARKING: Metered parking spaces line the edge of Palisades Park along Ocean Avenue, while public parking facilities in the area offer additional convenience. 

 * Menus and prices of local vendors and area eateries subject to change without notice.

THE CAROUSEL BAR @ HOTEL MONTELEONE… “Taking a Spin at Cocktail Hour In the Big Easy!”

 There are some establishments that cater to the discriminating patron with a seamless approach. There are some that go above and beyond to extend proof of their exceedingly competitive and unparalleled customer service. Where upscale ambiance and first-rate service go hand-in-hand. Where a seat at the bar repositions you once you perch yourself upon one of the many intricately hand-painted bar stools. Where one is offered varying angles of elegant décor in an opulent and intimate setting with views of historic Royal Street where patrons may catch glimpses of passers-by with a background of numerous antique shops, art galleries, and the like. The Carousel Bar & Lounge at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans, Louisiana possesses all of these, and so much more. It is a regular locale we frequent and have come to know well over the last many years of our traveling through this alluring and hospitable mecca of all things abundant in Southern hospitality, unmistakable comfort, and unmatchable service.

Carousel Bar @ The Monteleone

Located in the French Quarter along historic Royal Street, The Hotel Monteleone housing the popular circa 1949 Carousel Bar is noted as one of the city’s last family-owned and operated hotels. It has been labeled one of the most romantic and historic locales in the area. Sophisticated grandeur is exuded from every nook and cranny inside the notable and unforgettable swanky lounge amidst the Big Easy’s bustling streets and rushing traffic. The literary expressions of famous authors have also canonized the Carousel Bar in their interpretations on paper, while many movies and television series have taken advantage of the lounge and hotel setting for their filming locations.

Carousel Bar @ The Monteleone1

The much photographed and whimsical carousel top of the rotating bar was installed in 1992, while the entire lounge underwent a renovation in 2011, which expanded the Carousel Bar into a second dwelling area with an additional bar to accommodate the overflow of this popular meeting spot. Currently the only revolving bar in New Orleans since Club 360 atop the Trade Center closed due to damage from Hurricane Katrina, the lounge exudes an elegant vintage ambiance offering opulent grandeur and sophistication as those perched at the revolving bar enjoy hand shaken classic and signature libations enveloped in a feel of vintage memories and intriguing stories from the bartenders who have tended this area for years. Original vibrantly-colored hand-painted bar seating shows off bold hues, rich workmanship, and preferred location at the moving bar. We’ve always managed to get a seat at the carousel bar when visiting, however, there is alternate seating available surrounding the lavish moving bar as well as more seating in the connecting space inclusive of another arch-shaped bar. Comfortable and inviting seating strategically placed to involve capturing excellent views of Royal Street’s passers-by and beautiful historic buildings across the street also grants patrons thought-evoking views of the area.

Carousel Bar @ The Monteleone2

Pre-Dinner Cocktails In the Lounge

We happily surrendered to a few chilled beverages from the bar before retreating to dinner elsewhere in the city. Observing these being made at the revolving bar was like admiring fine art being created by the hands of a much adored painter in some ways. I chose a couple of Ketel Kosmos as my liquid obsession during our visit made with Ketel One vodka, lime, Cointreau, and cranberry juice. My husband devoured a couple of the bar’s finely crafted Cuba Libras as well.  Specific evenings lend themselves to live music in the lounge to accompany those flavorsome liquid sensations being prepared before you as you indulge yourself in the sophisticated space that is the Carousel Bar & Lounge.  A Bar Bites & Sandwiches menu offers an array of tempting flavorful options from mini PoBoys to BBQ Ribs to Cuban Sandwiches and even burgers presented in an elegant preparation and crafted by the chef of Hotel Monteleone’s main restaurant Criollo’s kitchen.

 Step inside Hotel Monteleone’s Carousel Bar & Lounge, and leave behind you the bustling noise of the city, the worries of the day, and the concerns of tomorrow because this place is going to take all of that away and transform your mind to an environment of deserving bliss in a lounge crafted to suit those longing for fine hand crafted cocktails and southern liquid libation classics, great conversation with seasoned mixologists at the bar, and a relaxed ambiance with live entertainment to set your mind’s troubles and concerns aside for a few hours while you indulge in your time here.

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: The entry through the Hotel Monteleone provides access to the lobby and entry through glass doors that lead to all things indulgent at the Carousel Bar and Lounge. Beautiful hues of pale tones, reflective antique mirrors, expansive views of Royal Street, and of course, the Carousel Bar itself will provide hours of leisurely enjoyment and much deserved relaxation on any given day.
  • FOOD / DRINK: The bar is known for its cocktail splendor, however, a bar menu does exist which offers upscale appetizers flavorful enough to fit the bill of anyone’s appetite level. The Carousel Bar & Lounge Bar Bites & Sandwiches Menu is available from 11:00 AM until 9:00 PM.
  • LOCATION: The Carousel Bar & Lounge is conveniently positioned at 214 Royal Street in New Orleans, LA 70130.
  • HOURS: The Carousel Bar and Lounge opens its doors Sunday through Thursday from 11:00 AM until 9:00 PM, then on Fridays and Saturdays from 11:00 AM through 1:00 AM.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: The bar staff and servers enjoy serving their patrons, appreciate conversation and offer stories of when they first started working here and tales of the city that you’ll have to decide for yourself if are true or not. Friendly, efficient, and professional with a generous concern for their customers’ enjoyment and happiness while visiting.
  • PRICE / VALUE: Expect upscale prices for upscale service and elegant preparations of libations, but be prepared for some of the best cocktails you’ve ever had anywhere else. Well worth the price for the ambiance, service, exceptionally crafted drinks, and overall romance of the experience.
  • CORKAGE FEE: TBA
  • PARKING: The Hotel Monteleone offers valet parking if you are staying on site, while metered street parking and city lots are available as well. We usually walk in from shopping along Royal Street or have a house car deliver us to the main entry of the Hotel Monteleone when we are staying in the city or if the weather is unfavorable.
  • PRICING: The Bar Bites & Sandwiches Menu items range from $10 item and up, while signature and classic renditions of favorite liquid temptations can run you anywhere from $9 to $15 per cocktail. Our four cocktails arrived at $15 for each signature Ketel Kosmo I consumed, and $12.50 for the two Cuba Libre cocktails my other half indulged in. We had a few bites of the lounge’s snack mix that was offered to us with our drinks, but didn’t choose any appetizers, as we were en route to dinner to meet friends at an alternate location in town.

* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.

REILLEY’S GRILL & BAR AND REILLEY’S NORTH END PUB… “The Lowcountry’s Answer to Beloved Boston Pubs!”

For over thirty years, Reilley’s has been catering to the locals and visitors alike on the island of Hilton Head, South Carolina and the surrounding areas. Now with two locations at either end of the island, patrons gather together for that end of the day ice cold brew, that anticipated meeting with loved ones, and for incredible meals and Happy Hour specials most every evening.

Reilley's

Both establishments offer the same savory cuisine, always consistent, always fresh and flavorsome. Each houses a traditional Boston-style pub complete with two of the best places on the island to enjoy your favorite sports games, indulge in savory Irish fare and chilled cocktails, and get involved in all of the local excitement that is included in a true feel-good pub environment.

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The dim lighting inside these establishments is strikingly evocative of traditional Boston pubs with their larger than life display of friendly bartenders, sports on every big screen television imaginable, accepting blend of true locals mixed with the camaraderie of conversation with visiting tourists, and libations served up by skilled mixologsts complimented by mouthwatering and unforgettable dishes just waiting to dare you to try them and be won over by their succulent flavors and creative preparations that will create a comforting feeling you’ll never long to depart from.

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Pub Menu, Cocktails & Fresh Made Popcorn

The bar houses a variety of brews on tap and by the bottle as well as traditional cocktails to suit most anyone’s desires for something chilled and intoxicatingly refreshing. We’ve often indulged in the well-prepared martinis, signature cocktails, and selection of wines from the array of choices available to accompany some of the sensational appetizers and meals we’ve enjoyed here over the years.

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Collection of Various Favorites Off the Pub Menu

When it comes to which items to order to enjoy when visiting either of these long standing island pubs, we have a few suggestions. Starting with a popular house favorite, the Irish Potato Skins made in house with melty cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, crisp flavorful bacon crumbles, a sprinkling of decorative fresh parsley, and a side of creamy chilled sour cream are a sure winner. Or try the Buffalo Buttermilk Battered Shrimp with their crunchy goodness drowned in a zippy and zesty buffalo sauce for an added kick served with a side of cool blue cheese dressing and fresh cut chilled celery. Other loved accoutrements in the pub off of the menu are the Fresh House Spring Rolls handcrafted daily with plum sauce and pickled ginger and the Cheese Quesadilla with sour cream and house made salsa. Or the fan favorite classic Fish & Chips entrée created with Boston Cod deep fried in a beer batter presented with fries, coleslaw, and savory tartar sauce. Sometimes, there’s just nothing better.

Take a peek at the pub’s dinner menu as well for more full dinner selections from fresh seafood dishes, to hearty sandwiches and unforgettable burgers, to chicken and pasta offerings, to fine steaks and garden fresh salads worth raving about. A sure bet when seeking a gathering place to meet, mingle, and blend in with the locals anytime for great times and delicious fare far from Bostom, yet encompassing all there is to love about the traditional Boston pub in the Lowcountry.

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: The dim lighting and secluded environment of the pub atmosphere is well loved by locals and visitors alike. A welcoming feeling embraces all who walk through the doors of each establishment, while the casual ambiance caters to those dressed down as well as those in three-piece suits who arrive straight from the office.
  • FOOD / DRINK: Flavorsome classic pub favorites, succulent steak and pasta offerings, fresh salads and specials on specific evenings delight everyone from the beef lover to the calorie-conscious patron. A full bar at each location caters to any concoction that can possibly be desired.
  • LOCATION: Two Reilley’s locations exist on Hilton Head Island for your dining and libation enjoyment…the first, Reilley’s Grill & Bar is positioned at 7D Greenwood Drive on Hilton Head Island, SC 29928, while the second establishment, Reilley’s North End Pub, is situated on the north side of the island at 95 Matthews Boulevard on Hilton Head Island, SC 29926.
  • HOURS: Happy Hour offers some fairly decent discounted bites and sips with 1/2 off domestic bottles of beer, 1/2 off select draft brews, 1/2 off house wines, and 1/2 off well liquor drinks. Happy Hour lasts from 4:00 PM until 7:00 PM, which makes us extremely happy when we can get to the pub before 5:00 PM! Normal business hours for the establishments exist Monday through Saturday from 11:30 AM until 2:00 AM, and on Sundays from 11:00 AM to 2:00 AM.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: Friendly and efficient mixologists and servers allow patrons to enjoy their visit while feeling catered to at any given moment. The staff excels in everything they do at both locations, as we have continually witnessed when we visit when sojourning through the Lowcountry.
  • PRICE / VALUE: Terrific Happy Hour deals, and reasonable full menu dining options as well. Something for everyone with specials throughout the week. Mondays feature Lobster Night, Tuesdays kids eat free, Wednesday & Saturdays offer Prime Rib Night, while a Sunday Brunch features complimentary Champagne & Mimosas.
  • CORKAGE FEE: TBA
  • CONTACT INFO: Phone: (843) 842-4414 (Reilley’s Grill & Bar on the south end of the island) and (843) 681-4153 (Reilley’s North End Pub), Website: reilleyshiltonhead.com.
  • PARKING: There is ample complimentary private lot parking at both Reilley’s locations on the island.
  • PRICING: When we’ve stopped by during Happy Hour, the Irish Potato Skins arrived at a simple $6.99, while the Buffalo Buttermilk Battered Shrimp selection came in at a worthwhile $8.99. The Chef’s Special House Made Spring Rolls were offered at $7.99, with the Cheese Quesadilla being priced at $4.95. Our Fish & Chips entrée finished off our culinary snacking at an acceptable $15.99.

*Menu and prices subject to change without notice.

 

JARAGUA RESTAURANT… “True Salvadoran Cuisine In the Heart of Los Angeles!”

The adobe veneer of this popular Salvadoran establishment welcomed us inside to a friendly staff waiting to serve our requests for savory and unforgettable Salvadoran cuisine. Located in the busy goings on of Los Angeles and situated along Beverly Boulevard, this was a true gem that we had not come across before hearing about it from friends over coffee recently. We headed over for a bite before enjoying a play in the area with our appetites ready to experience something amazing.

Jaragua

The Sherbert-hued entrance was defined by the restaurant’s logo prominently displayed on both a posted sign as well as on the building itself. The interior of the eatery offered a spacious dining room filled with casually-set tables for catering to the lone diner or the family of ten. Views through large windows allowed for observation of passers-by on the boulevard, while the modest and casual ambiance had us intrigued about what we would experience while here.

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Salvadoran Signature Cocktails 

The cocktail menu offers selections house made from a tucked away intimate velvet-curtained lounge called the Copper Still to the back of the dining space. Though noticeable with a quick glance around the room, the tiny bar plays host to some pretty creative cocktails by a well-adored mixologist behind the counter. Both flavorsome as well as refreshing, and served in large drinking vessels, we were pleased with our orders and prepared to move on to ordering a Salvadoran feast for our palates.

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Pollo Encebollada

The Pollo Encebollada was an impressive display of tender grilled chicken that literally fell apart when touched with a utensil due to its incredible tenderness. Marinated then sautéed in the restaurant’s own tantalizing conglomeration of juices and broths, thick-cut white onions grilled to a sweet perfection, robust tomatoes bursting with fresh flavor, and vibrantly-colored green peppers are added to this dish creating a sight to behold and a conclusion of heartiness to the presentation.

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Side Salad, Pupusas & Frijoles

A side salad accompanied our selection of the Pollo Encebollada, while tender warm pupusas (Salvadoran tortillas made from fresh rice or corn massa and El Salvador’s national dish) melded nicely with the serving of frijoles ordered to complete a full exploration of flavor.

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Pan Con Pavo

The Pan Con Pavo is my new favorite sandwich in the existence of life as we know it. El Salvador’s famous turkey sandwich, this conglomeration of flavor upon flavor sensation, varietal textures from the tender turkey to the flowing taste bud tantalizing broth to the tender sandwich bread that despite it’s getting a tad soggy on the bottom from the delectable broth it sits in, would turn heads if only others knew how delicious it is, to the sensational mouthwatering aroma of all things delicious packed inside this generous offering of Salvadoran goodness. Just an amazing, indulgent, near perfect sandwich sure to put you under its spell of flavor-filled intoxication.

Our visit to Jaragua proved worthwhile. So much so that we continually revisit this unassuming family-friendly spacious and gracious dining establishment probably more often than we should. Nevertheless, a sure winner on the SavorHour.com list of delightful casual locales worth the drive, worth the splurge, and worth every single taste of extraordinary goodness.

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: The exterior of the eatery exudes friendly and welcoming vibes with its sherbert-hued pueblo-style facade. Inside, spacious dining and friendly and accommodating staff ensure pleasant culinary experiences from start to finish.
  • FOOD / DRINK: The fresh and savory flavors and combinations of all things delicious and mouthwatering will keep you returning to Jaragua, while signature and classic cocktails will keep you guessing.
  • LOCATION: Jaragua is situated at 4493 Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles, CA 90004.
  • HOURS: The establishment’s business hours exist Monday through Friday from 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM, and on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 AM until 10:00 PM.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: The staff is friendly, hospitable, and happy to suggest dishes to wow your taste buds.
  • PRICE / VALUE: The price point here is worth the experience. After enjoying our meal here, we were convinced that the quality of the cuisine, spacious dining room, and helpful staff offered an exceptional value for the money.
  • CORKAGE FEE: TBA
  • CONTACT INFO: Phone: (323) 661-1985, Website: www.jaraguarestaurant.com
  • PARKING: The parking areas lie behind the restaurant in a private lot as well as along the streets at metered parking spaces surrounding the restaurant.
  • PRICING: The array of delicious cuisine awed us and left us both satisfied with the cuisine as well as the pricing. We ate very well for two people for under $50, and we were happy to get a spectacular Salvadoran meal with all the trimmings including alcohol.

