April 03, 2014

SUR, West Hollywood


Thanks to my pop culture-loving sister, I was recently introduced to the most brilliant television shows of our times - the Real Housewives franchise. Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration, but they're certainly very entertaining! And yes, I realize I'm a late adopter. My favorites are Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Real Housewives of New York City. I am particularly enamored by Lisa Vanderpump of Beverly Hills. So naturally, when I planned my vacation to LA, I immediately factored in SUR - one of Mrs. Vanderpump's many accomplishments. 

SUR (acronym for Sexy Unique Restaurant) is a lounge/restaurant located in West Hollywood. As promised by its name, SUR oozes sexiness from the minute you walk in. There is so much sensual energy and flirtatious vibes throughout the venue. The decor is kitsch and fabulous! Love the details. 

Surprisingly, the wait to get a drink at the bar wasn't very long considering how packed the place was. Perhaps those cute bartenders from the show are actually really good at their jobs! PS. I saw Tom from Vanderpump Rules. He's definitely way cuter in real life!

I knew there was a slight possibility I would see Lisa from afar because of how many times SUR is featured on both shows but never did I ever imagine that I would not only meet her but get a picture with her! Seated beside Ken, Mohammed, and Mohammed's beautiful fiance, she was legitimately glowing, dripping in diamonds in the dimmed dining room. My girlfriend and I took a leap of faith and approached her table to say hello expecting to get either kicked out or shooed away. Instead, Lisa graciously exchanged pleasantries after I introduced myself and expressed my admiration for her and her success. 

I usually don't get star struck but I couldn't help but be when I met her. Lisa Vanderpump is simply a stunning, sophisticated, intelligent Brit who has some serious business smarts. Meeting her made my night!

Anyhoo, considering how popular Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Vanderpump Rules, and Lisa Vanderpump are, SUR was pretty easy to get into! I was expecting to have to wait in a long line or not be able to get in at all. Another note, SUR is way smaller than it looks on the show. But I guess that's how everything is in Hollywood - way tinier than depicted on screen including the people! The only downside I can come up with is that there was a weird mix of people that night. Perhaps it was just unique to that evening. Beyond that, SUR is pretty awesome. If I ever go back, it will be to eat there as I have heard the food is fantastic! xx..

PS. Ken is so frikken adorable.
PSS. Jax was not working that night.


Theme Song: G.U.Y by Lady Gaga featuring the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

March 23, 2014

WARD 8, North End


Lately, I've found myself in a state of reacquainting - with old movies, skinny jeans, and of course people. Last week, I had the pleasure of reacquainting myself with a childhood friend whom I have not seen in 13 some odd years. He happened to be visiting Boston and wanted to catch up, so I suggested we meet up at Ward 8 in the North End. Since it's opened its doors (not to mention, very heavy doors) in late 2013, Ward 8 has become the most talked about hot spot in the area. 

I absolutely love the atmosphere - very intimate and cozy. The brick interiors and camel colored furniture ooze a very loft-y feeling. I love the set up with the bar right smack in the middle. No one is secluded in the restaurant which makes it a great "mingling" place if ya know what I mean ;)

The food is delicious. I admit that I indulged in an amazing cheeseburger with truffle fries and a few glasses of Pinot - YUM! I probably should have tried the Ward 8 drink but I wasn't feeling very adventurous. Perhaps next time!

The service was awesome. Every employee's excitement for the restaurant's success radiated through their individual excellent customer service. A very nice group of people working here. PS I LOVE the flannel shirts as the uniform - it's a great look!

Overall, Ward 8 gets a thumbs up from me. With a fabulous name, optimal location, great hospitality, and of course, delicious menu, this restaurant has all the perfect ingredients for success in the city. Hope everyone is enjoying Sunday FunDay! Ciao ;)

PS - Recipe for the Ward 8 beverage - SALUT!


March 16, 2014

On an aside: My 1st Tinder Experience...


I finally joined Tinder a few months ago. I won't lie, I have thoroughly enjoyed swiping left, right and seeing who's out there. Most of the messages I've received have been nothing short of lewd. Therefore, when someone messages you something somewhat genuine on Tinder, there is a sigh of relief. Pathetic, I know but this is the world we live in now. 

