Hilton has started a new series, Hilton @Play, a partnership with Live Nation, where Hilton HHonors members can experience private events at their properties. It’s part of an effort to give their hardworking guests the chance to play a little. (I like it.) HHonors members have the chance to reserve tickets with their points on the HHonors website.
For their Dallas Hilton @Play event, the brought Nick Jonas to the Hotel Anatole for a private concert. When you arrived, there was a red carpet experience followed by a VIP-style reception, complete with a live DJ, plenty of food, an open bar, a photo booth, and plenty of people with which to mingle.
The concert itself was so small that everyone got a great place to watch. Even better, there was a bar inside the venue (sweet) and enough video coverage that you could see every second of the show in full HD glory.
Nick did his thing on stage and, I’m not the crazy Nick Jonas fan like the girls in front, but I really enjoyed the show. (He is really damn talented, after all.) The girls went extra wild when he mentioned that Dallas is his hometown — because we do breed talent in the Big D.
During the concert, they replaced the appetizers and savory food with a smorgasbord of deliciousness for concert-goers to enjoy after the show. On the way out, we even got goodie bags and the chance to snap a couple pap photos on the red carpet again.
I don’t know who Chester is, but I really like that dude. I was lucky enough to try out The Chester while in NYC this past April and have been haunted by some of the delicious dishes I had since. The Chester is an unassuming little restaurant in Midtown (with another location in The Meatpacking District in the Gansevoort) with traditional American fare … with a twist.
We hit The Chester up for brunch because we couldn’t have a big a dinner since we were running a half marathon the next morning. (Seriously. We’re nuts.) So we opted for a not-too-late brunch and hit it hard. Because … carbs are important. But, their dinner menu sounds absolutely amazing–I mean Orange-fennel Salad, Squid Ink Tagliarini, Eggplant Toast, Pork Belly … ugh, why didn’t we go for dinner?!
Their brunch menu has some of the more traditional options, but who needs traditional when you can have Breakfast Eggrolls!? They were packed with scrambled eggs and veggies and were fried to a perfect crisp. We also opted for the Blistered Shishito Peppers (lemon zest, fried garlic, and maldon sea salt). My sister said that, without a doubt, they were the best shishito peppers she’d ever had. I’d really have to agree. The garlic added a bunch of flavor and the best little hint of texture. I went with The Sawdust (Rosemary-infused Ketel One, Moet, lemon juice, and agave) to start light and it was a great choice.
The cocktail menu offered some classic options but mostly slightly remixed options. The West Side, Roosevelt, and Hellfire were all tempting!
Entrees were a challenge. I mean … how do you choose between Eggs Benedict on a cheddar scone topped with chorizo hash and Banana Pancakes with rum-caramelized bananas and salted caramel?! I mean … my mouth is watering and I’m about to look at flights to head back up there right now. Luckily, someone had recommended their Fried Chicken (sweet tea brined chicken served with blistered shishito peppers and Thai dressing), so I at least had a hint. The sweet tea brine gave it a subtle sweetness that was irresistible. When the waitress came to clear our plates, I actually said to her “Don’t look at me … I’m hideous” because I’d gotten so into the chicken that I, quite literally, had it all over my hands and face.
My sister went with The Burger (hanger steak, pimento cheese, and miso-Russian dressing served on a homemade buns with steak fries) and really enjoyed it. (I actually don’t know if I’ve ever seen her eat as much as I did that day. No judgement.)
If I had ANY room left, I’d have opted for some of their fresh oysters. They offer a selection of East Coast and West Coast oysters. (Which look amazing.)
The drinks at The Chester were all unique, yet classic. Since we had a big race to run the next day*, I followed-up the meal with The Cobblestone (Tanqueray, mint, cucumber, rhubarb bitters) instead of dessert. It was all I could do to resist the Sweet Ginger (Jameson, mont, honey-ginger syrup, and lemon)
The restaurant itself was HUGE–especially for a New York City space. There were two full bars offering both liquor and a selection of local beers–one in front with windows that allowed an open facade for beautiful spring days and one in the back of the restaurant … for less pleasant days. The Meatpacking space looks a bit brighter and offers a large, wood patio.
I’ll be hitting up the Meatpacking location on my next visit to The City, so stay tuned for another report! (Apparently they have a club, The Arthur, hidden inside.* That’s happening.)
Being from Austin, I was over the moon to have the chance to check out one of their newer bars, Whisler’s. Located in ever-growing East Austin, Whisler’s feels like it’s been there forever. The small indoor bar is perfect for small talk with your more than qualified bartender and the outdoor patio would be ideal for you and your group to sip all night. Whisler’s specializes in cocktails that are creations of their very own staff and I was lucky enough to have GM, Cesar Aguilar, concoct some of their latest drinks for me.
Aguilar truly believes that he and his staff are never done learning and innovating when it comes to their cocktails. They create the menu by having the bartenders create their own cocktails and submit them to be on the seasonal menu. I had the pleasure of trying the fall menu of winners.
