Archive for the ‘Restaurants’ Category

Great Steak

In For the Stilletos, For the Ties, Restaurants on July 27, 2012 at 5:59 AM

(This is a little back dated but it’s been on our minds since we went to the restaurant so it’s worth posting and sharing another great find in Atlanta)

On June 26, 2012, we celebrated our lucky in love 13th anniversary.  Yep, THIRTEEN YEARS!!!  That is just in marriage.  The great thing about our anniversary is that it also coincides with the time we went on our first date which would be 22 years ago! Not bad for a couple of kids who were blessed and fortunate enough to find each other in high school and create a friendship that we never even knew would go so deep.

In our usual celebration style, we went to a restaurant, particularly a steak house.  Wow!  We thought we had tasted some of the best steaks in the nation already until we took a trip to the Old Fourth Ward in Atlanta and sat down at Kevin Rathbun’s Steak restaurant.  This was some of the best dry-aged steak ever.  It was the most flavorful, tender steak you could sink your teeth into.  Before we indulged in this great feast, we first started with the lobster fritters and baked escargot.  Can you say YUM?!

The atmosphere was perfect.  It wasn’t too stuffy where you felt out of place even in nice jeans.  The decor is modern but down to earth fitting right into the niche neighborhood of the revamped Fourth Ward district.  And, just as charming and humble and inviting as the restaurant, Kevin Rathbun himself is just as normal and present in his restaurant just as if he was any other great chef.  You can easily find him walking around, cooking and just doing what he does best.  Iron Chef hasn’t gone to his head which makes you want to go dine with him even more.

If there was one critique, and this really is only one, desserts are not his specialty.  Now, mind you, we are not chocoholics so we really can’t attest to the specialty dessert that is filled and covered in chocolate.  So maybe that is delish.  However, the creme brûlée and bread pudding were good but nothing to really brag about.  That’s okay because everything else was absolutely perfect.

So, if you’re looking for a nice anniversary spot or just your next date night or even just a spot to have some great food in a great environment, we highly recommend Kevin Rathbun Steak.  Enjoy!

Great Steak! Great Love! That’s What’s Up!


Do (Dough) Pizza

In Night Life, Restaurants, Uncategorized on January 10, 2012 at 12:01 AM

If you’re looking for a modern, casual, chic place that makes you feel like you’re definitely in the age of modern technology, then Do is where you need to be.  It doesn’t hurt that the menu is a delightful melody for your taste buds and provides an excellent variety of pizzas, salads, appetizers, drinks and delicious desserts.  Although you might be singing one of the most popular songs from the “Sound of Music” (Do, a deer, a female deer….) for hours after leaving (or maybe that was just me :s), you will also be singing some of your favorite songs that surround the walls and fill the air of the restaurant.  After all, with the help of your iPhone/iPod and the “Remote” App, you get to select and/or vote your favorite songs directly into the DJ booth without ever leaving your seat.  We thought that was pretty cool as it allowed you to have interactive input into your audible environment.  (Here is a picture of our iPhone voting on the songs we want the DJ to play)

Every table is equipped with an iPad for perusing and selecting items from the menu.

No more wondering if the server got your order right.  And, no more pressure from the server to see if you’re ready for them to take your order as they stand over you with a pen and a pad.  At this pizza place, you are in control.  You have the ability to look through the menu at your own leisure and you even have the chance to review your selections before final submission to the kitchen. 

Don’t worry if you have questions, as you aren’t completely on your own.  There is also a button to summon your server should you need a human contact.  (So, you don’t have to push “1” for English followed by a number of other prompts only to arrive at an automated message).  Customer service is not lacking at Do and the servers make every effort to help you overcome you fascination with your dinnertime play toy so that you can place your order correctly.  And, when you’re finished with your meal and you’re ready to go, just enter your valet ticket number into your iPad and your car will be ready at the door.  Now THAT’S customer service!

The environment is definitely modern, sleek and chic.  The white furnishings are the simplicity of stylish and profound lighting that sets the perfect ambience for a unique and enjoyable dining experience.  The walls surround you with the video of the songs that fill the air.  And, the food delights you with simple yet savory Italian blends. With the crust of the pizza as a flatbread combined with fresh toppings, you don’t leave Do feeling as heavy and full as you would other pizza establishments.  And, with the lack of gluttony as you bite into your last slice of pizza, there’s plenty of room for selecting one of their delicious desserts.

