Category Archives: The Wandering Boozehound

Morels French Steakhouse & Bistro (Las Vegas)

Brunch in Vegas.  Perhaps one of the lesser considered meals in Sin City, but one of my new favorites.  On a recent trip, a couple colleagues and I ventured into Morels in The Palazzo.  I love everything French (wine, bread, macarons, kisses …), so I was stoked about trying this place out.  Not only did it have he promise of a great hangover cure (because hair of the dog is necessary in Vegas), but it ups the ante with a view of the strip.

We started with a fancy bloody mary at the stately inside bar.  While they offer a traditional version of the brunch cocktail, they also offer a few remixed version including a Surf & Turf Bloody Mary, complete with bacon (obvi) and a jumbo shrimp.  Their bloodies have a nice flavor and aren’t weak in the least.  If ordering off the menu isn’t your style, you can have them make you one to your specs when you order the bloody mary cart!

We moved outside after our first round of drinks to enjoy the view of the Strip complete with some serious people watching along with some .  I started hacking away at their offer of bottomless mimosas for $25 (damn decent sparkling along with four options of juice).  Soon enough, everyone at the table joined in on the bottomless challenge offering, so they brought us our own bottle of sparkling and carafes of each juice.  (Gotta love that self-serve life.)

The menu offers plenty of French-inspired items and I couldn’t pass up the Mushroom & Gruyère Crepe with cream sauce.  The rest of the table opted for the Pan-Seared Scottish Salmon and the Crab Oscar Benedict–both were amazing.  We all shared bites of our entrees and agreed that I made the best choice (though all were ah-mazing).

Without asking, dessert and much-needed coffee was sent out (the worst, no?)  All three of us were absolutely full, but made room for the Mixed Berry Crumble and Classic Profiteroles.  And damn … I’m glad we did.  The crumble was perfectly warm (you can tell that I didn’t get the picture before it started melting the ice cream) and the  topping was nice and crispy.  The profiteroles sandwiched candied vanilla almond ice cream and came with a side of malted chocolate sauce and topped with house-made whipped cream.

Overall, the brunch was amazing.  All three of us agreed that it was a delightful change of pace from the all-you-can-eat buffets and smokey casinos (not that I’d ever leave either of those behind).  The entire staff was courteous and amenable and the restaurant was beautifully light and airy.  I’d go back in a second to get my hands on one of their steaks (we saw a few go by and … ohhhh my), cheese and charcuterie platters, and seafood towers.  They offer iced seafood and freshly-shucked oysters.

Morels’ weekend brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays from 8am to 4pm, giving you plenty of time to sleep off the haze from the night before.

MORELS FRENCH STEAKHOUSE & BISTRO
www.morelslv.com
3325 Las Vegas Blvd (in the Palazzo)
(702)607-6333

 

Lobby Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental (New York City)

My sister and I remembered the amazing experience we had more than eight years ago at this bar.  We were there with friends and were absolutely floored by the view overlooking Central Park from the southwest corner in the Time Warner building.

The service is impeccable and the drinks are well-mixed.  Order a drink and a couple of their tapas-style appetizers and watch the sun set over the park.  It really is one of the best places to do it in the city.  Just make sure to get a spot by the window!

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Lobby Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental
MandarinOriental.com
80 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023
(212) 805-8800

HOURS:
9am – 1am (Sun – Thu)
9am – 2am (Fri & Sat)

TEA: 2:30 – 4:30pm (Daily)

 

Hilton@Play: Nick Jonas

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.

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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.

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The Chester (New York City)

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 Cobblestone
The Cobblestone

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.

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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.)

 

THE CHESTER
TheChesterNYC.com
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Midtown
45 East 33rd Street, NYC 10016
(212)201-1228

Gansevoort Meatpacking
18 Ninth Avenue, NYC 10014
(646) 253-2284

*The Arthur: Reservations required after 11 p.m. Contact: info@paigegroupny.com.

Whisler’s (Austin, TX)

Written by Jaime Cawyer

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

WHISLERS
whislersatx.com | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
1816 East 6th Street, Austin, TX 78702
512-480-0781

The $100 Saints Cocktail

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​.

The Classier Side of NOLA

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?

Carousel Piano Bar and Lounge
hotelmonteleone.com | facebook twitter
214 Royal Street, New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 523- 3341

Open 11am-1am daily (no happy hour specials)

DFW Beer & Brewers Index

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
  • Background info on 18 established breweries

Download the guide here