* Menu and pricing subject to change without notice.

MALIBU CREEK STATE PARK… “Finding the Naturalist In Ourselves!”

There’s something intriguing about what one discovers when taking a walk through nature along creek side trails. Something freeing. Something that brings us to a place of peace, of calm, of inner happiness. Maybe it’s the oneness with the environment and the earth, or the refreshing feeling of a cool breeze against our face that renews our soul, or even the quiet solace we come upon that allows us, even if just for a few moments, to realign our focus of our path in life. Whichever of those it is, there’s a distinct location that heightens those experiences for us. Malibu Creek State Park has long been a place of untangling days that didn’t quite go our way at times, of bringing us closer to an understanding of ourselves as human beings in a world filled with stresses and disappointments, and a sanctuary of sorts that never fails to help us get back on track to realizing that sometimes the simplest things in life can be some of the best. It was time we wrote about this stunningly beautiful locale of natural beauty, so it heads up as our first article in our recently added “Beautiful Places” category at SavorHour.com.

Malibu Creek State Park

Open from dawn until dusk, Malibu Creek State Park offers a relaxing and memorable experience for the nature hiker as well as the more seasoned camper or outdoorsman. Formerly owned by 20th Century Fox Studios, the beautiful terrain was used in outdoor filming locations for movies and television shows over the years. We frequent this natural stunner often and appreciate its natural beauty it offers year round to it’s visitors. Seven thousand acres within the Santa Monica Mountains provide ample space for outdoor activities such as hiking, nature walks, fishing, horseback riding opportunities, rock climbing, mountain biking, bird watching, picnicing, and even special campfire programs. We’ve always enjoyed trekking from the parking area to the  rock pool at the conclusion of the three and a half mile round trip journey that parallels the soothing intonations of an at times lively creek. Above, you can see how the creek cuts directly across a popular path at will, blocking access across it’s shallow, yet swiftly moving waters.

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As a favorite filming location for some of the industry’s best loved entertainment series and films, Malibu Creek State Park has hosted the filming of several popular productions such as M*A*S*H, Swiss Family Robinson, Pleasantville, Mr. Blanding Builds His Dream House, Daniel Boone, Planet of the Apes, and a few Tarzan productions just to name a few. The park provides beautiful scenery from its meandering trails, lush rolling hills, rushing creek waters for miles, and a variety of bird species sure to delight the nature observer to no end. Towering oaks line areas of the trail leading to the rock pool, which provide shade along the path as one makes their way closer to the rocky conclusion of the volcanic swimming destination after a well enjoyed walk, pleasant run, or relaxing stroll as the sights of expansive vistas and mountainous peaks along the creek are happily taken in.

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There’s something about the sound of water that I’ve always loved. The sound of the wind against treetops rustling leaves in accordance with the directional flow of the breezes that come and go often remind me of the sound of the ocean with it’s ebb and flow of waves being washed upon the shore. Another soothing and appreciated sound of water we adore is that of the gentle rushing waters of a river or creek along its intended and sometimes unintentional path, such as what we experience at Malibu Creek State Park. From the calm flowing currents to the more lively rushing gentle rapids, there’s not much more one could ask for here. In the photos above, a duck seeks refuge atop a protruding rock from the moving waters of the creek, and the rushing waters calm eventually and almost immediately change over to a sheet of liquid glass as they slow again and calm as they continue their flow onward. We can understand why the Chumash Indians settled here so many centuries ago.

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We find beauty in most everything here. Even the eye-catching artwork of what nature has done with the indigenous Sycamore trees that line the banks of the creek in one area. Just the height and immense stature of these natural works of art create noticeable landmarks throughout the park. The bark appears to have been painted on by Mother Nature herself in strokes of grey, and muted whites, and tans, while these products of the earth stand proudly watching over the creek and those who pass by their impressive presence. Don’t miss the redwood trees that were planted around Century Lake years ago while you’re on the property. And you may just catch a glimpse of the park’s natural inhabitants such as deer, foxes, rabbits, ducks, a variety of bird species, and even a bobcat or two.

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At the end of the nearly 2-mile voyage comes the reward for all of that hard work walking, jogging, or strolling along and observing everything beautiful en route to this final destination. A magnificent rock pool at the conclusion of the trail was crafted by volcanic rock and forms a sizable gorge where we’ve witnessed many visitors swimming in the refreshing waters of the natural pool. A picturesque filming location as well, part of the Planet of the Apes included the rock wall that surrounds the pool. A beautiful view, and a worthy find, this rocky terrain will offer solace and satisfaction to the unsuspecting hiker, and intrigue and challenge to the novice, but will always provide a memorable visit to Malibu Creek State Park.

Take some time from your busy schedule to take in the natural picturesque views of Malibu Creek State Park. Established in 1974, and opened to the public in 1976, the property has been a favorite of visitors for over 30 years, and will continue to fascinate all who visit with its expansive collection of all things beautiful, natural, and interesting.

  • LOCATION: Malibu Creek State Park is located within the terrain of the Santa Monica Mountains covering nearly 7,000 acres of natural beauty at 1925 Las Virgenes Road in Calabasas, CA 91302. Just 25 miles from downtown Los Angeles, this is surely a drive worth taking to experience nature at its finest.
  • HOURS: The park is available to the public from dawn until dusk.
  • PARKING:A fee of $12 per vehicle is used to support the park. A helpful resource for finding your way around the property if you’re not familiar with it is the purchase of a trail map for an easy $1 you can obtain at the park’s entrance.
  • PET FRIENDLINESS: Your canine friends will appreciate being taken to Malibu Creek State Park. Keep in mind, however, dogs are only allowed in the parking lot and campground. They are not permitted on the trails.

* Prices subject to change without notice.

GUADALAJARA… “Downtown Houston’s Answer to Authentic Tex-Mex Cuisine!”

When visiting downtown Houston, make a point to stop in at Guadalajara Del Centro in the city’s Central Business District. Amidst the intricate web of pedestrian tunnels and skywalks interconnecting the city from one building to the next, there is a locale for those seeking authentic Tex-Mex cuisine in a relaxed, casual setting. Guadalajara Del Centro serves up some of the best Tex-Mex cuisine we’ve enjoyed in some time, and we were quite pleased that we elected to experience this locals’ favorite lunchtime locale.

Guadalajara

An easy walk from nearby hotels and convenient shopping locations, Guadalajara Del Centro sits among a plethora of activities that make up part of what downtown Houston has to offer. At first approach, you’ll know you’ve arrived at this culinary hacienda by the friendly hostess at the front entry and the splendid hues of bright colors that welcome you inside with their inviting arms of a multitude of pigments sure to delight any patron.

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With a vast array of choices for seating inside from stand-alone tables to comfortable booths with satisfying views of the city streets through huge windows overlooking the comings and goings of passers-by, the interior of the restaurant greets its visitors with pleasant and comforting surroundings that make any meal an enjoyable one.

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House Made Tortilla Chips, Handmade Salsa & Margaritas

Complimentary house made tortilla chips and fresh handmade salsa will satisfy your cravings for something savory and tasty while you peruse the extensive menus that are placed before you as you are seated by a gracious server. We took advantage of the Happy Hour drink specials and ordered a couple of the eatery’s House Margaritas and those pacified us along with the chips and salsa until our order of Guacamole “MTO” arrived.

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GUACAMOLE “MTO”

The “MTO” stands for “Made To Order”, and the guacamole at this Tex-Mex culinary smorgasbord of divine offerings served up their version of this creamy and fresh appetizer favorite in a snap. Consisting of ripe avocadoes, vine-ripe tomatoes, zesty onion, cilantro, house seasonings and fresh-squeezed lime, this guacamole starter is the perfect palate pleaser to begin your culinary enjoyment of a meal at this location.

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Del Centro Chopped Chicken Salad

How does a mixture of chopped crunchy bacon, creamy chilled avocado, crisp tortilla strips, chopped tomato, sweet roasted corn, and chopped lettuces topped with queso fresco sound for a lunchtime treat? How about adding a pile of chopped grilled chicken and a side of your favorite dressing? The Del Centro Chopped Chicken Salad will deliver all of this, plus offer an option of selecting grilled fajita steak or shrimp in lieu of the grilled chicken. Our choice of the chicken suited our taste perfectly. Lean tender and flavorsome chunks of white meat chicken combined with the crunch of fresh greens, onion, sweet roasted corn and crunchy tortilla strips drizzled with creamy cilantro and mango-lime dressings topped it off nicely.

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Enchiladas Guadalajara

The Enchiladas Guadalajara provided healthy spinach and grilled shredded chicken wrapped in blankets of tender tortillas with a roasted corn sauce and white cheeses. Served with Mexican rice and refried beans, which sated my remaining cravings for all things Tex-Mex during our lunchtime feast, I couldn’t have been more in awe from the culmination of flavors that I experienced by indulging in this house special. I could literally consume this entrée multiple times a week and never tire of its incredible and mouthwatering texture and sapidity.

Based in one of the country’s largest meccas of business and corporation-based city’s with so much to take part in from shopping to outdoor activities, to fine dining and upscale lodging choices while in town, make Guadalajara Del Centro one of your stops while in downtown Houston for authentic, memorable, and unforgettable Tex-Mex cuisine happiness.

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: Celebrating the fiesta that is Tex-Mex cuisine, the interior hues and décor of this eatery provide vibrant bursts of vivid greens, sharp blues, cheerful yellows, and complimentary neon lighting throughout the restaurant in addition. Warm light woodwork serves as a calming backdrop to the lively tones, while modern styled lighting fixtures and lush greenery bordering an upstairs loft-like dining area offer more intriguing visual detail.
  • FOOD / DRINK: From Skinny Girl cocktail selection for the calorie-conscious libation lover to the fan of the original “house” margarita, there is something for everyone with a full bar and plethora of cocktail items on the menu to choose from. Tie a few flavorsome drinks in with a phenomenal meal at Guadalajara Del Centro from the selection of Tex-Mex fare favorites, and you’ll find yourself returning to experience more of what this upscale casual establishment has to offer its patrons.
  • LOCATION: Guadalajara Del Centro is located in Houston’s downtown arena of activity at 1201 San Jacinto Street, Suite 141 in Houston, TX 77002.
  • HOURS: Serving lunch and dinner, this restaurant is available Monday through Thursday from 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM, on Fridays and Saturdays from 11:00 AM until 11:00 PM, and on Sundays from 12:00 noon through 9:00 PM. We enjoyed the fact that lunch was served until 4:00 PM!
  • SERVICE / STAFF: Our server was punctual, professional, friendly, and thoroughly knew the menu and specials of the day. Her timing of items being delivered to us from the kitchen was perfectly presented, and our questions about the location and the cuisine were answered confidently and without hesitation.
  • PRICE / VALUE: Considering the ambiance, upscale location, popularity of this eatery and fine Tex-Mex cuisine offered, the higher prices than most ordinary establishments serving similar cuisine was still appreciated, For a few dollars more per item ordered, we gladly forked over a bit more money to be enveloped in such a beautiful and festive locale close to all of the activities of downtown Houston.
  • CORKAGE FEE: TBA
  • PARKING: Ample parking is available through the use of city parking garages, as well as some street parking. This location is easily accessible from some hotels located nearby as well.
  • PRICING: We received complimentary house made tortilla chips with a refreshing and not-too-spicy handmade salsa to start things off. With the chips and salsa, we ordered two of the House Margaritas at just $5 per order (during Happy Hour) and began sipping our chilled libations to a blissful second round. We chose the Guacamole “MTO” (Made To Order) appetizer to start our elongated leisurely lunch on this particular visit for an easy $11, while our second round of House Margaritas began disappearing. Ready for more deliciousness from the kitchen at that point, orders of the Chopped Chicken Salad entrée and Spinach Chicken Enchilada entrée arrives at $13 each with an addition of sour cream on the side for an added $2. A third round of margaritas accompanied our main entrees, which finished us off with no room for dessert after such a filling, yet flavor-packed and satisfying meal.

* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.

CAFE DU MONDE… “The Crescent City’s 24-Hour Meeting Place!”

One of our most revered coffeehouses in the Big Easy is the ever famous Cafe Du Monde on Decatur Street. This casual, come-as-you-are establishment has been serving their popular powdered sugar topped beignets and world famous cafe au lait for decades now, and has no reason to visualize that slowing down anytime soon. The circa 1862 venue started by the Fernandez family now seats up to 400 patrons, offering an expansive covered patio complete with overhead ceiling fans as well as a more intimate action-packed indoor seating area where visitors can get a glimpse of the excitement closer to the kitchen and stainless steel service counter. We’ve patronized both spaces, which offer up-close-and-personal views of people coming and going in and out through the city, the occasional gathering of city pigeons hoping to snag a morsel of leftover beignet that has fallen off of a table, as well as phenomenal world-class hot beignets and savory New Orleans cafe au lait.

Cafe du Monde

Located within the New Orleans French Market, Cafe Du Monde has perfected the sugary treat of the ever classic beignet, a French pastry which was first brought to Louisiana through the Acadian culture. A simple menu of the basics…beignets, coffee, cafe au lait, orange juice and white and chocolate milk have stood the test of time and make the ordering process that much more simple. Ask any local or seasoned Crescent City traveler how to order at Cafe Du Monde, and most will explain that when at this tradition-laden cafe, all you need to remember is “beignets and cafe au lait” as you approach the order window.

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Café Au Lait & Hot Beignets Covered In Powdered Sugar

Though the shape and method of preparation has changed slightly over the years, the flavor, texture, and light-as-air end result of Cafe Du Monde’s beignets couldn’t be better than what this coffee merchant is proud to be known so well for. Prepare to get powdered! Because that’s what novice beignet consumers won’t be prepared for. Unless you’re a veteran sugar-covered beignet connoisseur and know those little tricks for NOT leaving half of the powdered sugar on yourself rather than on your beignets! But then again, that’s just a part of the experience. Served three to an order, these heavenly square pillows of melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness will find their way into your life somehow, someway. Wash those beignets down with a mug of the cafe’s popular cafe au lait, (French for coffee mixed with hot milk), and you’ve really got yourself something special. The coffee at Cafe Du Monde is chicory based, which provides a subtle almost chocolate essence and boldness to this much enjoyed beverage of choice. It also takes the edge off of the pure coffee taste.

INSIDER’S TIP: This coffeehouse is a “cash-only” venue, so don’t forget to take some along with you before you head out to the cafe so you can enjoy all that it has to offer.

Most people are intrigued when they realize that chicory is actually the root of the endive plant, which is roasted and then ground to be added to the coffee. Pretty interesting trivia there. As many times as we’ve visited the city and Cafe Du Monde over the years during our travels, that’s one fact we weren’t aware of until our most recent visit when we chatted up a storm with our server. Oh…that’s another point of interest…the service. Every server has a story…or two…or three to share if you ask them. We’ve never left the place without learning some new tidbit about the city, or about about the coffeehouse, or about how they wound up working there. It’s always proven interesting to us.

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There is so much to see and do and partake in within the city of New Orleans. From Jackson Square, named after Battle of New Orleans hero Andrew Jackson, to the Louisiana architecture, to the city’s annual Mardi Gras festivities, to the mighty Mississippi River and the plethora of antique shops, art galleries, and fine Southern cuisine. Whatever your interest, there will be something awaiting you in this city of never-ending entertainment and intrigue.

Consider stopping in at Café Du Monde on your next trip to New Orleans. Anytime of the day or night is the perfect time to enjoy some of the city’s best-loved coffee and sugary-topped treats while you’re in town. The establishment and the location it exists in is rich in history, packed to the brim in layer upon layer of culture, and offers Louisiana hospitality and tradition not to be missed.