We started our night with the Chipotle Shrimp Flatbread, a great combination of spice, sweet and simple deliciousness.  The salsa was so fresh; they had to have made it as soon as our order was submitted.  We also had the do-prese salad, which was also fresh and crisp with every bite.  For our entrées, Kenya chose the “Maestro” pizza, which is the house specialty pizza with garlic sauce, spinach, shrimp and cheese.  Admittedly, this was good but not as great as Dennis’ pizza selection, “Composition” which includes their pizza sauce, pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onions, peppers and cheeses.   The rating of the Composition over the Maestro was simply because their sauce was so good and was, of course, absent on the Maestro. Kenya picked off the “forbidden meats” and enjoyed the sauce and vegetables of the Composition.  Next time, maybe the “Melody” will be her selected choice.  Last, but not least, we treated ourselves with dessert. 

Unfortunately, we did something we usually don’t do: we got the same menu item.  We both ordered the “Romance”.  But, it was only because Dennis made it very clear that he would be eating his alone.  😉  The desserts are very personal and suitable in size.  I guess we could have shared, but honestly, we’re both glad we didn’t.  I’m not really sure how that could have happened because neither of us left any evidence that the dessert ever existed.

When you go, make sure you also go to the space age bathroom.  Although bathrooms are not a normal part of our reviews, Do is also not your “normal” restaurant.  There is no mirror that hangs above the sink but instead there is, of course, an iPad that you are welcome to check your make-up or your hair.  And, if you are really feeling inspired, you can even take your picture and leave it there for others to see.  I guess this is the modern way of putting graffiti on the walls to say that you “were here”.  😉

Take a look at the menu and see all that the restaurant has to offer.  Take note of their musical lingo of menu items that creates the perfect harmony of Do (Dough) with the melodic ambience of the restaurant.

We can’t wait to go back in the spring or summer where we can take advantage of their outdoor space. But, we definitely plan to return before then for a casual dining hang out.

NOTE:  The restaurant is only open Thursday through Saturday.  A bummer, yes, but maybe if they get enough traffic, there will be a big enough demand to open on the other days.  They’ve only been open since May, 2011 so we’ll give them a chance.

HOURS: Thurs 5:30 PM – 1 AM, Fri-Sat 5:30 PM – 2 AM
LOCATION INFORMATION:  955 W. Marietta St. Atlanta, GA 30318 | (404) 541-9060

Harmonious Pizza.  Do.  That’s What’s Up!

Lake Oconee

In Family, Restaurants, Travel on September 3, 2011 at 12:01 AM

Ahhh! The final days of summer are upon us.  Recently, as a tribute to Kenya’s birthday, the T&S duo discovered the wonderful beauty of Lake Oconee.   Located just 75 miles/about 90 minutes East of Atlanta, the splendor of nature is not too far away.  What a beautiful destination we have to add to our list of great places to go.

Whether you’re looking for a quick get away, a nice retreat or even a family vacation, we offer Lake Oconee as a top spot for any, all or more of these purposes.  “How did we not know about this”, was all we could say.  “How did we miss this in the past four years”, was all that we felt.  We had an amazing time and promised to be back with the girls very soon.

Without missing a beat, the Ritz Carlton, Reynolds Plantation offers nothing but the best in class service.  Although the décor will probably remind you a little of your grandmother’s “front room” or maybe even “Little House on the Prairie” meets granite and tile, this hotel presents an ambience that brings luxury and comfort to the forefront.  The staff is friendly and pleasant from the time you stop your car at the valet to the time you leave to go home.  And, the grounds of the hotel invite you to do nothing but relax and enjoy.

We first hit Gaby’s by the Lake for lunch indulging in the sinfully delicious roasted garlic parmesan and truffle oil fries.  O! M! G!  After a game of pool, we then challenged ourselves to the bike trail.  (Although we brought our own bikes, there are bikes available at the hotel).  The trail was almost like riding a mountain trail.  It is full of dips and hills that keeps your gears in constant shift and makes you thankful that you are wearing a helmet.  Although the trail is only about 8 miles (4 miles up and back), we recommend that you not follow our order of events.  Such a bike trail AFTER roasted garlic parmesan and truffle oil fries is NOT recommended.  AT ALL!

With a dip into the infinity pool accompanied by a full catering bartender to the pool, we welcomed the beginning of a wonderful evening.  We even got to witness a wedding that was taking place in the nearby yard, which was adorned by a beautiful backdrop of the sunset on the lake.  They could not have asked for better weather or a better scene.

From 8p-10p daily, the hotel hosts a campfire for s’mores.  Although we didn’t make it down in time to enjoy before dinner, we thought it was a nice touch to wind down the day.