I started chatting with someone on Tinder. He messaged me first and didn't make suggestive remarks. We also had mutual friends which gave me solace. When he asked to meet, I said to myself, "oh what the heck - why not!". For obvious reasons, I will not reveal his name however let's just refer to him as Juan Pablo (since he seemed just as douche-y as the most recent Bachelor)

Juan Pablo and I made plans to meet at a coffee shop this afternoon. The first encounter can be awkward but I was relieved he looked the same as in his photos. As we waited in line to order coffee, he asked me a question to which I promptly answered which was then followed by silence for about 10 seconds...

STRIKE 1: Juan Pablo asked me to repeat myself because he was still engaged in the conversation he had just had at brunch and basically tuned me out.  Okay then.

We sat down and started chatting. One of the first things that we, excuse me, HE talked about was his romantic history. Juan Pablo continuously talked about his ex-girlfriends. I'm no dating expert but isn't there some kind of cardinal rule in place where you don't talk about exes on the 1st date? I'm okay with a mention here and there but not as much as he did. That would be STRIKE 2. 

It was a rather boring conversation. I asked most of the questions. Juan Pablo judged me for being a shopaholic. He said he couldn't get that out of his mind and that shopping actually doesn't provide happiness. Um, yes it does. He equated shopping to a quick fix from drugs after which he asked me if I did drugs, in particular MDMA - I don't even know what that is. 

Juan Pablo came off completely spoiled. I kid you not, at one point he said, "the wealth, the life, the loves, everything I have, I didn't earn or don't know if I deserve. It just came to me." STRIKE 3. I cringed in embarrassment for him. 

A half an hour into our "date", Juan Pablo decided he was over it and said he was going to take off in 10 minutes to avoid wasting either of our time. Fine, I respect it and to be honest, he relieved me. However, he ruined it for himself when his follow up comment was, "hey, at least you got a free coffee!" Oh thanks - how gracious of you. STRIKE 4 - and that's not even allowed!


Toward the end of the coffee outing which didn't last more than 45 minutes, Juan Pablo told me he doesn't even know why he's dating since he is still completely hung up on his ex-girlfriend. On his way out, he hugged me and said "Sorry, I wasn't a better 1st Tinder date experience." Ya, me too. 

Take away points:
I am not mad at Juan Pablo nor am I bitter about how badly our date went. In fact, I feel bad because he's clearly still hurting and pining for his ex. Anyone who has been through a break up knows that that pain is indescribable and overpowering. 

I don't expect to find love after every date and I don't expect everyone to fall in love with me. I also realize I've been looking for love in the wrong place. However, I am genuinely worried for the females of my generation living in cosmopolitan areas. Especially in a transient city like Boston, there is a never ending supply of beautiful, young, intelligent women which lead men to never want exclusivity with someone. On top of that, you have apps like Tinder which somehow gave men the leeway to approach you like a hooker. Attraction has become a very fickle concept because the next girl is just a swipe away. Maybe I need to move to Kansas... Ciao! 

March 02, 2014

On an aside: Oscars - The Good, Bad, Over & Underrated

Let's be real, in addition to the awards and yada yada, most of us look forward to the Oscars primarily for the fashion. 

Overall, the looks were rather drab this year. Not too impressed, somewhat disappointed, just meh. 

The GOOD:

Kate Hudson wows in icy Versace gown with bejeweled cape (left)  
Camila Alves oozes freshness in blush pink structured gown (center)
Sandra Bullock looks ethereal in dark blue Alexander McQueen  number (right)
LOVE ALL OF THESE!   

The BAD:

Anne Hathaway looks like a disco ball in tacky, black Gucci dress (left) She also looks like she could be in a George Michael music video.
Cate Blanchett, who always gets it right, gets it totally wrong in this Armani Prive gown that totally washes her out (center)
Kerry Washington looking rather sloppy in Jason Wu gown that resembles like an un-ironed bed sheet (right) Take a cue from Olivia Wilde.

The OVERRATED:

Charlize Theron was an almost 10 but something about the straps on this black Dior dress was odd... (left)
Lupita Nyong'o's pale blue Prada dress is BREATHTAKING but a plunging neckline on a flat-chested, muscular woman makes her look somewhat masculine (center) PS. Is it just me or does she look like she got open heart surgery?
Jennifer Lawrence's red hot Dior frock doesn't seem to do much for her amazing body (right) 

The UNDERRATED:

Porta De Rossi looks nothing less than chic in Naeem Khan (left)
A very pregnant Olivia Wilde looks simple yet so elegant in  Valentino (center)
Kristin Cavallari, also pregnant, rocks this beautiful, simple Alexander McQueen gown (right)

Taberna De Haro, Brookline


For the past 4 years, I have been working down the street from Taberna De Haro and only 2 weeks ago did I dine there for the first time.