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: Simple and spacious, the traditional green-and-white striped awning surrounding the eatery’s outdoor covered patio signals passers-by to its French Market location.
  • FOOD / DRINK: With all of the surrounding restaurants in the French Market, Cafe Du Monde sits proudly amongst them all serving their famous coffee and beignets to the masses of patrons that ebb and flow through the cafe around the clock.
  • LOCATION: Cafe Du Monde is located in the historic French Market at 800 Decatur Street in New Orleans, LA 70116.
  • HOURS: The coffeehouse is available for service 24 hours a day except for Christmas Day when it closes its doors from 6:00 PM until 6:00 AM on December 26th. Torrential weather factors may also be reason to close on occasion.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: A terrific place for those who enjoy people watching activities and a friendly and courteous staff offering loads of southern hospitality. Filled with pleasant conversation, the servers are ready to intrigue their customers with their wit and knowledge of the eatery and the city it is housed within.
  • PRICE / VALUE: A fair value for some of the best beignets you’ll ever enjoy sinking your teeth into. The coffee will change your perception of the typical cup of morning joe!
  • CORKAGE FEE: This establishment is all about coffee and beignets! See our other articles for great eateries and their related corkage charges.
  • PARKING: Street parking is available nearby, as well as private lots throughout the city. We usually stroll from our hotel to nearby shops, then end up at the cafe. Another idea is to have your hotel’s house car drop you at Cafe Du Monde first, then you can enjoy making your way back to your hotel from there walking through the city, and perusing the sites, shopping venues, and galleries.
  • PRICING: At just $2.42 each for the two orders of beignets we chose, and a simple $3.97 per cup of cafe au lait for each of us, we had a lovely time for under $13.00! (Of course, we’re not including the souvenir mugs and other items we purchased to take home with us!)

* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.

THE WINE CELLAR TASTING ROOM @ THE RIO CASINO.. “Hidden Seclusion With Unparalleled Intrigue!”

Amongst the boisterous ringing of bells and flashing of lights from this slot machine laden playground, customers chatting and wondering why they didn’t get that last “7″ or that “21″ or that “Royal Flush”, and the ingress and egress of staff coming and going as shifts change, there does exists a secluded and intimate space for those seeking refuge from all of the noise and chaos and even headache-causing anxieties of losing that last hundred in your pocket. Those consumers of all things wrapped beautifully in solace and prestige and worthiness. Behold, the Wine Cellar & Tasting Room within the Rio Casino in Sin City.

The Wine Cellar

When visiting the energy-filled city of Las Vegas, we always make time to journey off the south end of the strip to the unique and tucked-away location that has become one of our favorite places to get away from the loudness and at times craziness of this twenty-four-hour city. Located through an entrance inside the casino’s Masquerade Lounge, you’re not far away from your destination. Submerging oneself lower and lower into this virtual wine cave via a stunning wrought iron spiral staircase as it descends into a massive cellar made specifically for the pleasure of visiting wine connoisseurs and experimental tasters alike. We enjoy visiting the Wine Cellar Tasting Room before going out to dinner when we’re in town. Sort of a relaxing and intimate preempt to a fabulous meal in this city that prides itself on cuisines from all over the world from some of the best chefs across the globe.

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Relax in comfort and luxury on soft enveloping leather sofas and chairs strategically positioned in intimate locations, while a seat at the tasting bar allows for informative and friendly conversation with one of the sommeliers on staff at any given time. Private gatherings, reserved wine tastings for large parties, and wine dinners can be enjoyed in one of the cellar’s beautiful cellar rooms made available for those occasions as well.

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Wine Cellar Menu & Charcuterie

The cellar stewards informed us that the space features over 50,000 bottles valued at over ten million dollars…some even once owned by Thomas Jefferson himself. With over 100 wines by the glass, there truly is something here for everyone. We indulged in one of the food and wine pairings on our most recent trip to this rustic stone surround with mesmerizing archways. A perfect addition to starting any evening at the Wine Cellar.

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Champagne Flights

The array of Champagnes available for tasting (and consuming) is varied and offers an expansive selection to choose from. Enjoy a charcuterie plate made to order at the tasting bar for added enjoyment and nourishment while you sip your way to the start of an amazing evening. See the Wine Cellar’s menu for the collection of cheese plates, as well as fresh baked breads to aide in your enjoyment of your selected vintages.

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Wine Flights For Everyone

The offering of an expansive selection of wines always catches our eye. We’ve gone through flavorful Pinot stages, crisp buttery Chardonnay stages, bubbly Champagne phases, and custom-selected mixed tastings as well. We’ve also just sat at the tasting bar, ordered a bottle from the cellar, and occupied one of the velvety soft leather couches for hours as we enjoyed our selection with a few of the cellar’s tasty bites that not only enhanced the wine’s flavor, but posed as a prelude to our evening out in the city.

The Wine Cellar Tasting Room invites curious casino-goers, wine connoisseurs, as well as the novice who enjoys a great glass of wine or Champagne. Tucked away inside the Rio Casino & Resort, the trek from the strip is well worth the sojourn to experience the fascinating and romantic existence that is the Wine Cellar.

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: Neutral colored stone walls and archways welcome customers inside once descending from the two-story spiral staircase off the casino floor. Step out of the casino space and into somewhere else completely different. Comforting leather furniture and eclectic décor enhance the ambience even further.
  • FOOD / DRINK: Sensational flavors from charcuterie plates, fresh baked breads, and not to mention the plethora of fruity, buttery, and bubbly libations will leave you contemplating why you never heard of this place before.
  • LOCATION: The Wine Cellar Tasting Room is located within the Masquerade Lounge inside the Rio Casino & Resort at 3700 West Flamingo Road in Las Vegas, NV 89103.
  • HOURS: The Wine Cellar Tasting Room is available for service Mondays through Thursdays from 4:00 PM until 10:00 PM, on Fridays and Saturdays from 3:00 PM until 11:00 PM, and on Sundays from 3:00 PM until 10:00 PM.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: The well-informed staff of sommeliers and wine stewards will awe you with their knowledge and we’ll-informed know-how behind the tasting bar. Kind and conversational with terrific personal stories to entice their guests, you won’t leave without some interesting tidbit of information about a celebrity visit, a new vintage being harvested, or a happening in the ity itself.
  • PRICE / VALUE: You’re in Vegas, so expect things to be a bit higher priced than other locales. But for what was offered to us in relation to what the items of indulgence we’re priced on the menu, we had no qualms about anything.
  • CORKAGE FEE: Forget about bringing your own bottle in here. Just go and enjoy being catered to and see why we love this place so much.
  • PARKING: There is spacious complimentary parking available as well as valet service at the main entrances of the casino.
  • PRICING: The pricing of different flights includes an expansive range from one vintage and label to the next. Throw in a few bites with those at their own array of prices and inclusions, and your total bill could be average or exit any depending on what you select. Any way you go, you will enjoy the experience of patronizing the Wine Cellar Tasting Room.

* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.

MISTRAL RESTAURANT… “Classic French Dining Not To Be Missed!”

True traditional French cuisine outside of France itself can sometimes be difficult to find. Some establishments give it a good try, and almost arrive at a “close-to” rendition. However, Mistral restaurant in Sherman Oaks, CA parallels the perfection of fine French flavors in an elegant bistro-like setting amidst Ventura Boulevard’s bustling setting. Since 1988, Mistral has been enchanting its patrons with its phenomenal French cuisine, intimate and romantic ambience, and stellar service. As one of our favorite establishments in the San Fernando Valley, we felt we had to include a review of this unique and consistent dining institution for our SavorHour.com readers to enjoy.

Mistral

Elegant surroundings captivate patrons at every turn from the stunning chandeliers overhead to the crisp white table linens to the five-star wait staff service. Dark woodwork casts a richness throughout he eatery while colorful fresh floral arrangements provide vibrant hues and added subtle fragrance at tables as patrons dine. Fine artwork impresses, while a stylish 1920s full bar with all the class one could imagine exists to delight guests craving a hand crafted adult libation and conversation with a seasoned mixologist.

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 Country Breads & Crisp Chardonnay

The house made thick-cut country bread served before meals is reason alone to visit this popular establishment. Pair that with a few glasses of chilled Chardonnay selected personally by Henri and you’re sure to have an enjoyable start to any meal at Mistral Restaurant. Mistral offers an extensive wine list which provides something for everyone’s taste. Though outside bottles are allowed, we’ve never found a need to bring our own with Henri’s fine cellar selections.

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Fried Calamari & Marinara Sauce

The Fried Calamari at Mistral is one to savor over and over again. If you love calamari, you simply must experience it at this fine eatery. A heaping lightly seasoned plate of these fried rings of heavenly flavor sedate even the hungriest of patrons, while the house made sensational mouthwatering marinara sauce makes for the perfect addition to these expertly prepared orbs of deliciousness. A squeeze of fresh lemon creates a flavorsome finish to each forkful. In the many years we’ve been dining at Mistral, we haven’t been able to order just one of these starters when we’ve visited the restaurant yet. Usually, we wind up taking one of our entrees home with us because we’ve eaten so much of the calamari! It’s just that extraordinary!

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Sand Dabs

The city’s number one preparation of Sand Dabs is served at Mistral in our opinion. There are a number of competing establishments in the area that get pretty close to the quality, consistency, and presentation of Mistral’s Sand Dabs entrée, but none have ever met or surpassed the savory flavors of crisped tender sand dabs covered in a succulent lemon butter sauce filled with pungent capers, fresh herbs, and flavor beyond belief. Henri knows a thing or two about a terrific sand dab preparation, which is always consistent and proudly presented. These are a seasonal treat, so if Henri’s sand dab entrée is on the menu, don’t miss out on the opportunity to indulge in these highly recommended gifts of the sea.

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Cappellini With Basil and Tomatoes

The Cappellini With Basil and Tomatoes also offers a generous portion fresh of garlic and basil as well. All the ingredients merge to create a comforting and memorable flavor-packed meal. Served amply, this entrée could almost be enjoyed by two diners, as it is a very large portion. The fresh chopped tomatoes burst with flavor, and the garlic and basil compliment the entire dish nicely. Paired with a beautiful glass of wine, this is the ultimate in pasta presentations no matter what the temperature is outside.

Fine French fare is waiting for you at Mistral. Allow Henri and his expertly-poised staff to sufficiently cater to your culinary requirements, the ambience take you somewhere else, and the fine meals available deliver you to a place of contentment and satisfaction.

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: The classic wooden bar makes for an excellent conversation piece over cocktails before a meal, while the fine art on the walls, graceful chandeliers hanging overhead, and bistro-like upscale setting will embrace you with their inviting reach.
  • FOOD / DRINK: Our long-standing traditional favorites at Mistral include many items on the menu. However, some of our long-time most loved dishes include the Fried Calamari starter, selection of Chardonnay wines, the Sand Dabs entrée, and the Cappellini presentations with all things fresh and flavorsome.
  • LOCATION: Mistral is located at 13422 Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks, CA 91423.
  • HOURS: Serving lunch and dinner, the restaurant is available Monday through Friday for lunch from 11:30 AM until 2:30 PM, and again for dinner from 5:30 PM to 10:00 PM. Saturdays provide patronizing from 5:30 PM until 10:00 PM, while on Sundays, customers may enjoy dining from 5:00 PM until 9:30 PM.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: Executive Chef and owner, Henri Abergel has been taking great care of us for years. His pride in the ownership and oversight of his popular eatery shows just how strong his love of the restaurant business truly is.
  • PRICE / VALUE: The prices reflect the quality at Mistral. Excellence, savory cuisine, attention to details by the staff, a romantic and elegant setting…expect to be impressed.
  • CORKAGE FEE: The eatery charges a $20 corkage fee per 750mL bottle.
  • PARKING: The restaurant provides valet parking as well as metered street parking in front of the establishment.
  • PRICING: The four glasses of wine we enjoyed were $17 each, while the expertly prepared Calamari arrived at $14.50. The Sand Dabs entrée was priced at $18.00, and the perfectly simple, yet certainly savory and delicious Cappellini was an easy $18.50.

Mistral  Restaurant Reviews

* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.

PRIME RESTAURANT… “Atlanta’s Dual-Concept Success!”

In the prestigious neighborhood of Buckhead in Atlanta, Georgia’s bustling city lifestyle, there’s a restaurant we frequent quite a bit when visiting the area. The locale is situated on the second floor of the upscale Lenox Square Mall. Yes, inside a mall. We’re not big into “mall dining”, but this sophisticated culinary anomaly quickly changed our minds when a long day of shopping led us to cure our cravings for all things savory and palatable. Having opened its doors in 1996, Prime Restaurant has been satisfying patrons’ hunger pangs and culinary requests without fail. Overseen by internationally renowned Chef Dan Garner, the eatery has prevailed exceptionally well in its now almost 19th year of business. One of the city’s forerunners in the restaurant circle to have a successful steakhouse-sushi theme, Prime Restaurant has also recently earned Gayot’s “Top 10 Atlanta Steakhouse Restaurants” award in addition to their “2014 Best Atlanta Steak Restaurant” acclamation. Both well-deserved by Chef Garner’s sublime American, Japanese, and seafood creations all served in a swanky and contemporary ambience.

Prime

The light woodwork in the sushi lounge contrasted by dark granite atop the bar offers a warm and inviting effect overall, while friendly and efficient servers cater to your needs and culinary desires. Cobalt blue travels from pendant lighting over the bar to the main dining room’s water goblets donning flashes of eye-popping color. White tablecloths and an inpouring of natural light through floor-to-ceiling windows in the main dining room offer a chic motif and a comforting dining space to be enjoyed by all.

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Prime Special Rolls & Dancing Eel Rolls

When that craving for creative handcrafted edible excellence arrives, try a few of Prime’s fresh creations in the sushi lounge. We have two all-time favorites here. First, the Prime Special Roll, which is crafted with succulent snow crab, creamy chilled avocado, crisp cucumber, barbecued eel, and tender smoked salmon all rolled up into a beautiful and flavorful presentation before you. Add a couple of Dancing Eel Rolls to the order with perfect pairings of snow crab, avocado, eel and teriyaki sauce, and you’ve got two sensational creations to enjoy with each phenomenal bite.

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Slow Roasted Prestige Farms Chicken, Tuna Tataki & Cappuchino

Consider two more of our favorites from Prime Restaurant’s flavor-packed menu selections. A simple, yet classic favorite of many who patronize this establishment is the Slow Roasted Prestige Farms Chicken entree. Mouthwatering and fork tender chicken is lovingly roasted then placed upon a bed of fluffy mashed potatoes with sautéed haricot verts then is finished off with a succulent veal jus. Things keep getting better with the Tuna Tataki presentation, which offers delicately seasoned tuna displayed beautifully with sliced cucumber rounds topped off with a generous drizzling of ponzu sauce and a quail egg.

For a culinary experience not to be forgotten, Prime Restaurant offers an extensive menu sure to please most anyone’s desires for all things appetizing, satisfying, and memorable. From prime steaks to fresh handmade sushi and sashimi offerings to traditional classics sure to delight the palate. The comforting and inviting setting and well-informed staff will please with their customer service skills and friendly conversation, while the entire environment will set you at ease and convince you to return again very soon.

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: The inviting entry to this dining establishment welcomes patrons inside with an impressive spacious sushi lounge and complete full elegant, yet comfortable dining room alongside floor to ceiling windows that allow lots of light in during the day. Bursts of vibrant cobalt blues, soothing light woodwork, and a selection of seating choices offer something for everyone.
  • FOOD / DRINK: Fresh sushi and sashimi preparations, intriguing cocktails, prime steaks and delectable seafood presentations as well as classic favorites. The establishment boasts over 250 labels available by the glass and by the bottle for your enjoyment.
  • LOCATION: The eatery is located inside Lennox Square mall at 3393 Peachtree Road NE, Suite 4030 on the second floor in the Buckhead community of Atlanta, GA 30326.
  • HOURS: The restaurant is available for service Monday through Thursday from 11:30 PM until 10:00 PM, Friday and Saturday from 11:30 AM to 11:00 PM, and on Sundays from 4:00 until 9:00 PM.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: The staff’s well-directed demeanor is quite pleasing. We’ve always had impeccable service, servers and management who have gone above and beyond for us, and memorable friendly conversations with employees who remember us and welcome us back when we return.
  • PRICE / VALUE: The price point at Prime Restaurant has always seemed satisfactory to us considering what one receives for the value it provides.
  • CORKAGE FEE: Unfortunately, no outside alcohol is permitted inside the restaurant at this time.
  • PARKING: The Lenox Square Mall offers ample complimentary parking surrounding the building, while valet service at the main entrance has proved convenient for us.
  • PRICING: The Prime Special Rolls and Dancing Eel Rolls arrived at $12 each, while the Slow Roasted Prestige Farms Chicken came in at $17. The Tuna Tataki was priced at an easy $9.