A golf cart scooted us down the road to the Linger Longer Steakhouse for a delectable evening.  While there are a variety of places to dine, we recommend this nearby restaurant for their ambience, menu selection and classic Ritz Carlton service.  Most of all, when they bring you the bill, they sweeten it up, literally, with a stick of fresh cotton candy.  What’s not to love about that?

As if the evening wasn’t already wonderful, we found ourselves swinging beneath the stars in a hammock between two of the trees on the hotel grounds.  As the stars shined in a clear black sky and water flowed in the nearby stream, we couldn’t help but to fall asleep without a care in the world.  If only we had a blanket, we would have indeed been found the next morning hanging in the net.

Brunch on the patio of  Georgia’s Bistro was, of course, worthy of a wake-up call.  It’s always nice when there are advanced meat options such as turkey bacon and chicken sausage.  When you leave, be sure to walk out into the yard and go for one of the best swings in your life.  When have you last been on a swing?  Talk about therapeutic.  And, these weren’t your normal playground swings.  They swung high, deep and were big enough for any adult who doesn’t mind letting out their inner child.  You definitely can’t help but smile.  So, don’t miss this youthful enjoyment.

We brought our golf clubs but never made it to the beautiful links that surround this destination.  We are certain to make time for a few holes next visit in addition to the relaxing spa.  Both looked enticing and we look forward to adding them to our future agenda.

Before we end our review/recommendation of Lake Oconee, we mentioned that this was a place for a family vacation.  It’s hard to imagine a romantic get away also being a place for kids but we really think it’s grand enough for whatever you desire.  Particularly with the water activities by the lake, we think this is a place kids would love.  If you don’t have your own boat, there are boats available for renting so that the family can take in the scene of this beautiful 19,000-acre area lake.  The hotel also has plenty of activities for the kids to do on shore including Ritz Kids Camp and Kids Night Out.

For whatever reason, you seek this gorgeous destination, we recommend you just go and see for yourself.  This is truly a beauty of God’s wonder.

Lake Oconee.  That’s What’s Up!

Cincinnati’s Tasty Favorites

In Restaurants on August 11, 2011 at 12:01 AM

You know you’re from Cincinnati when… coming into the city you have set up a strategy for where you will eat so that you don’t blow a aorta trying to stuff yourself with all the favorite foods in one weekend!

And, that’s basically what we did this past weekend.  Just like anytime we come back to our hometown from our current residence, we reminisce about the foods that we haven’t had in a while.  Catching the first glimpse of the glorious skyline as we drive through the “cut in the hill”, we are reminded of what will be our first stop.  Not even making it over the river and into the city, we often find ourselves pulling off the last exit of Kentucky.  Whether flying or driving, we come through northern Kentucky.  And, yes, for those who are NOT from Cincinnati, we know who you are when you ask why the “Cincinnati” airport is in Kentucky? Technically, it is the “Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport”, if that makes you less confused.  And, if you really want a little extra trivia, the airport code “CVG” stems from the airport’s nearest city, CoVinGton.   Insight AND Education.  That’s What’s Up! 😉

Just before going over the bridge on I-75N from Kentucky, the 5th street exit brings us to our first stop: SKYLINE CHILI. http://www.skylinechili.com A Cincinnati favorite!  While many prefer the rival, Gold Star Chili http://www.goldstarchili.com, for us, nothing beats Skyline!  Our favorites are the chili cheese sandwiches (coney sans pork hot dog).  We also recommend the chili burrito deluxe or the classic 4-way.  There is something for everyone here, even vegetarians!  For our meatless friends, we recommend the Greek salad or the vegetarian black bean burrito deluxe.  So, “whenever you’re feeling good and hungry” and you’re in Cincinnati, stop by for one of our hometown favorites, Skyline Chili!

Depending on the time we get into town, that meal will usually hold us over for a while.  Since we have a tendency to get into town in the evening, we are usually good until the morning.  We are then ready to rise and shine with our favorite breakfast spot, SUGAR N’ SPICE! http://sugar-n-spice-restaurant.com.  Located on Reading Road in Paddock Hills, this spot has been a local favorite for 70 years.  With a classic diner feel, this is the spot to not only indulge in the best pancakes ever, but it’s also the spot that will remind you you’re back at home as you will probably run into a few familiar faces.  It’s the Cincinnati, breakfast/brunch/lunch version of “Cheers”.  Someone will “know your name”.  If no one else does, the waitresses that have been happily serving for at least the past decade may know it.  Our favorites are the turkey sausage, onion, and cheddar cheese egg white omelet and the wispy thin pancakes.   We’ve never eaten lunch here, but if it’s anything like breakfast, you won’t be disappointed.