The first drink I tried was the simple and light Eastside Queen (vodka, lemon, and cranberry-rosemary syrup). If you like vodka (and I do!) then this is the perfect cocktail. Needless to say, this was something I would order a couple of in an evening.
Next I tried the Pink Lady (gin, apple brandy, lemon, honey, grenadine, and egg white), which tasted like I was drinking a cloud…a delicious, gin-filled cloud. This drink is sweet and creamy- definitely a hit with me. I probably would have claimed this one to be my favorite … until I found the next drink.
My last drink was the I Yam What I Yam (butter-rum, meletti amaro, sweet potato shrub, and bitters topped with a roasted marshmallow). Yes … yes, you did read that right: Thanksgiving goodness … in your mouth in an easy-to-consume liquid form. (Stretchy pants not required.) This was, by all means, my favorite cocktail of the night. Sweet potato shrub is not something I had ever tried (or really had ever heard of) and I was apprehensive. I wasn’t sure it would translate into a cocktail. Foolish! It adds just the right amount of savory to counter the butter-rum and when you take a sip, while smelling the just-roasted marshmallow … well it’s just heaven.
The last thing we’ll mention is Whisler’s Oaxacan-style mezcalería, Mezcalería Tobalá. It’s a smaller bar upstairs carries a plethora of mezcals in half-pours to taste or full-pours.
Whisler’s is open everyday from 4pm-2am and is currently still serving their fall cocktail menu. Be sure to stay tuned for all of their future sure-to-amaze seasonal cocktail lists and be sure to ask who created your drink!
Ok, y’all … I love an expensive drink as much as the next person (which is not at all), but this one caught my attention. The head mixologist at Vitascope Hall in the Hyatt Regency New Orleans mixed up a cocktail that costs a pretty penny but will let Saints fans rep their team with more than just jerseys and face paint.
The cocktail is called Black & Gold … and by gold, they actually mean gold. It’s made with Absolut 100 vodka (just $34 for a 750ml), Champagne Charles Mignon “Cuvée Billionaires Row” Brut Rosé Grand Cru, and a splash of raspberry Chambord liqueur and chilled pineapple juice. Oh … and the icing on the cake … err … topping on the cocktail … there’s edible gold on top and a black and gold sugar rim. (How does one make gold edible? I’m just seeing a flashback to the day after a Goldschläger binge.)
The drink runs cocktail enthusiasts a cool hundy stick ($100). Because sometimes it takes money to show you’re a fan. (What?)
$100 Black & Gold Cocktail (Available at Vitascope Hall in the Hyatt Regency New Orleans)
2 oz. Absolut 100 Super Premium Vodka
½ oz. Chambord
3 oz. Champagne Charles Mignon “Cuvée Billionaires Row” Brut
Rosé Grand Cru
2 ½ oz. Pineapple Juice
Served with a black and gold sugar rim and topped with shaved edible gold.
About the Hyatt Regency New Orleans: Situated in the heart of downtown New Orleans, adjacent to Mercedes-Benz Superdome and just blocks from the historic French Quarter, Hyatt Regency New Orleans is a preferred destination for leisure and business travelers alike, boasting 1,193 strikingly sophisticated guest rooms, including 95 suites and four presidential suites. www.neworleans.hyatt.com.
While on a weekend getaway to New Orleans, I wanted to see another (dare I say “calmer”) side of Bourbon Street. I had heard lots of good things about the Carousel Bar that is housed in the Hotel Monteleone. It’s a bar and show all in one … just as the name says, the bar is a revolving Carousel.
There are 25 seats at the bar along with a beautiful, spacious lounge. I would have to say that this bar can be quite confusing (especially after a few drinks). If you leave to use the restroom, your seat will not be where it was when you left it. The bar makes a full revolution every 15 minutes. The first question I had was: how do the bartenders enter and exit the inside of the bar? I could not find any openings. Within a few minutes, mystery was solved- these bartenders have to be quite limber because they literally crawl over the bar.
The Carousel bar has lots of history and is popular with locals as well as tourist. Before you plan your trip, check their website for their live music lineup.
I played it safe and my first drink was a Cuba Libre and it was very smooth. A simple drink of plantation dark rum, coke, and a lime-high quality ingredients and packed a punch. This simple drink was so good … that it called for seconds. My boyfriend ordered the Perfect Storm which was New Orleans cajun spiced rum, ginger beer, and lime. He said it was a nice change up from the usual Moscow Mule.
The speciality drinks on the menu run about $9, as well as they offer a full bar and a few local beers on tap.
I would recommend this bar to anyone visiting New Orleans. Not only is it just plain awesome because its a moving carousel (duh), but the drinks are outstanding. Great atmosphere, music, and drinks- what else could you ask for?