Prime  Restaurant Reviews

* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.

McCRADY’S RESTAURANT… “History, Romance & James Beard Excellence!”

A romantic stroll arm-in-arm one evening led us down an ages-old cobblestone alleyway lit only by the soft glow of antique gas lanterns to what we would soon consider to be one of the best meals of our lives. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places & Landmarks, within the walls of what was once known as Charleston’s first tavern built in 1771 located in the middle of the historic French Quarter district of downtown Charleston, SC this unique-all-to-itself culinary anomaly has been pleasing the distinctive palates of discriminative patrons since opening its doors as McCrady’s Restaurant to the public. I was excited to not only be spending a romantic evening dining in one of the city’s top restaurants, but also to be a consumer of a menu crafted by none other than Chef Sean Brock…multiple James Beard Award winner, passionate foodie, culinary genius.

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This downtown locale of opulent grandeur and elegance welcomed us in with its larger than life gastronomic arms undoubtedly knowing and priding itself on the fact that it would possess our undivided attention in every way culinary. Exposed rustic brick walls and archways reminded us of dining in a private wine cellar, while deep violet-hued seating added to the visual complacency of the overall appearance of the main dining room. Vibrant pops of color burst forth from fine art hung on the walls surrounding us and two massive wood burning fireplaces took charge of overseeing the evening crowd, while cathedral-style, almost gothic chandeliers hung overhead. Around a corner in a seductively inviting lounge where George Washington was rumored to have visited on many occasions, rich woods graced with touches of rubbed bronze accents welcome the lone diner or the seasoned traveler hoping for a unique hand-shaken libation or nightly special creation from the kitchen. A striking floor-to-ceiling space reserves time for leisurely evenings complete with festive liquid libation creations. Contemporary crimson under-lighting beneath a spacious bar, and an intimate coved dining space are overseen by a second story wine cellar on display as you look to the heavens from this seductive space, while elegant modernly-enhanced bar-mounted lighting fixtures provide a cast of soft illumination offering an intriguing ambiance in this historic space.

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Custom Martinis & Artisan Breads

Homemade artisan bread is supplied to each meticulously-set dining table, while soft radiations of light create the perfect ambiance. Cathedral-style chandeliers hang overhead highlighting deep violet tones of dining chairs, exposed aged brick, and colorful pops of color from eye-catching vibrant paintings displayed on dining room walls. A feel of dining inside an private wine cellar prevails amongst the exposed brick and rich woods. My husband chose a simple yet indulgent rum cocktail, made with a distinct Mount Gay dark rum, while I was in the mood for a martini featuring freshly made artistry from the bar. I ordered an elderflower martini, and when our server said she would check if the lounge had elderflower to craft my request, I told her if not, a cucumber version would be acceptable as well. Upon her return, I was surprised with a new creation: an Elderflower-Cucumber martini. This was a new one for me, but quite pleasing enough that I ordered two more over the course of our dinner this particular evening.

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Cucumber, Green Strawberry & Radish Salad

With libations being consumed, and our orders places, our first of four courses arrived. Our four-course dinner selections began arriving soon after our second round of beverages were served. My husband’s appetizer choice was Chef Brock’s stunningly vibrant salad compiled with the likes of fresh sliced cucumber, unexpectedly refreshing green strawberries, bursts of radish for a flavor contrast, and a buttermilk lemon ricotta that joined all these luscious flavors in harmony. A sorrel vinaigrette enhanced this excellent mix of plated greenery, while fresh-picked herbs and shoots from the restaurant’s own rooftop garden were displayed beautifully amongst this collection of elegant edibles.

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Cox Farms Beef Tartare

After tasting Chef Brock’s Beef Tartare, we were without hesitation to add it to our top five favorite versions that we’ve ever remembered enjoying so much. Both visually appealing, and full of appropriate flavor, this version was compellingly intensified by the addition of Hay roasted beets, faro and lichen topped with a light-as-air multi grain cracker, and the intense inclusion of fresh pansies atop the finished product, which created a fairytale-esque vision to behold before devouring every single flavor-filled morsel remaining on the plate.

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Local Caught Pan Seared Trout

Our second course started with my selection of the Local Pan Seared Trout. A magnificent filet of local caught trout was strategically placed upon a plate of fava bean and parsnip cream, while a benne inclusion added a flavorsome sesame taste to the dish. The additional surprise of Wild Bay foam delighted our visual perception, and forced us to succumb to the intriguing and intense layer upon layer of unexpected, yet highly appreciated flavor.

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Artistic Presentation of Pan Sautéed Snapper

The Pan Sautéed Snapper offering was my husband’s choice for his second-of-four courses. Aromatic, visually pleasing, and succulent from first bite to last, this pan sautéed white fleshed provision from local waters appeared artistically prepared and impressive. A conglomeration of seasonal rhubarb, crunchy celery, green almonds, and an ample accompaniment of Polenta di Riso completes the dish nicely.

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Cox Farms Ribeye

A third course for my other half arrived offering more culinary artistry and excellence. The Cox Farms Ribeye, ramp, fennel, pistachio, and lime. This presentation was not only a vision to behold, but a sensual flavor experience as well. The tender succulent portion of savory beef graced with exceptional unique enhancements was a surprising, yet delightful experience we were thrilled to partake in.

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Duo of Berkshire Pork

Berkshire Farms pork offered us a lighter, yet still hearty third course option. Tender from the first bite to the final savory morsel that was devoured, we appreciated the colorful display of fresh asparagus, honeycomb-shaped sensational morel mushrooms, and a mustard with burnt honey finale that combined to create the expertly-composed flavors of this main course perfection. Trying to not wait too long as we were mesmerized by the visual charm of this thick-cut presentation, once that first taste was savored, we realized just how nonstop this flavor endeavor was becoming.

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Ambrose Strawberry Tart & Elderflower and Frozen Parfait of Grits

The fourth and final course for the evening was that of pure sugary delight and satisfaction. So much so that every taste of our selections nearly danced on our taste buds in sheer delight. The offering of all things vibrantly colored and expertly flavored appeared in stunning shades of vibrant reds with coordinating garnishes. The Ambrose Strawberry Tart crafted from berries recovered from Chef Brock’s personal garden on Wadmalaw Island kept company by a presentation of strawberry sorbet and an essence of my favorite enhancement…elderflower. The other, a parfait of grits beneath a crisp disc of crunchy sweetness situated upon a pool of Geranium broth and a preserved dewberry finish atop the presentation offering an added punch of fresh fruit flavor. House made macaroons and almond cookies were given to us by our server on top of it all.

Concluding our divine dining experience at McCrady’s Restaurant, we looked around and realized we had closed the establishment down. We often have a habit of doing this, which we have become known at many establishments for doing. There’s just something about a magical meal, a perfectly charming ambiance, and that feeling of perfection that we so enjoy partaking in. That’s what patrons will experience at this lavish dining institution. We will be returning again very soon, as we were so very impressed by the culinary expertise, alluring environment, and charm woven into the eatery from a city well known for such an attribute.

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: The elegant setting the restaurant provides its patrons proves welcoming and inviting. Warm hues and a contrast of exposed aged brick wrap diners in a world of all things colorful, soothing, and tantalizing.
  • FOOD / DRINK: The cuisine displayed stunning renditions of Lowcountry favorites, but with Chef Brock’s highly skilled touch and culinary sophistication. Truly Southern fine dining at it’s utmost best.
  • LOCATION: McCrady’s Restaurant is located amongst Charleston’s cobblestone walkways at 2 Unity Alley in Charleston, SC 29401.
  • HOURS: The eatery is available for dinner Sunday through Thursday from 5:00 PM until 9:30 PM, and on Fridays and Saturdays from 5:00 PM until 10:30 PM.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: The professional and spot-on service the staff presents is almost uncanny. Noticeable strength in servers’ capability to provide quality service will impress as well as not go forgotten or unspoken about outside of this establishment.
  • PRICE / VALUE: The awe-inspiring unique presentations of Chef Brock delight, while hand shaken adult libations crafted by expertly-trained bartenders wow with visual and savory appeal. Items could have been priced double what they were and we would have gladly opened our pocketbooks to pay for such culinary grandeur and opulence.
  • CORKAGE FEE: The restaurant charges a $25 corkage fee per 750mL bottle.
  • PARKING: There is parking available in city parking garages as well as metered street parking in front of the establishment.
  • PRICING: The two four-course menus we chose this particular evening came in at $65 per person, while my husband’s three Mt. Gay Eclipse rum cocktails arrived for $9 apiece. My custom made Elderflower Cucumber martinis appeased me at $14 each.

*Menu and prices subject to change without notice.

RUSSIAN DACHA CAFE… “A Villa of Culinary Comfort!”

Satisfying our hankering for more savory Ukranian cuisine, we visited our favorite tucked-away Ukrainian-Russian eatery again for more savory presentations. Not unexpectedly proving yet again just what an ideal location this truly is for a romantic dining experience, power luncheon, or relaxing day out together. As most of our culinary experiences have proved during our many visits to Russian Dacha Cafe, this most recent adventure was no exception.

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Chilled Chardonnay & Kompot?

We had to show what the lunch special offers at this unassuming tucked-away locale. We arrived with a couple of bottles of our own wine to enjoy with our lunch selections on the “outdoor” patio beneath the flowering bougainvillea tree we have come to love so much. We chose one lunch special and one entree to start. The lunch special came with Kompot, which is a fruit punch of sorts made in nearly every Russian and Ukrainian household. Not too sweet, yet flavorful enough to satisfy on a warm day when dining al fresco, and a visually appealing hue of garnet that mesmerizes the eye.

Russian Dasha (2)1Red Borsch

The Red Borsch offering is a selection of items available from the lunch special menu. For just $11.99, patrons may select from a green salad, red borsch or solyanka, a side and an entree from the day’s selection of choices. We started with the Red Borsch above and were quite pleased with the steaming hot, vibrant-colored burst of flavor provided by such a delicious and hearty conglomeration of beets, crushed tomatoes and other compliant vegetables, pieces of lean pork, onions, garlic and a light herb addition. Each spoonful delivered palatable complacency, while the large chunks of beet and potato provided massive flavor and heartiness. Garnished with fresh picked parsley and a side of chilled sour cream, this dish is excellent as a starter for any meal at Russian Dacha Cafe.

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Beef Stroganoff 

Not your typical American version of Beef Stroganoff, this entree arrives straight from the oven in a clay serving vessel haloed by crispy fries atop a large serving plate. Not part of the lunch special options, we couldn’t resist trying this Russian feature which included a light addition of sour cream to its already meaty and hearty components of lean beef, sweet onions, thick-cut earthy mushrooms, a savory cream sauce, and coordinating herbs and spices. A perfectly prepared and ample serving, you might just have leftovers to take with you before the night’s over!

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Otbivnaya

The Otbivnaya is a tenderized pork steak which is seasoned then dipped in egg and flour then fried to a golden perfection. The lightly breaded exterior locks in the juiciness and savory flavors of this Russian favorite. Served with mashed potatoes and a freshly steamed vegetable medley. A perfectly rounded meal on a single plate, this lunch special choice fulfills as well as enlights with memorable tastes of culinary delight. 

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Chocolate Cheese Blintzes

The Chocolate Cheese Crepes are a subtly sweet and tempting finale to any meal at Russian Dacha Cafe. These delicately wrapped sweetened cheese confections offer an unsurpassable amount of satisfaction. Close your eyes for a moment and just imagine paper-thin pancake-like orbs gently wrapped around a creamy chilled cheese filling, then drizzled with a succulent chocolate sauce and showered with crunchy nuts! Large enough to share with another diner, and especially after the meal we enjoyed on this visit, we consider it the perfect sweet surrender to polish off a lovely meal at Russsian Dacha Cafe.

One of our all-time favorite dining institutions in Valley Village, CA offering an intimate and cozy ambience, succulent and flavorsome cuisine options, and no charge for personal bottles of wine, Champagne, or even vodka, Russian Dacha Cafe modestly and successfully leads the competition without hesitation.

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: The decor of Russian Dacha Cafe is alluring in a mysterious, yet intriguing way. Though it appears at first glance to be an indoor establishment with a quaint outdoor dining space is really an entirely outdoor restaurant. The draped canvas coverings force one to feel as though there is a differential dining area, yet the entire area is completely al fresco. Large flat screen televisions advertising Russian music videos creates an intriguing appeal when seated “indoors”, while on the immediate front area beneath a flowering Bougainvillea tree, romantic evenings may be enjoyed during those much loved California afternoons or evenings.
  • FOOD / DRINK: Succulent and stunning eye-appealing presentations accompanied by an open corkage allowance for bottles of wine and vodka.
  • LOCATION: The restaurant is located at 5338 Laurel Canyon Boulevard in Valley Village, CA 91607.
  • HOURS: Available for service Tuesday through Friday from 12:00 noon until 10:00 PM, and Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00 Noon until 11:30 PM. The eatery is closed on Mondays. (Call ahead if you plan to arrive late, as the eatery does close when business is slower on certain evenings).
  • SERVICE / STAFF: Tania usually serves us the flavor-filled items we often order at Russian Dacha Café. Her ability to befriend customers, level of kindness and professionalism, and sincere devotion to her patrons and her work offer unparalleled customer service to all.
  • PRICE / VALUE: The cuisine is enriched with flavor bursting from a varied selection of Russian and Ukrainian favorites at a reasonable price.
  • CORKAGE FEE: No corkage fee at this tucked-away restaurant…including bottles of wine as well as vodka!
  • PARKING: The easiest parking access exists along the sidewalk in front of the establishment.
  • PRICING: The Lunch Special arrived at a simple $11.99, while the Beef Stroganoff came in at a fair $14.99. We paid no corkage on the two bottles of wine we enjoyed with lunch, and we also indulged in a Cheese and Chocolate Blintz for dessert for an acceptable $6.50.

* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.

THE RAREBIT… “Penninsular Charleston’s Downtown Brunch Haven!”

Nestled amongst a myriad of crowd-pleasing restaurants and accommodating canteens and lounges of upper King Street’s numerous restaurants and bars is The Rarebit nestled conveniently between Ann and Mary streets along a thoroughfare of bustling window shopping and fine southern dining options. When considering meeting up with friends, family, or business associates for Sunday brunch, The Rarebit in downtown Charleston could just be the perfect place to gather. This no-reservations, first-come-first-served eatery offering traditional American comfort foods and all-day breakfast has fast become one of Charleston’s most loved locations to meet, greet, and eat. When we think of relaxed, lingering, and comforting savory Sunday brunches across the country, we think of The Rarebit as one of our top ten locales to patronize. A comforting food haven of decadent morsels awaiting hungry patrons providing inviting cozy booths and an elongated community table in the center of a welcoming eating space often bustling with a crowd of appetite-starved customers anxiously awaiting that satisfying moment when that first bite is savored and that final taste is remembered.

The Rarebit

Mimosas, Mules & Greyhounds

A varietal menu crafted to suit most anyone’s palate, all in an environment graced with a 60s touch and an emphasis on comfort and those diner-style favorites sought after by hungry patrons. The beverages are a must-do when visiting this culinary haven of goodness. All mixers are made in-house, while every libation is handcrafted right before your eyes at an impressive bar by knowledgeable and conversational mixologists. Juices are squeezed fresh daily, and there is quite a selective cocktail menu to peruse. A traditional Greyhound is served in a tall glass made with Smirnoff Vodka, grapefruit juice, and limeade with a grapefruit peel topper. I usually don’t order these unless I’m enjoying trays of fresh oysters on the half shell, but I had to give it a try. The result, a smooth preparation of chilled well-crafted flavors that sent my taste buds begging for another round of the flavorful chilled liquid. We also opted for the restaurant’s popular Moscow Mule served in a chilled copper mug blended with Smirnoff Vodka, Sweatman’s Ginger Beer, and that flavorful house made limeade. Several Mimosas were also ingested before we were even seated and proved refreshing and deserving, while the Bloody Mary concoctions delivered both adequate amounts of spice and satisfying grown up taste.