For lunch, just pick up the phone and dial Cincinnati’s favorite number (come on Cincinnati, sing it with us!): “347-1111, LAROSA’S”! http://www.larosas.com .  We recommend you only do that if you don’t have time to stop and dine because nothing is better than a fresh, piping hot pizza straight from the restaurant’s oven.  For Dennis, he recommends a traditional crust pizza tossed with pepperoni, ground beef and onions.  Kenya prefers a simple cheese pizza with extra sauce and extra cheese (to make it like they used to when we were younger) or the Florentine Focaccia.  We both start off with a house salad topped with their yummy Italian dressing.  Other than when we feasted on the isle of Capri in Italy, we have yet to taste a better pizza! Ciao!

Although we would not recommend following this guide on just one day (remember, strategy), we pick only one spot to dine for the evening:  CARLO & JOHNNY http://www.jeffruby.com/carlojohnny.php .  Just north of Cross County Highway on Montgomery Road, this is by far our favorite steakhouse, owned by Cincinnati’s most popular restaurateur, Jeff Ruby.

We pause for a moment, however, to give a well-deserved, honorary shout out to another fantastic steakhouse: JAG’S http://www.jags.com/ simply because it is the kitchen home of our fellow Walnut Hills Eagle and Kenya’s classmate, Executive Chef, Michelle Brown!  But, if you’re really from Cincinnati, you know that….well…West Chester is “far” and is NOT Cincinnati! Ha! 🙂 But, we have dined there several times and we highly recommend you go and enjoy the food and the dynamic ambience.  You won’t go wrong with the savory sea bass and there’s probably no other place in town to delight yourself with the most tender, juicy Kobe filet.  A real delicacy!

Okay, now back towards town, we were telling you about Carlo & Johnny.  Out of the numerous Jeff Ruby restaurants, we became frequent diners (literally, we even had a membership card) of this particular locale due to its ambience and raw bar selection.  It’s a great atmosphere and if you dine on a Friday or Saturday, you will more than likely be greeted in the bar area by live music.  (And, you know we love a live band!)  Although the bar area will come alive with a few dancers and instruments, the other areas of the restaurant are appropriately spaced and separated so that you can enjoy good conversation without strain.  Our favorite place to sit is the “Emerald Room” capturing the elegance of the 40s and 50s.  We will, however, sacrifice seating in this room so that we can be served by our favorite waiter, Jordan if he should so happen to serve in another area.  (Please request him when making your reservation!)  We always start with crab legs from the raw bar served with a vat of warm melted butter.  Along with the warm basket of bread and truffle butter, we’re usually satisfied with one crab leg each until the main course.  We’ve probably had every steak on the menu and recommend pretty much any steak that has the bone-in.  Either the bone-in filet mignon or the “Cowboy” will surely make your taste buds want to ride in a rodeo!  Top it off with garlic butter and that’s about all you need.  Any side items can be split as they are usually large enough for two.  We’ve favored the baked potato, creamed spinach or asparagus.  However, the baked macaroni and cheese is also delicious (just too heavy with all of the other food).  This dinner is usually followed up in the morning with steak and eggs as we always take half of the steak home the next day from failure to eat it all.  Besides, we like to leave a little room for dessert finishing the night with a little crème’ brulee or cheesecake.

And, speaking of desserts, we could never leave Cincinnati without mentioning THE BEST ICE-CREAM ON THE PLANET (even Oprah said so! 😉 ): GRAETER’S. http://www.graeters.com  (And, you know you’re from Cincinnati if you ever misspelled the word “greater” as grAEter! :)).   This is the creamiest, most delicious cold treat you could ever imagine.  Other than UDF, ice-cream stores can’t survive in Cincinnati over the love for this ice-cream.  Baskin-Robbins, Maggie Moo’s, Coldstone Creamery, have all had to shut down their doors to the abandonment created by Graeter’s.  There’s just no other ice-cream like it.  And, thankfully, some of the flavors can be found in your local Kroger’s www.kroger.com freezer.  So, if you’re not in the area or you are craving this pint of delish after store hours in Cincinnati, go immediately to the freezer section of our hometown-born grocery store and indulge!

So, we mentioned UDF http://www.udfinc.com and while UDF has a nice selection of their own creamy, cold treats, we really love the pineapple-orange freezes (only available in summer for the pineapple but the orange is also good).  Although they are also known for their floats and shakes, nothing beats an ice cold freeze with a bag of our favorite chip to crave: GRIPPO’S!