Some of my buddies over at iliveindallas.com put together a 2014 Beer & Brewers Index. Here’s some info about it and a link to download it directly:
…the most comprehensive, most complete, and most up-to-date repository of beers and brewers in Dallas-Fort Worth (at this point in time). Sorry, for the superlatives, but I can promise you, every word is true. Today we are announcing DFW Beer & Brewers Index. This local buzz almanac will give you a run down of every beer and brewer (including 19 up-and-coming) in the DFW area. It doesn’t stop at the year-round beers – it covers seasonal as well, so you know what to warm yourself with in the winter, and keep you cool in the summer. This directory of beer and brewers may be hard to digest in one sitting, but will act as a a reference guide to get your local fix when you need it. Every true local beer buff or supporter must have a copy to be able to call him/herself that. Download it here.
In this 26 page archive of awesome you’ll find:
8 Dallas-area brewers with 87 beers from neighborhoods like Trinity Groves.
4 Fort Worth-area brewers with 38 beers from neighborhoods like West 7th.
Specific addresses of all 18 already established breweries
6 brewers with 46 beers outside the city, but still close enough to make the hike
Tour times of all the major breweries
A list of the 20 breweries soon to open
A list of 81 of the Best Places to Find Local Beer by City
So what does one do when she misses the check-in threshold for luggage when flying out to a family reunion? She gets a later flight and posts up at a bar … because flying after a couple cocktails is just better.
The staff of the DFW Airport TGI Friday’s is kind of amazing. Rodney and a couple nice ladies greeted me and found me a nice little perch at the bar. Rodney was one of those people that had a line for everything … and he had a few choice ones he dropped during our conversation.
Landon and Chris were the barmen making things happen on this particular Friday afternoon, and they were quite friendly and accommodating. I started with one of my favorites, the Peach Honey Smash (Jack Daniel’s Whiskey, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, fresh mint, peach purée, citrus juices, peach slice). It’s perfectly sweet, but not too much so. I could easily drink about ten of these, but then I’d end up pulling a David Hasselhoff … and that’s not a good look.
I made friends with the people around me, shot the shit, and ended up buying a round of Fireball for a few of us before ordering a Pick Three-for-All for myself. (Don’t judge … I was on vacation.) I went with the boneless buffalo wings, mozzarella sticks, and the pretzel sticks with cheese dip. While indulgent, it was frickin’ delicious and hit the spot.
Round three was up to Landon. He made me a delicious fruity drink (not on the menu) that was gone in about two sips. (If you aren’t too picky … you should play my game. I tell the bartender to make me something delicious and to stay away from tequila and grapefruit — because, ew. I’ve gotten some really delicious drinks that I’d never think to order thank to this game!)
Anyway … best “layover” I’ve ever had. Make it happen for yourself next time you have a few spare minutes at the airport!
So … I’m all about unconventional outings–for dates, girls’ nights, and Tuesdays. Sometimes it’s nice to get out of dodge and head to the ‘burbs, and Grapevine Wine Tours offer a fun evening away from the Big D that highlights Grapevine’s wine options.
I was lucky to join a group of media people on a wine tour on a Wednesday evening. The group met around 5:30pm and piled into one of their small, air conditioned busses to visit three wine-centric stops in Grapevine led by a GWT representative who fed us fun facts about the city of Grapevine and its wine offerings. (Fun fact: Texas is the 4th largest wine producing state!) Each tour will visit three of the seven partners in Grapevine, some vineyards, some tasting rooms, and some restaurants. The tour lasts around 4.5 hours and always includes a meal.
Our group’s itinerary was:
Homestead Winery – this cute, little home close to Downtown Grapevine produces wine from vines grown in Ivanhoe, Texas. The owner of the winery walked us through a tasting of their wines (15+ — yikes). They have some wines that are incredibly unique and were happy to talk us through the flavors and nuances of the wines we were tasting.
Delaney Vineyard – this vineyard is the only local vineyard and boasts 10 acres of vines, a winery, and gorgeous tasting room onsite. We were treated to a tour of the entire site and a tasting of their offerings. (I left with a bottle of wine from their gift shop … because I have a shopping problem.)
Winewood Grill – we enjoyed a three-course meal at Winewood, complete with suggested wine pairings. I opted for the BBQ ribs, and it was a solid choice. They had live music in the bar, which was a nice bonus.
GWTs will coordinate with your party to determine an appropriate itinerary and pick-up location (at one of three Grapevine hotels, Embassy Suites Outdoor World, Hilton DFW Lakes, or the Gaylord Texan). Each tour is customized based on your group’s size and preferences.
Call 817.259.WINE (9463) or visit www.GrapevineWineTours.com for tour prices, schedules, group rates and other details. Tours typically cost $79.50-89.50. You can save 10% discount on a lunch or dinner tour using the code BLOG10 (offer expires 9/1/14).
****I was invited to experience a Grapevine Wine Tour free of charge.****