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Track Breakfast

Sometimes you just want a traditional breakfast in the morning. That’s why The Rarebit offers their Track Breakfast filled with flavorsome morning meal favorites. Served with a collection of two eggs, crisp bacon, and southern grits with a choice of white, wheat, or rye toast, this simple, Southern treat offers diners a great basic breakfast to begin the day (or end it) loaded with all the goodness one could expect.

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Huervos Rancheros

The eatery’s version of Huervos Rancheros arrives in a visual display of brilliant hues and its aroma is exceptionally pleasing. A house made corn tortilla is topped with a rich and creamy black bean purée, two expertly fried eggs, then is joined by chilled sliced vibrantly-colored avocado and roasted tomato salsa that will leave you craving more. Graced with a crown of hand-picked parsley, this succulent and visually appealing breakfast dish rivaled most Huervos Rancheros versions we’ve experienced elsewhere.

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Fish & Chips

Have a hankering for something fried and delicious to start your morning? It does happen, and there is a solution to morning battered happiness. Try the eatery’s Fish & Chips selection with their popular beer battered cod presented with house cut fries, southern chow chow, and the added inclusion of malt vinegar. I wasn’t planning on indulging in anything fried this particular Sunday, but I couldn’t resist, and would up devouring more than just a few bites of this light and airy battered plate of morning joy.

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Duck Confit Hash Blue Plate Special

I opted for choosing the daily special of the restaurant’s Duck Confit Hash. Just listening to our server explain what it was constructed of made my mouth water and speak out instantly, “We’ll take one of those also!” Happy that I did that, this preparation of breakfast delight arrived in all its splendor and glory to our table with the smells of everything wonderful wafting through the space. Two glorious perfectly poached eggs atop a heaping pile of potato chunks, portions of lean sumptuous duck meat, crispy bacon, and green onion all melded together with a luscious chalone sauce. Definitely a dish we feel should be made a permanent part of the menu.

We can only think of a hundred reasons that you should stop in and see what The Rarebit has to offer you in terms of a comforting ambience, delicious all-day fare, and liberating beverages. When sojourning through the Lowcountry of South Carolina, make The Rarebit one of your morning fare priorities. We know you won’t be disappointed!

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: The upscale diner motif is enhanced by various 60s-themed pictures and eclectic items placed throughout the eatery. An elongated communal table in the center of the restaurant allows for the casual enjoyment of drinks and bites, great people watching, and makes for the perfect area to meet fellow diners and make new friends in the process.
  • FOOD / DRINK: High quality ingredients and fresh squeezed juices make for superlative tasting meals and libations at this culinary gem.
  • LOCATION: The Rarebit is located at 474 King Street in downtown peninsular Charleston, SC 29403.
  • HOURS: The Rarebit serves Tuesday through Sunday from 11:00 AM until 2:00 AM with breakfast items from 11:00 AM to 1:00 Am, and their full menu from 11:00 AM until 10:00 PM.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: The proficiency, attention to detail, and level of service the staff displayed during our visit was impressive. Questions about the eatery and menu selections were answered confidently and without hesitation, while each employee offered a kind smile and was always willing to offer assistance.
  • PRICE / VALUE: The reasonable price point of the several items we tried and enjoyed was greatly appreciated. With being offered such perfect portions, we felt the restaurant was being fair with its price-to-value ratio.
  • CORKAGE FEE: The restaurant informed us that they don’t ordinarily have many personal wines brought in by patrons, but in that circumstance, they would certainly work out an acceptable corkage charge to accommodate diners.
  • PARKING: Metered street parking and area valet lots and garages are available to accommodate your vehicle while dining at this eatery.
  • PRICING: The Track Breakfast was simply priced at $7, while the Huervos Rancheros came in at an easy $8. The Fish & Chips was an acceptable $14 and was an ample portion of fish and fries, while the amazing Duck Hash Blue Plate Special arrived at $14. The Bloody Marys, Mimosas, and Moscow Mules came in at a fair $8 each. We also enjoyed a few Greyhounds priced each at $7.

* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.

VERSAILLES CUBAN RESTAURANT… “Mojo Sauce & the City’s BEST Roasted Chicken!”

When Orlando Garcia created his secret marinade sauce comprised of a special mix of seasonings he came to call Mojo sauce, he must have realized he was on to something amazing. Aside from the incredible authentic Cuban cuisine offering flavor and quality in every bite, Orlando’s Mojo sauce made his roasted chicken that much better. That’s just one thing that is so popular at his multiple Versailles locations on the western seaboard of the U.S.

Versailles (CA)

With California locations in Encino, Culver City, Los Angeles, and Manhattan Beach, Orlando’s cooking has become known over the years as some of the best Cuban cuisine there is in the area. Having had son William eventually join the family business, the two now continue the tradition of fine Cuban cuisine together. Upon the initial entry into the Encino location, the feel of Cuban culture immediately embraces patrons as they step inside. Vibrant tones of mustard yellows, lime greens, deep blues, and lively reds expressively welcome and invite with open arms, while the eclectic fusion of Native American, Spanish, African, and Caribbean heritages combine to produce the spectacular result of Cuban cuisine that many of us have come to know and love.

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Ensalada Mixta

The Ensalada Mixta is a gently tossed mixed salad of favorite fresh ingredients. Hand-sliced Beefsteak tomatoes offer company for the mixed greens and creamy chilled avocado, while the robust taste of red onions excite the palate and accompany the house made vinaigrette dressing to craft an incredibly refreshing, visually pleasing starter to any meal at Versailles.

Versailles (CA)1Famoso Pollo Versailles

The famous house specialty of this restaurant…the roasted garlic chicken. An ample portion, this half roasted chicken arrives succulent and fall-off-the-bone tender. Marinated in Orlando’s secret Mojo sauce with an eclectic mix of special seasonings and the perfect addition of garlic, this dish is then served with sliced onions and presented proudly to all whom order it. We ordered a side of white rice and beans to join this flavor experience, which went very well with the succulent roasted chicken specialty.

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Arroz Con Pollo

Love chicken and rice offerings? Then this menu choice will have you eating it nowhere else but a Versailles location! Tender marinated chicken mixed with Valencia rice the color of gold, special seasonings, and sweet fried plantains, then finished off with green peas and colorful pimentos. Such a festive appearance and an amazing display of robust hues that not only leave the local or visiting patron mesmerized by the presentation of this menu favorite, but also enthralled with the combination of flavors sure to please.

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Pollo En Salsa Barbacoa

I was literally fascinated with this dish. A roasted, amply-portioned half chicken smothered in the reataurant’s own tangy, sweet, and mouthwatering barbeque sauce, the Pollo En Salsa Barbacoa is THE meal of the century for the barbeque connoisseur. You’ll see just how perfectly tender this preparation truly is. It’s hard not to when you’ve got some of the most tender, juicy, savory roasted chicken you can wrap your appetite around!

So much to choose from, these are just a few delicious selections we tried at Versailles in Encino, California. Why not give these and other selections a try and see for yourself just what an anomaly the chain of Versailles restaurants has become on the west coast of Southern California. Our staff literally cannot wait to return for more deliciousness from this authentic Cuban eatery.

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: Golden yellow walls embrace patrons as they enter this location with warmth and hospitality. Pops of color in reds and blues and greens enhance the festive Cuban environment, and compliment the restaurant’s delicious fare.
  • FOOD / DRINK: The fun of visiting a restaurant never before experienced is sometimes the surprise you receive at first bite. Stunning presentations appealing both to the eye as well as the palate prepared lovingly in a kitchen serving the masses craving fine authentic Cuban cuisine.
  • LOCATION: This particular location of Versailles is located at 1740 Ventura Boulevard in Encino, CA 91316.
  • HOURS: The Encino Versailles is available for dining Sunday through Thursday 11:00 AM through 10:00 PM, and on Friday and Saturday from 11:00 AM until 1:00 PM.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: The service was exemplary during our feast at Versailles. We were quite impressed with the professionalism and superior care that was provided from our server and the staff.
  • PRICE / VALUE: The price point of the items at Versailles is incredibly reasonable for the succulent fare offered.
  • CORKAGE FEE: An acceptable $9.95 corkage charge exists per 750mL bottle brought into the restaurant to enjoy with your meal.
  • PARKING: There is available complimentary parking in the lot in front of the restaurant for your convenience.
  • PRICING: The Ensalada Mixtas were acceptable at $7.50, while the Famoso Pollo Versailles came in at $12.99. The side of steamed white rice arrived at $2.99, and the offering of black beans was priced at $1.99. The colorful and flavorsome Arroz Con Pollo was served for $14.99, while the Pollo En Salsa Barbacoa was a fair and reasonable $12.99.

* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.

HOUSTON’S RESTAURANT… “Power Lunches & Casual Sophistication!”

This is where it all started for me. My absolute adoration of this restaurant chain featuring classic upscale renditions of American classsics and a few original creations as well. Years ago, a group of college friends and I stopped in for lunch at the Houston’s Restaurant in Metairie, Louisiana and I was sold on the spot. The feel of this place was amazing. There was a sophisticated air to the environment where the staff was well-advised to please patrons, and where a lunch date with friends turned into one of the most memorable experiences for me.

Houston's Metairie

The mood of the establishment is inviting and spacious. Cozy dimly-lit nooks and comforting seats at a large full bar make for a pleasing and accommodating start to one’s evening. Colorful sea creatures swim in an aquatic tank beside the lounge watching passers-by while guests await a table to experience dining in this popular eatery.  Unique and at times whimsical decor creates a fun and lively ambiance, which brings forth conversation and laughter along with good times.

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Chicago-Style Spinach Dip

The Chicago-Style Spinach Dip is one flavorsome appetizer that we have enjoyed on numerous visits to this particular location. Cooked spinach and artichokes are joined together with gooey Parmesan and other cheeses to create a mouthwatering display of edible happiness. Crisp fresh tortilla chips are served along side as well as ramekins of salsa and sour cream. We promise you won’t be able to stop at just one bite of this incredible conglomeration of flavors. We know we certainly never can!

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Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes

A savory seafood dish that may be enjoyed between two patrons as a starter or as a full entree is the Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes. Served with the restaurant’s classic coleslaw, roasted marinated beets with goat cheese, and a sinful and rich, yet simplistic Pommery mustard sauce, these pan-sautéed blue crab patties of delight will have you wondering why you never had these before. A double thumbs-up for this menu selection, as these have to be some of the best crab cakes we’ve ever enjoyed!

INSIDER’S TIP: Despite the restaurant having taken this item off the menu for their seasonal rotation, ask your server if the chef will prepare this for you despite. If the kitchen has fresh lump crab meat and the necessary ingredients on hand, they’ll secretly whip a couple up in the kitchen for your dining pleasure as they did for us!

Houston's Metairie4Grilled Tuna Steak

If your taste buds are ready to be catapulted into overload status, then the Grilled Tuna Steak is just the thing to pacify those flavor receptors! Tender juicy Ahi tuna is pan seared in a Champagne vinaigrette then delicately sprinkled with Cajun seasoning. The hint of sweetness and touch of spice blends exceptionally well, while the additions of ponzu sauce and a side of coleslaw with fresh slices of ripe plum tomatoes add a refreshing note to this selection.

Houston's Metairie3Grilled Red Fish

An intriguing and flavor-filled sensation worth experiencing is the Grilled Red Fish. Prepared with crisped sizable rock shrimp, steamed broccoli, and a succulent lemon butter sauce, the fish is filleted daily to ensure freshness and is lovingly tended to over a hardwood grill, which truly brings out the flavor in most everything this intimate restaurant has to offer. Pile on that classic famous coleslaw, because it’s got to be one of the best around. Fresh, chilled, and loaded with flavor, I could literally eat an entire bowl of this and be completely happy.

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Pan Fried Fish

This was sensational! The Pan Fried Halibut crusted with Japanese breadcrumbs and seasoned with herbs and light spices arrived two filets to a serving. Accompanied by the classic coleslaw made famous by the Hillstone brand, the addition of halved plum tomatoes and a vessel of creamy Remoulade sauce and a squeeze of lemon set the tone perfectly. We loved the way the crunch of the crispy Panko exterior and the mildness of the interior flesh of the fish contrasted. The added burst of freshness from the tomatoes was also a nice touch.

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Coffee & Apple Walnut Cobbler

If you’re an apple pie connoisseur, you’re going to adore the Apple Walnut Cobbler dessert at Houston’s. This exuberant sweet gift of the sugar gods has been delivering us to places of contentment for years. Crunchy from the walnuts, perfectly gooey from the caramelized sugars, gingerly spiced with everything nice, and finished off with a giant scoop of vanilla ice cream, there simply could not be anything better. Add a couple of mugs of Houston’s exceptional coffee to that, and we don’t know how much closer to perfection you can get.

When traveling through the cities of south Louisiana, stop in at Houston’s Restaurant in the city of Metairie just outside of the Crescent City. We’re sure you won’t be disappointed with the elegant setting, attentive staff, and exceptional cuisine this location has to offer.

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: Both classically and modernly appointed, the restaurant exudes a warm and intimate ambiance perfect for most any occasion.
  • FOOD / DRINK: There is an array of choices to select from that will not only delight your palate, but will keep you returning again and again to this casual, yet classic restaurant. Crafty libations from the bar, savory memorable menu items, and desserts that will top off any meal without hesitation
  • LOCATION: This particular Houston’s Restaurant is located at 4241 veterans memorial Boulevard in Metairie, LA 70006.
  • HOURS: The eatery serves Monday through Saturday from 11:00 AM until 10:00 PM, and on Sundays from 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: The service at Houston’s is exemplary. It has been since our first visit, and we know it won’t be changing anytime soon.
  • PRICE / VALUE: The price point is spot on for the freshness and presentation of the fare.
  • CORKAGE FEE: There is NO CORKAGE CHARGE at Houston’s Restaurant!
  • PARKING: A large private lot is available for parking while patronizing the establishment.
  • PRICING: The Chicago-Style Spinach Dip was fairly positioned at a simple $12, while the Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes came in at a worth-every-penny $34. We were intrigued with the Grilled Ref Fish presentation at $28, and shared our praises with the chef over the Grilled Tuna Steak for $24. The Pan Fried Fish offering was a reasonable $26, and our finale of the Apple Walnut Cobbler for $8 and cups of coffee at $2.75 each we enjoyed polished our meal off nicely. 

Houston's on Urbanspoon

* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.

FOUR SEASONS RESORT SCOTTSDALE @ TROON NORTH… “Sonoran Dessert Prestige!”

 There are moments in life that we never forget. Moments in time that remind us to take a brief pause from our busy schedules, take a breath, and just take it all in. Moments that remind us to simply enjoy our experience because we deserve it…because we’ve earned it. We’ve lived many of those moments at a specific resort over the years. A place where bad times simply don’t exist. Amidst the cacti-plentiful foothills of Pinnacle Peak, a breathtaking lavish desert backdrop calls to those who are willing to surrender to the beauty of this desert oasis. Located in the Salt River Valley, Scottsdale AZ is home to picturesque sunsets and mountainous structures, is known world-wide as a destination spa and art gallery mecca, and is home to the Four Seasons Resort at Troon North. During our travels, we will come across resorts and hotels that strikes us as magical…as exceptional…as somewhere we could only experience in a dream. Visiting the Four Seasons Resort in Scottsdale at Troon North is a bit like walking into a dream.  A perfectly crafted Sonoran dream that every human being should experience at least once in their life. Four Seasons Scottsdale

 Known as “the West’s most Western town”, Scottsdale’s playing home to this grandiose resort is certainly a task it proudly covets. The property’s main entrance performs a magnificent job of impressing each guest that arrives at this desert sanctuary. The topography and visual complacency are storybook perfect while the available amenities are more than anyone could possibly hope for.  It amazed us just how well the resort itself was designed to so seamlessly fuse with the the stunning natural landscape as though it is was always an original component of the original backdrop.