You haven’t had a real barbeque potato chip until you’ve tasted the spicy goodness in your mouth of Grippo’s.  Although they offer an array of snacks, generally when you say “Grippo’s” in Cincinnati we all know that you mean the barbeque chip!   If you are sent on a run to the store for “Grippo’s”, you’d better not return with the plain chips or worst, pretzels, or you will be headed right back to the store!  Now, available on-line for shipping at http://www.grippos.com, people can enjoy this zesty snack from anywhere!  (And, make sure you get the foil bags so you can get the extra fire crumbs that nestle at the bottom!)

Last, but not least, don’t forget to pack this in your bag to take to the cookout or back on the road to home!  The best metts (yes, we said it! They are “metts”!), in the land: Queen City Sausage! http://www.queencitysausage.com Fire them up on the grill and let the juice drip down your chin!  We prefer the hot all beef smoked sausage.  Put it on a bun hot off the grill and top it off with some mustard for a savory bite of “yum”!  Make sure you have a glass of ice water nearby to put out the fire in your mouth.  Your eyes may water but believe us, they will be raining tears of joy!  The only thing bad about this cookout favorite is running out of it.  So make sure you buy two or three packs to avoid the fights!

While we no longer have a Cincinnati address, this is still the place we call home.  Filled with great food and the best of schools, this is the place that brings us to familiar faces and shared joys.  Like many hometowns, there are its advantages and disadvantages but at the end of the day…….

…..this is home and That’s What’s Up!

Live Classic Jazz: Churchill Grounds

In Night Life, Restaurants on August 1, 2011 at 12:01 AM


Whether you’re a jazz fanatic or just looking for a great place to listen to live music, we think you can find it at Churchill Grounds.  Located next door to the Fox Theatre on Peachtree, this is a quaint little spot that can take you back to the days of the Cotton Club.  We found ourselves here on a Friday night after dinner and enjoyed the classic sounds of Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker and other great legends come to life thanks to Thad Wilson and his jazz orchestra.  http://www.myspace.com/thadwilsonjazzorchestra

Make sure you visit the Churchill Grounds website as the bands that come to perform change at least weekly.  You will be required to pay a $25 admission and then put in an order of at least $10 a set.  We ordered drinks, however, they do have small plates if you’re interested in taking in a small bite while watching the show.

In this day and age of auto tunes and digital music, it’s nice to just get out and hear some trumpets and saxophones blow in your face.  We even got a little blues and jazz crooners who sang a few lyrics on the microphone.  We listened to a song that was probably banned back in the day as the lyrics talked about a woman that belonged to someone else but she was at the man’s house to “do him” too (and maybe others).   Oooh, so racy!  However, there seems to be something more tolerable about listening to such lyrics from the alto filled sounds of a man crooning in a suit than when presented by a tatt-ed up, pants on the ground twenty-something rapper.  Hypocritical?  Probably.  But, it’s the truth.

Don’t be surprised if you don’t see this place at first glance.  As many times as we’ve gone up and down Peachtree and even gone into the Fox Theatre, we never even knew this place existed until our friend introduced us.  There are no flashy signs or bright notices to signal where the front door is, however, once you go, you’ll know and will want to re-visit.  Whether you go for a nice date night, just for some drinks or for an after dinner affair, we’re sure you’ll love this spot!

Live classic jazz!  That’s What’s Up!

10 Degrees South

In Restaurants on July 30, 2011 at 12:01 AM


We couldn’t wait to tell you all about one of our favorite restaurants in Atlanta!  10 Degrees South brings all of the wonderful flavors that make your mouth water with just the thought of biting into one of their dishes.  The wine menu offers a wonderful selection that can be paired with any dish for a perfect bouquet of flavors.  Tested by some of our South African friends for authenticity, we think this is the best thing you can do to get to South Africa without having to get on a plane for almost a day.

The decor is beautiful and sets the perfect ambience for enjoying a great meal with a date or with a group of friends.

If the weather permits, we suggest you sit outside on the covered porch.

While everything on the menu is seriously banging, we offer guidance with a few of our favorites.

Small Plates

One of the best parts about this restaurant is that most of their main courses can be found in a sample size or “small plates”.  This gives you the option to try the dishes or simply have a combination of many of the dishes as a main course.
You can never go wrong with the spring rolls, however, our favorite of the two are the peri-peri chicken spring rolls – a staple appetizer.  Peri-peri sauce is like the South African hot sauce.  And, just like Frank’s® Red Hot® sauce, we put that **** on everything!  We love mussels and here, the mussels melt in your mouth.  The prawns are okay but nothing that we remember standing out.  The calamari is another staple appetizer and is delectable in the lemon caper butter sauce.  If you’re looking for just a taste of meat and not an entire meal, we suggest the lollipop lamb chops and the boerewors.  We’ve been told that the restaurant’s boerewors, a lean beef sausage, is a little taste of home to many South Africans as this is a popular cuisine in their country.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boerewors.  If you still can’t decide, just order one of the sampler platters.  We love the seafood sampler!