Taberna De Haro is an intimate tapas restaurant on Beacon Street in Brookline. It is a Brookline classic.

Saying that TDH's decor is absolutely magnificent is not doing it justice. The restaurant is full of charm with its quirky details and artwork. The dimmed lights and crimson walls offer an uber romantic ambiance.





The food at TDH is mouthwatering. You will want to order everything on their menu. A personal suggestion is the paella with squid ink. Sounds crazy and looks even crazier (it's black!) but it is really delicious!


The service is wonderful. The staff is really knowledgeable on the extensive menu as well as their encyclopedia of wine. 

My only qualm is the lack of Spanish music. If it was on, I couldn't hear it. But that's just me nitpicking.

If you love tapas, Taberna De Haro
is the place to go ... especially if you need a suggestion for a date! I will definitely be coming back here whether alone or on a date. The 4 year wait was totally worth it!



Theme Song: Notas by Gotan Project

Carrie Nation, Beacon Hill


Last weekend, my girlfriends and I went to this somewhat new joint, Carrie Nation in the hub of Beacon Hill.

Carrie Nation is supposed to be a cocktail lounge with a "speakeasy" sort of theme. What Carrie Nation actually is is a confused, HOT MESS!

Let's start with the vast space - it's huge! Perhaps it was because of the hour that I arrived, but I felt the space was so poorly utilized. The entire front seating area where I imagine dinner usually happens was empty. Everyone was mostly congregating at the bar or on line to play pool... 


The bar was the most frustrating bar I have ever been to in my life. It took literally 30 minutes to get a drink. (Please staff more than 2 bartenders on a Saturday night!) And this line I just spoke of... seems kind of silly to have to wait on line for some billiard. 


In terms of the crowd, just a little too "bro-ey" for me if ya know what I mean. So many pretentious 20-something-year-olds stuck in their fraternity modes. Not to mention, the guy to girl ratio was completely disproportionate. 


Anyway, I wasn't a fan. I think there was great intention but poor execution. What a beautiful venue but crappy crowd. YIKES! If I were in charge of marketing this place, I would align it with the likes of Sonsie or Towne. It has so much potential but feels like Beacon Hill Pub. Oh well. 

February 02, 2014

On An Aside: From White to Blue


Going by what BuzzFeed, Elite Daily, and Huffington Post suggest, I am going through a quarter life crisis. To help me navigate my life, I created a bucket list of things I want to do before I get married, have kids, etc. One of the bucket list items was to be a bar tender...

As you know, I LOVE wining and dining. I'm appreciative of excellent hospitality and have always been curious about what it is like to be on the "other side." Since I have little to no experience in the industry [I worked at Bagel World when I was 15], I decided to take up a hostess position at a local bar/restaurant to learn the ins and outs and hopefully work my way up to bar tending. (I will not disclose where with respect to the place.) I have a full time career, so my hours were not very flexible. Despite that, they were very accommodating and let me choose my shifts. 

I started training mid-January and was scheduled to work 2 nights a week (about 8-10 hours total). Today marked my first official shift after training and my last day of working in the food/beverage industry. 

I've had a successful career for the past 4 years so being a trainee again was a trip - especially because my trainers were 19. I tried to be open-minded though. They weren't the most refined of people but then again, I wasn't very polished when I was 19 either. Most of the employees are there because they have to be. So when they found out my motivation for being there (solely for the experience) I sensed some bitterness. I can understand that. I felt like Paris Hilton on The Simple Life. Oh well. 

This place gets a lot of business during the Super Bowl so naturally everyone was pretty overwhelmed. To make a long story short, every employee was at their wit's end and was being outright hostile toward each other. When you work in a restaurant, you have an audience therefore I had foolishly assumed that everyone was to at least pretend to be nice unless behind closed doors. Boy was I wrong. I could only swallow my pride for so long before I realized there's a fine line between being stressed out and being rude. 

After an hour of being in an environment that would have ultimately resulted in a murder, I decided to leave. I'm not a quitter by any means, so walking out crushed me a little bit. I'll get over it. Respect is too important to me. 