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The main entrance into the resort’s reception area proves that a trip to this luxe and lavish resort is worthwhile. Southwestern styled decor ranging from the wagon wheel shaped spindle-style chandeliers hovering overhead to the hearty log-beamed ceilings to the strategic placement of vibrantly colored décor and appealing Arizona architecture, the weary traveler will be be immediately refreshed with libations from Onyx Bar & Lounge mere steps from the front desk and a comforting spacious living room with views over the property’s center green one level below.

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The Arizona landscape is truly stunning. From the Saguaro to the Kern Beavertail to the Arizona Hedgehog to the Eagle Claw and Prickly Pear, there is no shortage of cacti species to entertain the eye or involve the nature lover in us all. Beautiful walking trails and colorful flowering indigenous plants and trees add to the natural beauty as well. Try a hike at daybreak at Pinnacle Peak for an added adventure during your stay for something unique and reviving to the body and soul.

Four Seasons Scottsdale3It’s always nice being welcomed back to familiar locations we find ourselves returning to over the years.  Between our travel agent and the resort staff, we’re always treated to unique welcome gifts in our casita. It’s fun to see what will be there there waiting for us! We’ve appreciated the beverages, bottles of wine, chilled Champagne and strawberries, flavorsome snacks, and even treats and toys for our feline companion. They’re always so kind and we greatly appreciate their generosity.

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The resort offers 210 spacious guest casitas which convey the epitome of Arizona architecture. Soft-cornered adobe exteriors encase warm and inviting interior guest suites complete with gas fireplaces, handcrafted custom Mexican and Indian furnishings and artwork. In-suite bars provide alluring and creative snacking and beverage options, while L’Occitane bath amenities grace the tile and marble en-suite bathrooms exuding luxurious aromas of soothing and energetic verbena, sweet cherry blossom, and relaxing lavender.

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The very first thing we do when we check into our casita at the Four Seasons Scottsdale Resort @ Troon North is settle in, light a candle on the patio, and open a great bottle of red wine. Then we sit with our feline travel companion amongst us as we watch the sun set over the horizon. The spacious patios offer impressive Sonoran views, while the evening’s fading skyline turns to night and turn one’s attention to a galaxy of shimmering stars in the heavens above after dark.

Four Seasons Scottsdale4We truly enjoy lazy mornings and usually rely on the resort’s In-Room Dining staff to care for our morning nourishment needs. Always punctual, continuously consistent, and offering the freshest and most flavorful ingredients in every dish we have tried, we thoroughly appreciate the menu offerings. From Breakfast Burritos to Smoked Salmon to traditional American breakfasts to fruit smoothies, Classic French toast, spectacular Huervos Rancheros and more, we can assure you that you won’t spend your days hungry after consuming one of these tantalizing and filling morning treats. Delivered straight from the Talavera kitchen, delivery is executed perfectly and the amazing desertscape views from our casita patio only adds to the experience.

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A sea blue wonderland awaits guests’ arrival at the resort pool area. Set amidst natural boulder formations and breathtaking views of Pinnacle Peak, one could almost forget of their love for the coastline altogether. Spacious cabanas line the perimeter of each of the three pools, while an attentive staff generously attends to guests’ needs with chilled towels, iced water, fruit skewers, flavorsome healthy smoothies, and a complete menu selection from Saguaro Blossom, the resort’s poolside light fare restaurant and bar.

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The grounds of the resort are meticulously manicured and managed by an unseen staff of professional landscape artists. Bursts of colorful blooms, plentiful greenery, and the serene sound of water from modernly-designed fountains and natural ponds throughout the resort add to the peaceful feeling one will gain from being here. Sprawling lawns offer spacious areas for private gatherings and special occasions, while hidden areas are reserved for special dinners and large celebrations. Guest casitas are strikingly beautiful with their tucked-away sand-hued adobe construction and pleasing-to-the-eye approach.

INSIDER’S TIP: Ask your resort Concierge about the property’s Celestial Picnics on the private lawn at night. My husband surprised me with this evening on one of our visits to the property, and it was truly an experience to remember that we highly recommend.

Onyx

Onyx Bar & Lounge offers creative flavorsome bites and sensational libations sure to please the palate and tempt the appetizer connoisseur in us all. (See our reviews of Onyx Bar & Lounge at:http://savorhour.com/?cat=2660).  Conveniently positioned just off of the main lobby, enjoy indoor and outdoor service amongst comfortable seating and stunning views from an elevated patio or indoors up-close-and-personal at the mesquite planked bar top and onyx panels that seemingly glow with light in the lounge. Talavera restaurant, just a few feet from Onyx preserves a fine selection of American cuisine with a definite Southwestern flair specifically created by Executive Chef Mel Mecinas. (See our two reviews of Talavera Restaurant at:http://savorhour.com/?cat=2664).Breathtaking presentations of steaks, poultry, seafood and other compilations amaze with sensational taste and authentic style and eye-catching display not to be forgotten. Dining out of doors in the evenings will also prove an experience all it’s own between the elongated fire pit and the night sky filled with billions of twinkling stars, one might find themselves never wanting to leave.

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Saguaro Blossom is conveniently positioned poolside, and is within just a few steps from many casitas on property. Serving exclusively outdoors with a full bar, this casual eatery offers light fare to suit most anyone’s taste. Views of Troon Mountain and Pinnacle Peak allow for amazing visual entertainment as well as the towering cacti surrounding the pool area. The Saguaro Blossom menu is also available during pool service hours.

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Chef Jesse Hansen took the reigns of Proof in 2012 successfully hailing over this first-of-a-kind upscale casual dining experience. (See our three reviews of Proof Canteen at:http://savorhour.com/?cat=2605). A tremendously satisfying Happy Hour, savory appetizers, fulfilling meals, and creative breakfasts with unforgettable outdoor views of the resort featuring flavors inspired from a road trip across America deliver “proof” of this new dining sensation’s success.

An extraordinary resort to live out dreams long overdue, an escape from the everyday stresses of life, and a haven for being catered to…simply because we deserve it. That’s what you will find at the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North in Arizona.

  • PROPERTY: The property literally could not be more perfect. On our many stays, we have experienced nothing but pristine, expertly-managed, and well-maintained components.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: The staff goes out of their way to make your wants and needs come to fruition. A professional, friendly and conversational staff exceeds in the guest service category, while the resort is on call 24 hours to cater to your every whim.
  • PET FRIENDLINESS: The property is one of our favorites encompassing a “no-charge” policy for feline and K-9 companions inside guest casitas. Our feline traveler enjoys the litter box, food and water bowl, bottled water, and cat toys she receives each time we visit the resort. She also loves stretching out on the patio at sunset by our side and peering through the balcony spindles at nature’s habitat and lively desert aves flying nearby. It’s not always easy to find pet-friendly resorts and hotels that allow felines. Luckily, we have found a handful of them during our travels over the years across the country which satisfy our travel and accommodation needs.
  • DINING OPTIONS: The resort offers options from fine dining to casual fare and beyond at multiple on-site venues. Start your evenings at Onyx Lounge for cocktails and light appetizers before heading into nearby Talavera for a refined dining experience. Proof Canteen serves up everything under the sun dealing with the 50 states and great American fare. Saguaro Blossom serves poolside nourishment and libations poolside without hesitation and features a beautiful view from the outdoor dining seating it provides. Don’t forget the resort’s terrific and convenient In-Room Dining services when a trek around Pinnacle Peak tires the body, but nourishes the mind and soul.
  • LOCATION: The resort is expertly positioned in the foothills of stunning Pinnacle Peak at 10600 East Crescent Moon Drive in Scottsdale, AZ 85262.
  • PARKING: Valet services are available for inaccessible-by-vehicle casita locations, while some guest quarter offer parking just outside depending on what part of the resort your room is located in.
  • RESORT AMENITIES: A grand resort from A to Z, the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North,amenities reach from a world-class spa inclusive of a 24-hour fitness center including cardiovascular and weight training equipment, yoga and spinning classes, 14 treatment rooms, 10 massages, nine body treatments, eight facials, six spa packages, and five signature treatments. Room service exists 24 hours for guests’ convenience around the clock, as well as a 24-hour business center, nearby golf activities, three pools on-site, and three restaurants and a full service lounge on property to fulfill any possible craving one might desire.

* Rates and prices subject to change without notice.

 

MASTRO’S OCEAN CLUB RESTAURANT… “Seafood Sensations & More Tableside Handshaken Martinis!”

Mastro’s restaurants are establishments of elegant presentation, noted world-class service, where being catered to is a regular occurrence and where enjoying oneself is not only expected, but encouraged. Having been so impressed with our experience at the Mastro’s Steakhouse in Scottsdale on our last visit to Arizona with it’s geographically breathtaking topography (see our review of Mastro’s Steakhouse here: http://savorhour.com/?p=15415), we made the decision to try its sister property, Mastro’s Ocean Club, located in the same city to see what this culinary giant had to offer.

O Club

 The outdoor approach was simple and elegant, while inside guests were engulfed in a relaxed and comforting escape where the aromas of butter drenched seafood and sizzling steaks surround one’s longings for the finer things in life. A notable wine selection was presented for those favoring something from the vineyards. An expansive full bar and lounge insisted on beckoning those to its side for enjoyment of weekly live entertainment and an array of signature cocktails and tantalizing appetizers offered themselves from an extensive menu. While the general environment of the entire establishment embrace its guests with the glow of modernly-appointed chandeliers and up lighting throughout the eatery.

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 Fresh Bake Bread & Savory Martinis

The eye catching bread display featured a flavorsome soft pretzel bread, a garlic brushed buttery sliced baguette, and sourdough and wheat versions as well along with a vessel of chilled sweet cream butter. When in the mood for a few crafty libations from the bar, why not give a couple of popular signature martinis a whirl? We praised the Pomegranate Martini with it’s Ketel Citron Vodka, Monin Pomegranate, triple sec and sweet and sour inclusions, while the Elderflower Martini delivered a completely different journey for our palates with a combination Belvedere Citrus Vodka, Thatcher’s Elderflower liqueur, Hendrick’s Gin, and fresh lemon juice with a sugared rim. Both cocktails were hand shaken and served table side and were large enough for two drinks per shaker. An impressive and entertaining presentation with immense flavor from start to finish.

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 Shrimp Cocktail

The Shrimp Cocktail appetizer arrived bringing with it yet another offering of dazzling display. Served three to an order (we selected two of these), these colossal vibrantly hued gifts from the sea arrived via stainless steel polished serving vessels engulfed in the wispy smoke-like veil of dry ice beneath. Its stunning and mystical appearance was almost as amazing as this starter’s fresh perfectly chilled flavor. Cocktail sauce and the restaurant’s atomic horseradish were served on the side with lemon wedges. Be prepared for this, because even if you’re a horseradish lover as my husband is, there’s a reason it’s called “atomic”!

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Wedge Salad

The Wedge Salad offering was simple and traditional, yet couldn’t have been made better. Chilled Romaine lettuce and fresh chopped tomatoes joined together with crunchy crisp crumbled bacon, house made blue cheese dressing and an addition of extra freshly crumbled blue cheese for added flavor and texture that forced every bite of these refreshing starter salads to be savored from beginning to end as we contently crunched our way through them.

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Surf & Turf 

For our entrees, we selected the Swordfish Steak and the 12-Ounce Filet with a side of sautéed mushrooms. Both sensationally tender and delectable, the beef was prepared medium to our specifications with a side of Béarnaise for additional indulgence. The Swordfish Steak arrived expertly prepared with eye-catching grill marks across its perfectly-prepared length and was such a stunning display of edible happiness.

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Warm Butter Cake

When a dessert has its own Facebook page, you know it has to be pretty spectacular. This sublime, sinful, colorful existence found its way into our lives (and stomachs) despite the amazingly savory and filling dinner we enjoyed this particular evening. And we can attest that it nearly disappeared after that first tempting bite. To make it even more unbelievably incredible, it was served with an entire bowl of freshly whipped cream to consume with the cake. Talk about sweet endings!

A beautiful upscale venue to enjoy any special occasion or ordinary day. A place to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. A culinary locale that offers seamless service, a flavorful exquisite menu, and where memories can be made from the moment you walk through the front door.

 

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: The dim lighting creates an intimate ambiance overall while lively entertainment in an upscale lounge area fills the air with sounds of favorite melodies. The well-put-together modern décor inside the eatery charms and delights offering bold hues as well as warm comforting touches of color that embrace each guest.
  • FOOD / DRINK: Exceptional and noteworthy preparations of sizzling steaks, fresh seafood dishes, and let’s not forget the phenomenal appetizers, side dishes and desserts that take one’s breath away and fill the evening with amazing flavor and a memorable dining experience.
  • LOCATION: This restaurant is located at 15045 North Kierland Boulevard in Scottsdale, AZ 85254.
  • HOURS: The establishment is available for dinner Monday through Thursday and Sunday from 5:00 PM until 10:00 PM, and on Fridays  and Saturdays  from 5:00 PM through 11:00 PM.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: The care, grace, and skilled team of servers will impress and create the perfect seamless dining experience for anyone.
  • PRICE / VALUE: The quality of the cuisine is top notch, while the liquid temptations are the epitome of liquorous excellence.
  • CORKAGE FEE: TBA
  • PARKING: The parking arrangement allows for self parking as well as valet service for your convenience.
  • PRICING: The Pomegranate and Elderflower Martinis were priced at $18, while the Iceberg Wedge Salads were moderate at $11. The Shrimp Cocktail came in at a reasonable $19 for what was offered, and the Swordfish Steak was a standing $39. The 12-Ounce Filet Mignon was featured at $47, while the Sautéed Mushrooms that accompanied it were an additional $11. Finally, the Butter Cake dessert was a $15 sweet treat well worth every dollar.

Mastro's Ocean Club on Urbanspoon

* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.

RUTLEDGE CAB COMPANY… “The Holy City’s Flavorsome Refuge!”

 Known as the “holy city” due to its benevolence of many religions and eminence of various historic houses of worship, Charleston SC possesses intriguing attributes such as dazzling waterways, a historic heritage, and some of the best culinary delights in the south. Owner and Johnson & Wales University-trained Chef Bob Carter, known for his culinary creativity and impressionable offerings must have known from the start that this eatery would be a thriving one. Having opened its doors in January of 2013, this hip and upscale establishment has since proven to the area that it is here to stay.

Rutledge Cab Co

Situated on a visible corner of the Wagener Terrace neighborhood of Charleston, South Carolina exists Rutledge Cab Company. What was once a former fuel and grocery venue was insightfully and artistically transformed into something so much more. Today, this indoor-outdoor elegantly rustic hot spot satisfies the masses with its trend-setting cuisine, full bar featuring popular modernized classic cocktails, and oversight by none other than owner Chef Bob Carter. With its cutting edge conceptual design, Rutledge Cab Company was destined to be a success.

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Approaching the main entry, an alligator skin covered door graced with portholes invites patrons inside where an eclectic yet polished decor maintains an upbeat, lively, and comfortable space created to please anyone’s preference of cuisine, seating choices, or beverage cravings. Deep woods, earthy tones, shiny metal touches, and angled paneled ceilings attribute to the welcoming ambiance made even cozier by low lighting and the comforting feel one gets when stepping foot into this eatery.

INSIDER’S TIP: Be sure to get a good seat on the outdoor patio area to take in the lively weekly live music performances!

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Cocktails With Character 

We started out with a couple of “throwback” cocktails from the full bar. The popular Middleton Mule was crafted with house-infused cucumber gin and fresh lime juice, then topped with cold refreshing Ginger beer. The addition of a lime garnish added the enhancement of color to accompany the delicious and light flavors that joined together nicely. The Upper Manhattan cocktail follows that traditional bourbon taste with an enhancement of house infused mission fig and black cherry essence. A touch of mole bitters and sweet vermouth was added to this savory libation before being garnished with a cherry.