(photo of lamb chops)

Main Courses

Again, many of the main courses can be found as starters under “small plates” so for those not mentioned above, we suggest you try the following great dishes:  Chicken Curry, Cape King Klip and Peri-Peri Chicken.
The chicken curry is Kenya’s staple main course.  Although other dishes are tempting, this pretty much is the one that gets ordered time and time again.  Made with South African spices and herbs, this dish is served on a bed of yellow and white rice topped with sambals.  “Sambals” is the term used for tomatoes, bananas, coconut and chutney.  Although not bad as a topping, this is ordered on the side and usually only the tomatoes get thrown on top (although the bananas are a good side treat) and, of course, a side of peri-peri sauce is thrown in also.
The Cape King Clip brings South African seafood into your mouth.  This light, mild South African fish is grilled and topped with a lemon butter sauce over basmati rice and a side of vegetable.  A fresh and light dish that will leave your taste buds happy and your waistline too, this favorite fish is completely satisfying.
The Peri-Peri chicken is a Cornish hen butterflied, marinated in peri-peri sauce and chargrilled to perfection.  Just the sauce alone is enough to make you want to order it.  Did we mention that the sauce is really good?  This is a flavorful dish and is served with basmati rice and vegetables.


While there are many temptations on the menu, there really is only one dessert that truly stands out and that we haven’t been able to find anywhere except this restaurant.  That is, Di’s Delight!  This is not just any sponge cake; this is like happiness, love and world peace at your lips.  There’s really no way to describe this little cake of joy, you simply just have to try it.  So, absolutely leave room for dessert!

Interesting Facts

Where does the name 10 Degrees South come from?  Well, after several unsuccessful attempts of analyzing latitude and longitude lines of maps only to arrive at the Seychelles Islands, we decided to just ask the restaurant.  The name comes from the fact that Cape Town, South Africa lies ten degrees south of the Tropic of Capricorn.  Pretty clever!
If you can’t make it to Atlanta to enjoy this fabulous restaurant, don’t fret.  We have news that the restaurant is planning to expand their business beginning with their first location opening in Los Angeles.  They are also looking at other popular cities so we hope it comes to your city soon!  http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/print-edition/2011/04/22/houstons-founder-to-help-10-degrees.html

A delectable little taste of South Africa!  That’s What’s Up!

Bienvenido a Miami/South Beach

In Restaurants, Travel on July 20, 2011 at 12:01 AM

That’s right!  We’ve taken our talents to South Beach!

Now that we’ve both taken the time to get to know Miami/South Beach together and apart, we thought we’d give you a little review of a great weekend get-away spot that offers a little bit of this and a whole lot of that.

*What We Love About South Beach

Due to our close proximity to Florida, we like that Miami is only a 1.5-hour plane ride away.  For those that don’t live as close, we still put this as one of our favorite places because you can pretty much get to it non-stop from just about everywhere.  We love that Miami has great beaches, great shopping and great food.  If you like to go out at night, of course, Miami also has the nightlife.  And, for those times that you just want to stay in and take in the nice breeze, well, it has that too.  It’s just a great city to hang out and rejuvenate.

*Where We Like To Stay in South Beach

Our preferred way to stay in South Beach is at the SAPPHIRE SUITE PENTHOUSE 09.  For those who like a little pampering while vacationing in Miami, want to be in the heart of South Beach but, are a little too grown and sexy to be submerged by all the techno music that will usually surround you when you’re too deep in the strip, we recommend staying in this personal penthouse suite.  Concierge at your service and a view that takes your breath away!  It’s intimate, chic and within walking distance to just about anything South Beach.  The nice thing about this private room is its location.  Located in the heart of the Art Deco District, it’s close to just about everything and far enough from just about anything, particularly the Miami hoopla that can begin to take its toll on the “grown and sexy”.  Let Christian Francis take care of you and please let him know we sent you as he may just throw a few extra rose petals on the floor. 😉  http://www.southbeachluxuryhotelpenthouse.com/index.html

For a cute, chic boutique style hotel with a nice location, we recommend Z Ocean Hotel.   http://www.zoceanhotelsouthbeach.com/  In addition to relaxing rooms, Z Ocean now houses the famous Front Porch Café, which we recommend for brunch or breakfast.  http://www.frontporchoceandrive.com/

We like Hotel Victor although we must say that the inside of the rooms are pretty masculine in decor.  (Maybe that’s why it’s called “Victor”?)  The rooms are also a bit small.  So, we recommend this as a good place for a guys weekend where you just need a grown man’s place to crash and shower.  If you’re not looking to spend too much time in the room, this may be great for the guys to block off some rooms and hit the streets in Miami.