Lessons learned: 
1. Don't judge a book by it's cover. Seriously.
2. Treat everyone with respect. 
3. Maintain a game face even in the worst of situations in your professional setting. 
4. Value days off. 
5. Class cannot be taught. 

Epilogue:
Though  it was a short one, I'm really grateful for this experience. No regrets whatsoever - I now know I'm not cut out for the service industry. Working in this position gave me a lot of perspective and actually taught me some lifelong lessons. If you work in the service industry, people look at you differently. This is 100% factual. There was an instant shift in class the minute I changed into the gear. 95% of my life, I was white collar, and for the past 2 weeks, 5% was blue. I had to literally troubleshoot my mindset and expectations. It was a very humbling experience to say the least - especially since most of the time, I think I'm Boston's JLo. Lastly, I have even more respect for people who work in this industry. It's definitely not easy and you've gotta have some thick skin on ya!

Until next time, ciao! Xoxo :*


January 19, 2014

5 Horses Tavern, South End


On Thursday evening, I had the pleasure of enjoying drinks and appetizers with my coworkers at 5 Horses Tavern in the South End. I don't really venture out to South End that much so it was certainly a refreshing change. 


I have never seen so many options for beer so beautifully displayed before! I am not a beer drinker whatsoever but I can definitely appreciate the variety offered. Also, I love the chandelier type of thing made out of an assortment of beers - super creative!

We ordered a bunch of wings which were UNREAL. A little expensive in my opinion for wings but nonetheless, really delicious! 

We weren't here for too long so don't have much more to add but it's definitely a cute and cozy place with good service. I bet this place is amazing in the summertime with the outdoor seating right in optimal people-watching location... I recommend! :)

PS. They had some funky, groovy jams blasting! 


January 02, 2014

Stephanie's on Newbury

 
Happy New Year!

As per tradition, a few friends and I joined for brunch on New Years Day. This year, Stephanie's on Newbury was the choice of venue. I've been to Stephanie's several times in the past but never wrote about it before because, well, it never did it for me. It still doesn't.
 
The food isn't anything to write home about. The menu is nothing spectacular - pretty overpriced with regular ole' tuna melts, cobb salads, and burgers. The only significant offerings on the menu are the build-your-own Bloody Mary's. I'll give it to them - these are the best in town.
 
The ambience is meh. Cozy? Maybe to some. To me, it feels like you're in a cookie-cutter Marriott or Sheraton restaurant. Not to mention, the seating is so crammed! Everyone is sitting on top of each other. 
 
In terms of the service, all the servers seemed so annoyed. Although, I guess I would be too if I had to work on New Years Day. Not to mention, a group of seven chicks would inevitably be annoying to serve. That, I get that.
 
Generally, I feel like Stephanie's is nothing more than a "scene." People don't flock to this place for it's food, service, or atmosphere. It's moreso because it's Stephanie's on Newbury. Would I go here again? Sure. Would it be my first choice? Definitely not.
 
 I know it's a Newbury Street classic but I felt the need to share my opinions only because this place gets so much business for such minimal effort in creating a wonderful dining experience. I'm also holding a grudge because I wiped out down the carpeted stairs in front of the entire restaurant yesterday LOL!



 

December 30, 2013

2014 New Year's Resolutions...

I’ve never been one to set New Year's resolutions because I always thought it was silly but I’ve always been one who regretted not having made any by the end of the year….

Everyone I’ve been talking to keeps saying “2014 is MY year” which made me start to think perhaps it’s my year too.

Before you know it, I compiled a list of attainable goals and habits. I want to share these with everyone so that I’m held accountable...

Category 1: Health & Wellness

1. Lose 20 pounds and keep it off

2. Convert back to Pescatarianism

3. Go to the gym & dance



Category 2: Finances

4. Bring lunch to work & cook dinner during the week (eat out on weekends only)

5. Go to CVS only when I actually need something (no more frivolous spending!)

6. Shop less and cool it with the online shopping

7. Use Uber less and ride the T more



Category 3: Travel (#8)

1. Harry Potter World

2. Puerto Rico

3. Spain

4. Dubai
   

Category 4: Career

9. “High Rise”- Film the pilot by Spring 2014

10. Improv

And lastly... become a Real Housewife. Just kidding!!! Kind of… ;)


There you have it. If you are a friend of mine and ever witness me violating these goals, you have my permission to punish me or make me feel guilty!

Wishing you all a year filled with good health, wealth, love and happiness.