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 Charcoal Grilled Chicken Wing

An amazing way to get those taste buds crazy with delight is to introduce them to the eatery’s Charcoal Grilled Chicken Wings. Succulent and juicy with just a hint of spice, these heavenly tender wings delivered sensational flavor from Charleston’s only indoor charcoal grill. A creamy blue cheese dressing and crisp chilled celery stalks completed the refreshing, creamy, and flavorsome presentation. Hands down, these wings have to be the BEST we’ve ever devoured, which we attribute to the charcoal grill preparation. It’s just something you must experience for yourself.

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Braised Beef Flatbread

The flatbread selections at Rutledge Cab Company are something to talk about. With a rotating menu of various toppings, these thin crust pizza-esque big-enough-for-two-to-share appetizers offer amazing flavor combinations and quite unexpected satisfaction with succulent flair. We indulged in the Braised Beef Flatbread, which possessed a hearty appeal from the charred onions, horseradish, Havarti cheese, and mouthwatering tender braised beef. The slight crunch of the handmade dough was a delightful experience, while the combination of sensational mouthwatering ingredients on top created the perfect flavor experience.

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Turkey Meatloaf Sandwich

The Turkey Meatloaf Sandwich encompassed that homemade meatloaf flavor without that traditional meatloaf calorie count. Made with ground turkey instead of beef, this winning selection was joined by a smoked onion aioli, pepper jelly mustard, and was encased between two thick slices of sourdough bread. I relished in the tastes of sweet and spicy from the jelly and horseradish. And the healthier, yet still hearty turkey meatloaf inside filled that craving for something homemade, yet still remained lighter than most meatloaf recipes.

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Reuben Sandwich

The Reuben Sandwich was something we just had to try. My husband is a stickler for a great Reuben sandwich. And this version was definitely a top scorer with its piled-high corned beef, stringy Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and 1300 sauce all in between fresh slices of hearty rye bread. Can you say “amazing!”  This incredibly flavorful offering was packed full of excellent meaty taste, colorful attributes, and was a memorable “must-order-again” favorite among the items we tried.

An updated piece of history in the Wagener Terrace area of Charleston, Rutledge Cab company will seduce your senses in every way possible with it’s savory flavors, original and unique preparations, and accommodating dinging spaces inside and outdoors.

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: The indoor space of the restaurant provides upscale casual charm and comfort that would put most anyone at ease. Outdoors, an expansive patio area offers spacious room for mingling with friends and meeting newcomers.
  • FOOD / DRINK: Cuisine like no other. Refreshing provisions from the full service bar, melt-in-your-mouth cuisine selections, and unforgettable flavor, flavor, flavor!
  • LOCATION: Rutledge Cab Company is located at 1300 Rutledge Avenue in Charleston SC 29403.
  • HOURS: Service is available with an all-day / all-night menu Monday through Thursday from 10:00 AM to 12:00 midnight, Fridays and Saturdays from 10:00 AM until 1:00 AM, and on Sundays from 10:00 AM to 11:00 PM. A pretty impressive “Rock the Cab Happy Hour” exists at the expansive bar Monday through Friday from 4:00 PM until 7:00 PM featuring discounted adult beverages, a Cocktail of the Day, as well as a reasonable bar menu worth trying out.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: It was great to see such a collaborative team amongst the staff. We felt taken care of from the second we walked into the establishment to the time we had to bid adieu.
  • PRICE / VALUE: Pricing for the items we ordered seemed fairly priced for the quality we received. Modern twists on classic favorites as well as original creations impressed our staff.
  • CORKAGE FEE: Outside bottles of wine are permitted at the restaurant for $15 per bottle.
  • PARKING: Complimentary parking is available in a private lot with attended on-sight parking.
  • PRICING: The Upper Manhattans and Middleton Mule cocktails we consumed during Happy Hour were just $8.00 apiece, while the Braised Beef Flatbread was was an easy $10.00. The Charcoal Grilled Chicken Wings came in at a very fair $10 per order and the Reuben Sandwich charmed at $11.00. We also agreed on the quality of the Turkey Meatloaf Sandwich at a reasonable $12.00.

Rutledge Cab Company on Urbanspoon

Rutledge Cab Co.  Restaurant Reviews

* Menu and pricing subject to change without notice.

 

ROSTI TUSCAN KITCHEN… “Montana Avenue’s Casual Italian Eatery!”

 When a craving for authentic Tuscan cuisine takes over, a great place to tame it is one of three west coast-based Rosti Tuscan Kitchens in Southern California. Pronounced “roast-y” the Santa Monica locale reminded us that we didn’t absolutely have to be in Italy to enjoy the aroma of freshly baking bread, signature pasta and secret family recipe sauces, and all things savory involved with impressive Italian favorites sure to keep any food connoisseur pleased.

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Freshly Baked Bread & Free Indoor Corkage

It was a crowded Thursday night. My husband and I contemplated departing with the heavily populated eatery, but decided to wait a few more minutes despite. Before we knew it, the hostess led us to a candlelit romantic table for two window side, and left us with menus and wine glasses for the wine we brought with us until our server would arrive. The ambiance was warm and inviting and heavenly scented with the likes of fresh basil, crushed tomatoes, and pizza dough boldly wafting through the dining room from a busy kitchen in the rear of the establishment.  A crusty warm fresh bread was delivered by our server, Lea, as well as a saucer of extra virgin olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar. This complimented the near perfect bread and made for a great companion to our red wine we began enjoying.

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Chicken Marsala Over Capellini

A sure winner from the pasta selections was the Chicken Marsala over a selection of capellini as a pasta choice. A succulent Marsala sauce including Marsala wine, thinly sliced mushrooms and a sinful inclusion of butter, this signature entree is a popular choice at Rosti, and my husband thoroughly enjoyed each component of this meticulously prepared dish.

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Grilled Marinated Steak Salad

Tender marinated grilled lean steak was cut into slices and served over a bed of shredded Romaine, then graced with Gorgonzola cheese crumbles, cherry tomatoes, caramelized onions and an incredibly succulent basil herb dressing. How much better could this have been prepared? We don’t have an answer to that question because in our line of work, this was pure bliss. The chilled crunch of the crisp lettuce contrasted nicely against the warm tender steak, while the house made dressing brought every bite together in culinary harmony.

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Spinach Ravioli Alfredo Special

The Spinach Ravioli Special with a chosen Alfredo sauce selection and side of house marinara for a minimal additional charge satisfied my hankering for something house made, yet broke all rules of the typical Californian diet. Both filling and satisfying from the first taste to the final bite, this dish of handmade ravioli excellence was stuffed with spinach and covered with a generous portion of homemade Alfredo sauce that hit the spot marvelously!

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Milanese Sandwich On Foccacia

The combination of fresh flavors encompassed within the Milanese Sandwich had us debating whether or not to order an additional one to take home with us. Crafted with hand breaded chicken cutlets, the addition of fresh eye-catching arugula, fresh Mozzarella, tomatoes and a zesty pesto only enhanced the features of this flavorful phenomenon. A choice of 7-grain wheat bread, ciabatta, or fresh baked foccacia was available for our choosing, while a side salad or rosemary potatoes was offered as easily digestible side options.

Feel at home when visiting Rosti Tuscan Kitchen because it is an establishment of delectable Italian cuisine, a cozy ambiance both indoors and on the sidewalk patio, and offers a multitude of seasonal specials and year-round favorites to satisfy those Tuscan food cravings that sneak up on us when we least expect them to. A relaxed lunch or a long romantic dinner will leave you fulfilled and returning soon.

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: The Santa Monica location that we visited sits on a corner projecting it’s mouthwatering aromas past every passer-by. A terrific location along quaint Montana Avenue, a sidewalk patio wraps around the eatery allowing for enjoyment of those crisp fall days or cool California summer evenings. 
  • FOOD / DRINK: Both traditional and updated versions of favorite Italian dishes offer flavorsome alternatives to cuisine types elsewhere. Though no bar is available at this Rosti, personal wines are welcome inside the establishment.
  • LOCATION: This specific Rosti Tuscan Kitchen is located at 931 Montana Avenue in Santa Monica, CA 90403.
  • HOURS: Available for lunch and dinner service, hours last from Monday through Thursday and Sundays from 11:30 AM to 9:30 PM, as well as on Fridays and Saturdays from 11:30 AM until 10:00 PM.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: Our server was Lea, and her professional demeanor was greatly appreciated. She was well-informed, conversational without being overbearing, and possessed a sense of humor that was spectacular.
  • PRICE / VALUE: Acceptable pricing for what was offered, prepared, and presented.
  • CORKAGE FEE: No corkage fee on personal bottles inside the main dining area. Outdoor alcoholic beverage consumption is not permitted.
  • CONTACT INFO: Phone: (310) 393-3236, Website: www.rostituscankitchen.com
  • PARKING: Street parking as well as a private lot are available for the convenience of visiting diners.
  • PRICING: The complimentary corkage was appreciated, while the Chopped Steak Salad Entree was priced at $14.75. The Chicken Marsala over Cappelini was fair at $16.99, while the Spinach Ravioli Alfredo special was prices at an easy $13.25 plus $1.99 for a side of marinara sauce. We also enjoyed the Milanese Sandwich on Foccacia for $11.75.

Rosti Tuscan Kitchen on Urbanspoon

* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.

CHABLIS FOOD + WINE RESTAURANT… “Returning With Friends For More Culinary Genius!”

Sometimes a great restaurant can’t help but get better and better. Case in point…Chablis Food + Wine in Tarzana, California. One of our favorite spots for a romantic intimate dining experience, each time we patronize this establishment, we’re consistently impressed with the overall ambiance, quality of cuisine, and seamless service. We brought along some friends this visit to enjoy a wine tasting at the bar before dinner and a delicious meal that miraculously rivaled the many others we’ve enjoyed in the area.

Chablis Update

We chose several selections from the varietal menu as we enjoyed the live intonations from the evening’s live performing artists near the lounge area across the eatery. The restaurant was awarded the 2013 OpenTable.com Diners’ Choice Award, and simply stepping foot into this haven of culinary excellence will prove just why so many adore what it has to offer.

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Baby Green & Candied Walnut Salad

The Baby Green & Candied Walnut Salad…the perfect amount of crunch from the nuts, sweetness from the fresh fruit, and savory notes of the house made raspberry vinaigrette, garden greens couldn’t be happier. And neither could we as we contently consumed these delectable salad compilations with ease. I respected the chilled red grapes and thinly sliced Granny Smith apples, while the entire composition of crisp greens and fresh components created an impeccable starter salad.

Chablis Filet

Filet Mignon

The Filet Mignon is a sight to behold. Prepared to our specifications, we enjoyed this sublime cut of prime beef medium, and indulged in the side of garlic mashed potatoes and grilled seasonal yellow squash and vibrant green stalks of asparagus. As if it couldn’t get any better, a savory shallot-burgundy demi-glacé and succulent lemon butter mixture created a finishing touch surrounding the entire dish in additional heavenly flavor.

Chablis Update2

Pan Seared Sea Bass

The Pan Seared Sea Bass…the simple visual admiration of this dish almost forces one’s mouth to water. This “steak of all fish” as my husband and I fondly call this Patagonian Toothfish species, possesses amazing fulfillment qualities from start to finish. The white flaky flesh of the fish was enhanced with capers, tomatoes, and sweet basil, while roasted vegetables and an arancini croquette acted as flavorful sides.

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Braised Boneless Short Rib

Braised Boneless Short Rib at Chablis….wow.  There’s just not enough I can put into words to describe this phenomenon. The melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness this entree delivers lands on one’s taste buds with perfection. The rainbow chard, onions, and creamy mashed potatoes make for suitable culinary companions.

Each and every single time we indulge in what Chablis Food + Wine have to offer, we experience top quality in everything from the second we step foot through the front door to that final bite of dessert and last sip of wine after a sensational meal.

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: A little bit of European ambiance mixed with a Tuscan feel on the airy patio, romantic main dining room, or inside the secluded private gathering area which plays host to many wine dinners, private dining events, and special occasions.
  • FOOD / DRINK: Flavorsome, fulfilling, and a mix of classic and artistic, you just can’t go wrong with a thing on the menu.
  • LOCATION: Chablis Food + Wine is located at 18588 Ventura Boulevard in Tarzana, CA 91356.
  • HOURS: Now available for lunch (finally!) Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 AM until 2:30 PM, the bistro is still serving scrumptious flavors from fine wines to full meals.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: We’re consistently treated like family and catered to as if we are guests of honor when we stop by. We appreciate the graciousness and generosity the owners and staff of Chablis continue to provide us.
  • PRICE / VALUE: Exceptional quality of cuisine prepared with the artistry of a skilled culinary craftsman in the kitchen, the experience in total shows just how valuable the establishment is.
  • CORKAGE FEE: Still only $5 per 750mL bottle!
  • PARKING: Metered street parking is available near the entrance of the restaurant as well as a lot behind the restaurant.
  • PRICING: Our Baby Greens & Candied Walnuts Salads arrived promptly at their promised $7 each. The Filet Mignon was offered at an easy $23, while the Pan Seared Sea Bass came in at $24. The finale of the Braised Boneless Short Rib was served at $24 also, and our wines we brought to the restaurant were just $5 each for the establishment’s corkage fee.

Chablis Food + Wine on Urbanspoon

*Menu and prices subject to change without notice.

 

 

 

 

J. ALEXANDER’S RESTAURANT… “Returning For More American Greatness!”

When we said we would be returning to J. Alexander’s in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for a relaxed and intimate dinner, we meant it. (See our lunch review at: http://savorhour.com/?p=12650). Our return to this Nashville-headquartered upscale contemporary American cuisine eatery proved well worth our taking the time to revisit for an evening together testing what this popular establishment so proudly dishes out to it’s patrons.

J8The first J. Alexander’s opened in 1991. Ever since, the company has been increasingly proud of what it offers it’s patrons in terms of fine upscale offerings, a large selection of fine wines and full bar, and focus centered around it’s open kitchen concept, its popularity has grown throughout the years.

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Smoked Salmon Dip & A Favorite Pinot Noir

The Smoked Salmon Dip starter at J. Alexander’s will leave you with thoughts of complacency and a satisfied overall impression.  Visually pleasing and equally as intriguing when tasted, the citrus-cured flaky salmon is hardwood grilled and smoked in-house to perfection creating a chunky hearty spread mixed with flavorful red onion and herbs with large pieces of fresh salmon served with a thinly-sliced toasted baguette. Pair this with a favorite bottle of wine like the Meiomi Pinot Noir we began our meal with, and that’s the perfect mixture for an amazing start to a fine dining experience at J. Alexander’s.

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Grilled Scottish Salmon

The Grilled Scottish Salmon that I elected to enjoy this particular night could not have been more perfect. The restaurant’s culinary team started with a beautiful filet of fresh cold water Scottish salmon, which was then hardwood-grilled, seasoned with a special mixture of savory flavors, and served with J. Alexander’s signature colorful and eye-catching rice pilaf.  Expertly cooked, ensuring only the highest caliber of flavor from such an incredible compilation of flavors, this entrée choice was exquisitely composed from beginning to end.

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14-Ounce Steak Maui

A succulent and generous 14-ounces of prime beef is marinated in a concoction of savory flavors of soy sauce, ginger, pineapple, garlic, and brown sugar compile the creation of the restaurant’s Steak Maui that will make your mouth water even before you take that first bite. Seared outside and so succulent and tender on the inside, this steak presentation will wow you from the first inhalation of savory essence and consumption of incredible taste and tender texture to your final mouthful of beefy goodness. The accompaniment of mashed potatoes as a side compliments this dish like nothing else, proving this dish to be not just your ordinary “meat and potatoes” meal.