The Essex House is for those that are looking to stay RIGHT DEAD SMACK in the middle of the action. The rooms are rather small, probably typical for a “boutique” hotel, however, there wasn’t much to the room beyond the bed. However, at this location, you shouldn’t plan to get much sleep anyway.  This is a very good place to stay if you’re here to party. The price is also fitting for what they have to offer. We recommend a suite at the Essex as they’re about 3 times the size of the standard room and won’t cost you much more.  The major downfall of this hotel is the fact that they don’t allow you to bring in outside food or drinks.  Because they have 5 bars and 3 restaurants on site, they have determined that your taste buds should accommodate their selection.  A good place for the price but maybe not a good place for the “grown and sexy”.

Another “happening” place may be The Shore Club.  (And, we don’t recall a ban on outside vending)  The rooms are nice and bright and very “Miami” while the pool area and outdoor patio is always the scene to be seen, day or night.  The DJ is always spinning the latest beats and the beach is just a few steps away.  If you’re looking for constant energy and a splash of celebs every now and then, we say this is the place to check in and hang out.

A few steps away and maybe a splash bit of more quiet and luxury is the Delano hotel.  This hotel gives about the same “happening” scene as Shore Club but it will give you a slight upgrade towards a more “grown and sexy” vibe.  It may just be our “Z Ocean” meets “Shore Club” kind of feel.

*Where We Like To Dine in South Beach

Now, this is the most important part of any of our tidbits – FOOD!!!  We love to eat good food!

BREAKFAST:  Eleventh Street Diner – we already mentioned Front Porch Café as a great place but if you want to take a little walk off the beach, we recommend strolling over to 11th Street and into this art deco diner.  Great menu selection and great service.  Our only criticism is letting you know you’d like a little omelet with your cheese.  We actually had to send the omelet back because it had so much cheese in it.  However, they do have turkey meat products and that always makes for a good, inclusive  breakfast menu.

STEAKHOUSE:  Prime 112 – a staple of fine dining and probably one of the most popular upscale restaurants on South Beach.  EVERYTHING is good here and it’s a great menu that can cater to anyone from the vegetarian to the meat lovers.  The truffled lobster mac n cheese is worth the price tag. Really!  And, while they were not our favorite, the fried Oreos is the dessert they are most famously known for.

SEAFOOD:  The Crab House – with a plethora of seafood selections, you can’t go wrong at The Crab House for a nice atmosphere and wonderfully prepared seafood.  Get a little aphrodisiac and a tasty starter with the Bahamian Conch chowder.  And, enjoy a variety of crab selections prepared to your liking.

CASUAL:  Puerto Sagua, 700 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139 – You can’t be in Miami Beach without a little taste of Cuba. Don’t be fooled by the hole in the wall atmosphere, this restaurant offers the best Cuban cuisine and at an affordable price.  Plan to have a little wait as the place is always packed.  But, the service is pretty quick so don’t worry about having to wait too long.  Besides, it is definitely worth the wait.

*What We Like To Do in South Beach

We love the beach!  It’s free and free-ing.  Take in the sun and have some fun.  The ocean often feels like a nice salt bath and can give you hours of simple relaxation as you float on the waves.  And, if you dare, take a trip to Haulover Beach!  At the advice of our “naturalist” friend, we have both ventured over for a “freeing” experience at this unique and let’s say, “interesting” beach.  After a little initial discomfort, you get used to what the Euros have been doing for years.  It actually is nice to feel the ocean on only your skin.  Free your mind (and your swimwear!)

Shopping is always a great way to really make your vacation “count”.  Enjoy a short walk to the famous Lincoln Rd. where you’ll have 10 blocks of non-stop shopping and casual dining, including 7 blocks of traffic free stores.

If you’re looking for some great bargains, you may want to hop in a car and go the distance about 30 minutes North to Sawgrass Mills.  As the largest mall in the state of Florida, you’ll need the whole day and a cart to rack up on all the bargains this mall has to offer.  Noted for its factory outlet stores, we suggest taking the time out to check out this shopper’s paradise!