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J. Alexander’s Warm Carrot Cake

Yes, yes, yes.  We know.  It’s carrot cake. And we are aware that our SavorHour followers know that our favorite all-time carrot cake version is made by Truluck’s Seafood Restaurant. BUT…J. Alexander’s Warm Carrot Cake has proven its superiority in sinful gratification excellence by arriving at a close second to our favorite carrot cake served at the popular seafood restaurant chain. Made fresh daily in-house with a buttermilk “syrup” that keeps an amazing moisture and flavor in the cake, this single-layer decadence filled with shredded carrots, walnuts, pineapple, raisins and a rich cream cheese icing is served warm, and  just cannot get any better than that. One portion is large enough for two (or three) to share with having more than a few bites and serves as a gratifying cure to that sweet tooth that beckons for something more.

An intimate dining environment, a sensational array of flavorful selections to chose from, and the superior quality of service and  intimate ambiance will prove to you that J. Alexander’s is the place to be when you’re craving something sensational and unforgettable.

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: The open concept set-up, upscale ambiance throughout, and sensational classy, yet relaxed feel.
  • FOOD / DRINK: Consistent favorites, and flavorsome creative nightly specials offer a savory variety of choices to select from. A full bar invites with a wide array of adult beverages as well as an expansive fine wine list.
  • LOCATION: J. Alexander’s restaurant is located at 6457 Bluebonnet Road, in Baton Rouge, LA 70809.
  • HOURS: Serving Monday through Thursday from 11:00 AM until 10:00 PM, the eatery also provides incredible meals Fridays and Saturdays from 11:00 AM until 11:00 PM, and on Sundays from 11:00 AM through 10:00 PM as well.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: Top drawer service is paired with professionalism and generous kindness, friendly conversation, and poised performance.
  • PRICE / VALUE: Great value for the reasonable pricing and succulent selections.
  • CORKAGE FEE: No corkage fee! Feel free to bring in your favorite vintages from your cellar to enjoy with lunch or over a romantic dinner experience.
  • PARKING: Ample parking is available free of charge surrounding the restaurant.
  • PRICING: The Smoked Salmon Dip arrived at $14.00, while the bottle of Meiomi Pinot Noir we brought with us to enjoy with dinner had no corkage fee charged to it. My Grilled Scottish Salmon fit the bill appropriately at $24.00, and my husband’s 14-Ounce Steak Maui arrived at an agreeable $29.00. The “second-only-to-Truluck’s” Warm Carrot Cake dessert was a fair and well-worth-it $7.00.

J. Alexander's on Urbanspoon

* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.

BONEFISH GRILL… “Bang Bang Shrimp & Raspberry Martinis!”

In January of 2000, a restaurant chain began that enlightened the masses with its fresh creative seafood preparations, hand-shaken signature potent cocktail list, and overall welcoming and alluring ambiance. Bonefish Grill has since become a favorite of many, and is proving that luxurious decor and culinary creativity is possible in an upscale, yet casual and inviting environment. Having enjoyed numerous flavorsome and consistent memorable dining adventures at multiple BoneFish Grill locations spanning Florida’s west coast, the historic locale of Georgia’s romantic Savannah, and the golf haven of prestigious Hilton Head Island, we found ourselves venturing to the Bonefish Grill in North Charleston on our most recent sojourn through the south where the cuisine was just as savory and mouthwatering as we remembered first taking that initial bite of divine creation at a Bonefish Grill.

Bonefish Grill

If you’re ready for a chilled flavor sensation, here are two we recommend when addressing the adult beverage category before dinner. One of our favorites is Bonefish Grill’s Raspberry Martini. That first sip is always as delicious as the first taste we remember some twelve years ago when we first stepped foot in a Bonefish Grill lounge. Elegant and nicely appointed in rich woods and metal sculptures, the bar area is a seductive area of involvement offering a span of refreshing and creative cocktails to suit whatever mood you may happen to be indulging in at any given moment. Made with Reyka small-batch vodka, freshly hand-muddled red raspberries, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, this martini will stay high on your mental checklist of best-loved alcoholic concoctions. Another new addition to the always intriguing list of flavors of liquid temptations at the restaurant is the Winter White Cosmo. Though not on the menu during the non-winter months of the year, just let your bartender or server know you’d like one (or three!), and they’ll be happy to accommodate your craving for this mix of Stoli Cranberry, Cointreau, fresh tangy lime juice, and white cranberry juice garnished with what else…fresh cranberries!

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Fresh Raspberry Martinis & Winter White Cosmos

Bonefish Grill continues to seduce its patrons ready for a mouthwatering culinary experience with starting out by serving house baked fresh focaccia bread accompanied by a vessel of pesto and extra virgin olive oil for dipping each tender bite of this sinful bread into. One taste of this fresh-from-the-oven bread will have you craving more and more, and the pesto and olive oil mixture for dipping is sensationally refreshing.

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Fresh Baked Focaccia Bread & Pesto Olive Oil

Craving a tasty appetizer that will bring some zing into your pre-dinner tasting to go along with those tantalizing cocktails? Then there are only three words to solve that search for all-out flavor satisfaction: Bang Bang Shrimp! A favorite of the crowds of fans who fill Bonefish Grill eateries in droves, the Bang Bang Shrimp appetizer is a definite favorite vote among consumers. And for our SavorHour staff as well! These crispy fried shrimp are tossed in a creamy, rich and spicy sauce atop a bed of shredded lettuce garnished lightly with parsley and other herbs. A delightful and mouthwatering beginning to any Bonefish Grill meal that just might have you ordering more before you place your dinner order.

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Bang Bang Shrimp

We foraged through salads of vibrant hues and tasteful components with the Beet & Goat Cheese Salads. A fresh chilled spring mix was accompanied by pickled sweetened beets, zesty onions, sweet crunchy candied pecans, and was seamlessly tied together with a house made vinaigrette. A welcomed salad selection that we will enjoy again soon, these were savory, healthy, and bursting with layer upon layer of flavor and satisfying texture joined by the simple creaminess of the goat cheese.

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Beet & Goat Cheese Salad

My husband ordered the Rhea’s Swordfish special. In the mood for succulent residents of the sea, we both thought this presentation of wood-grilled swordfish topped with spinach, lump crab meat, and a lime-tomato garlic sauce was a true winner. An addition of a side of pumpkin ravioli made for a combined taste of sweet and savory, which was a gratifying venture.

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Rhea’s Swordfish With Pumpkin Ravioli

Rounding out our evening, I chose the restaurant’s Pecan Crusted Parmesan Rainbow Trout. A sizable and perfectly-prepared trout filet coated with crushed pecans and Parmesan cheese, then lightly crisped and topped with artichoke hearts, fresh aromatic basil, and an out-of-this-world lemon butter sauce that delivered this menu selection to heights only tasting for yourself could explain properly. Joined by sides of spaghetti squash and potatoes au gratin, there wasn’t another thing I could think of at that moment to make this dish any more sublime.

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Pecan Crusted Parmesan Rainbow Trout

Upscale, yet casual and relaxed, Bonefish Grill maintains a consistent reputation for delicious fare focused around fresh seafood and other items that will prove just how terrific their company really is. Hand shaken refreshing beverages, cuisine that is unparalleled to most other chain restaurants across the country, and an ambiance that is both comforting and pleasing to involve oneself in, this seafood restaurant rarity isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, which makes the staff at SavorHour very happy indeed!

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: An upscale ambiance complete with dim lighting and intimate seating welcomes patrons in to a full bar as well as an intricately-designed dining room. Some Bonefish Grills offer a patio outdoors as well, while the overall feel of each of these seafood establishments offers compelling visual effects from the copper and wrought iron décor, colorful pops of color throughout, and soothing inviting environment that will capture you the moment you arrive.
  • FOOD / DRINK: Fresh seafood presentations, a variety of sides and other items on an expansive and tempting menu, and refreshing and flavorsome cocktails prepared in front of you at a full bar ready to take you to a place of relaxation.
  • LOCATION: This particular Bonefish Grill was located at 5041 International Boulevard in North Charleston, SC 29418.
  • HOURS: Enjoy what this Bonefish Grill has to offer Monday through Thursday from 4:00 PM until 10:30 PM, Fridays from 4:00 PM until 11:30 PM, Saturdays from 11:00 AM to 11:30 PM, and Sundays from 11:00 AM until 10:00 PM.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: Kind, efficient, and gracious service was experienced on our last visit to this North Charleston Bonefish Grill location.
  • PRICE / VALUE: Acceptable, reasonable, and well worth returning.
  • CORKAGE FEE: TBA
  • PARKING: Spacious parking availability exists free of charge right outside of the eatery for your convenience.
  • PRICING: Our Raspberry Martinis and Winter White Cosmos were offered at a simple $7.90 each, while the spicy Bang Bang Shrimp were enjoyed at $7.90. Our Beet & Goat Cheese Salads were added to our entrees for a minimal charge, while my husband’s Rhea’s Swordfish with a side of Pumpkin Ravioli came in at an acceptable $23.50. My Pecan Crusted Parmesan Rainbow Trout arrived at a mouthwatering $21.40.

Bonefish Grill on Urbanspoon

* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.

SHEM CREEK BAR & GRILL… “Waterfront Dining With Impeccable Flavor!”

Amidst the marsh-laden tidal creeks of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina is postured a long-standing dining establishment that has been in existence since the early 80s.  Shem Creek Bar & Grill has become a significant part of the waterway which meanders through the centermost artery of such a charming part of the country. While other dining locales rest along Shem Creek’s historic ebbs and flows, it’s namesake bar and grill honors true Lowcountry cuisine with the added incentive of an extraordinary view of the creek and the sightseeing one might happen to witness while patronizing this southern eatery.

Shem Creek Bar & Grill

Minutes from the historic district of the town known for it’s rich past, the town of Mount Pleasant has become a sought-after boater’s haven along the glistening waters of Shem Creek. Providing a substantial playground for those who enjoy most any leisure activity on the water, Shem Creek also provides the perfect picturesque backdrop for it’s namesake seafood house and oyster bar. There, patrons are afforded the luxury of enjoying the laid-back serenity of taking in the views of Shem Creek and its priceless experience not to be overlooked.

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Indoors, nautically eclectic décor enhances the seafood eatery’s casual, yet inclusive ambiance. Red leather booths near the full service bar constructed into the shape of a boat is an intriguing display as diners enter the establishment. The aquatic world of fish aquariums entertain visitors at intimate booth seating, and no matter where one focuses their gaze, proof of nautical items convey a feel that only a truly authentic seafood restaurant can transmit.

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The “Catch” BLT Sandwich

The “Catch” BLT Sandwich is a satisfying selection that my husband and I have enjoyed on multiple occasions when visiting the Lowcountry of South Carolina. A choice of either grilled salmon or a sizable mahi filet is topped with crisp savory bacon, crunchy chilled lettuces, and hand-sliced tomato on a soft Kaiser roll adorned with sesame seeds. An accompanying choice of scrumptious sides is provided as well. On different occasions, we’ve selected sides of fresh cole slaw and southern home cooked collard greens. We haven’t quite made it to choosing the salmon in lieu of the mahi filet because we’re obsessed with the mild flaky texture and simple, yet delicious flavor of the mahi presentation. I like the hot straight-from-the-pan temperature of the fish, while the softness of the bread and chill of the veggies and crunchy bacon offer multiple sensations of flavor, texture contrast, and savoriness

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Special Salad

This heavenly-tasting creation filled with vibrant colors, crunchy components, and creamy blue cheese crumbles really scored high on our favorite salads category. Crafted with most of my favorite flavors…the sweet, yet slightly tart sensation of dried cranberries, thinly sliced crunchy almonds, mixed greens, crumbled blue cheese, fresh tomato and cucumber slices, and a house-whisked sensational balsamic dressing that complements the salad just perfectly.

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Homemade Meatloaf “Shemwich”

With several varieties of “Shemwiches” to chose from on the menu, I found myself indulging in the incredible Homemade Meatloaf Sandwich version. Handcrafted and expertly prepared homemade meatloaf on a toasted hoagie roll with lettuce, tomato, and onion as well as a choice of one side. If you’re in for a meatloaf sandwich that tastes like it was stolen from your own family’s secret recipe collection, it’s time to try this offering out during a relaxed slow-paced lunch break. We ordered the fried okra side and as you can see, the sandwich and the side were ample portions. The crisp crunch of the fried okra matches seamlessly with this lumch entree choice. Add a little ranch dressing on the side to dip each fried morsel of okra into, and you’re sure to relish in the experience as much as we did.

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Shem Salad

Here’s a festive and healthy, yet filling selection on the lighter side…the Shem Salad. Vivid hues of reds and greens and oranges ever so appealing to the eye are complemented by the coordinating flavors of combined crisp lettuce varieties, bite-sized grape tomatoes, crunchy slices of cucumber, cheddar and jack cheeses, sliced almonds and chopped egg. Delightful on the palate and good for you at the same time, this creation is enjoyable to dive right into at any time of the day.

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The Village Beef “Shemwich”

Another Shemwich I succumbed to devouring happily is the Village Beef Shemwich.  Thin slices of prime rib are piled high with a heaping portion of Swiss cheese and horseradish sauce. These contents are then pressed onto French bread and served with a vessel of hot au jus perfect for dipping every single succulent bite into. Lean beef, melty cheese, and the addition of the creamy horseradish sauce make this heavenly conglomeration one not to pass up at Shem Creek Bar & Grill. If you’re a calorie or carb counter and allowing yourself a temptation now and again, this would be a definite recommendation for a “splurge” meal!

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When seeking a location with remarkable waterfront visual complacency, Shem Creek Bar & Grill offers the perfect scenic South Carolina setting. An excellent place to take in a memorable sunset along the scenic banks of Shem Creek, arrive in your own watercraft just in time for seasonal activities on the elongated wooden dock stretching out over the marshy gateway to the soothing fluidity of the creek waters, or just sit and watch the boats go by, kayakers and paddle boarders glide past, or an occasional sighting of dolphins at play. Whatever your fancy, you will find it based amongst the water’s edge at Shem Creek Bar & Grill.

  • ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: A casual decorum ushers first-time patrons inside, while welcoming back locals and regulars alike. The relaxed friendly vibe draws you in, while the eclectic seafood house-esque items enhance the ambiance and remind you that you’re in the charming environment of the south.
  • FOOD / DRINK: Unforgettable homemade flavor and quality reside in every item we have ordered at Shem Creek Bar & Grill. From salads to fresh fish sandwiches to sinful meatloaf and prime rib atop soft sandwich breads, there’s a nice variety of items from which to enjoy a meal here.
  • LOCATION: Shem Creek Bar & Grill is located along the water at 508 Mill Street in Mount Pleasant, SC 29464.
  • HOURS: The establishment is open for business Monday through Thursday from 11:30 AM (kitchen stops service at 10:00 PM), on Fridays and Saturdays from 11:30 AM (kitchen stops serving at 10:30 PM), and Sunday for brunch from 11:00 AM until 4:00 PM, as well as Sunday dinner from 4:00 PM (with the kitchen closing at 10:00 PM). Don’t miss Happy Hour pricing on select drinks and food all day Thursdays at either of the two bars. The convenience of being open for business seven days a week allows for daily enjoyment of great Lowcountry cuisine, photo worthy views, and a full oyster bar to the back of the restaurant with expansive views of the waterfront.
  • SERVICE / STAFF: Customer service is right on par. After our third visit to the eatery while in town, several of the staff remembered our faces and knew us by name. It was a nice feeling. And their continues graciousness impressed us to no end.
  • PRICE / VALUE: Terrific pricing for the homemade quality and sensational flavor of everything we tried. Shem Creek Bar & Grill has become one of our top locations to unwind and relax when traveling through the Mount Pleasant, SC area.
  • CORKAGE FEE: $15 per 750mL bottle.
  • PARKING: A spacious parking lot is free of charge for patrons right at the main entry to the restaurant.
  • PRICING: The Catch BLT arrived at a simple $9.99, while the Special Salad that I absolutely fell head over heels for was fairly priced at $10.99 with the addition of grilled chicken I added to the order. The Homemade Meatloaf “Shemwich” was offered at $8.99, and the Shem Salad was an ample portion at just $6.99. Another “Shemwich” we thoroughly enjoyed was the Village Beef “Shemwich” that was a savory experience at a fair $8.99.

Shem Creek Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

* Menus and prices subject to change without notice.