And, if you absolutely must hit a club up in Miami, honestly, we think Mango’s offers the best variety, and personally the best hip-hop to dance to in town.  The key thing about Mango’s is not having to do the “I need to act like I’m so important” list that you often have to “be on” in order to pay your money to get into the clubs in Miami.  Those are a hassle and honestly, just dumb and dramatic.  There’s no “perp” line, you know, the line that goes for miles outside the club when there are only 2 people in the club but we have to look like we’re the happening spot that everyone’s waiting to get into.  Yeah, we’re not really on that and neither is Mango’s.  If you like to salsa, this is a great place to watch dancers and try a little dancing yourself.  Again, there is also, we think, the best hip hop nestled upstairs and is one of the best kept secrets that you would not expect when you walk up.  Grab a bite (the food is pretty good) and then go into the club for FREE!  Even better!

We also think Nikki Beach is a little more grown and sexy.  With a variety of clubs, it provides more lounge clubs that we enjoy.  This is located near Prime 112, which may give you a clue to the type of crowd it attracts.  We say go there if you really want a place to kick it and have a little smoother ambience.  There are places to get your groove on too but, again, it definitely has a more mature vibe.

Whatever you choose to do or wherever you choose to stay, we think you will love this popular destination to run off to for a short or a long weekend.  Miami has enough to do (or not do) for everyone, so, enjoy!!!

Bienvenido a Miami! That’s What’s Up!

That’s What’s Up! This Weekend~July 15-17, 2011

In Concerts, Restaurants on July 15, 2011 at 12:01 AM

Can’t decide what to do this weekend?  Here are a few things of interest that we’ve found going on around town in these selected cities this weekend.  Have fun.  Be safe.

That’s What’s Up!


National Black Arts Festival

July 14th – 17th


The National Black Arts Festival brings “Unexpected Encounters” to Centennial Olympic Park as the center of its International Marketplace featuring more than 100 vendors and artists of handmade jewelry, clothing, carved-wood sculptures and more.  5p-9p, Thursday.  10a-9p, Friday – Saturday and noon-8p Sunday.  Admission is FREE!

Other Programming for the Festival this weekend includes:

*”Interpretations: Black Visual Art – Past, Present and Future” featuring the centennial of Romare Bearden’s birth, 8 p.m. July 14. $25-$45. Symphony Hall, 1280 Peachtree St.

*Dance Africa! 8p, Saturday & 3p, July 17 featuring South African contemporary dancer-choreographer Vincent Mantsoe, traditional South African gumboot dancing from Lesoles Dance Project, and more.  Rialto Center for the Arts, 80 Forsyth St. $25.

*The O’Jays, 2011 Legends Celebration, 8 p.m. Friday.  Symphony Hall, 1280 Peachtree St. $35-$65.

*The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra plays its annual festival-closing concert at Ebenezer Baptist Church at 7 p.m. July 17. Free. 407 Auburn Ave., Atlanta.


Charlotte Restaurant Week Kick-off

July 15th – 24th


Kick off the weekend with some of Charlotte’s best cuisines in some of the city’s upscale restaurants as they highlight special 3 course (or more) dinners for only $30/person.

Los Angeles/Long Beach

Summer on the Plaza Concert Series

July 15th, 22nd, 29th 5p-8:30p

FIGat7th (formerly 7+FIG at Ernst & Young Plaza)


Arts Brookfield presents its fourth season of “Summer on the Plaza”, a free concert series in downtown Los Angeles featuring Smooth Jazz, R&B and World Music. Leela James kicks off the event on Friday, July 15th is R&B soul singer Leela James. Next week features Grammy award-winning saxophonist Mike Phillips. Closing out the series on Friday, July 29th will be World Music songstress Lira from South Africa.  Each show opens with a live DJ set by some of LA’s hottest deejay’s, including the Grammy nominated international artist and BET Master of the Mix DJ Vikter Duplaix. Space is limited and early arrival is suggested.



Friday, July 15th and Saturday, July 16th


If you haven’t seen her yet, what better place to go to see this legendary singer than in Miami. Friday, 8p at the Bank Atlantic Center, 1 Panther Pkwy., Sunrise; $53.25-$153.25 AND 8 p.m. Saturday at the American Airlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; $39.50-$149.50.  Go to http://ticketmaster.com for tickets.

Sheryl Underwood

Friday, July 15th


 Stand-up comedienne appears at the Miami Improv 8:30 and 10:45 p.m. Friday, plus 8, 10 and 11:59 p.m. Saturday.  3390 Mary St., Miami; 305-441-8200; $25.

Funkshion Fashion Week

July 13th – 17th


Top world designers showcase their new lines in individual fashion shows.